Author: Jackie Waters
When you own a home, naturally you want everyone who lives in it to feel comfortable and welcome. If a loved one with a visual impairment is moving in with you, you’ll likely need to make some changes to ensure their comfort and safety. They’ll need to be able to navigate your home easily and without safety concerns. Thankfully, you’ll be able to do many of the needed modifications without having to hire a professional. Here are a few tips that will help you make that possible:
1. Make Lighting Adjustments
Lighting modifications often help people with a visual impairment to see a little better or to complete tasks more easily. Some people require decreased lighting to reduce the amount of glare in your home, while others require increased lighting. If glare is an issue, install blinds or curtains that are easy to adjust. Be sure to keep the cords from window coverings wrapped up and off the floor and out of commonly used walkways to avoid tripping hazards. Another way to minimize glare is to install sheer window coverings that filter sunlight while still allowing natural light to enter your home. Determine whether any of your mirrors reflect light and cause a glare and then cover them with a scarf or adjust them accordingly.
If the person with a visual impairment is staying in your home for an extended amount of time, consider installing dimmer switches so he can adjust the light to fit his needs. Some people opt to install these rheostat controls throughout their homes; others install them in the areas of the home the person uses most often, such as in the bedroom, kitchen, living room, and bathroom.
2. Change Your Hardware
People with low and no vision may bump into your cabinet and door handles until they become familiar with the layout of your home. One way to avoid unnecessary pain and bruising is to change your hardware to knobs and handles that have a lower profile. Cabinetry hardware that protrudes too far from your drawers and cabinet doors can become caught on clothing, hinder the movement of the person, or become a painful annoyance.
Door knobs and cabinet hardware can also be difficult to see, so it is helpful if you install hardware that contrasts with the finish of your doors and cabinets. If you have dark doors or cabinets, install white or nickel hardware; on the other hand, if you have light doors or cabinets, install oiled bronze or black hardware.
3. Consider the Layout of Your Rooms
The layout of your rooms and the furniture and objects within them either hinders or promotes easy navigation for a person with a visual impairment. Interior design with the visually impaired in mind can help increase their comfort levels immensely. First, arrange the objects in your home so they create ninety-degree turns. Curved layouts are more difficult to navigate than boxy layouts. Remove obstacles from the perimeter of the room so the person with a visual impairment can walk around and sense where objects are located. Soften the room with window coverings and plush furniture that absorb sound because too many sounds can annoy a person with a visual impairment or make it difficult for them to compensate for their vision loss with their hearing.
4. Carefully Evaluate Floors and Walkways
Of course, floors and walkways are a safety concern for a person with a visual impairment and require extra attention from you. Make cleaning up and organizing a priority to get items off the floor and out of walkways to reduce tripping hazards. If your floors are shiny and produce glare, carefully place rugs in areas that are especially bright. Make sure that the rugs have non-slip backing and they completely adhere to the floor with carpet tape to minimize the risk of tripping or falling. When you clean your floors use products that do not make them shiny or slippery.
Inspect walkways, especially those in high-traffic areas, for clutter and tripping hazards. If there is loose or wrinkled carpeting, repair or replace it. If there are electrical cords or wires in the walkway, push them against the wall or remove them altogether. Look for furniture or other objects such as house plants that extend into walkways and rearrange them to clear the walkway. Always push in chairs after use. Make walkways and hallways more visible by adding night lights or other types of lighting.
You can make your home more comfortable and safe for a person with a visual impairment if you make lighting adjustments, change your hardware, consider the layout of your rooms, and carefully evaluate your floors and walkways.
Chances are, you’ll want to help them with the actual move as well, which means helping them get the right packing supplies, and helping with the packing itself (not to mention unpacking). They’re going to need things to be organized for efficiency, so you can help with that as well.
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