When it comes time for a friend or family member with a visual impairment to move into your home, there are certain things you can do to make your home safe and welcoming. Some accommodations will have to be made after they move in when you have a better understanding of their individual needs. But there are some basics that can be done today to ease the transition.
Tape down or remove throw rugs
Throw rugs can be a tripping hazard for someone who has limited vision or uses a cane. If the rugs are for decorative purposes, consider removing them. For rugs that you don’t want to remove, you can tack or tape down the edges so they are less of a tripping hazard.
Add lights or increase the power of the light bulbs
For some individuals with visual impairments, a dark corner or a lack of light can turn into a hazard. Adding stronger light bulbs or a lamp in a dark corner can help to clearly define the room for someone with a visual impairment.
Organize furniture in high-traffic areas
One of the most important changes to be made for someone with a visual impairment is to make sure furniture is arranged in a way that there are clear and wide paths for travel between the main parts of the house. Removing extra pieces of furniture, like a footstool in front of a chair, can help clear pathways.
Create color contrast as needed
For someone with limited vision, having a stark color contrast between things in your home — like a wall and the towels hanging on the rack fastened to the wall — can help with distinguishing between objects. Adding brightly colored towels in a white bathroom is an easy fix to highlight where your new house guest can find a towel to dry their hands.
Add night lights
Your guest may need to travel through hallways, to the bathroom, and around their bedroom well after natural light disappears in the evening. Installing night lights to these areas will help to balance the lower light levels in the evening.
Pick up shoes, toys, and clutter
While you are probably used to stepping over the occasional toy that is left out, a person who cannot see these types of everyday items may not be so lucky. It is a good idea to not only pick everything up before their arrival, but also work on getting the rest of the household in the habit of clearing walkways of things that could be a tripping hazard.
Mark steps and stairs
For someone with low vision, it may be hard to identify where a step or stair starts. Using brightly colored permanent tape as a clear defining line can alert someone who can see color that there’s a step. You can also apply tape that glows in the dark to mark stairs in areas like hallways that may be used at night.
Getting a new housemate settled into your home is going to take time, but there are small things you can do to aid in the process. Each of these modifications combines with one another to increase the safety and usability of your home for someone with a visual impairment.
The hallmark of Future In Sight’s rehabilitation program is the one-on-one training we provide. We go where clients go – wherever help is needed the most! Everyone’s vision loss is different, so services are personalized to match a client’s needs.
Ashley Taylor is the creator of www.disabledparents.org; a website designed to help other parents with disabilities. She has first hand knowledge on what it’s like to retrofit a crib for accessibility, how to find adaptive baby gear, and how to navigate the world of parenting with scoliosis.