Creating a safe and happy home environment for a person with a disability can be tricky, but when it comes to making sure an individual with a visual impairment is able to maneuver through their house with a wide range of mobility and independence, it’s important to think about their specific needs first and work from there.
Having a clean, clutter-free, well organized home is key when safety is a concern, so taking a walk through the home to get an idea of what needs work is probably a good idea. If you have a loved one with a visual impairment, help them by finding out what their concerns are and making a list of things to fix or set up.
Here are a few things to get you started.
The kitchen and bathroom are the two places most likely to see accidents, so it’s imperative that the individual has an organized space that caters to their specific needs. Lighting should be bright–3-way bulbs or those that mimic natural daylight are best, because they eliminate shadows and glare–and stove knobs should be a different color from the stove itself. Contrasting colors are a big help to people living with low vision.
Pots, pans, measuring cups, and other tools that are used most often should be kept together in an easy-to-reach place, preferably at waist level to prevent unnecessary bending or reaching. Rolling racks can be installed inside cabinets or pantries to hold dishes and pans. The pantry should be well organized, with like-items together on the same shelves. Those with low vision will benefit from having large-print labels on cans; these can be handmade or printed out from the computer.
Cleaning supplies should also be well-labeled and kept far away from food items.
Living areas and walkways should be kept free of clutter at all times. It might be helpful to install large baskets on living room shelving for storage. The floor should be free of throw rugs, which can be trip hazards, and hardwood floors should be treated with non-skid wax when possible.
Closets should be thoroughly cleaned; clothing that doesn’t fit can be donated, while out-of-season items can be packed up and stored in an air-proof bag or tub. This will save the individual time when looking for something to wear. Depending on their preference, clothing can be organized by color, style, or weight.
Because contrasting colors are very helpful for people with low vision, having dark paint on the walls to set off light-colored furniture–or vice versa–will ensure the individual can navigate safely through their home. This can also be done in bedrooms and bathrooms, too.
*Photos via Pixabay