Improving Home Mobility for the Visually-Impaired

As a person gets older, the likelihood that they’ll be involved in an accident in the home greatly increases. If the aging process is accompanied by some form of vision loss, the risk is even greater. In order for a person with visual impairment to live a safe and comfortable life, their home must be set up in a way that minimizes potential dangers. Some basic home modifications can ensure that your loved one is able to move around the home with relative ease. 

One of the first things you can do to prepare a home for someone suffering from vision loss is to make sure all pathways are free and clear. Of course, this means making sure that hallways, corridors and doorways are unobstructed. Boxes, shoes, clothing, tools, and toys are all potential tripping hazards for anyone – but when a person has a visual impairment the danger skyrockets. 

These kind of impediments aren’t the only thing to consider, however. Loose rugs and uneven carpet are also potential hazards. Slick, waxed kitchen and bathroom floors amount to an unnecessary risk for those suffering vision loss. It’s important that your loved one has the surest footing they can in every room of the house. 

It’s not just the floor that you have to consider. Furniture can be hazardous – especially if it juts out into frequently-used pathways and doorways. If you can, move end tables away from corners and turns in the home. It’s important to allow for a wider path for movement than you would normally. 

Inevitably, there is going to be some misjudgments and bumps may become commonplace. In order to minimize the harm done by banging into furniture, it may be worth investing in furniture corner guards. This is a quick, inexpensive way to make the home just a little bit safer. 

Of course, proper lighting is essential in any home designed for someone with a visual impairment. Proper lighting means not enough having enough light but having plenty of adjustable light so that it can be directed on specific spots to provide better illumination. It also means knowing where not to point light, like directly at mirrors. Glare can lead to bumps, trips, and spills inside the home.

Lighting is just one part of the problem. Just as important is knowing how to use contrast to prevent unwanted encounters with furniture.If everything in a room – from the carpet to the tables to the couch and chairs – is the same color, it’s hard for someone with a visual impairment to differentiate. Try contrasting colors – maybe a white sofa with a darker rug. Be careful though, as furniture with crazy patterns can have the opposite effect, leading to confusion. 

Another modification you can make to your home is the installation of handrails. Everywhere there are stairs, there needs to be railing. In fact, anywhere there is any sort of elevation change, railing is recommended. Bathrooms should be equipped with stabilizing handles. If your loved one uses a walking aid like a walker or a cane, think about it this way – any place where they might forgo the aid, there should be a supplemental way for them to find stability. 

Combining the installation of handrails and the use of contrast can be a great way to help the visually-impaired. Take this advice, from the American Foundation for the Blind:

“Contrast can be added to a stairway to make things more visible. For instance, a light handrail against the light wall is very difficult to see, whereas a dark handrail against the light wall is much easier to see. Similarly, stairs that have paint or tape on the leading edge are much more visible, and may help prevent falls.”

If you’re really thinking outside the box you could just light up your handrails.

It’s just one small step but if your visually-impaired loved one feels comfortable walking around the house, they are free to continue to do the things they love with their families and regain a sense of normalcy.

Photo Credit: Pixabay


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