image of a room with a couch and coffee table with the text "No More Bruised Shins-Tips For an Accessible Home"   Bumped heads and bruised shins are common casualties for people with a visual disability. When your sight is clouded or limited to a pinprick, open cupboard doors and sharp-edged coffee tables become predators lurking in the shadows of your vision. If you or someone in your household has limited vision then it’s important to make sure that the interior of your home is arranged and furnished in a way that’s comfortable and easy to navigate. If you are building or remodeling your house then it’s a simple matter to select the best lighting and color combinations to make the interior more accessible to someone who is blind or vision impaired. Even the doors and cabinets can be chosen with this goal in mind. But you don’t necessarily need a lot of time or money to make your house more low-vision friendly, since just a few basic changes can make a big difference. Here are some suggestions for increasing accessibility in your home with just a few modifications..

Lightening:

  • Use high-wattage light bulbs throughout the house.
  • Put lamps in areas of the house where a focused beam of light may be needed, such as in the reading area or by the office desk.
  • Install extra lights in closets, cabinets and on the kitchen baseboards.
  • Install special lights over the stairways
  • If you are building or remodeling your home, try to include a lot of windows that will let natural light into the house.
  • Have light switches at the entrance to each room so that the light can be turned on before you enter the room.
  • Ensure that all the lightening in the house is even so that no areas are left in the shadows, where accidents might occur..
  • Install motion detector lights in the house.
  People with low vision generally require more light than those with normal vision, but too much light can also be a problem due to the glare, but here are few solution that may help:
  1. Add awning to the outside of all of your windows and put up curtains and glare reducing blinds for the inside.
  2. Replace light switches with dimmer switches so that the light can be adjusted for the comfort of everyone in the house.
  3. Use 3-way bulbs for non-glare lightening.

Color

The colors that you choose for your furniture, appliances and general décor can make a big difference to the people in your household with low vision. When decorating or furnishing your home try to keep these guidelines in mind:
  • Contrasting colors make it easier to identify objects and furnishings, so if you have white walls the couches against the walls should be dark, as should the switchplates.
  • For upholstery, try to stick with solid colors since patterns can be visually confusing.
  • Countertops should also be a solid color, to make it easy to see things that left on top.
  • Doorknobs should contrast with the color of the door, to make them easy to locate.
  • Paint the edges of steps and ramps, in a contrasting color to help avoid tripping over them.

Doors and cabinets

Replacing the doors and cabinets in your house take a bit more effort then getting a new lamp or light bulb, but if this is something that you are already doing here are some ideas to consider:
  • Install cabinets high enough so that if a door is left open no one will get their head banged.
  • Select cabinets for your kitchen with doors that lift upward
  • Install sliding, wall-mounted doors to avoid banging into hinges or door frames

Use labels to identify items

Labels are a great way to help you identify items around your house as well as the contents in containers or boxes. Using a simple label maker you can create labels for your cabinets, drawers, storage boxes, food containers in the fridge and even the knobs on your oven. You can then use your OrCam to read the labels.   Other tips for making your home safer and more accessible:
  • If you have a coffee table or end table with sharp corners, replace it with a round table, or get rid of it altogether.
  • Don’t move furniture around.
  • If certain items are used together then store them in the same place or on the same shelf.
  • Get a label maker and create labels for your cabinets and storage boxes, listing the contents. You can then use your OrCam device to read the labels
  • Have a set place for each item in the house to be stored when not in use, and make sure to put it back in that exact spot when you finish using it.
  • Don’t leave anything lying around on the floor.
  • Keep the doors to your cabinets, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer closed when not in use.
  • Have banisters on each side of the stairs.
  • If something spills mop it up right away.
Do you have any other home accessibility tips to share? If so, please tell us about them in the comments.
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