How to Make Home Adjustments for the Visually Impaired


For many, coping with the loss of vision can be difficult. Some may think life as they know it will be forever changed, and that they may never adjust to this new chapter. If you find yourself feeling like you are one of those people, don’t worry, you are not alone. However, having a vision impairment does not take away from your ability to continue function as an able-bodied, happy person. Below you will find a few suggestions to assist you in making your home more efficient for your new condition. As with anything, preparation will aid in making your transition both fluid and effective.

Organizing the kitchen

Your kitchen space will more than likely be the area that will need the most adjustments, so it is advised that you have a helping hand or two by your side. The first thing you will need to do is declutter. Be sure to go through all cabinets, pantries and the refrigerator and rid of anything expired or no longer serves a purpose. Be sure to mark all of your appliance control panels with bump dots to assist you in finding and using them properly. Also mark the settings on your stove, microwave and dishwasher for use.

Contrasting colours are another element you will want to incorporate into your kitchen, as well as throughout the house. If you have light coloured dishes, store them in your cabinet over a dark coloured shelf liner. You may also want to invest in a colour contrasting cutting board and use whichever side contrasts with the food you are preparing.

It is also important to organize your refrigerator in a manner where you know exactly what you are getting when you reach for it. Store your beverages on the top shelf, with your fruits and vegetables on the second shelf or drawer. Reserve the bottom shelf for your poultry, beef and other meats. If you will be having assistance or guest frequently, it is also good to label the shelves in the refrigerator so they will know where to properly store food.

Mobility in your home

When dealing with a vision impairment, moving around your own home will seem challenging at first. You must remember to be patient with yourself and give yourself time to adjust. With practice, you will be able to move about as you previously have. Mark each of your stairs with bright tape to ensure that you can find each step with ease. Have banisters and railings installed on all staircases, both in and outdoors. Make sure your home is properly lit with high wattage light bulbs and be sure everything is stored in its proper place to avoid falls and accidents. Install grab bars wherever they are necessary, including the bathroom.

Around the house

You will need a magnifying glass to read items such as the mail. There are several to choose from, however you may want to consider purchasing a magnifying glass that has a light attached to it for convenience.

For your telephone you will need a receiver that has big, bold number pads that also contrast in colour. A few other basic elements to keep in mind when making changes around the house are textures, labels and making sure the necessary safety precautions are in effect. Also keep in mind the element of touch, as you will be using your hands frequently as a guide.

Adjusting to low vision will require time, patience and encouragement. You may feel frustrated as you are trying to adapt to your surroundings, but in time you will adjust to your new way of living. You will find that having a visual impairment will not disable you from getting around freely and independently. In fact, upon adapting, your quality of life may become more enhanced than before!

By Jackie Waters