Living with a visual impairment can be challenging and affects more than 2.9 million people in the United States, but making accommodations within your home can make everyday life significantly easier. Whether you are a person with a visual impairment or a loved one seeking ways to make your home more welcoming, many minor adjustments can be made inside and outside the home.

This blog post will explore the different levels of visual impairment, outline modifications you can make indoors and outdoors, and discuss what to avoid when modifying a home.


Different Levels of Visual Impairment

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) describes a visual impairment as a condition in which a person’s eyesight cannot be corrected to a “normal” level. It is important to clarify that the term “visual impairment” is not a definition that details what someone can or cannot see but rather a term used to classify those with poor or partial vision. We will define several levels of visual impairment in this blog post.

  • Low vision is a significant visual loss that glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery cannot correct. Those with low vision may have some remaining vision but cannot use it to perform everyday tasks without assistance. 
  • Legal blindness is another level of visual impairment. It means the individual has a visual acuity of 20/200 or worse, even with corrective lenses.
  • Profound visual impairment refers to the person’s ability to perceive light but not form.
  • Total blindness is the complete absence of sight in both eyes.


Outdoor Adjustments for Visual Impairment

Now that we have established the levels of visual impairment let’s dive into the adjustments that can make a home more welcoming to those with visual impairments. Regarding outdoor adjustments, several accommodations can be helpful, including keeping grass, trees, and hedges well-groomed to avoid potential hazards. Ensuring that the walkway to your home and all front and back patios are sufficiently lit is also important. Motion-sensor lights are a great way to achieve this without wasting energy. Furthermore, having door knobs or handles that are a contrasting color from the door can also make them easier to identify.


Indoor Adjustments for Visual Impairment

There are several key areas to consider when it comes to indoor adjustments. Safety is the priority. Make sure to properly pad all sharp edges and corners to prevent them from posing a danger. Organization is also important to ensure that everything has a designated and easily accessible place. Install bright lighting throughout the home to maximize visibility and emphasize color contrast wherever possible. Finally, it is incredibly beneficial to cater to the sense of touch by using textures and materials that are easy to identify through touching.


What to Avoid When Making Adjustments

Specific patterns and designs can make distinguishing different surfaces and items difficult. Therefore, avoiding floors, furniture, and rugs with complex patterns is best. However, stripping the home of its decoration or personality is not necessary. Utilize simple, elegant designs and textures easily identified through touch to make someone with visual impairments feel included and welcome in the house.


A Little Adjustment Goes a Long Way

Living with a visual impairment may come with challenges, but making adjustments at home and outdoors can make everyday living more manageable. By following the guidelines outlined in this blog post, you can create a welcoming environment for those who deal with visual impairments or if you’re visually impaired. From grooming the outdoor space to ensuring a high level of safety, many minor modifications can make a significant difference. Do not be afraid to add personal touches to your home, and always remember that a little bit of compassion goes a long way in making someone feel welcomed and included.


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Resource Links:

The State of Vision, Aging, and Public Health in America

All About Vision: What is impaired vision?

American Foundation for the Blind: Low Vision and Legal Blindness Terms and Descriptions