Safety First: Adapting your Home for a Child Who is Visually Impaired

I have great pleasure in sharing the article below, written especially for us by Jackie Waters from hyper-tidy.com

You can read more about her at
About Me | Hyper-Tidy
and feel free to check out the rest of her site as well. Many thanks, Jackie, for giving of your time and expertise. It is much appreciated.
Also, be sure to see the resource list that Jackie has provided at the end of the article for more information.

Safety First: Adapting your Home for a Child Who is Visually Impaired
by Jackie Waters
hyper-tidy.com

If you’re a parent of a young child or toddler who is visually impaired you obviously have concerns about your child getting around your home safely and comfortably, especially as she becomes more mobile and independent. There are a number of relatively simple changes you can make to ensure your child can move safely within your home using her limited sight and her other senses.
As well as thinking about safety issues, it’s important to consider how you can reorganize things at home so that your child can learn how to manage things independently.

Take a good look around your home and assess what changes would be helpful. Some things to consider may be:

Lighting: Are there areas of the house where you could add extra lighting, such as the bathroom or kitchen? LED lights can be very helpful in these areas. Lamps are a good idea if you want to focus light on a game or a particular project your child is working on. Try to eliminate glare; for most visually impaired children, light reflected from a shiny surface can be very uncomfortable.

Contrast and color: Using colors that contrast strongly can help your child distinguish different objects. For example, a red towel hanging on a white bathroom wall, or a blue plate on a white table cloth. Choose some of your child’s favorite colors and use color coded boxes in her bedroom to store different types of toys. You can also use contrast in cupboards and draws by using colored liners.

Texture: Using different textures can help your child learn to use her sense of touch to recognize different things around your home. For example, different textured ribbons tied around bottles can distinguish toiletries. You might put a textured rug in the corner of her room to help her find her toy box.

Labelling: Large print or braille labels can be used on food items, personal hygiene products and toys. Tactile labels are a great way to help your child recognize a wide range of items including food, toiletries, the contents of cupboards and drawers, and puzzles and games. You can also use an audio labeler to help her identify things around your home.

Clutter: Try to avoid crowding things together on shelves or countertops; this will make it very difficult for your child to pick out specific items. Eliminate clutter from her cupboards, dresser, nightstand and bookshelves. Keep bathroom counters clear of everything but necessities, such as soap dispensers. Putting space between items on shelves and surfaces will make them more visible.

Height: Look around your home from your child’s perspective. Imagine what she can and cannot see from her height. Make sure you put things she needs to see at her eye level. You don’t have to reposition every single thing in the house, but objects she needs to reach for should be at the appropriate height and depth.

Encourage your child to use her sense of touch to garner information about where things are throughout her home. For example, in the bathroom, you could put a rubber band around her toothbrush so she can distinguish it from everyone else’s or you could put tactile labels on the kitchen cabinet where her cereal is kept. She may also begin to use clues such as the difference in floor surfaces between rooms. She may begin to trail her hand along the wall at waist height as she walks around the room, or slightly in front of her to avoid obstacles.

Gradually she will build confidence in her ability to orient herself in your home and, as she gets older, other, less familiar and more complex environments.

Resource Links:
Tactile Marks and Labels for the Blind | Braille Superstore

PenFriend Audio Labeler for the Blind (Version 2) | Braille Superstore

Home Accommodations for Persons with Disabilities

What is visual impairment?

Published by

Lindy van der Merwe

Fun-loving mum of two, wife of one, guide-dog owner, aspiring on-line entrepreneur and owner of http://bizviznet.com, interested in many things, including technology, business, marketing, crafts, word games, social sciences, animals, reading and more.