Many parents and guardians of blind or visually impaired children are worried about the safety and ability for their child to roam around and do daily life tasks. You can help your child by adapting your house to suit your child’s visual disability, making it possible for them to do some independent tasks and move around the house safely.
Controlling the amount of light in your house is important for your child or visually impaired child. It’s important to note, however, that too much light is not always a good thing. For some children with albinism, aniridia, or other conditions that cause photophobia, too much light can cause problems. Here are some methods about lighting to consider for your child.
- Increase the amount of natural light. Children with low vision usually prefer natural light rather than artificial light because it’s easier on the eyes. You may need to install more windows around the house or get more adjustable window coverings. Opaque or glare-reducing shades can be lowered from the top or raised from the bottom. Blinds or shutters can also work as well, it allows you to control how much light comes into a room. 
- Place goose-neck lamps around places where your child does activities. Whether it’s on their desk, in their reading area, where they sew, or the place where they use the computer, place a goose-neck lamp next to their work space, so you can increase light and make it much easier for them to see when doing a certain task.
- Many companies provide lighter light bulbs, which create natural daylight, and can be very helpful with your child’s visual disability who needs light in their work areas.
- Place special lighting over the staircase. If you have a staircase, placing lighting over it such as strip lights or wall & step lights make it easier to for your child to go up and down the stairs safely. Make it easy for your child to adjust the lighting and brightness so that it can suit their visual needs.
- Place lighting over the places on the staircase where accidents are more likely to occur.
- Avoid using extremely bright lights, as this can actually be even harder to see and will do more harm than good for your child’s eyes, especially children with albinism, aniridia, or other conditions that cause photophobia.
- Consider using fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting may be helpful for a child with low vision. Fluorescent lighting disperses its light evenly over a wide area. It produces fewer glare spots because of its even lighting. The light also remains cool, even at very close distances.
- Consider using incandescent lighting. Incandescent lighting is yellow and provides more direct light. It’s usually best for close work, such as sewing or reading. This type of light is easy to tolerate for your child, however, might not bright enough for some.
- Incandescent light can become hot and overheat after prolonged use or with higher wattage.
- Try halogen lighting. Halogen lighting is best used in lamps in very specific areas that focus light. It can enhance contrast between print and background for some. The light is extremely bright, is very intense, and white. A lot more of the energy is efficient than the incandescent lighting.
- Halogen lighting can be extremely bright for a child, even causing glare for some. It should not be for a long, prolonged use because it can generate a lot of heat.
- Make light easy to control for your child. Ensure your can easily reach light switches from doorways and from their bed without your support. You may need to move certain light switches around to make it easier to reach, and easier to switch on and off. Consider installing light switches and picking out lamps that allow you to change the brightness settings, so your child pick the setting that suits them best.
Eliminating hazards prevents your child from getting hurt when roaming around the house, and makes it easy for them to do daily life tasks.
- Clean up spills right away. Accidents and spills happen, but they should not be left alone. If you or your child spill a liquid on the floor, it should be immediately cleaned up right away. It can be really dangerous leaving the spill there with your child’s visual disability, possibly making them trip and fall over.
- Teach your child how to clean up spills independently in case you are not around. If a spill left alone, your child can forget it’s there and possibly hurt themselves. 
- If you live with multiple family members remind them to always clean up if they have caused a spill for your child’s own safety.
- Child-proof your storage areas. For younger children with low vision, consider locking the your storage areas such as the cabinets, drawers, or closets with safety springs or latches. These storage areas can be slammed and shut easily, causing serious injury to your child’s fingers. It’s also incredibly important to close these cabinets if they contain dangerous products like cleaning supplies, chemicals, sharp materials, or tiny objects. Keeping it locked will prevent your child from getting seriously hurt.
- Consider using magnetic cabinet locks or cord cabinet locks to child-proof your cabinets. They’re simple to attach on and are good at child-proofing your storage areas.
- Keep the house clean and organized. Ensure the house is always clean. After you or your child have done a task (e.g cooking, woodwork, sewing, etc) always pick up after yourself and store the materials in a proper place for later. Trash should be picked up and thrown away. If there are certain objects in walkways that must remain there, place railings around the house so your child can identity where they are.
- After your child is done playing with their toys, encourage them to clean up after themselves and to store the toys for later use, such as in a toy box or toy chest.
- Ensure the furniture is stable. Couches, chairs, tables, beds, drawers, cupboards, and house decorations should all be stable. The furniture should not wobble or move around if touched. The furniture should also be in good condition, especially if it’s used frequently by your child. Avoid choosing furniture that has tears, holes, or rips as this can be choking hazard for younger children.
- Secure the rug edges. If you have small rugs around the house, secure the edges to prevent the rug from moving and harming your child. Tape the rug edges are with duct tape so the rug doesn’t move around if stepped on. Place multiple layers of duct tape on the rug to thoroughly secure it.
- Keep electrical outlets covered. For younger children with low vision, it’s important to cover electrical outlets such as power outlets, extension leads, phone chargers, computer cables, etc. These areas can cause extreme harm to your child if they’re used incorrectly. Use electrical outlet caps cover the outlets, preventing your child from using them 
- You can also electrical outlet covers if you’d prefer not to use regular outlet caps. These are easy to install and fit standard outlets.
- Fix any house hazards. The floor, windows, countertops, gutters, roof, cupboards, drawers, pipes, and carpet should all be in check. There should be no cracks, holes, or loose placements in your house as this can cause an accident. Make sure everything is in check daily to ensure that there isn’t something that could leave your child getting hurt. Examples include:
- Broken railing
- Cracked floor
- Loose carpet
- A leak in the ceiling
Glare is caused by sunlight or light from a lamp and can make it difficult for a blind or visually impaired child to see physically. Here are some methods to reduce glare in your house.
- Place mini blinds on the windows. Instead of regular blinds, use mini blinds to place on the windows. Mini blinds are a highly recommended window covering, because they can be altered during the day to eliminate glare.
- Turn the TV screen away. If you own a television, you can make it easier for your child to see by turning the screen away from the sun or a lamp, so the light source is behind the screen and not straight at it. This will prevent glare from producing.
- Cover shiny tabletops. If you own shiny tabletops or countertops, you can cover them with tablecloth to avoid glare from forming when light hits it. Avoid using plastic tablecloths as these can form glare as well. Use cloth material to avoid glare from producing at all, making it easier for your child to see.
- Avoid using wax on the floors. When polishing the floors, avoid using wax as this causes glare and can be hazardous to walk on for your child. Instead of using wax, use a flat finish to avoid the glare from appearing. Flat finish does not reflect light and will not allow glare to appear.
- Choose only paints with matt finish. Instead of flat paints, matte paints are shiny and reflect light in a mirror-like direction, causing it not to provide glare. This can be useful to avoid glare from forming onto the walls for your child.
EditCreating Color Contrasts
A color contrast is the difference between two colors and makes it easy for blind and visually impaired children to see. Consider placing different color contrasts around the house to help your child.
- Choose your child’s color preference. Your child may prefer a certain color that they find easiest to see and the color they like. For example, your child might prefer the color red or yellow. If they do have a specific color they like, use it to call attention for items that belong to them. Your child could own a toothbrush and cup for themselves that matches their preferred color, so they know and understand it belongs to them.
- You can also use your child’s preferred color to help them keep their room organized. Use different colored boxes or baskets for storing their toys.
- Avoid upholstery with patterns. Avoid having too many checker-designs, swirly-line shaped patterns, and markings all over the house. This not only makes it physically difficult to see for your child, but can also make it even harder to safely move around the house. Avoid floors that have checkered patterns, stick to basic wood floors or floors that are smooth.
- Place light colored objects against a dark background, or dark objects on a light background. This makes things much easier to spot for your child. For example, you can place a black switch-plate on a white wall, or a beige chair against a dark wood wall. Color contrasting makes it easier to spot the object you need or are working with. Consider using this method in their bedroom, the bathroom, areas where they do activities and play, etc.
- Change the color scheme in your house. It may seem quite odd, but letting each room have a color scheme makes it easy to identity so your child can know which room they’re in. Your child may want the bedroom red, but then the living room green. If you have multiple bathrooms, consider having one bathroom to resemble a blue color scheme, letting another bathroom be brown. Color schemes not only make it easier to figure out the room you’re in, but also make it safer for your child.
- Have brightly colored glass doors and windows. To help your child see doors and windows with ease, buy brightly colored glass so they are able to see more clearly. Consider getting turquoise, red, dark orange, or purple glass so they can identify where the glass doors and windows are, which can be helpful if they need to open it independently.
- Paint door frames a different color to doors. To help identify where the doors are for your child and help them open them with ease, paint the door frames a different color than the door. If the door is black consider painting the door frame white. If the door is red, paint the door frame yellow. The color contrast make it much safer to open and close doors for your child.
Keeping your home organized, clean, and tidy will make it a lot safer for your child to roam around and do daily life tasks.
- Find certain tools that can help you organize and label. Pick out tools and materials that make organizing and labeling easier for you. You may want to consider getting:
- White 3 x 5 inch index cards
- Jumbo colored paper clips
- Colored adhesive labels
- Colored electrical or plastic tape
- Wide-tip markers
- Flair felt-tip pens
- Laundry markers
- Braille cards or magnets, if your child can read braille
- Tactile marks
- Foam alphabet letters
- Self-stick magnetic tape
- Clearly label materials. On plain white 3 x 5 inch index cards, write the name of the household supply using a black wide-tip marker, a laundry marker, or a felt-tip pen so the letters can come out big and bold. Stick the labels by placing the label on the supply and wrapping it with a rubber band. That way your child can identity certain materials that need to be seen. If your child is completely blind or has lost most of their sight you can help your child by:
- Tie different-textured ribbons around the opening of a container.
- Place a different number of rubber bands around each container that’s different.
- Transfer items to different shaped types of containers.
- Label using symbols and objects. Try labeling items or objects using a braille labeler, if your child can read braille. You can also label items using a tactile marker or 3D pen. If your child is completely blind or has low vision, have your child use their sense of touch to organize and label by sticking Velcro, self-stick tape, or foam alphabet letter on the boxes to identity which box is which.
- Keep shelves, closets, and storage places organized. Keeping storage areas organized and tidy makes it easy for your child to get items independently. For example, on a bookshelf, you may want the first shelf to have all the books and the second shelf for all the magazines. Storing items this way makes it less complicated for your child to search for the things you need ahead of time. Examples include: 
- The top shelf in a closet having all the blankets, the second shelf having all their shoes.
- One box storing all their comics, the second box storing all their novels.
- One drawer storing all their colored socks, another drawer with all their white socks.
EditEncouraging Texture & Touch
Your child can recognize what belongs to them by using their sense of texture and touch, making it easy for them to recognize what belongs to them and where they need to go.
- Install rails and handles around the house. To help your child roam around safely, install rails and handles that are easy to grip and grasp. It may help to install them in rooms where your child spends most of their time in such as their bedroom, the playroom, the bathroom, and even the kitchen. Ensure the walkways are clear so your child can walk safely when they use the rails or handles.
- Place tactile marks around the house. Consider placing tactile marks in different areas around the house so your child can identify what belongs to them or where specific areas are in the house. You may want to place only one tactile mark on a certain object or many, so your child can identify it easier. Examples include:
- Placing a tactile mark on your child’s side of the closet.
- Placing a large tactile mark on the hot faucet in the bathtub.
- Placing multiple tactile marks on their toy box.
- Place rubber bands around the house. Wrap rubber bands around door knobs and certain possessions that belong to your child, such as their toothbrush or spit cup. Wrapping a rubber band around an object can help them know which item belongs to them. Wrapping rubber bands around door knobs can also help them know ahead of time what room they’re about enter. For example, you might place a rubber band on their bedroom door knob so they can know they are about to enter their room.
- Consider placing different textured rubber bands to help your child recognize more easier.
- You may also want to place a different number of bands so identifying is easier for your child.
- Place Velcro or tactile marks on dangerous or important areas of the house. To help your child identity the most dangerous or important areas of the house, place small or medium-sized pieces of Velcro on these areas, or use tactile marks, so they can feel the texture and know what it is. Examples include:
- The oven
- The hot faucet on a sink
- The stovetop knobs
- Keep all closet and room doors shut, especially if the room or closet contains dangerous objects and is not adapted for your blind or visually impaired child.
- Remind all family members, guests, and visitors to push their chairs under the table, to always close and open doors fully, and to pick up after themselves.
- Try installing a safety rail on the edge of the bathtub for your child.
- Ask your child’s visual therapist or eye doctor for different aids, gadgets, and methods which can help them to live more safely and independently.
- Avoid keeping small throw rugs as they can cause your child to trip.
- Always keep floor lamps and small items (e.g magazine racks, low tables, plants, vases, etc.) out of walkways to prevent you from tripping.
- Ensure the lighting level is consistent throughout the house so shadows and other dangerous bright spots are eliminated and removed. You may want to consider installing rheostats, which is used to control current. It’s able to control the resistance in a circuit without any interruption.
- Adapt Your Home if You’re Blind or Visually Impaired
- Interact with the Blind
- Write in Braille
- Help a Blind Person
- Work With Visually Impaired Children