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Living with Independence: How to adjust your surroundings to better fit your life

Adjusting Your Environment for Optic Atrophy

After Americans come together to celebrate Independence Day and reflect on what July 4th means for our country as a whole, it’s also important to take a step back and think about that word: independence. For many it means freedom – to choose what you want to do with your life, what clothes you want to wear, or what religion you want to practice. But for the visually impaired, independence can be a difficult word to confront. Maintaining independence when you’ve lost a portion or all of your vision can be frustrating and expensive. HomeAdvisor’s 2019 home renovation estimate for disability accommodations ranges from $884 to a whopping $8,459. However, there are plenty of inexpensive and important steps to take to make living alone easier.

One resource is Vision Aware’s “Getting Started” Kit for individuals who are new to vision loss or who are helping loved ones prepare their homes. Their kit and website resources include guides for every aspect of the home. For example, in the kitchen they focus on keeping appliances in high contrast of each other. When chopping, ensure that the cutting boards you use are on the opposite color spectrum as the food, such as a black cutting board for lemons and a white cutting board for beats.

In the bathroom, safety is even more important. Vision Aware’s guides highlight simple but easily overlooked techniques, such as using soap out of pump dispensers rather than soap bars that can slip and fall in the shower. And texture is the key for bathrooms as well. Bath mats and bathtub stickers that are a distinctly different texture than the floor will help you navigate the trickiest and most potentially dangerous aspects of the room.

The Blind Guide also has several articles with unique tips for home accommodations. They range from simple suggestions such as taping down electrical cords, to larger recommendations such as how to arrange your furniture. We’ve also previously featured our friends at the Low Vision Specialists of Maryland and Virginia (LVS) on the blog for the work they do to help people with low vision stay active. Their IrisVision glasses and other medical device options can help the visually impaired regain their independence and do the things they love, whether that includes reading, watching television, or even driving in some cases.

Creating and maintaining a safe home for the visually impaired is more manageable than ever with the plethora of resources available for those who need them. Do you have a guide you love or a new trick you want to share with the ADOAA community? Let us know!


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