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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Home Survey Checklist

It is critical to make your older relative's home, room or apartment safe and accessible. Lighting, color contrast, texture, reduction of glare, and elimination of potential barriers and other safety issues are important factors to consider.

It is best to conduct this survey with pen in hand and in the company of your older relative. In that way, you can discover what problems he or she is having related to the type of vision loss he or she is experiencing. For example, glare affects people with cataracts in a different way than it may with other types of vision loss. Some people are extremely light sensitive. Others need lots of light to see adequately.

After conducting the review, use the fact sheets Creating an Accessible Environment and Tips for Print Readability for suggestions on how to correct some of the problems you found. Never make changes without talking to your older relative so that you are both aware of what creates the safest environment possible for him or her.

Entrance to Home or Building


  • Are the curb and outside steps marked with a contrasting color?

  • Are glass doors marked to make them more visible?

  • If there is a wheelchair ramp, does it have a non-skid surface?

If your older relative lives in an apartment or senior facility, you may want to review the following areas and discuss any potential hazards with management:

Mailbox Area of Apartment Buildings


  • Is the area brightly lit so residents can locate the right mailbox?

  • Are the names and numbers large enough and easy to read?

  • Are the boxes that belong to residents who are visually impaired identified with a brightly colored dot or a label?

Hallways of Apartment Buildings


  • Is lighting uniform throughout? Is there glare in any area?

  • Are doors a contrasting color to the wall; are the baseboards a contrasting color to the walls?

  • Are drinking fountains and fire extinguishers located along one wall only and recessed so that an older person with vision loss can trail the opposite site of the hall?

  • Is equipment lying around in the halls which can create a safety hazard?

  • Are ramps identifiable by a tactile change in surface?

  • Are emergency exits clearly marked?

  • Are floors cleaned/waxed with a non-glare, non-slippery finish?

  • Are signs at eye level? Is there adequate lighting to read them? Is the print large enough to be read?

Stairways and Elevators


  • Are stairways clearly lit?

  • Are the edges of steps marked in a contrasting color and texture to make them easily visible?

  • Do handrails extend beyond the stairwell for extra safety?

  • Are the tops of landings marked in a contrasting color and texture?

  • Are the up and down light indicators of elevators easy to see?

  • Can floor buttons in elevators be identified by both sight and touch?

  • Are floors also identified by an audible signal or are the floors announced?

General items to note throughout the home or apartment interior:


  • Are entrance thresholds flush to the floor?

  • Are doors a contrasting color to the walls?

  • Has color contrast been used effectively with walls, baseboards, wood work, floor and coverings to help with way finding?

  • Have window treatments been designed to control glare and maximize natural light?

Home or Apartment Interior Hallway


  • Is lighting uniform throughout? Is there glare in any area?

  • Are handrails in contrasting color to the walls?

Living Room and Bedroom Areas


  • Is there adequate lighting for your older relative to read, write, carry out other tasks? (Note: What you think is adequate may not be for your older relative. You need to verify this by trying out different tasks with your older relative. For example, reading generally requires higher wattage bulbs, full spectrum bulbs, or a combination of incandescent and fluorescent lighting).

  • Is glare a problem? What about from mirrors? Flooring? Bright sunlight on glass table tops?

  • Are throw rugs non-skid?

  • Is there furniture in the middle of floor that could cause safety issues?

  • Has a place been designated in each room in which to keep keys, TV remotes, and other small items that are easily misplaced?

  • Is the TV located in a place where the resident can see it—away from glare? Close enough to see?

  • Have closets and drawers been organized to facilitate locating matching clothing?

  • Have raised or brightly colored markings been applied to thermostats for heating and cooling?

Kitchen


  • Has color contrast been used effectively with walls, wood work, floor coverings, cabinet surfaces in the kitchen?

  • Have brightly colored or raised markings been applied to the stove and other appliances such as microwaves to facilitate cooking?

  • Is there a system in place for organizing the cupboards and refrigerator items—such as the use of tactile markings, large print lettering, or other means to identify cans, items in the refrigerator, or frozen food items.

  • Has the kitchen been equipped with adaptive kitchen equipment such as large print or raised line measuring cups and large print measuring spoons, long oven mitts, liquid level indicators for pouring hot and cold liquids, tomato slicers, color contrasting cutting boards, kitchen timers with large numbers, talking or tactile thermometers?

  • Have any flammable or combustible items around the cooking area in the kitchen been removed?

  • Have smoke alarms and fire extinguishers been installed? Does your older relative know how to use them?

  • Are cleaning products, insect sprays, etc. clearly labeled and identifiable?

Office area


  • Is there a filing system for bills and important papers that is easy to follow? For example, file folders can be color coded or large print or Braille labels can be used, for example using Dymotape labelers?

  • Is there a system to keep track of appointments, important phone numbers and addresses in a systematic way? For example, large print calendars and address books are available as are voice memo organizers and magnetic card readers such as a Voxcom for recording of product identification information on a magnetic card that can be attached to a pill bottle, clothing, or any item that you need to identify?

  • Does your older relative have a writing guide set with signature, letter-writing, and envelope writing guides, bold or raised line paper, and bold pens such as 20/20 pens?

  • Is there a good light available for close work? For example incandescent, full spectrum bulbs or natural sunlight provide the best light for reading. Swing lamps and goose neck lamps provide directed light for reading, telephoning, sewing, etc.

  • Is the telephone accessible for your older relative—for example, large print numbers or programmed to dial automatically? If your older relative is hearing impaired, is it equipped properly?

Bathroom


  • Has color contrast been used effectively with walls, wood work, floor coverings, cabinet surfaces in the bathroom? For example, the use of dark towels against a light wall can provide excellent contrast and absorb some of the glare in a white bathroom. Similarly a dark non-skid bathmat on a light floor can add contrast.

  • Are bathroom fixture handles, door handles, and soap dishes or dispensers in contrasting colors?

  • Has the hot water setting in the tub been marked so it can be identified by touch or through use of contrasting colors?

  • Is there sufficient and appropriate lighting in the bathroom? For example, fluorescent lights reduce glare and also provide more even lighting in a general area. However, incandescent lights are better for close work.

  • Is there too much glare?

  • Are there non skid mats in the bathtub and on the floor?

  • Is the bathroom equipped with adaptive devices such as a talking scale, pill organizer, magnifying mirror?

  • Is the mirror easily accessible without having to lean over a sink, for example?

  • Have pill bottles been organized and properly labeled?

  • Is the floor covered with a non-glare, non-slip floor covering?

Laundry Room


  • Have brightly colored or raised markings been applied to the washer and dryer to facilitate their use?

  • Is there a system in place to sort or organize clothes such as dark and light clothing or to keep matching socks together?

  • Is there a place to hang and sort clothing?

  • Are large print or tactile measuring devices available to measure laundry detergent?

  • Are detergents and bleaching agents clearly marked?

Dining Area


  • Has the table setting been designed to maximize contrast between the tablecloth or table mats, plates, cups and silverware?

  • Have contrasting colors been used to differentiate the floor covering and table cloth?

  • Can glare from windows be controlled?

This completes your older relative's home survey. If there are items that you have not been able to check off as accomplished or in-place, please use the information contained in the survey to make necessary changes to ensure your older relative's safe maneuvering through the home environment.

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