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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

A Checklist for Environmental Safety

Making facilities and programs and activities safe and accessible for older persons who are blind or visually impaired doesn't have to take a lot of time, energy, or money. It's a matter of knowing the basics and planning for easy access. Here are the basics you need to implement so that older persons who are blind or visually impaired can be full and active participants.

Lighting

  • Provide an ample number of floor and table lamps in recreation and reading areas.

  • Advise people who are visually impaired that light should always be aimed at the work they are doing, not at their eyes.

  • Replace burned out light bulbs regularly.

  • Place mirrors so that lighting doesn't reflect off them and create glare.

  • Use adjustable blinds, sheer curtains, or draperies, because they allow for the adjustment of natural light.

  • Place a few chairs near windows for reading or doing hand crafts in natural light.

Furniture

  • Arrange furniture in small groupings so that people can converse easily.

  • Make sure there is adequate lighting near furniture.

  • Select textured upholstery, if possible. Texture provides tactile clues for identification.

  • When purchasing new furniture, use brightly colored accessories, such as vases and lamps, to make furniture easier to locate.

  • Avoid upholstery and floor covering with patterns. Stripes and checks can create confusion for people who are visually impaired.

Elimination of Hazards

  • Replace worn carpeting and floor covering.

  • Tape down area rugs and electrical cords.

  • Do not wax floors; use non-skid, non-glare products to clean and polish floors.

  • Keep desk chairs and table chairs pushed in.

  • Move large pieces of furniture out of the main traffic areas.

  • If telephone booths protrude into main traffic areas, have them moved.

Use of Color Contrast

  • Place light objects against a dark background, for example, place a dark table near a white wall, for example, or a black switch plate on a white wall.

  • Install door handles that contrast with doors so they are easy to locate.

  • Mark the edges of all steps and ramps with paint or tape of a highly contrasting color.

Hallways and Stairways

  • In hallways, make sure that lighting is uniform throughout.

  • Locate drinking fountains and fire extinguishers along one wall only throughout hallways to allow individuals who are visually impaired to trail the other wall without encountering obstacles.

  • Install grab bars that contrast with the background in places where they may be needed.

  • Light stairwells clearly; avoid lighting that casts shadows or creates glare.

  • Make certain that stairway railings contrast with the background and extend beyond the top and bottom steps.

  • Mark landings in a highly contrasting color.

Signs

  • Place signs at eye level. Use large contrasting lettering. Avoid signs that protrude into hallways and other paths of travel.

  • Mark emergency exits clearly.

Telephones

  • Provide some telephones that have large-print dials.

  • Make telephone amplifiers, which increase the level of sound if available.

A little bit of safety can go a long way toward making your facility a comfortable and accessible environment for older persons who are visually impaired, and for everyone else who uses your facility and services.

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