Childproofing Your Home for Your Blind Child
Usually the biggest concern in the home for kids who are blind or visually impaired is safety and mobility. Kids with visual impairments are remarkably good at mapping their environment and can quickly learn to get around without too much trouble, but there are things parents can do to make that easier.
It may seem simple, but first and foremost don’t move your furniture around. Redecorating a room is fun, but knowing that things in the house are static and reliable will really help your child have the confidence to move about safely.
7 Tips for a Safer Home
- Consider placing tangible objects and/or braille labels on doors or doorways so your child can identify rooms as they pass. These also work great on cupboards or drawers. American Printing House for the Blind offers a Standardized Tactile Augmentative Communication Symbols (STACS) kit with pre-made symbols or you can make them yourself.
- Lots of kids who are visually impaired still have some usable vision. High contrast colors can help them a lot in identifying objects and making their way around the house safely. Door Frames can be painted in bright colors or rugs that contrast the color of the floor can help kids follow a safe path. For example, if you have dark hardwood floors, place light colored carpet runners or mark your carpets with carpet strips throughout the house that your child can follow when walking. Even if your child doesn’t have vision, the carpet runners can still be a tactile cue they can use for orientation.
- Braille labels on often-used products in the bathroom can also be a big help for kids who are learning braille. Not only will this allow them to independently identify shampoo or face soap containers, it’s also a great way to reinforce emerging literacy skills!
- Keep electrical and phone cords wrapped and out of the way to avoid tripping. Cord covers work really well to organize cords and can even be attached to the wall or baseboards so they stay off the floor.
- Stairs are always a concern for parents of kids who are blind. Baby gates at the top of stairs can be a big help. Also, for kids with low vision, it can be helpful to mark the edge of stairs with bright colored tape or paint. Wireless motion sensor alarms can also be helpful for some kids to alert them when they are getting close to stairs.
- Sounds can also be helpful in identifying location and direction. For example, if you place a small table fountain in the living room it can be easier for your child to find the living room or turn in a specific direction.
- One last thing to think about is lighting. Kids with low vision often see much better in well-lit rooms with central lighting from above (as opposed to “mood” lighting from a table lamp).
- Light coming in from windows can also be a great way for kids to orient themselves in a room. For example, they may be able to see the square of light on the wall and recognize it as a window, which then might help them locate the door to the kitchen that is directly to the right of the window. If possible, keep your windows unobstructed or use window shades that allow in a lot of light.
- If your child will be walking around the house at night, consider installing motion sensor LED light strips along the hallway or stairs.
A safe house is a happy house, but that doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t also have the ability to design their space with fun and personality. Check out our bedroom design ideas for kids who are blind so you can add character to your child’s room too!
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