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How To Make Your Apartment More Accommodating For Your Blind Friend

by April Perry

When your friends come to visit you in one of Wynn residential Toronto apartments, you want them to be comfortable in your home. This can be challenging, though, if you have a friend who is visually impaired. There are a few things you can do, however, that will make it easier for your blind friend to navigate around and feel at home in your space.

Label Everything

A good place to start would be to label everything your friend might come in contact with. For instance, put labels on kitchen cabinets detailing what they contain (e.g. cups, plates). It might also be beneficial to label the shelves as well so he or she doesn't waste time trying to figure out where things are inside the cabinet.

If your friend understands Braille, then constructing labels in that code would be ideal. Otherwise, you can use a label maker to create the tags. Just be certain the letters are large enough that your friend can trace them to determine what the word is. If you're concerned about permanently marking doors, walls, and cabinets, you can place the labels onto ordinary cardboard or construction paper and use removable tape to adhere them to the surface.

Get Talking Products

Products that talk or make sounds are immensely helpful for people with low or no vision. Unless your visually impaired friend will be spending a lot of time over at your place, though, you'll generally only need a few products to help him or her manage in your living space.

One good product to get is a talking microwave oven. This product works exactly like a regular microwave, except a voice describes what each button does on the machine. Typically, there is a volume control, so you can turn it down or off when your friend is not around. This is a great way to provide autonomy and independence to your friend in the kitchen.

Another nice product to have on hand is a step-hear device. This is an information system designed to provide visually impaired people with information about their environments. There are two parts: a base that houses a pre-recorded message and a wearable activator that vibrates when the person comes within a few feet of the base. You can use this product to warn your friend about potential hazards in your apartment or to help direct him or her to different parts of the space (e.g. guide to the bathroom).

Switch Up Your Lighting

If your friend has low vision, investing in a few high-intensity lights can make it easier for the person to see. These lights are typically brighter than regular ones and are available as desk and floor lamps. You can even purchase high-intensity bulbs and switch them out for your regular bulbs for the time period your friend is in your home.

Some desk lamps have large magnifiers attached that the person can use for reading books or looking at pictures. Many times the magnifiers can be tucked out of the way, letting you use the lamp for other things when your friend is not around. If you don't want to buy this special type of lamp, keeping handheld magnifiers around also works.

Keep Pathways Clear

It's easy to accumulate clutter in an apartment, especially if you live alone. For the safety of your friend and to protect your stuff from damage, it's essential that you keep hallways and walkways as clear as possible. This is especially important if the person is using a seeing-eye dog, as the clutter may distract the dog from his or her duties.

Accommodating your visually impaired friend may require a little more effort than required for a friend with perfect vision. However, your friend will appreciate it, and the two of you can focus on enjoying each other's company whenever the person visits. For more tips on making your apartment more accommodating for a visually impaired person, contact your landlord or real estate agent with experience in helping disabled people find living spaces.