How to alter and adapt your home if living with visual impairment

Everyone should feel comfortable and confident in their home. If you have impaired vision, are losing your sight or have an eye condition, taking steps to improve or make adaptations to your home can help you continue living safely and independently.

There are many ways that this can be done, no matter what your budget – and you may even receive financial help towards the costs. Read on to find out how.

Interior design tips for ultimate home comfort

Whether big or small, there are several different adaptations you can make throughout your home to improve your confidence and independence.

If you’re considering redecorating, selecting certain types of paints and wallpaper can make things easier to see. For example, shiny gloss paints can cause glare, whereas matte paints help to prevent this. Changing the colour scheme between the rooms in your home also helps you to navigate your surroundings more easily, as you’re able to tell the difference between rooms.

Another useful tip from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is to paint your doors a contrasting colour to door frames and surrounding walls so they’re easier to see. If you have sliding glass doors, you can stick a coloured transfer design to the glass so you can tell more easily if doors are open or closed. To make door handles stand out, use colours that contrast with the doors they are on. Door handles can be painted, a coloured strip can be stuck on, or the handle can be replaced.

Likewise, increasing the amount of natural light coming into your home can improve your home comfort. You can go big with this by installing additional windows, skylights or light wells, or go for a more subtle approach by installing new blinds or curtains that let in more light. Alongside this, it’s worth improving the level of artificial lighting in your home by opting for brighter bulbs.

The RNIB has plenty of aids and gadgets designed to help around the house that might enable you to live more safely and independently. You can make your house feel like home again with products such as the Penfriend labeller or the talking microwave – shop their full range of home and leisure products here.

Adapting electrical fittings

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If you’re finding it hard to switch on lights or plug in electrical equipment, there are a few things that can help you use your appliances more easily. Here are some tips taken from the RNIB website:

  • Use switches and sockets that contrast with the walls, such as a dark red light switch contrasted against a white wall
  • To add even more contrast, put a contrasting light or dark strip of tape around the switch fitting
  • To help you find pull cords for lights, tie brightly coloured ribbons or material onto them
  • To help you find appliance controls more easily, use brightly coloured contrasting markers (bumpons) with raised markings so that you can see and feel the controls
  • Use a thick black pen to write large labels on appliances to make them stand out
  • Ask appliance manufacturers directly if they can supply tactile adaptations for their products

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Making stairs safer

It’s important that your stairs are easy to access and safe to navigate. To help with this, fix continuous handrails to either side of all your staircases so that you always have something to hold on to. In addition, paint these handrails or any staircase bannisters in your home a contrasting colour or tone so that they stand out from the stairs and the wall. Finally, make each step stand out by marking their edges with white paint, or by fixing a contrasting piece of white plastic or metal (known as ‘nosings’) to the edge of each step.



“Putting worktop appliances, such as your kettle, on a contrasting non-slip mat can make them easier to see”

Independence in the kitchen

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You can also make cooking and preparing food easier and safer by introducing contrasting colours. For instance, it’s easier to work on kitchen surfaces and mats that are plain and contrast in colour or shade from the kitchen walls or surrounding surface.

Putting worktop appliances, such as your kettle, on a contrasting non-slip mat can make them easier to see. Plus, if you paint or put tape along the edges of work surfaces and shelves in a contrasting colour or tone, it will make the edges easier to identify.

If you have wall-mounted cupboards, consider putting contrasting tape along the edges or changing their colour. Also, avoid putting up glass shelves as they are difficult to see. The RNIB has plenty more useful information on staying safe in the kitchen – find their cooking page here or read more about effective lighting here.

Keeping the bathroom safe

The bathroom can be a hazardous place at the best of times, but there are plenty of simple adaptations you can make to enhance your safety.

Think about installing safety flooring, ensuring that it’s non-slip, non-reflective, and is in a contrasting colour to your bathroom walls. If you fancy fitting new wall tiles, look for those with a matt finish and pick tiles that contrast with the floor. If you have grab rails, ensure these also contrast with the wall colour so that you can see them more easily.

Finally, when thinking about bathroom furnishings, go for soap dispensers, toilet roll holders and a toilet seat that contrast with your bathroom walls, wash basin and toilet.

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Financial help for home adaptations

Investing in larger home adaptations can come with a hefty price tag. Luckily, there are a few options for additional financial aid:

  • Funding from social services. According to the RNIB website, social services departments have a duty to help provide adaptations to ensure safety, security and convenience for people with disabilities who meet their criteria. Contact your local council’s social services department to ask for an appointment with a social worker to assess your needs.
  • The Disabled Facilities Grant. This is a mandatory grant for home adaptations, worth up to £30,000 in England and £36,000 in Wales. This grant is available to you if you’re disabled, experience problems accessing your home, and/or need to improve the safety of your home. Find out more here.
  • Increase your weekly income. Are you claiming all the benefits you can? You may be entitled to additional help such as the  Attendance Allowance (AA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Visit GOV.UK or email for more information on benefits you may be entitled to.

For more information on how to get financial help or housing advice, you can contact the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email

The RNIB also has more information on the role of community care teams on their social care and rehabilitation page.


Additional support at home

The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a free service, designed to support those who need a little extra help in the event of interruptions to their gas, water or electricity supply.

If you or someone you know has extra communication, access or safety needs, signing up to the PSR will help you to access the best possible services at all times and to feel safe and independent at home.

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