Tips in order to adapt a home for a person with low vision or blind

20 | 02 | 24
| Feliu Brand


1. What goal do we want to achieve at Finques Feliu today?


To act as a bridge between people with low vision or blind people who need the adaptation of a home and the qualified professionals to provide it.


2. How will we achieve it?


By developing the following points:

a) Introduction: At Finques Feliu we commemorate two centuries have passed since Braille alphabet first version. Where was Humankind in 1824 and where is it in 2024, in terms of low vision and blindness?

b) A bit of theory: visual function, difference between "vision" and "visual perception" and notion of the effects of visual pathology

c) Guide on habitat adaptation of the 'Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles' (from now on ONCE)

The first section is addressed to everybody. The second focuses on professionals in the field of housing adaptation and rehabilitation. The last one is designed to help people with low vision or blind people and their relatives or friends.


Introduction: Finques Feliu commemorates two centuries have passed since Braille alphabet first version. Where was Humankind in 1824 and where is it in 2024 in terms of low vision and blindness?


This 2024 two centuries are accomplished since the the Braille alphabet first version.

Since 1824 science has evolved in three ways:

a) An important progress in the training of the health professional.

b) An enourmous breakthrough in scientific research

c) A technological revolution: nowadays it is possible to perform medical operations that were unbelieveble two hundred years ago

From the point of view of public policies, we have gone from their non-existence -because Victorian society entrusted everything to charity- to Welfare State:


First part: A bit of theory: visual function, the difference between 'vision' and 'visual perception' and the notion of the effects of visual pathology.  


A priori, professionals in habitat adaptation or rehabilitation do not necessarily know anything about visual function. However, in order to adapt the house to a blind or low vision person it is essential.

We would like to thank our jobmate Lidia, who, in addition to being a Property Administrator, has studied nursing, for her illustrative explanation:

First of all, the eyes capture the environment. This 'capture' is what we call "vision"

Secondly, brain develops a process that allows discriminating and interpreting the external stimuli transmitted by the retina. This 'process' is what we conceptualize as 'visual perception'. Thanks to it we know the characteristics of the objects we see: color, state (solid, liquid or gaseous), based on previous experiences, we anticipate their texture or possible dangers. 

The addition of vision and visual perception allows us to recreate the external reality


1.1 What happens when the sense of sight is altered? How does the life of a person with low vision or blindness improve when they have a house adapted to their needs? 

The addition between vision and visual perception not happens. As a result, through sight, the brain obtains incomplete information - or none at all in the case of blind people - from the outside world. 

In the face of these affectations, adaptations are the gateway to a higher level of quality of life and safety for these citizens. 


Second part: ONCE's Guide on housing adaptation


Prior to the guide: for a successful adaptation, a medical opinion of the level of vision of the person who requires it is necessary:

Starting with the basics, it is imperative that the Disability Assessment Team determine the exact degree of visual impairment suffered by the citizen and write the results of the examination in a report. Only then can the adaptations be planned and carried out.

It is necessary to be clear that the person who registers for the test does not have the same needs:

- 50% visual accuracy: he/her has no 'low vision' 

- 30% of visual accuracy: 'low vision' is a fact with this percentage and a field of vision below 20º

- 0% visual acuity: we are talking about a blind person


2.2 The opinion of the degree of vision has to be studied by the architect or interior designer


The first thing the architect has to do is to listen with empathy and attention to the explanations of the person with low vision or blind and those of his family, finally he has to consult the medical report. If the person making the adaptation does not understand this document or has doubts, he/she should consult the medical professional.


2.3 Tips for home adaptation according to ONCE: 


2.3.1 Tips to stimulate the senses of the person with low vision or blindness  


The goal is: to get the data that do not reach the neck satisfactorily through the sense of sight to be able to do so thanks to the perception that all of us have distributed through the senses.

From here we quote ONCE thanking HayaRealEstate for its excellent text:


Visual facilities: It is necessary to focus on the different characteristics of objects and signs:

  • Size
  • Intuitive placement: in a way that facilitates the approach,
  • Contrast: color contrast combinations should be made to allow for quick viewing and avoid reflections.
  • Accurate lighting: brightness will always be favorable because it stimulates the brain of a person with low vision.
  • Auditory adaptations: These are vital to receive warning information of possible dangers, for example, when approaching a flight of stairs.

Tactile facilities: These are necessary to help discriminate areas of all rooms. You have to use textures that allow you to identify or discriminate different spaces such as the "soft elements" that our interior designer Pep Feliu was talking about in 2020.


Other tips:

  • Reinforce lighting: artificial given that adapting it is the element that can help them the most in all kinds of daily activities
  • To promote natural light: it is good, but, to sift it with curtains 
  • Adequately distribute the ceiling lights: we want a homogeneous lighting, but reinforced in 'working areas'.
  • Avoid wallpapers, upholstery and home textiles with geometric patterns: they interfere with the visual perception and can deceive the touch 
  • Knobs, door frames, switch or socket plates, furniture and drawer handles: they have to contrast with the rest of the objects to signal their potential danger. 
  • Use Braille labels for: food, medicines, cleaning products, etc. 
  • Use rubber bands or fabric labels to help you identify your objects (a rubber band on your toothbrush, etc.).

2.3.2 Personal safety tips in the home


Three complementary guidelines to minimize dangers are:

a) Reduce the number of objects in the house. 

b) Maintain a scrupulous order.

c) To signalize structural elements that can cause accidents we think of:


  • Columns
  • Corners
  • Furniture

2.3.3 Additional actions that we can minimize any danger:


  • Furniture has to be next to the wall, and wall furniture will have to be anchored. 
  • We recommend taping insulating rugs to prevent tripping.
  • Obviously showers without steps and with grab bars.
  • Non-slip floors in bathroom and kitchen. 
  • Bathroom door opening outward.
  • Opt for sliding windows to avoid bumping into them if they are open.
  • Hobs with relay to indicate which hobs are on.
  • If there are stairs, each step should be marked. 

Now you can face low vision or blindness with more guarantees than before. We ask that, in order to help many people, you spread the word about this document.