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Bathroom Adaptations For The Visually Impaired | More Ability

17 December 2019

When it comes to adapting bathrooms for visually impaired users, there are five key points that must always be considered:

1. Education

2. Accessibility

3. Declutter

4. Contrast – Texture & Colour

5. Illumination

Before we consider how to create a stylish bathroom for a partially sighted person, education is first and foremost. Bathrooms are one of the highest-risk areas in the home, and it’s crucial that the risk they pose for the visually impaired – and how to safely adapt to that risk – is fully understood.

Education

What is visual impairment?

Visual impairment is classed as a limitation of one or more functions of the eye or visual system that inhibits vision and cannot be corrected with standard glasses or contact lenses.

There are two main categories of visual impairment:

  • Those who are registered as partially sighted, which means the level of sight impairment is moderate.
  • Those who are registered as blind, which means a severe sight impairment where activities that rely on eyesight become impossible.

Around 1 in 30 UK residents (2.2 million) live with some form of sight loss, according to the Royal National Institute of Blind People. Of this figure, approximately 360,000 are registered with their local authority as blind or partially sighted.

An ageing population and an increase in conditions that can contribute to sight loss, such as obesity and diabetes, means we can expect to see these figures increase to 2.8 million by 2030, and 4 million by 2050 - if nothing changes.


How to create a stylish bathroom for a partially sighted person

Accessibility

Above all, adapting a bathroom for the visually impaired needs to focus on accessibility. Whatever type of bathroom you have – whether an accessible wet floor shower or mobility wet room – creating a level access shower solution where there is no steps or lips to reduce the risk of a trip or fall is recommended, especially for those with impaired vision.

Similarly, the incorporation of smart bathroom technology can help greatly with regards to making a bathroom accessible for partially sighted people. Smart showers can now also be installed to incorporate voice activation, completely removing any requirement to locate the digital dial when you want to turn the shower on or off. Audible feedback showers that make specific noises when buttons are pressed are also available that are available to use in a sleek and simple to use design.

Motion sensor thermostatically controlled taps can also be installed to not only eliminate the risk of scalding, but to also make turning the fixture on and off easier. You could also consider a motion sensor flush on the toilet, to avoid having to locate a handle, cord or flush plate.


Declutter

Decluttering your bathroom and ensuring walkways are kept clear with no obstructions is essential. This includes removing mats and rugs, which can easily become a trip hazard.

Incorporate storage to tidy away bathroom amenities. Or if you prefer to leave essential items out add recessed shelving so items are out of the way and therefore can’t easily be caught and knocked over.

When considering how to create a stylish bathroom for a partially sighted personthe installation ofshower niches and shelves can provide easy access and made more visible through the installation of spotlights or downlights, which we’ll cover in more detail under the illumination section.

Once you’re in the habit of putting everything away, make sure you keep things in the same place so all users know where everything is. This makes it easier to locate the next it is needed.

Also consider installing storage that has no sharp corners or if it does fitting corner covers.

Contrast in Texture and Colour

Using contrast in texture and colour is another way to help adapt a bathroom for the visually impaired without taking away from the overall design.

Used to highlight key areas within the bathroom, we’d advise using contrasting colours and textures when applying floor and wall coverings, to help those with impaired vision easily navigate between fixtures and fittings.

For example, using a dark, textured, non-slip, floor tile to create a walkway or path can help map out a route, and more importantly, through noticing the clear change underfoot, notify a user should they venture off course.

Similarly, we would strongly advise against using chrome fittings, or anything of a reflective nature, i.e. glass, as this can trick the eye to thinking something is either nearer or further away than it actually is. Instead, choose a matte effect for a non-shiny finish and a colour that is in conflict with the main fixture i.e. a black matte basin tap, installed on a crisp white basin.

This approach when creating a bathroom adaptation for the visually impaired can be incorporated throughout your accessible bathroom design, from contrasting colours of towels through to the texture of soap dispenser accessories.


Illumination

A final point when considering how to create a stylish bathroom for a partially sighted person is illumination. Using contrasting colours, the overall space should be bright and well lit.

Spotlights, downlights and floor lights can be used to enhance and highlight specific fixtures and fittings, making them easily identifiable, whether above a basin or in a niche. Similarly, LED colour and light technology can be incorporated to make the overall bathroom safer and easier to use, especially when it is used to help differentiate between temperature controls.

Paying careful attention to these five areas will give you a foundational understanding of how to create a stylish bathroom for a partially sighted person whilst ensuring your bathroom is suitable for safe and easy use by a visually impaired user. For more information you can book a free design appointment, visit one of our showrooms or call us to speak to one of our friendly design experts.


More Ability, part of the Passmore Group, is Yorkshire’s only 5* rated bathroom adaptation company. Specialising in accessible, mobility and disabled bathroom solutions we are extremely proud of the exceptional service we continuously deliver from design right through to installation and after care. Whether you want a future proofed solution or require a more specialist adaptation in order to remain independent at home More Ability can help create a safe space to bathe for you or your loved ones.

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