especially hallways. Install as much light in each
space as you can.”
placed against solid
colors can highlight
sharp corners and
edges in the home.
2. GET RID OF CLUTTER.
“It’s important to eliminate any cluttered visual
space around your home,” Smith advises. “This
could be from actual clutter, or it could be flooring
with a design that is too busy, especially near
transition areas such as stairs. Both can detract
from seeing the contrasting edges of each stair.”
Christine Smith, OTR/L, MSCS, an occupational
therapist who has specialized in MS for 18 years,
offers some high-contrast solutions:
1. INCREASE LIGHTING ALL OVER.
“First, install bright lighting everywhere possible,”
Smith advises. “Brighter lighting reduces shadows
and increases contrast. Fluorescent light bulbs
(including the newer, eco-friendly compact
fluorescent bulbs) can produce really bright
lighting in lamps and fixtures that weren’t designed
for bright lights.” For example, a typical 60-watt
incandescent bulb for a ceiling fan produces only
about 604 lumens (a measure of brightness),
whereas an 18-watt fluorescent bulb produces
1,170 lumens, and can work in just about any
lamp or light fixture.
“Your lighting needs to be brighter and you need
more of it,” Cohen agrees. “High-intensity, gooseneck lamps are great for task lighting, and they are
cheap at office supply stores. Also, look critically
at your bathroom, kitchen and bedroom, and
3. HIGHLIGHT SHARP EDGES AND CORNERS.
Use brightly colored duct tape to mark off areas
where you’ll want to use extra caution, such
as around edges or corners. “Another key to
compensating for low-contrast deficits is to provide
contrast not only with colors, but with patterns
such as leopard prints or zebra stripes against
solids,” Smith explains.
4. MAKE ELECTRONICS EASIER ON THE EYES.
“Changing a computer screen to a high-contrast
color scheme and increasing the font [sizes] are
easy ways to increase contrast,” says Smith. Look
on your computer’s main menu for the control
panel. From there, the “display” tab typically allows
you to adjust your computer’s settings. For other
home electronics, such as televisions, a number
of other low-vision assistive tools and visual aids
are available, such as large-button TV remotes
that you can purchase to enhance contrast. Visit
AbleData.com and search for “high contrast” to
find out what’s available.