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We wanted to show how low-tech, low-cost methods can improve lighting and contrast in an environment, to help students with low vision be more comfortable and function more efficiently.

Our sincere thanks to Dorm 575 staff, who graciously agreed to let us “makeover” their space.

Disappearing Door

Doors that are painted the same color as the surrounding wall are hard to locate visually.
Door, trim and wall painted the same color

Appearing Door!

Contrast provided by coordinating color trim brings a door forward.
door trim with contrasting color

Living Room Light

Overall, the room is dim, with little light for those who might want to read.
living room with insufficient lighting

Reading Lights

Lamps, such as these Ott lights that can be individually positioned, allow the individual to manage his or her lighting needs independently.
floor lamps provide additional light for reading

More Reading Light

Barely visible on the right is a smaller lamp on an end table; another approach to adaptable lighting.
Table lamp provides more proximity lighting

A place for small items

Can you find the TV clicker? (Neither can we.)
living room with table, tv stand, and  couch

TV Clicker Found!

A caddy on the central table provides a specific spot for the clicker … now everyone just needs to remember to put it there!
small box with no top, on living room table with TV remote inside

Safety Issues

Curling rug corners … we can fix that!
rug in living room with curled up corner

Safety Issue Solved

The rug was repositioned so that a sofa holds the curling corner flat. (They can also be taped down.)
couch leg sitting on rug corner, removing curl.

Appliance Cabinet

White appliances in a white cabinet aren’t easy to see.
appliance cabinet with white interior and white appliances

Appliance Cabinet …
With Appliances!

With a high-contrast background (just bulletin board paper), they are easy to identify.
appliance cabinet with interior back and sides in red.

Invisible Plastic Containers

Plastic containers in a white cabinet … How many can you count?
cabinet with white interior with clear plastic containers - invisible plastic contatiners

Visible Plastic Containers!

Again … it’s amazing how they appear when contrast is increased.
interior of cabinet has contrasting color (not white) - visible plastic contatiners

Labels on Cabinet Doors

Doors are labeled … but are fonts large enough?
label on the inside of cabinet door (for organization)

Legible Labels

Larger Font is easier to read at a “working distance.”
legible label inside cabinet door - larger font in bold

Oven Door Handle

The oven door handle is in an unusual position. How readily did you find it?
white oven door, white handle on right side of door

Oven Door Handle Found

A strip of high-contrast tape makes the vertical oven door handle easier to see.
oven handle with blue painters tape. makes handle easier to find.

Stove Hood

We’ve all bumped our heads on the white stove hood …
white stove vent hood with white cabinets.

Stove Hood Visible

Maybe we won’t keep doing it, with this high-contrast tape making it stand out.
white vent hood outlined with blue painters tape, so you know where the edge of the hood is.

Student Desk

Glare from sunlight might be a problem at this desk; the student has no control over light where he works.
student desk in dorm room under window at left side of desk

Better Desk

The desk was positioned so that the student’s back will be toward the window … and a variable intensity lamp provided.
desk facing away from window

Toiletries Basket

With white blinds behind it, the basket provided for student use is hard to see.
white basket on dresser with white top, with white venitian blinds as backdrop

Better Basket

A similar plastic basket with an opaque color is much more visible.
basket of colored plastic

Bathroom Containers

White plastic basket and trash can don’t stand out.
white bathroom containers, beige floor, white walls

Better Bathroom Containers

A laundry basket and a trash can in contrast colors are more visible.
bathroom containers (trashcan, clothes basket) made of colored (non-white) plastic.

Small Step-Down to Shower

There’s a tiny ledge just high enough to stub your toe on at the shower entrance.
step-down into shower, same color tile on floor and base of shower

Visible Step-Down

Contrast tape helps make that small obstacle visible ... It might save your toes!
blue tape makes the step-down stand out

Shower Shelf

The shower shelf in the shower could use some highlighting also.
white tiled shower shelf in a white tiled shower

Visible Shower Shelf

Again, contrast tape makes the edge of the shelf visible.
white shelf outlined in blue tape

Towel Shelves

White towels … white shelves … low contrast can be improved.
white towels in cabinet with white interior walls and shelves

Better Towel Shelves

Contrast tape makes the shelves visible … and look what a difference colorful towels make! blue tape on front of shelf, colored towels on bottom shelf

Fire Extinguisher

A white box on a yellow wall lacks contrast … but in an emergency, we would need to find the fire extinguisher in a HURRY.
white fire extinguisher door on beige colored wall

Fire Extinguisher - Visible

Yet again, the blue tape provides excellent contrast, making the white box “stand out” against the yellow wall.
fire extinguisher door outlined in blue tape

Materials List

  • Tape … many varieties; we used colorful duct tape.
  • Bulletin board or Contact paper to line kitchen cabinets.
  • Ott lamps, both table and floor models.
  • APH Variable Intensity Lamp.
  • A little creative thinking.

Thank you!        

TSBVI Low-Vision Aids Study Group

Cindy Bachofer, John Castillo, Blanca Cunningham, Margot Marshall, Dennis Powell, Margaret Edwards, Belinda Rosas, Stephanie Savoie, Pat Stephenson