Adapting your home

If you are losing your sight or have a sight problem, you may need to carry out improvements, repairs or adaptations to your home to help you continue to live independently there. You might be able to receive financial help towards the cost of these changes.

Outdoor adaptations

There are a number of repairs and improvements you can make to the outside of your home to help you get around, including:

  • Repairing trip hazards such as a broken path or fencing.
  • Maintaining the garden to ensure that plants are not overgrown and causing an obstruction. This might involve removing weeds from between paving stones or cutting back hedges.
  • Improving the lighting around your front and back doors, especially near the locks or keyholes.
  • Installing an entry phone system so you can find out who is visiting before answering the door.
  • Fitting door handles which are easy to see and grasp.

Indoor adaptations

There are a number of general adaptations you can make throughout your home to improve your independence, including:

  • Increasing the amount of natural light entering into your home. This might be as simple as installing new blinds or curtains, or could require a bigger improvement such as installing new windows or light wells.
  • Improving the control and level of artificial lighting.
  • Fixing any hazards such as loose carpeting or broken handrails on a staircase.
  • Putting up continuous handrails on either side of the staircase to hold on to.
  • Changing the colour scheme in your home so that you can see things more easily and tell the difference between rooms.
  • Putting raised markings on appliance controls.
  • Having non-slip flooring in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Increasing the amount of heat insulation so that you can keep warm without paying higher bills.
  • Finding out about aids and gadgets which might help you to live more safely and independently.

We have more information on specific adaptations you can make for certain activities on our practical adaptations page and in our leaflet:

Watch our videos

You can also watch one of our videos featuring people with sight loss talk about the adaptations and equipment they have at home which helps make things easier.

Help with adaptations

If you do not have substantial savings but you feel that you would benefit from improvements to your home, you should contact your local council social services department and ask them to arrange for a social worker to assess your needs. You can find their phone number in the phone book, from Directory Enquiries or using the Sightline Directory. For more information on the role of community care teams, see our community care page.

If you are a home owner with savings, it is likely that any work needed will be your own financial responsibility. If you aren't able to pay for the work yourself, there are some other options available to you.

You could try to increase your weekly income. Are you claiming all the benefits you can? For example, if you are getting Income Support you may qualify for a Disabled Facilities Grant to enable you to stay in your own home. You may also be entitled to Attendance Allowance (AA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Visit the Benefits Adviser on GOV.UK or contact the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email helpline@rnib.org.uk for more information on benefits you may be entitled to.

Funding from social services

Social services departments have a duty to help provide adaptations or additional facilities to ensure safety, security and convenience for people with disabilities who meet their criteria. If you live in socially-rented property, housing authorities generally take responsibility for structural alterations and fixed equipment, and social services departments generally deal with forms of equipment which can be removed with relatively little or no structural modifications.

Disabled Facilities Grant

This is a mandatory grant for home adaptations, up to £30,000 in England and £36,000 in Wales.

This grant is available to you if:

  • you are disabled
  • you experience problems accessing your home or using the basic amenities within it, such as the kitchen or bathroom or to improve the safety of your home
  • you have a disability and need to adapt your home to make it easier to care for a dependent
  • your local council agrees that the works are reasonable and can be carried out.

Disabled Facilities Grants are means-tested, so the council will need to know about your income and savings.

You may also be eligible for other grants to repair, improve or adapt your home. Contact your local council housing department for further details about discretionary grants.

For more information on how to get financial help or housing advice, contact the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email helpline@rnib.org.uk.

Home improvement agencies

Home improvement agencies, for example Care and Repair or Mears Home Improvements, are available in many areas of the UK. They have staff who can help you to decide what changes you might benefit from, help to arrange money to pay for any work and organise the work itself. Your local council social services department will be able to tell you if there is a home improvement agency in your area and how to contact them.

You can also ask your local social services department if there is a "handy-person" service in your area to undertake basic repairs, plumbing, DIY, gardening and electrical work, either for free or for a small fee.

Making it easier to use your heating system

Changes can be made to your heating equipment to make it easier to see and use. Specially adapted products are available through RNIB or from fuel suppliers, for examples smart energy meters. Certain energy meters allow you to see how much energy you are using in real time, as well as controlling your heating through your  smartphone or similar device.

Call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email helpline@rnib.org.uk for more information.

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Shop online for a wide range of products that you need to remain independent. From talking scales to tactile labels, mobile phones to magnifiers, we can help you keep doing the things you love.

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