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Visibly Better - Designing accessible housing and buildings

RNIB's vision is to have housing and buildings that are inclusively designed and accessible for all.

Visibly Better supports organisations to develop and maintain accessible environments so that more people can feel confident in moving around the places they visit, work or live.

Visibly Better accreditation scheme

Visibly Better is RNIB’s accreditation scheme for social landlords, who have older people independent living schemes or care homes within their housing portfolio. Visibly Better does not replace the Care Quality Commission (CQC) standards but seeks to compliment the CQC requirements through the continuous development of staff knowledge and skills, to create home environments that enhance quality of living.

Visibly Better provides a unique support structure that advances the quality of living for residents with sight loss and empowers staff to confidently improve residents' independence and mobility through simple adaptations to the environment.

RNIB Visibly Better logo

Image: RNIB Visibly Better logo

Members are supported across Visibly Better's six key organisational areas that influence living standards for older people. Depending on the number of key areas attained, members can achieve anything from bronze to platinum level accreditation. To achieve these standards, Visibly Better delivers a range of support to its members:

  • Consultancy: whether it's a new build, refurbishment or cyclical maintenance, we can help to ensure that project funding goes further, by making the environment accessible without compromising on design.
  • Audits: a user-friendly document with pictures and descriptions of what is required in any planned works.
  • Training courses: Visibly Better members have access to a comprehensive range of training that equip people with the knowledge and skills to future-proof services for all tenants and residents.
“I didn’t know anything prior to being involved with Visibly Better – I have developed all of this knowledge…the different conditions, the impact of this on different people and the more technical side of things, for example, types of lighting, contrast levels and accessible design… the list is endless really.” – Visibly Better Member

Register of Visibly Better accredited homes

This register displays Visibly Better accredited schemes in Wales that demonstrate excellent practice in meeting the needs of residents with sight loss. The schemes on this list have created homely designs that help to improve residents' ability to move in and around the living environments, increasing independence and quality of living. All of the homes on this register receive ongoing comprehensive sight loss awareness training, so communication and activities in these schemes are accessible to people with sight loss and staff are better equipped to support residents with sight loss.

If you are searching for a place to live for anyone over 55 or are looking for extra care in your local area, this register of accredited residences may be useful for your decision making.

If you are a housing scheme or social landlord looking to adopt Visibly Better principles and become a Visibly Better registered supported housing provider, please contact us at [email protected] or call us on 0141 739 3683.

Visibly Better and building regulations

The Visibly Better design principles support members to meet best practice and legislative obligations that include Part M and Part K; The Equality Act 2010; British Code of Practice BS 8300; Welsh Housing Quality Standard; Development Quality Requirements; and Lifetime Homes standards.

Visibly Better – not just housing

Visibly Better has been endorsed by the Welsh government; the Older People’s Commissioner; Chartered Institute of Housing; Cymorth Cymru; and Care and Repair.

"We were very pleased to be able to work with the RNIB to use the Visibly Better Cymru design principles for the redesign of our Radiology waiting room."

"We welcomed the opportunity to ensure that our design created an environment that was accessible, calming and welcoming. I am delighted with the result and happy to note that the learning from this project was rolled out into other environments within the Health Board.

"Ensuring we consider the needs of all users of the service has been at the forefront of our thinking and feedback on the design has been very positive," said Sue Bailey, Professional Lead for Quality, Safety and Patient Experience, Clinical Diagnostics and Therapeutics Clinical Board, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

Our work is highly acclaimed and has been recognised through the inclusion of RNIB's publication "Building Sight" in the Development Quality Requirements Part 1.1.1 and the Welsh Housing Quality Standards Part 7d.

David Watkins, Visibly Better Co-ordinator, said: “Social housing providers have got to apply the specifications of the WHQS and the DQR, but it's great that our members can demonstrate some of the regulation key elements through achievement of Visibly Better. Visibly Better ensures that costly mistakes are not made and that design choices are fully with the landlord.”

David Watkins (Visibly Better Coordinator, RNIB), Sue Bailey (Professional Lead for Quality, Safety and Patient Experience, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board), Keith Valentine (Director of Development, RNIB).

Image: David Watkins (Visibly Better Coordinator, RNIB), Sue Bailey (Professional Lead for Quality, Safety and Patient Experience, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board), Keith Valentine (Director of Development, RNIB).

The service has been involved in several unique projects, including:

  • The development of Extra Care Homes, community centres, health board inpatient services, wards, surgeries, clinics and support settings for general needs and those that specialise in learning disabilities.
  • Refurbishing sheltered and general needs housing.

If you're unsure if your current project is eligible to apply for Visibly Better registration, or if you would like more information about the how the Visibly Better design principles might support development in your building, please contact us at [email protected] or call us on 0141 739 3683

Visibly Better in practice

You can find out more about Visibly Better through these articles and publications:

Take a look at this video of John Phillips who has been volunteering with Tai Tarian to help assess that housing meets our Visibly Better standards.

Further support

The Health and Social Care Skills Development team specialise in providing training and support for staff and organisations working with sight loss and older people or people with sight loss and complex needs, such as dementia, learning disabilities, autism and strokes. There are a variety of free resources on the RNIB webpages that may be of interest to people working in this area and several podcast series that provide further information on these topics. There is a podcast in the series specifically on creating inclusive environments for sight loss that will be of interest to anyone looking at developing accessible spaces. For more information, please visit our webpages:

Contact us

To discuss anything about Visibly Better or to find out further information, you can email us at [email protected] or call us 0141 739 3683.