For most of us, carrying out everyday tasks and getting around safely and independently in our own homes is merely part of our daily routine. However, people with learning disabilities and sight loss can find such day-to-day tasks extremely challenging because housing does not meet their needs. Simple changes can make a big difference! RNIB Cymru is responding to the needs of people with both learning disabilities and sight loss by producing a new guide for housing providers: ‘Homes for people with learning disabilities and sight loss - A guide to providing safe and accessible environments’.
There are approximately 1.5 million adults in the United Kingdom with a learning disability, around 1 in 10 of whom have serious sight loss which impacts greatly on day to day life. However, with better design, houses can be made more accessible for people with learning disabilities and sight loss in order to reduce the risk of falls and accidents in the home, improve wellbeing and quality of life, and support independence which will reduce the levels of care and support required.
RNIB Cymru’s guide provides clear and simple guidance on how to design, refurbish and maintain accommodation in a way that will best support the needs of people with both learning disabilities and sight loss. This includes the appropriate use of colour, lighting, wayfinding, signage, surfaces, acoustics, accessible gardens and external areas, and advice on accessing eye care services.
Ceri Jackson, Director RNIB Cymru said: “People with learning disabilities are 10 times more likely to have serious sight loss, and yet a person’s sight loss may not be obvious to other people which means that many people with learning disabilities and sight loss may live in housing that is not designed or adapted to take account of sight loss.
“RNIB Cymru’s vision, supported by this publication, is to have housing and buildings in Wales that are inclusively designed and accessible for all, so that people with sight loss can stay safe, maintain their independence and have the best possible quality of life without having to worry about the home environment around them.
“The guidance, along with the work of our highly-respected Visibly Better team, which carries out access consultancy, training, research and accreditation for builders and designers across Wales, highlights the changes that are needed to make accommodation accessible. They are often quite simple and easy to implement, but can make a huge difference to a person’s quality of life.”
The Welsh Government have provided funding for the RNIB publication, and Rebecca Evans, Welsh Government Minister for Social Services and Public Health, commented: “The Welsh Government is pleased to support the launch of this new RNIB Cymru publication which, when the guidance within is implemented, will improve the lives of people with learning disabilities and sight loss.
“Making such changes to homes can help people to live independently for as long as possible, preventing or reducing the demand for health and care services. It can also help in facilitating earlier discharges from hospital, allowing people to go home sooner."