Applying Contrast to Your Everyday Routines

bathroom graphic showing contrasting shower curtain, bathtowels, bath mats, shampoo and conditioner, grab bar

Join us in welcoming Kristen Shifflett, OTR/L, CLVT, SCLV Occupational Therapist at Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center, Wilmer Eye Institute, for a webinar on “Getting More Contrast Out of Life: Applying Contrast to Everyday Routines.” Kristen will explain how to measure contrast sensitivity in a clinical evaluation and identify contrast sensitivity solutions in the home for everyday activities such as cooking, managing medications, and bathing. She will describe methods for changing the contrast sensitivity on cell phones, computers, and e-readers and discuss various light sources that can be used for everyday activities.

What is Contrast Sensitivity?

Contrast sensitivity is the ability to distinguish an object from its background. Individuals may find it difficult to distinguish curbs, stairs, or reading material. When it comes to contrast, lighting can make all the difference. When selecting lighting, keep the following in mind.

• Ensure even lighting throughout the environment.

• Avoid pockets of darkness.

• Dimmers provide flexibility.

Task lighting is another important consideration in helping with contrast. Task lighting should be low and direct, positioned between the person and object, and provide variable light levels.

How Contrast Can Help with Daily Routines in the Home

High-contrast items help individuals with low vision maintain independence and safety in the home. Some solutions include:

  • Use dark-colored non-skid mats inside and outside the tub.
  • Use contrasting towels and washcloths.
  • Set up a basket of toiletries using different colored bottles for products such as shampoo or conditioner.
  • Use labeled bins with large-print high-contrast lettering for clothing and accessories.
  • Organize the closet with different colored clothes in separate sections- for example, blue on one side and black on the other and place outfits together.

Built-in Accessibility Features in Mainstream Technology Devices

Android and Apple smartphones and tablets have numerous accessibility settings, enabling users to customize the device to meet individual needs. Some settings for low-vision users include enlarging font size and adjusting colors to increase contrast, screen magnification options, and more. Amazon’s line of products, Fire and Kindle Tablets, also allow users to customize font, colors, and magnification levels and enable read-aloud features, to name a few. Likewise, Mac and Windows computers offer similar customizable settings built into the operating systems.

Increasing contrast throughout the home does not have to be expensive. Many free or low-cost items enable individuals to maintain independence and safety in the home. Learn more about contrast sensitivity and how to effectively increase contrast in the home.

 About Katie Frederick

Katie Frederick is the Digital Content Manager for VisionAware, part of the APH ConnectCenter. She has worked in federal and state government, higher education, and nonprofit leadership. Katie advocates for people who are blind or low vision.