How LED Lighting Can Help Those With Visual Impairments Navigate The City
Americas, Built Environment, July 13 2018
CANADA: Vision loss will increase by 30 percent within the next 10 years in Canada. People with visual impairments risk social isolation as well as less community participation, which is why it’s so important for cities to be more accessible to them. This can be alleviated with the use of LED lighting.
LED lighting is growing in popularity. In Canada alone, the phasing out of incandescent bulbs has resulted in other, more accessible lighting options. One of these is LEDs. Since they last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lights, use less energy, and work well in all weather conditions, they provide a valuable lighting system for both public and private spaces. They can also help to light the way for people with vision problems who rely on well-lit public areas in order to get around with greater ease. Here are other benefits of LEDs for those with visual impairments.
The reduction of glare
The glare created by streetlights and lights in other public places can be overwhelming for everyone, but especially those who are visually impaired. According to author of the book “Insight Into Low Vision”, Terri Cyr OD, light-sensitive neuron problems in people with retinal disease may cause them to feel that some lights are too bright, and this can result in eye pain. Glare can also cause temporary blindness where a person’s peripheral or central vision is washed out by the brightness. LED light fixtures are able to eliminate the problem of glare by directing light to prevent the washing out of surroundings. The brightness of the lamps needs to be adjusted to prevent glare, however, while not compromising on ensuring that public spaces have enough wattage to create sufficient light. Well-lit spaces are easier for people with vision problems to navigate, while making them safer to be in at night.
Installing LED fixtures in hard-to-reach places
One of the benefits of installing LED lights in public places, such as hotels, is that they have small fixtures which can easily fit into hard-to-reach spots. By installing them in dark areas such as under stairs, visually-impaired people can find their way easier. Placing more LED lights in areas where pathways are interrupted by the protrusion of objects, such as furniture, can also increase safety. Since LED lighting is more cost-effective, due to their efficient use of heat when calculated against traditional lighting, they can bring greater levels of light to public spaces without the high cost.
Highlighting signs and pathways
A study published in the Journal of Current Ophthalmology found that visually-impaired people find sidewalks to be the most dangerous place, highlighting the need for urban changes to be made. In fact, research released by The Natural Coalition For Vision Health has found that people with visual impairments experience double the incidence of falls than people without vision loss. Installing LED lighting to make reading signs and printed materials much easier is important. But focus also needs to be placed on other elements, such as highlighting holes in the ground as well as other obstacles that can be dangerous. The use of lighting in these crucial places will be invaluable, helping to make visually-impaired people feel much more comfortable in their cities.
Having good lighting around the city helps visually-impaired people get around, while making cities more accessible to everyone. From ensuring places are easier to navigate, better seen, and without glare, LED lighting technology can assist in enabling those with vision problems to better navigate their environments.
Written by Jane Sandwood, a professional freelance writer and editor.