This week, a well-known designer named Nate Berkus spoke about how they would design a space for someone living with vision loss. I agreed with a lot of the things they talked about, such as the importance of good contrast, lighting, and the awesomeness of having virtual assistants like the Amazon Echo in the house. I’ve also thought a lot about how I designed my dorm room with my low vision and love for color in mind, so today I will be sharing how I decorate my dorm room with low vision. Many of these tips work for other small spaces and apartments as well.
Arranging the furniture
All of the furniture in my dorm is pushed against a wall, with no edges sticking out that I could potentially run into. In one of my previous dorms, I covered my bed railing with Pillow Pets plush animals to keep me from hurting myself when I would repeatedly run into the bed frame. I also have my bed positioned away from the window to help with my photosensitivity.
Colorful comforter and blankets
I love having high-contrast bedding and blankets so I can easily pick up fallen items. I also don’t have to worry about my electronics blending into my comforter since it is a different color than anything else in my dorm room. My current comforter is a mix of green lines with images of black and white tigers- my favorite animal!
I use clear plastic bins underneath my bed to store lots of items, including clothing, shoes, and other random items. I prefer to use under-the-bed storage since I don’t trip over it, and can easily see what is in each container. These also can come in handy during move-in and move-out, as well as in the unlikely case of an evacuation.
Light blocking curtains
Remember how I mentioned my photosensitivity? I wear tinted glasses to help with light sensitivity and found that when paired with my blackout curtains, sunlight in my dorm does not bother me at all. The blackout curtains are also awesome for blocking outside light when I have a migraine or there is a lightning storm.
Incorporating wall art
I learned how to walk to my office at my internship by remembering the different wall art and colors on the wall, and have a similar method for being able to navigate my dorm. For example, I know that the thermometer and my necklaces are underneath a wooden zebra wall art, the switch for my lamp is underneath a piece of art I made for a graphic design project, and the cords for my computer are underneath a print from a concert I designed. I love designing my own art, but there are lots of interesting pieces available for free or for a small fee online.
- How I Learned To Navigate My Internship Building With Low Vision
- Choosing Wallpapers and Backgrounds With Low Vision
Hanging items on walls/doors
I hang my earrings organizer on my door, and have some other bulletin boards around my dorm so that I can easily access my most used items. Some of my favorite infinity scarves are also hanging on small hooks above different items to break up blank white space. I also have magnetic Urbio organizers that allow me to store items that would traditionally get hidden in drawers. By using my available wall space, I lose items far less frequently than before.
I love having my Amazon Echo Dot in my dorm room and use it over 50 times a day for checking the time, setting alarms, checking the temperature outside, and so much more. From helping me with my homework to helping me fall asleep, having a virtual assistant in my room has helped me more than I ever imagined it would.
I loved reading Nate Berkus’s thoughts about designing for visual impairment, and was glad to hear that I was already incorporating lots of good design principles for low vision. My dorm room is a fun and colorful place for me to spend time with friends, to do homework, and to relax after a long day of classes. But most importantly, my dorm room is a safe and accessible place where I can rest when I have a migraine or other chronic illness flare, and for that I am grateful.