Three Tips To Help Design A Deck For Someone Visually Impaired

In Australia, there were 357,000 people in 2013 affected by low vision or blindness and the number is expected to top 560,000 by 2030. As someone newly diagnosed with low vision, now is the time to make adjustments to your home before your eyesight deteriorates any further. Entertaining at home is a safe way to keep in touch with family and friends in a surrounding you know like the back of your hand. With summer on its way, now is the ideal time to get your new deck designed and built so you can enjoy outdoor entertaining. There are three design tips you need to consider before you meet with your deck builder.

One Level Deck

As low vision takes hold, it's hard to negotiate stairs or differences in floor levels. This difficulty applies in particular when there is no obvious contrast between the two levels. In 2011, a presentation showed it was easier for low vision people to see a step up than a step down. Misjudging a step down can cause a low vision sufferer to fall on their knees, hands, or head.

There are two ways to avoid this problem when designing your deck. One is to have each level of the floor in contrasting colours so the difference between the two can be detected. The safer alternative is to design a deck that is only one level. A single level floor eliminates the possibility of misjudging step downs all together.

Glare Reduction

Glaring sun can further reduce the range of vision a person with low vision has, so with this in mind it is important you consider including shade options for your new deck. Different ways you can reduce the impact of the sun include:

  • Partially covering the deck with a roofing option. A combination of horizontal posts topped with a tinted acrylic panel lets the sunlight in while reducing the glare impact.
  • Attaching a retractable awning to the side of the house that can be raised and lowered depending on how sunny it is.
  • Attaching rollered screens to each side of the deck which can be lowered when required.

Wearing a hat and a pair of wrap-around sunglasses while out on the deck will also reduce the impact that glare has on your eyes.

Non-Slippery Deck

A slippery deck is a dangerous deck for a person with low vision, so choose decking materials that will not become an accident waiting to happen at the first sign of rain. Treated wood panels are a good choice because they are treated with chemicals to stop mould and mildew growing. Mould and mildew make decks very slippery when left to grow.

Painting the deck boards with a non-slip coating is another option. Non-slip coatings look like textured paint and are designed to seal the deck board against moisture while providing traction when the deck is wet. The small particles in the paint give your shoes something to grip on while walking around.

Adhesive tape also makes an effective anti-slip choice for a newly built deck. Just like the textured paint, it gives the foot or shoe grip when walking across a wet surface. When considering adhesive tape, however, choose a product that can be screwed onto the deck. The stick-down tape version has a tendency to curl up on the edges after constant exposure to the weather elements, so it would need to be regularly replaced.

You can still do plenty of outdoor entertaining despite your low vision diagnosis, and building a deck with your sight issues in mind means you don't have to fear falls while out there. Use these tips to start design discussions with your deck builder and get ready to enjoy a lot more time outside.