Helping Your Visually Impaired Roommate Adjust to Your Home

Helping Your Visually Impaired Roommate Adjust to Your Home

Posted under Guest Blogger, Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info

You have a new roommate, who is visually impaired. Perhaps they have been so their entire life, or maybe his/her visual impairment occurred more recently, becoming a burden for them to face alone. It’s a good idea to take some time to try to understand what it’s like for this person as you accept them into your home (The National Eye Institute has an insightful article that may help).

Whether your new roommate is young or old, completely blind or severely impaired, acclimated to his/her disability or new to the experience, you will still need to help them become comfortable in your home. Here are six great ways to do just that.


  1. First and foremost, remember that this isn’t happening to you.

If your roommate has recently been afflicted with a visual impairment, you need to remember that you are not the one facing the impairment. As a caregiver and aid, it can be easy to take a disability onto yourself – feeling the restrictions that come along with it almost as strongly as the individual who faces them. However, you must always remember that you still have good eyesight. Your roommate does not. Therefore, you cannot possibly understand or feel the same weight on your shoulders. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help or be available emotionally. Quite the opposite – you absolutely should. But it’s important to remember your place.


  1. If he/she needs to talk, listen.

Your visually impaired roommate will, naturally, have trouble communicating with you from time to time. If you get the feeling that he/she needs to talk, take a moment to sit down and prepare yourself for a conversation. Making time will ensure that he/she feels more comfortable in your home.


  1. Consider advice he/she might have about the layout of your home.

Because you do not face a visual impairment, you can only guess what an impaired individual will need in a home. There is plenty of information online about precautions you can take to make your home safer, but don’t hesitate to ask your new roommate what they want. If they make suggestions or asks for revisions, don’t get defensive or angry. Don’t get discouraged. Take this advice to heart and seriously consider employing it as soon as possible.


  1. Learn to adapt to his/her communication habits.

Learning to communicate with a visually impaired individual can be difficult. The American Foundation for the Blind has an informative article about the topic. You can also look to those who have been in your shoes before or speak with a professional. Above all else, keep an open dialogue going, and make sure they know you are always available to listen to what they have to say.


  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

This is a learning process for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You won’t seem rude or thoughtless. Instead, you’ll show that you truly care enough to want to understand. It’s always better to ask questions than to make assumptions when it comes to living with someone who faces a disability or impairment.


  1. Remember that he/she is not broken.

At the end of the day, your visually impaired roommate is not broken. Rather, he/she faces different obstacles in life than you do. Treating a visually impaired individual as though they must be sad, lonely, or depressed is not only degrading, but unfair. Just as deaf individuals have learned to love their community, visually impaired individuals have learned to function with their disability. The New Standard recently shared a perspective from a visually impaired man that may help shed light on the subject.

This process will  be a challenge, but don’t be afraid. Both you and your roommate will adjust more quickly than you think. Just keep an open mind and an open heart, and you’ll find that things don’t have to be as difficult as you may be imagining.


Author: Jackie Waters