The spread of new lighting has resulted in the increasing social exclusion of light-sensitive people. Those who cannot tolerate new forms of lighting are unable to access much of normal life, including places of employment, recreation, worship, education and healthcare. Light sensitivity affects access to any artificially-lit environment, including the streets.
LightAware believes that lighting needs to be included in the dialogue about accessibility. We aim to assist access to civic life by encouraging service providers and businesses to become ‘LightAware’.
Being LightAware means:
1) Knowing what lighting you have
Keeping a record of what type of lighting is in place throughout a building, including vestibule, corridors and toilets; ensuring staff know where to find this information and are able to answer lighting queries clearly and accurately.
For a guide to commonly-used bulbs see here
2) Listening to an individual’s needs
Like any accessibility issue, attitude and understanding make a big difference. Being LightAware means listening to an individual’s requirements with attention and respect.
This is a complex issue with different people experiencing problems with different types of lighting. For example, some may tolerate double envelope CFLs but not naked bulbs, while others can manage fluorescent lighting but not LEDs.
3) Working together to create a plan for access
Light sensitivity is different in different people, so there is no single solution. It’s a question of being willing to listen and to respond as far as is possible and practical to accommodate someone’s needs.
It isn’t easy within current legislation: incandescent lighting has been banned and ongoing changes in legislation are further restricting options. But there is still much that can be done to enable access. This may be a case of a venue installing different types of lights on different circuits, UV screening, or educating staff to ensure better light management. Maximising daylight is often a priority. What is needed may be the ability to switch lights off to enable someone to shop or use a toilet, an important consideration as lighting systems are often automated.
Some examples of good practice are included here.