The problem of social exclusion is exacerbated by a lack of information and understanding. Many light-sensitive people avoid going out as much as possible, as there is so little awareness of lighting issues that it is difficult to navigate civic life.
However, awareness is slowly spreading and LightAware is hearing more and more encouraging stories of good practice. Sometimes it takes only simple actions and a willing attitude to make a big difference to accessibility.
We hope the following examples encourage businesses and service providers to see ways in which they can become more LightAware. We also hope that they inspire light-sensitive people to ask for access – each time this happens it spreads the word and makes the path easier for others.
In Ireland, a gym upgraded their equipment and all new equipment is made with LED lighting. The gym had a customer with a severe sensitivity to LED lighting, but they managed to get a new treadmill with the older version of the console without LED, so that the customer could continue to use the equipment and enjoy the gym.
In Oxford, a company converted a store room into an office for a light-sensitive employee – they carpeted it, painted the walls a dark colour to minimise reflection and put in all the computer cables etc. wired to a sit/stand computer workstation which the employee then covered with black material. This facilitated a means for a working space near his colleagues where he could provide and use separate incandescent lighting (the only light he can tolerate that doesn’t act as a migraine trigger).
A vet in Central Scotland has an arrangement in place that a light-sensitive customer reminds them of her lighting issues when she makes an appointment for her dog, and they ensure that she is seen in a room with a window in daylight so that no artificial lighting needs to be on. They also let the customer enter and exit the building through a back door so that she doesn’t need to be exposed to fluorescent lighting in the corridors.
In the South of England, an office workplace replaced the warm-white LED lights in the toilets and wash areas with very bright white LED lights. This meant a light-sensitive employee could no longer use the toilet facilities without crippling headaches. When this was explained, the employers replaced the lights on one floor back to warm-white lights, thus enabling access again.
A pub in Lancaster changed its light fittings from CFLs to LEDs to ensure that a regular customer with a severe sensitivity to CFL lighting could still enjoy a night out. Cheers!