this is an image of protective eye goggles, ear protective devices, a gooseneck lamp and low vision magnifier

Although you’ve probably had years of experience with home repairs, we recommend you use a safety checklist that includes the following:

  • Organize the work area. Collect all tools and equipment you will need ahead of time and have them arranged and sorted before you begin any home repair task. To help keep important items and equipment together, you can place your materials on a large tray, in a cardboard box, or in a work apron with pockets, arranged in the order you plan to use them. Also consider whether you will require a wastebasket, water, paper towels, tape, or other materials that will help you complete the project.
  • Organize your tools. Separate your tools according to type and always store them in, and return them to, a designated location. If you have low vision, wrap contrasting-colored plastic or electrical tape around your tool handles to make them easier to see and to increase contrast with the work surface. You can also mark the handles and the most commonly used settings with any of the methods and materials in Organizing and Labeling Your Workshop and Tools.
  • Protect your eyes. Regardless of your visual status (blind, visually impaired, or low vision), always wear impact-resistant safety glasses that completely enclose your eye area and are shielded along the sides and top edge of the lenses. They can be worn like glasses, or can fit over your own eyeglasses. Many types of safety glasses can also be obtained with prescription lenses.
  • Protect your ears. If you’re using a drill, electric saw, or other types of power tools, you will also need ear protection, such as foam ear plugs or headphone-style ear muffs.
  • Check the lighting. If you have low vision, make sure that the lighting in your work area provides sufficient illumination. You can read more about lighting at Home Modifications. A lamp with an adjustable flex-arm or gooseneck is usually a good choice because you can adjust the direction of the light as needed. A flex-arm floor lamp on wheels allows you to move the light with you as you move around your work area.
  • Use a low vision device. Talk with your eye doctor or low vision specialist to determine if a low vision device, such as a chest or around-the-neck magnifier or a magnifier mounted on a flexible gooseneck stand, could be helpful for some home repair tasks. For more information about low vision devices and training, see What Is A Low Vision Examination?, Low Vision Optical Devices, and Vision Rehabilitation Services.
  • Consider your energy source. Whether you’re changing a washer in a faucet or fixing a light switch, be sure to turn off/disconnect the appropriate utility. If you’re attempting a water-related repair, for example, remember to turn off the main water supply before you begin. If you are attempting an electrical repair, it’s important to turn off the main electrical power source.
  • Use the correct extension cord. The thickness of an extension cord should be equal to, or greater than, the cord on the power tool. Otherwise, the extension cord can overheat and cause a fire or severe burns.
  • Know when to request help. If the repair is large or complicated, it may require asking for professional help. While the professional worker is with you, it can be an opportunity to learn more about the specific item or system that is being repaired so that you can do it yourself the next time!

Organizing Your Workshop Area

Good organization, as always, is the key! In many cases, good organization can also reduce the need for extensive labeling and marking of your workshop items. If you need tips for general household organization, see Household Organization and Home Modifications.

Use a system that is comfortable for you and easy to remember. Some suggestions for organizing your workshop materials include:

  • Separate your tools according to type and always store your tools in a designated location.
  • Organize your tools, such as screwdriver sets or wrenches, by mounting them on pegboards in order by size.
  • Use multi-drawer storage containers (color-coded if you have low vision), coffee cans, baby food jars, and plastic tubs to separate different-sized nails, screws, nuts, bolts, and other small items.
  • Use a carpenter’s apron or a tool belt to hold tools and parts needed to accomplish a specific job or task.
  • Use magnetic trays to hold screws and bolts in place while you’re working.
  • Keep a magnet in your toolbox to locate misplaced screws or metal items.

Making Labels from Everyday Materials

You can identify the contents of your stored items by marking them in any of the following ways:

  • Create tactual labels for bolts, nails, or screws in individual containers by gluing one of each item to the outside of the container or attaching the item to the container with a rubber band. For additional tips about working with glue, see Adaptations for Using Glue with Vision Loss.
  • Place a rubber band around a container of nails to differentiate it from a container of screws, or place a different number of rubber bands around each different container.
  • Tie different-textured ribbons around the neck or opening of each container.
  • Use a black wide-tip marker, a laundry marker, or a felt-tip pen to write in large, bold letters on plain white 3″ x 5″ index cards. Use these labels to differentiate supplies that are stored in similar containers. Attach each card to the appropriate container with a rubber band, as illustrated below:
  • Use brightly colored electrical or plastic tapepipe cleanersVelcrofabric or craft paint, or velour pads/furniture protectors to place markers on containers.

Specialty Labeling Products

There are also many specialty labeling products for people who are blind or have low vision. Learn more about labeling.