How to paint if you’re blind or visually impaired

Your vision may have changed, but it’s unlikely your imagination has! Simple everyday arts and crafts can be inspired by any product, any experience, at any time. Here are some ideas to try if you are blind or have low vision:

  • Continue to seek creative ideas from magazines or newsletters, but use large print or audio media. Seek inspiration at art and craft shows with friends who have similar interests.
  • Join a craft group to gain new ideas in familiar areas, or take a new class at an adult education program to learn a different type of craft.
  • Visit a preschool or elementary art class and have fun with young creative minds that know no boundaries! Teachers are always looking for volunteers and young children enjoy creating—and their enthusiasm may inspire you.
  • Talk about your interests with others. You can give others an opportunity to exchange ideas with you and keep up-to-date with current trends.
  • If you are looking for products that you can use in craft projects, see Setting Up a Craft Area and Products for Independent Living.

Peer Advisor Mary Hiland: Yes, an Arts Festival Is for Everyone

It’s Not Just Paintings

If you think that art is just for those who can see, you’re missing out on an experience that will broaden your world and impress you with the imagination and creativity that these artists demonstrate.

Choose the Right Friend to Take with You

My friend Eve has been a guide for me when hiking and a captain for me when biking. She has taken me shopping, and she has assisted when I host parties. She knows my tastes and what I need and do not need regarding mobility.

When we came to a booth that caught her eye, she would describe briefly what it contained, and if I showed no interest, we moved on. But if it was something I wanted to explore, she expertly placed my hands on the objects of art without fear of breaking anything. Most vendors encouraged me to touch anything I wanted anyway. Even people who are sighted want to touch the artwork to experience the textures!

For new short film series Now & Next, Juliana Capes and Ruth Barrie set themselves the challenge of filming a sunrise in a way that was accessible to all, including the visually impaired. Juliana told BBC Arts Digital about why she’s on a mission to describe the indescribable.

How to paint if you're blind or visually impaired

Be Different Today by Juliana Capes and Ruth Barrie

A film that describes an entire sunrise for the visually impaired.

Juliana Capes began her artistic career studying painting before embracing other media.

It was during a sculpture project at the City Arts Centre in Edinburgh around 15 years ago that she became interested in the idea of verbal descriptions of art.

She says: “The project paired a visually impaired person with a sighted person. They would describe a part of the collection and then the visually impaired person would reinterpret it in a sculptural form.

“I was on board as the sculptural technician to help them with materials. But I actually found myself far more interested in the descriptions and how it affected the way the object was made.”

This led Juliana to begin running visual description tours, guiding groups including people with visual impairments around exhibitions.

She adds: “I was also working with the National Galleries of Scotland in their Childrens programme and when they heard what I was doing they set up a project with them and asked me to be the lead artist.”

How to paint if you're blind or visually impaired

Seeing as collaboration

Over time, Capes has developed her own unique approach to the process.

She reveals: “Over the years I’ve built up my own system depending on what it is I’m describing. I’ve kind of worked out what the integral elements should be and how to structure that information into a description.

“I liken it to drawing. For instance, when you draw you don’t start with a small detail, you start with looking at everything and mapping it out in a very quick succinct way, kind of making a thumbnail.

“So when you start a description you do the same, you don’t start with a detail, you look for the most obvious things and a kind of summation of the whole that you can give to someone very quickly to put a framework or baseline in their head.

“I think if you worry too much about the fact that you’re making a subjective description and try to be too objective, you’re not going to be making the best description. You have to realise that your subjectivity is an asset if you open it up and let other people give their opinions and descriptions too, depending on the way they see things with their unique visual acuity and condition.

“So you start to allow more voices to chime in, your description is given to the people you’re describing to and they start to fill out their opinions of the description, which makes the whole thing fuller. My descriptive tours usually end up as a conversation and a dialogue and a collective way of viewing art.

“Many many times you have people who are fully sighted who say ‘That opened my eyes’ or ‘I’d never seen that before’. The act of visual description is also a way to open up the act of seeing.”

September 6, 2018 by imaginesarah

How to paint if you're blind or visually impaired


Art is a way for people to show an emotion or a different way of looking at things. It’s difficult for people who are blind to create art because they can’t see a picture of what they’re trying to draw or paint and it’s difficult for them to use a paint brush without getting messy. Art teachers and others who want to be more inclusive of the visually impaired community need to come up with an adaptive way for a blind person to paint. I designed and created a unique tool so a blind person can make an abstract art painting without having to use a paint brush.

My goal is to modify the “movement painting” tool and structure I built last year for a class project, so that blind or visually impaired people can use it to create abstract art.


Art is a creative and emotional way for someone to express how to uniquely see something through their own eyes. Most people think that art is something that you have to see, like a painting rather than an emotional and imaginative idea to express oneself. Abstract Art shows more of a person’s feelings to be creative instead of something that represents reality in today’s world. Abstract Expressionism was popular in the mid 20th century to give an artist freedom to focus on the action of painting and the ability to feel their painting through non‐traditional methods. Abstract Expressionism is a great way for people who are blind to paint because it doesn’t always have to look exactly like a picture of something or someone, so it’s less stressful to do. Jackson Pollack was an abstract expressionist artist who created a drip painting style with liquid paint in the 1950s by listening to music. He believed we shouldn’t be producing art from images we see, but create something from our own imagination with some sort of action and in a unique way.

“It doesn’t matter how the paint is put on, as long as something is said.” -­‐ Jackson Pollock

Overall Design Requirements

  • There should be a container to keep all parts, paint, and paper inside it while using, so the paint doesn’t splatter outside the paper and make a mess.
  • The painting tool must be safe to use.
  • The tool needs to be part of a simple­‐to-­use structure that is to an easy setup and put away.
  • All parts should be reusable except for the paint and paper.
  • It has to be easily transportable so that someone can take it with them.
  • The bottle or painting container needs to be suitable to hold paint.
  • Everything should be easy to clean up.
  • It should be cost effective to build and not too expensive to buy.
  • If someone is blind, it is important to create instructions in Braille.
  • The pieces of the structure and tool must be labeled in Braille.
  • While using this, the person who is blind should be able to listen to music to help inspire their creative images.

Redesign Materials:

  • Use a similar sized plastic container: 27.74 in X 16.61 in x 6 in
  • PVC pipe: ½ in. x 5 ft., two elbow connectors, and two end pieces
  • Eye hook and screw: #10 x 1 3/8 in.
  • Swivel Belt Snap
  • Chain: 2 ft.
  • Valspar acrylic paint, Blue, and Yellow
  • Acrylic Art

The total cost of building the Paint Drip Tool. It only cost $20 to rebuild it.


This is my next design, built with 3 PVC pipes securely held in place, and a chain and screw eye to hold the paint container to the chain while it slides back and forth. The container also has a cover to keep the pieces inside when not being used.

If you are losing your sight or have an eye condition you may need to carry out improvements, repairs or adaptations to your home to help you continue to live there independently.

This page has some ideas of changes you can make within your home to make it safer and easier to live there and to get around.

Adaptations around your home

The following areas around your home can be a good place to start if you need to make some adaptations.

On the staircase

The handrail or banister on your staircase will stand out more if you paint it in a contrasting colour or tone from the stairs and the wall.

To make the edge of each step stand out more, mark each one with white paint, or fix a contrasting white plastic or metal strip (known as “nosings”) on the edge of each step.


To make doors stand out, paint the door in a contrasting colour or tone from the door frame. Painting the door frame a contrasting colour or tone from the wall will also make it easier to see. If you have sliding glass doors, it can be difficult to tell whether the doors are open or closed. To make them easier to see, stick on a coloured transfer design. This can prevent you from having any nasty accidents.

To make it easier to see door handles, use ones which contrast in colour or tone from the doors they are fixed onto. Door handles can be painted, a coloured strip can be stuck on, or the handle can be replaced. If you have cupboard doors that swing open, a contrasting strip on the inside or the outside edge of the door will help you notice it when it has been left open. You could paint this on, or use coloured sticky tape.

In the kitchen

Contrast in the kitchen can make cooking and preparing food easier and safer. It is easier to work on kitchen surfaces and mats that are plain and contrast in colour or shade from the kitchen walls or surrounding surface. For more information on cooking if you are blind or partially sighted, see our cooking page. Putting work-top appliances, like your kettle, on a contrasting non-slip mat can make them easier to see. If you paint or put tape along the edges of work surfaces and shelves in a contrasting colour or tone, it will make the edges easier to see too. A sink area of a contrasting colour or tone from the work surface can also be helpful. The taps can be of another contrasting colour or tone to the sink.

If you have wall-mounted cupboards, you should consider putting contrasting tape along the edges or changing their colour. Avoid putting up glass shelves as they are difficult to see. Having the best lighting for you is also very important in the kitchen. For more information on lighting, see our page on lighting.

In the bathroom

Bathroom areas can seem particularly daunting if you have trouble finding everything you need. Consider using safety flooring which is non-slip and non-reflective and is a contrasting colour to the walls. If fitting new wall tiles, consider a matt finish and pick tiles that are in a contrasting colour to the colour of the floor. If fitted, choose grab rails which contrast with the wall colour. They are easier to see and therefore safer to use.

Choose soap dispensers, bars of soap, toilet rolls and toilet roll holders which are a contrasting colour from your bathroom wall, washbasin and toilet. If you are buying new toilet seats or washbasins, choose ones which contrast from the surfaces they are near. For example, it is easier to see a dark blue toilet seat on a white toilet bowl, or a white washbasin against a different coloured wall.

Adapting electrical fittings

You may find it hard to switch lights on and off or plug in electrical equipment. Here are some tips that, with the aid of an electrician where necessary, can help you use electrical appliances more easily:

  • Use switches and sockets which contrast with the walls. For example, a dark red light switch would contrast well with a white wall.
  • To add even more contrast, you could put a contrasting light or dark strip of tape around the outside of the switch.
  • To help you find pull cords for lights, tie brightly coloured contrasting ribbons or material onto them.
  • To help you find the control knobs on your appliances, use brightly coloured contrasting markers (bumpons) so that you can see and feel the controls.
  • You can fix written labels, marked in big letters with a thick black felt-tip pen, onto things to make them stand out.
  • Ask your appliances’ manufacturers if they can supply tactile adaptations for their products.

Painting and decorating

Choosing the right types of paints and wallpaper can make things easier to see at home. Gloss paints, which are shiny, can cause glare. To prevent this, use paints that have a matt finish instead. Pale walls reflect light into the room and more light can make it easier to see. Although light coloured walls can help make the room bright, white walls can cause glare and be uncomfortable.

Things stand out better on plain or subtly patterned surfaces or backgrounds, but tend to blend into the background against boldly patterned surfaces. If you are thinking about putting up new wallpaper or buying new furnishings, such as curtains or sofas, try to select plainer paper and fabrics.

Having plain walls and furniture does not mean that your home has to be plain. You can make your home more cheerful by introducing items such as patterned cushions and tie backs on your curtains.

Donate now

Right now we can only reach one in three of the people who need our help most. Please make a donation and help us support more blind and partially sighted people.

How to paint if you're blind or visually impairedHousehold products

Stay independent and in control of your life and leisure time with our range of products designed to help out around the house. Make your house feel like home again with our products such as the Penfriend labeller or our talking microwave.

By guest blogger Chelsea Munoz

I have been blind since birth, and I currently live in San Antonio, TX. My goal is to become as independent as possible. I am constantly looking to learn new things. I enjoy writing and getting feedback. I enjoy rock climbing, horseback riding, and anything that allows me to push myself to greater heights, build my confidence, and have a great time! To me, variety truly is the spice of life!

Grocery Shopping, a Huge Challenge

A huge challenge that people who are blind face is going to the grocery store independently. There are things that make blind people’s shopping adventures more of an inconvenience than they would be for sighted people. There are also things that could make shopping experiences for people who are blind or visually impaired much more liberating.

I used to consider going to the store with a sighted friend or family member the most beneficial way to handle it. He or she could see the items that were bought. Therefore, all problems would surely be solved. A sighted person could drive to and from the store, allowing me to avoid lugging groceries around in a cab, yet ensure the desired items were purchased. The hard work of creating a grocery list was quite an accomplishment in itself at that time. Here are a few observations about going with a sighted friend versus going to the grocery store independently. These thoughts are not meant to be critical of anyone in any way, but simply to share the adventures that sometimes come with what can be a stressful part of a blind person’s day and to suggest solutions.

Shopping with a Sighted Friend

  1. The grocery list was up and ready to go on my iPhone, so I asked a friend to get granola bars with peanuts, almonds, and dark chocolate. He repeated it to me correctly, but grabbed the diet version instead. He must have been hungry that day, and that particular kind might have been what he would have chosen to eat. Perhaps he wanted to test all of my senses to see if those granola bars tasted different to me than other kinds. However, I found out later that they tasted much like cardboard. We went to dinner at a nice restaurant afterwards though, so the trip was not a total loss.
  2. Similar to the above grocery store adventure, the list was ready on my phone. Everything was in the grocery cart; things could not have been going more smoothly. Upon arriving home, my friend offered to put things away for me. I enjoy letting people do their good deed for the day, so I let him help. Once he left, I wanted a peanut butter sandwich. However, finding the bread was an unexpected bump in the road. When calling him to ask where it was, he said, “Oh, I don’t remember.” I eventually found the loaf of bread in the chip bowl!

Shopping With a Grocery Store Employee

When I have gone to the store by myself, I found the customer service desk. I requested a shopping assistant and normally someone was at my side within minutes. Much like the experiences above, I rattled off the few needed items. The shopping assistant understood things, and even found everything on the list.

All of these experiences surprised me because I used to have the misconception that friends would easily locate exactly what was on my list. Since we knew each other fairly well, I thought they would understand what to do to help me. I also assumed they knew I’d feel the sizes of the items before purchasing them. However, the opposite is often true. Friends are not always the best people to go shopping with you because they might get what they think you like, or what they think you’re talking about, without asking you for clarification or providing other options from which to choose. They may be in a big hurry because a basketball game or the latest reality TV show will air soon, so they’re ready to rush home to do what they want to do. Friends will happily take you to the store, at a time when it’s convenient for them. But they may not be available when you need to get groceries. However, if you take a cab or paratransit to the store on your own, a shopping assistant who works there will do their best to ensure that you follow your list to a T, and inform you of sales or coupons on items you’re buying. He or she will be available at your convenience.

Enjoying the Freedom of Shopping By Myself

Using shopping assistants provides freedom that I never thought was attainable back when I felt it necessary to have friends or family members with me on every shopping trip. It’s a huge plus to know store workers eagerly want to give me some of their time, to ensure what’s needed gets in the cart. It’s also incredibly liberating because if I’m by myself, they have no choice but to speak directly to me, put the change in my hand at the cash register (including counting out my change so I know what they are handing me), and ask me any questions they may have. I also like to be told what each item is as it is scanned. I am not ignored or “talked over.” Rather, I am treated like a grown woman who is fully capable of providing for and speaking for herself.

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How to paint if you're blind or visually impaired

Here is a blind pedestrian walking and using a specially equiped cane to detect a safe path on a city street.

This is another installment in my series on smart coatings. You can access the others by typing in “smart” in the search box near the top of my main blog page.

For this installment, I’m reporting on some pioneering work being done at Ohio State University. If you live in or near Columbus, Ohio you may be familiar with some of the testing areas. The goal is to make it easier for blind and visually impaired people to get around in cities.

Light-converting oxides are integrated in paint that can be read by detectors attached to the tips of white canes. So, by doing nothing more than painting stripes on existing sidewalks, a network of directions can be added to city streets. Horizontal stripes can tell the walker when he or she has reached their destination. It’s a very inexpensive solution to a difficult problem.

The stripes in the picture are yellow, but the oxides can also be added to gray and black paint so the non-blind will hardly notice them.

All around us we are being inundated with smart technologies. I find it fascinating what is also being done to make paints and finishes smart too.

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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Special assistance is available for persons with disabilities. If you are unable to complete your tax return because of a disability, you may be able to obtain assistance from an IRS office or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or Tax Counseling for the Elderly Programs sponsored by IRS.

Disability Tax Benefits

As a person with a disability, you may qualify for certain tax deductions, income exclusions, and credits. More detailed information may be found in the IRS publications referred to below.

  • Are legally blind, refer to Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information PDF . to see if you qualify for an increased standard deduction.
  • Had gross income, refer to Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Information to see if you qualify for any special credits or deductions.
  • Have a physical or mental disability that limits your employment, refer to Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions.
  • Are elderly or disabled, refer to Publication 524, Credit for the Elderly or Disabled PDF .
  • Had medical expenses, refer to Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses PDF .
  • Worked and had earned income refer to Publication 596, Earned Income Credit.

For more information about the tax benefits available to persons with disabilities and the parents of children with disabilities, please refer to Publication 3966, Living and Working with Disabilities PDF (Spanish PDF )

  • Faux Painting
  • Painting Tips
  • Choosing Color
    • Choosing Paint Colors 2
    • Colored Ceilings
    • Popular Paint Colors
    • Strong Paint Colors
    • 2008 Paint Colors
    • Power of Color
    • How To Choose Paint Color
    • Deciding On Paint Color
    • Picking A Color
    • Color Psychology
    • Color Psychology 2
    • Color Blind Colors
    • Color Theory
  • Decorative Wall Art
  • Wall Murals
  • Painting Supplies
  • Exterior Paint Color
  • Interior Painting

Many of us take the ability to see a wide range of colors for granted. Not everyone has this ability which can pose a challenge when trying to decorate in colors. Here are some tips, ideas and suggestions on how to go about choosing colors that are as appealing for a color blind person as they are for an individual who isn’t.

Types of Color Blindness

The term “color blindness” sometimes gives the wrong impression. People with this type of vision problem do have the ability to see colors, but the way they see the colors is distorted. A more accurate description of this vision impairment is color-deficient vision, but the average population refers to it as color blindness.

There are a few different types of color blindness: protanopia/protanomalia, deuteranopia/ deuteranomalia and tritanopi/tritanomalia. Protanopia/protanomalia are both conditions that affect the individual’s ability to see red. They are the second most common type of color blindness. Deuteranopia/ deuteranomalia are the most common types of color blindness and involve a difficulty seeing shades of green. Tritanopi/tritanomalia are the least common forms of color-vision deficiencies and affects the ability to see blue.

Shades of One Color

If you know the color-vision deficiency a person has, you can decorate using the colors they can see. Choosing paint color can be more challenging if you’re not aware of the specific type of color blindness. It’s safe to stay away from all greens, reds or blue colors. You can pick one color and create visual appeal with several hues of that color. Experiment with the shades with paint and room accessories.

Basic Black and White

A basic black and white color scheme can look very contemporary. Paint an accent wall black and the other walls a shade of white or yellow-based cream to warm up the room. Area rugs, throw pillows, drapes and furniture can all be black and white or off-white. Sometimes choosing a basic black and white scheme can make a room look cold, so warm it up with real or artificial plants and splashes of color. The color blind person may not be able to see the color of the plants correctly, but other individuals who visit the room will. Just be sure to choose an assortment of colors for accessories.

If painting a room in basic black or white, you can liven up the walls by using textured paper and painting over it to make them more visually appealing to all people. Faux finishing techniques can also create visual drama when color can’t be used.