Good Lighting Helps Everyone!

Reprinted from PN May 2011

With careful planning, people with disabilities can better perform daily-living tasks and activities in well-lighted living environments.

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It's amazing the impact lighting has in our homes and in our lives. It is one of the most important elements in any room, yet it is frequently overlooked or misunderstood.

Good lighting can create exciting moods, help maximize the performance of daily living tasks and activities, and help create beautiful, functional, and energy-efficient living environments. Our ability to see well, and, therefore, remain independent through the years, is compromised by bad lighting...and bad lighting surrounds us all every day! Lighting touches each of us, and it can be successfully used to make a positive difference in our lives.

Provide good lighting around the dining room table, where you eat meals, do paperwork, and often read magazines or newspapers. Dimmer switches help control the amount of light needed.

"Good lighting can make the difference between seeing and not seeing for everyone. It can make daily tasks and activities much easier and provide a safer, accident-free home. Good lighting will benefit people of all ages and abilities, and make a positive difference in our lives," according to the Lighting Research Center.

Unfortunately, many of the architectural and interior design curriculums in colleges, universities, and other educational facilities do not offer comprehensive, up-to-date, professional lighting courses. Therefore, many design professionals are ill equipped to properly incorporate good lighting in and around the living environments they design. Builders and contractors are also often ignorant of lighting design. Fortunately, a good number of excellent professional Illuminating Engineering Society North America (IESNA) member lighting designers are available.

Lighting in our homes can have a profound effect on our quality of life. Correct illumination can compensate for many age-related changes in the visual system. Visual deterioration for most adults with good eyesight often begins at about age 40. A 60-year-old needs ten times as much light as a 20-year-old with normal vision to successfully perform the same seeing tasks with equal speed, accuracy, and safety.

More than 120 million Americans wear corrective lenses. One out of every four children ages 5 to 12 has a vision problem, and more than 92% of people age 70 and older wear glasses. With the aging of America, there are currently more than double the 30 million-plus already diagnosed with vision loss such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

Because this extremely important subject is complex, and space for this article is limited, I will cover only the very basics of "good lighting" in living environments.

It is essential that we try to provide quality glare-free illumination inside our homes. This includes not only all interior rooms and areas but also ancillary areas as well: hallways, stairways, closets, garages, exterior porches, decks, and pathways. We should have high-quality ambient lighting in each activity room, in addition to task lighting in all work and activity areas. Glare-free daylighting and dimmable fluorescents are good indirect general illumination or ambient light sources.

Careful selection and placement of the "right" lighting fixtures, lamps, related controls, switches, and motion sensors, combined with the correct selection of color temperature of the light produced and the intensity or brightness of the light are all essential in good lighting design.

Read more in the May 2011 issue of PN.


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Good Lighting Helps Everyone!


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