Vision impaired is a generic term referring to varying degrees of impaired vision and blindness. Both vision related to details and orientation may be reduced. Some visually impaired is able to read large print, while others may be dependent on braille, or audible information. People with impaired vision often have problems orienting themselves in their environment, and thus it is important that the environment is intuitively and consistently designed. Physical obstacles and untidy design of buildings may cause difficulties for people to move around on their own. In Norway there are 160.000 people with vision impairment and around 1000 are blind.
Link to the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted: https://www.blindeforbundet.no/internett/english-info
Hearing impaired is a generic term referring to varying deegres of impaired hearing, including partially or full loss of hearing, or those who are born deaf. Impaired hearing may often cause difficulties with communication, and can hinder the perception of information. Clear speech, good acoustics and subsidence of backround noise may help on these matters. People with a moderate degree of hearing impairment may need hearing aid and technical recourses like telecoil, FM- or IR equipment. In 2010 54.000 people in Rogaland County had some form of hearing impairment.
Link to the National Association for the hearing impaired: http://www.hlf.no/
Mobility impaired is a term describing people that use wheelchairs, that are dependent on crutches, that have rheumatism, that have cardiac problems, or that have impaired stength in arms and legs. Mobility impaired people may have reduced ability to move quickly, they may have longer response time, and reduced balance. Some may also have limited mobility due to uncontrolled or involuntary movements. Common recourses for mobility impaired are wheelchair, crutches or walker. The problems for people with mobility impairment are often that the physical environment, both indoor and outdoor, contains barriers and obstacles that makes it difficult to move around freely. Great distances between important visiting points, steep and narrow walkways and sidewalks, stairs and curbs, will quickly cause problems.
Link to the Norwegian Association of Disabled: http://www.nhf.no/english
Orientation impaired is a term refering to people that due to sensory loss, developmental disabilities, or various forms of reading difficulties, have problems orienting themselves in the physical environment.
Environmentally impaired refers to people with asthmatic symptoms. Between 20 and 40 % of the Norwegian population suffers from allergies and/or hypersensitivity to different degrees. The problems are often related to conditions in the environment. Many of the problems related to indoor environment may be solved with good air quality, temperature control, good cleaning and right materials. Election of plants indoor and outdoor, floor surfaces (carpets/not carpets), election of perfume-free soaps, and type of paint can be crucial. Problems related to food allergies may be reduced through knowledge and varied menus.
Link to Astma- og Allergiforbundet: http://www.naaf.no/
All people have experienced having a disability at some point in their life, at least as a child. Young children have not yet fully developed their senses and motor skills. Nor do they have the ability to judge traffic hazards or other dangers in a realistic manner. They may therefore have trouble making their way throughout the environment and they should not be exposed to air pollution and noise.
Elderly people may have impaired vision, impaired hearing, impaired mobility and incipient confusion. Elderly may therefore have some of the same requirements to the environment as orientation impaired and mobility impaired. Elderly are also more likely to experience an environment as unsafe. They need people around them and environments that create a feeling of security.