As with all areas of development and construction, the world of accessible design is filled with complex terminology. There’s a lot of vocabulary to keep up with and one such term that makes the list is Light Reflectance Value, or LRV for short. So, what is Light Reflectance Value?
Light Reflectance Value is a percentage figure given to a surface that represents the amount of visible light it reflects when illuminated by a light source.
White holds the highest LRV, reflecting 100% of the light that hits it, and black holds the lowest, absorbing all the light and reflecting none. The shades in between reflect varying levels. The same is true for other colours beyond black and white.
Primarily, LRV is used to ensure that a built environment is suitably lit. Architects, interior designers and colour consultants would all use LRVs alongside the lumen rating of their light fittings to ensure that each and every room is lit to an acceptable standard.
Light Reflectance Value is used extensively within accessible design. It’s a crucial factor when considering how to make a space accessible for those with a visual impairment. Certain fixtures need to contrast visually with the surface to which they are fixed so that they are easier to identify to those with partial sight. Even the floor and the walls need to contrast so that the user can more easily see where the boundaries of the room are.
To qualify, the two colours have to differ by more than 30 points. Where the surfaces are lit by more than 200 lux, the two colours must differ by a minimum of 20 points. Specifically when using frosted manifestations on glass with background colours, there is a requirement to be able to read the LRV difference between foreground and background in order to conform to Part M Standards.
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