How is architecture handling accessibility?

Last updated: December 26, 2015

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I came across an interesting comment concerning acoustics and accessibility in architecture. Twitter user @dwell tweeted about how technology enabled Chris Downey, a blind architect, to continue his work after losing his sight.

I am probably not alone in thinking of architecture as something very visual. This article comments that blind and visually impaired

listen to space to recognize where they are and what they’re looking for.

I immediately thought of the awful acoustics I have experienced in various workplaces. If I had trouble with them with my sight, how would someone with no or low vision experience them?

Then another thought popped into my mind: the idea of DeafSpace, explained nicely by Gallaudet. DeafSpace also involves acoustics because

[no] matter the level of hearing, many deaf people do sense sound in a way that can be a major distraction, especially for individuals with assistive hearing devices.

So acoustics matter in architecture to people with both sight and hearing disabilities. Hmmm. I wonder how many architects think of that and discuss that with people who have differing levels of sight and hearing.

Gallaudeet has a building built on the principle of DeafSpace design. I wonder if any blind people have toured the facilities – with an architect – to discuss to pros and cons.

Once again, getting out of the ivory tower – in this case, the ivory tower of architecture – and meeting with people with disabilities can be the start of some interesting discussions. Of course, if people with disabilities can get inside the ivory towers, maybe change can start to come from the inside.

Are you getting out of your ivory tower, or breaking into one?

See our resources list for more information at http://accessible-techcomm.org/architectural-environmental-and-product-design/.