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 https://accessible-techcomm.org/architectural-environmental-and-product-design/.

U.S. Justice Department Demands Accessible Educational Technology

Last updated: May 23, 2015

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May 19, 2015, Posted by John Kleeman to the Questionmark blog.

The U.S. Justice Department intervened in a case last week regarding accessible learning technology that could help make educational technology more accessible for learners with disabilities. They are intervening in a court case between a blind learner and Miami University where the university has required all students to use specific online tools that are not accessible. Read more about this at https://blog.questionmark.com/us-justice-department-demands-accessible-educational-technology.

Questionmark’s mission is to provide the highest quality testing and assessment software and support services to enable individuals and organizations reach their goals.

Regaining Sight After a Stroke

Last updated: May 27, 2016

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From Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB)

By doing a set of vigorous visual exercises on a computer every day for several months, patients who had gone partially blind as a result of a stroke regained some vision. Some could drive again. "This is a type of brain damage that clinicians and scientists have long believed you simply can't recover from. It's devastating, and patients are usually sent home to somehow deal with it the best they can," said the RPB researcher.

"Rigorous Visual Training Teaches the Brain to See Again After Stroke". This article includes video of the process and the test.

"Perceptual relearning of complex visual motion after V1 damage in humans" by Huxlin KR, Martin T, Kelly K, Riley M, Friedman DI, Burgin WS, Hayhoe M., Abstract, Journal of Neuroscience. 2009 Apr 1;29(13):3981-91. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4882-08.2009.

The full-text archive of this article from the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM).