Guest Blog: Promoting Equality

That’s a pretty broad statement isn’t it? But it really defines what I was thinking after reading the article, “Designing a City for the Deaf.” I immediately applauded two D.C. based architectural firms that are designing buildings using the DeafSpace Guidelines published by Gallaudet University. The document is based on sound principles that make life easier for a deaf or hard-of-hearing person and this even includes window and glass considerations.

In fact one architectural team used electronic drawings with variations in line heights and thicknesses to help differentiate interior and exterior walls, as well as doors and windows, which can be helpful to a person who is blind. The drawings were then loaded into a special resin 3D printer to create raised-surface floor plans. Each Braille letter was three-dimensionally modeled as part of the document, since no AutoCad Braille font was available, according to the article.

Architects are also taking items into consideration such as light fixtures that may be too dim or shine directly into signers’ eyes, according to the article and often relying on natural light through increased use of glass and windows.

My only complaint with the article is that it only talked about architects using these principles at building on the Gallaudet campus, which is dedicated to those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. As the mother of two children who are hearing impaired I can only hope that these principles extend beyond Gallaudet’s walls.

“If you look at the DeafSpace Guidelines, you realize that understanding the essence of space and making connections leads you toward really good architecture,” said one architect in the article. “It’s the foundation of what makes architecture good and rich and sensual.”

So while it may make sense for this population it sounds like it’s simply really good architecture and I hope other architects will follow these principles. I know there are hundreds of nuances that architects must consider and the amount of options are no doubt mind-numbing but I applaud the ones who take the needs of many into consideration.

While I read this article and immediately thought of my daughters my next thought was the readers of AGG, so I hope this article was informative to you as well. Funny how the personal and the professional collide and how it often comes down to the glass.

Tara Taffera is the editor of Door and Window Manufacturer (DWM)  magazine, sister publication of the Architects’ Guide to Glass.