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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

sensory school design

im designing a sensory school for my thesis in architecture and i was wondering if anyone could help me wiht this. i have been told it is ipossible for a sighted person t percieve how a blind person pecieves space and areas so i really need some hepl with this. if anyone could give me there thoughts on lighting, acoustics in rooms, materials on walls and floors, noise levels would be great. and also any info on the best architectural tools used to navigate a building would be great. just any comments good or bad on buildings in general would be great

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Re: sensory school design

I don't think ?ou can make a iensory school.

Re:sensory school design

going to the zoo can be borring! Because! You look atanimals. You can't actually atleast get a description, people are to damn lazy!

Re:sensory school design

if you could give any feedback on these commentaries made by a guy that gave his opinions it would be great. just to see if you agree of disagree with his points....this is huge help to my thesis and i would be grateful of any time you could give, giving me information

'First off I think you and everyone that is sighted needs to understand the whole process in how we interpret our world. It is a multitude of things that we use to see our world. We have to process what we hear, smell and feel into mental images of what
is that is seen with the visual sense and visual part of the brain.
There are also many different stages of blindness from total darkness to some sight but not enough. How we see color is also different. Some color combos can’t be seen by us because we can not see color tones or hues like a sighted person.

The old phrase or thought that when a sense goes the others increase is a misconception. It is not that they increase it is that we are more aware of them and utilize them more. You know we as humans do not use a large part of our brains and so it is with our senses. We are visually dependent until it lessons then we learn to use our other senses more. Also keep in mind our mind is always on and so are our senses and we can get what we call “sensory overload”. We do get motion sickness easier due to the fact of all the information coming into our brain to process and sort. I have to learn to shut off my ears as I call it because the more crowded an area is the more we tend to want to get away because we hear and smell everything.

Open spaces are a double edge sword for us. Open space gives us a sense of freedom and on the other hand it can be too noisy for us. Sound is a primary source of our world.

Inside rock walls tend to muffle the sound which isn’t a help for us.
Brick seems to be a little better
High ceilings make the rooms sound huge.
Wood paneling seems to hold the noise out. If I am in the laundry room which has a wood wall around it I have a hard time hearing what is being said to me from the other room. And this is hard to do because my loved ones say I can hear the grass grow.

My preferences are rooms that aren’t too small because I feel restricted and enclosed. Feeling trapped is the best way I can describe it.

I like walls with some texture because then I can feel it and get a sense of what it looks like through that sense.

Lighting is very important when designing for the visually impaired. It depends on the person to much light can hurt and not enough makes it to dark. Fluorescent lights are glaring and annoying for us.

In a utopia each building would have a plaque describing the building for us.

The outside can be sensed with hearing and description. We can hear the wind blow off the building and sense the size of it that way. I tend not to like the smooth glass and steel because it sounds very hallow and cold. I can hear it creak and moan and groan. I listen for how the wind or breeze flows around an older structure and I can then sense the little crevices and hallows.
I am still learning about my world through lose of sight. I feel that the more questions I ask then I can learn how different things sound.

We need landmarks to know where we are and what is where. Such as a low row of planters near the stairs or wind chimes near the doors. Remember not to clog up the walkways with things because we may trip or bump into them. Runners help a lot inside and out so we are warned of an upcoming door. Railings on both sides of the stairs because depending on if we are right or left handed depends which hand we hold our cane or dog so we need the other on the railing.

We hear glass creak so large windows look nice however it is just another noise we have to process.

Unfortunately architecture and museums are not very sense accessible for us. We can get into them and there are handicapped entry ways and Braille on the elevators however to be able to touch is frowned on and we are told to back up if we have to get closer to see it. Braille plaques with descriptions would be helpful or verbal tapes describing the objects.'

Re:sensory school design

thanks for your comments....they have given me alot to think about. i didnt really clarify that it is a primary school. i understand that creating a false environment of such may inhibit someones development when they enter buildings designed with no thought for someone who is visually impaired, but would it not be helpful to have acoustic,lighting,colour levels set to the needs of the users of the building? i am just trying to create an environment that will be comfortable for its occupants. i do understand that putting in trail wall in the building or other aids may create a reliance on such things but maybe this could create a more accessible environment for the user. seeing as the majority of the users o the building will be visually impaired, would it not make sense to design the building with the users in mind

Re:sensory school design

To be honest, I would rather become independent in a normal environment, particularly because the world will not always adapt to me I need to adapt to the world by using a cane

Re:sensory school design

sorry to offend you but why the hell would we need a sensory school? Blind people don't get around by touch, they do it with the cane.

And, I have no idea what you would need. I haven't given it much thought, because it's not practical. Blind people should go to a normally built school.

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