Title: How Gallaudet University’s Architects Are Redefining Deaf Space
Context: The language of design has to speak to people of all abilities in order to be considered complete.
Synopsis: There is a universally accepted belief that accessible design is diminished through its attempt to account for “deficiencies” in a differently-abled individual’s capabilities. This is of course the absolute stupidest way to approach design: by designing for the “worst case” scenario. When we design things — objects, software, space — we are always given a set of constraints. We do not look at these constraints as limitations on our design process, they are simply the problem to be solved. Yet, accessibility is invariably a last-minute, scaling back of our optimal solution, so that it can satisfy some legal requirements, wholly separate from the actual design problem itself. They are not requirements, they are exasperating hoops to jump through. But what if we realized that perhaps there were things that could be learned through the process of universal design that were, in fact, universally beneficial? What if instead of an afterthought, we chose to consider all needs as essential to the success of the ultimate solution? Kumbaya my fellow designers…
Best Bit: “The least Deaf-supportive space Bauman could think of, when I asked him what it might be, was the traditional classroom with straight rows of desks; that layout breaks up lines of communication, except between student and teacher.”

via curbed.com