By SARAH HOLDER: For More Info, Go Here…
Lighting, sound-deflecting surfaces, big spaces—all of these elements can influence a deaf person’s ability to communicate. DeafSpace design considers it all.
These spaces might look good. But to deaf and hard-of-hearing people who pass through them, the designs can be alienating: too echoey or loud to hear voices; too shadowy, dark, or blinding to discern sign language or read lips; or lacking necessary sight-lines.
Fixing the spaces—and avoiding reproducing them—isn’t easy, though. The reality is that, for many architects, designing rooms, buildings, and homes with the deaf and hard of hearing community in mind is not their first priority. But if any city is modeling more intentional design practices, it might be Washington, D.C.
The capital city is home to Gallaudet University, which is known as the only liberal arts college for deaf students in the world, and where the principles of “DeafSpace Design” first emerged about a decade ago. With those concepts at the fore, the university is currently working with local real estate developer JBG Smith to build 1.2 million square feet of residential, office, and retail space near the NoMa neighborhood’s food and shopping hall, Union Market; 5,000 square feet of which is being set aside, for a time, to be occupied by deaf-owned businesses.
“One of the big buzzwords right now is ‘universal design,’” said Bauman. “I think in some ways deaf space actually is a critique or criticism of the idea of universal design—that everything fits all.” Instead, he said, DeafSpace design challenges architects, and everyone else, to understand how different people really use and move through space, and shape it accordingly.