Architecture for Low Vision: Site Building, and Interior Design
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) provide design guidance and requirements in their standards for facilities for persons with disabilities, including the blind. But with more people living longer, there is a growing population afflicted with low vision - “chronic visual impairments that cause functional limitations or disability” - that must navigate the built environment. That environment is typically designed for the fully sighted or has some accommodations for the blind as required by ADA and ABA. But in many places, the presence of glare or poor contrast makes the experience for people with low vision uncomfortable at best and unsafe at worst. The author discuss some examples of architectural features that are problematic for persons with low vision, and ways in which these can be mitigated through better design. The National Institute of Building Sciences, with the support of the Rothschild Foundation is developing guidelines incorporating these and other measures for the design professions that may be cited by codes and regulations to improve the conditions for persons with low vision in the built environment.