International Conference on Engineering Design - ICED'09 edition:17 location:Palo Alto date:24-27 August 2009
While architects think and work in a visual way, people who are visually impaired may pay more
attention to other senses and, as a result, are able to appreciate other spatial qualities. Because of this
particular ability, our research seeks to explore how to enhance communication between architects and
visually impaired people. It is imaginable that there is significant disparity between how architects and
visually impaired people talk; even so, this paper seeks to discover points of connection that support
enabling a genuine dialogue between these two groups of people. The study reported here aims to gain
insights into how both groups talk about the built environment by comparing and contrasting two
independent data sets: four in-depth interviews with architects, and four with visually impaired people.
Through analysis of the spoken word, we identify what common ground exists and what the central
differences are between both groups. On this basis, we discuss potential elements that may challenge
or facilitate developing connections towards deeper conversation between architects and visually
impaired people. While the study focuses on architectural design and visual impairment, the findings
may be transferable to communication between designers and non-designers in general.