On the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a group of architects toured the Dallas Lighthouse for the Blind. This is an amazing facility that trains and employs visually impaired people to manufacture many items from eye glass cases, highlighters, and even military shovel carrying fanny packs. It was an “eye-opening” experience (pun intended). These people are truly incredible. They are able to use computers with a software that read them what is on the screen. But the software doesn’t read it like an audio CD that you read for fun….it speed reads. One of the trainees demonstrated the software and he had it read what was on the screen in the speed that he can understand. All I could hear was gibberish….it was reading 120 words a minute…. and he could actually understand it! INCREDIBLE!!!
There is also a software that assists in reading called J.A.W.S. this makes the text bigger as needed. We also saw the others at work at sewing machines, assembly lines and their individual stations where they put together all sorts of products that are sold to companies. These people are so good at what they do, that all I could do is just open my mouth and be in awe!!!
The building was also designed for the low vision people that worked there. The door frames were a contrasting color to the doors and walls so that they could “see” that there was a doorway there rather than just a wall of the same color. Their bathrooms had circular mirrors so that they would not think it was a window they were looking through. And many other items such as braille at signs, truncated domes on ramps so they can detect the change in environment, and they even use their sense of smell to move around their space.
That experience really made me think of the disability and how truly remarkable our bodies (and these wonderful people) are that they can adjust to their limitations.