Chris Downey: “an architect who lost his sight and gained a new way of seeing the world”

Chris Downey: “an architect who lost his sight and gained a new way of seeing the world”

“What would a city designed for the blind be like? Chris Downey is an architect who went suddenly blind in 2008; he contrasts life in his beloved San Francisco before and after — and shows how the thoughtful designs that enhance his life now might actually make everyone’s life better, sighted or not.”

Watch an inspiring and insightful TED talk, where Chris Downey offers new perspectives on abilities and disabilities, on architectural design and on the benefits of inclusive environments for all.

“…disability and blindness sort of cuts across ethnic, social, racial, economic lines. […] I’ve heard it said in the disability community that there are really only two types of people: There are those with disabilities and there are those that haven’t quite found theirs yet. It’s a different way of thinking about it, but I think it’s kind of beautiful, because it’s certainly far more inclusive than the us-versus-them or the-abled-versus-the-disabled, and it’s a lot more honest and respectful of the fragility of life.

Chris Downey is an architect, planner, and consultant. Working with design teams and clients, he draws on his unique perspective as a seasoned architect without sight, helping to realize environments that offer not only greater physical accessibility, but also a dimension of delight in architecture experienced through other senses. Downey enjoyed 20 years of distinguished practice on award-winning custom residences and cultural institutions before losing his sight. One of the few practicing blind architects in the world, Downey has been featured in many media stories and speaks regularly about issues relative to visual impairments and architectural design.

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