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How architecture changes for the Deaf

How architecture changes for the Deaf


[Sound of subway announcements] We live in a world built for people who hear. Hello? Can you hear me? [Sounds of many different day-to-day activities] But what would our man-made world look like if it were designed for those who don’t hear? Gallaudet University in Washington, DC is a school for the Deaf and hard of hearing And they are redesigning entire buildings based on the sensory experience of those who don’t hear. We’ve only just begun to challenge ourselves to examine how we could design entire buildings, entire campuses, or even cities, to be aligned with DeafSpace. Deaf people as a culture have been marginalized largely We’ve been, as a marginalized community, developing our own culture and that defines what kind of place we call home, how we claim and occupy space. And so we’ve begun to ask ourselves these questions and because of that have gotten a lot more creative and think bigger about how we can find different ways to align our ways of being to our environments. The classrooms are oriented in a semi-circle
or U-shape so that classmates and continuously visually connect with other classmates. So if you want to be involved in a discussion, everyone has a front row seat to seeing. In a wider hallway, two people can walk in parallel signing with each other. But we do have specific distance parameters wherein we can observe the whole body and its signing. Hearing people, though could disregard that kind of a distance requirement they can be just next to each other speaking to each other without that need for the visual field. Stairs also require more visual attention to your footing and so ramps reduce that. So if you are communicating with someone while navigating a ramp you can do so much more easily. Within DeafSpace we have always relied on a heavily visible environment because we are not getting information auditorily. So if you are sitting at the top of terrace you can see all the way to the bottom of the terrace. It’s one distinct place that can be unified or have three distinct areas. Color and lighting are highly aligned to communication access. Blues and greens will usually contrast with most skin tones enough to reduce eye strain You may want to have more diffused lighting. A lot of the lighting here is directional so that it can be aligned. There are mirrors present to allow somebody to know and have a sense of what’s happening behind them. Through the use of that reflection they can know if someone is nearing behind them or if sombedody taps them. They can look up and that reflective space lets them know who’s there. Transparency of, say, doorways. So that when a person is in an office they can either have a transparent doorway or passageway or one that is opaqued. So that I can see lighting and shadow and movement and know somebody is at the door But not clearly see who’s there. Very often, people refer to “hearing loss” as an example which negatively frames the whole approach from the outset. But let’s imagine the Deaf baby who has never heard and yet is still described as experiencing “hearing loss”. And instead we propose a different framing: that of “Deaf gain” What is it that we gain by the experience of being or becoming Deaf? DeafSpace, I believe is born of the idea that we have something to offer the world That being Deaf confers some very interesting perspectives on life.

100 comments found

  1. Growing up with deaf parents, I feel quite strongly about the care for the deaf. Deaf people are humans too and fantastic intellectual humans. We need to allow these people to thrive in our world.

  2. What would it be like if it was made for people who couldn't hear – "Instantly drop best and most identifiable background song in any Vox video so far"

  3. I'm not deaf but the lighting and architechture looks pleasing to the eye, I would love to live in a less eye-straining environment.

  4. awesome video and topic, Nyle DiMarco came to sign at my school recently and he mentioned going to Gallaudet. But he also mentioned how some deaf people (for example, in other countries or w diff economic status) aren't aware there even is a university for them. Vox making this video brings more awareness about deaf culture 👍🏼

  5. It would be interesting if they had like, monitors that connected to a camera in a maim office and they used the system to give an announcement to the whole school. So like how in normal schools they have an intercom and they give spoken announcements to the whole school, in the deaf school they would have an announcement done in sign language so with the monitors they would be able to listen to an announcement.

  6. its weird how ive never even considered any of these thing which are mundane to others. i wonder how much knowledge could be gained from listening to deaf people, or even blind people? they experience the world so differently from people like me… its amazing.

  7. Derrick is is extremely handsome but anyways, i’m so happy about this!! it’s amazing to see that the school is beautifully built, the idea was a great one too. the deaf deserve to be included rather than be excluded.

  8. The only part of this that isn't universal is the clear glass everywhere. That kinda sucks from a visually impaired pov because sometimes i can't see the difference between glass.

  9. one thing I noticed about the architecture that's made for deaf people is that it inherently becomes better for people who are in wheelchairs as well (ramps, wider walkways) which is super interesting. I wonder what a space that's completely disabled friendly– friendly to autistic, blind, wheelchair-bound or otherwise physically disabled, and deaf people– would look.

  10. This would be more accessible for so many people beyond the scope of deafness and I would love for this design to be mainstream.

  11. I love that they not only interviewed and interpreted Derrick's signing, but that they showed him signing just as much as they would any spoken interviewee. it shows how much they were interested in Derrick as what he had to say, which is really nice to see.

  12. This is so wonderful! Marvelous! They did a great job at not just making it transparent and walking accessable, but also took into account the lighting so it isn't intense and people can concentrate better. I hadn't thought of that aspect before.
    We have been trying to teach my child simple beginning signing for kids, because I think it is a good idea even if we can hear, we can maybe be able to understand and help someone else someday. I think it would be great if public schools in our area or nation wide could implement a signing class, and not only teach Spanish as a secondary language.

  13. It seems really disrespectful to make a video about deaf culture and cut away from a person signing, leaving just a voiceover. Could you move the guy signing into a little box at the bottom of the screen so that deaf people can see what he's saying in the original language?

  14. I almost went to college there as a hearing student! When I went on a tour they explained a lot of cool stuff. For example, they told us about deaf alarm clocks. You put a thing that vibrates strongly under your mattress on a timer so it’ll wake you up. Our guide told us there was one student who always slept through his alarm and the vibrations bothered people in dorm rooms near him, haha. They showed us a doorknob from the old doors that you would pull to use like a knocker. It was so heavy it would vibrate the floors so people would feel that there was someone at the door. Similarly, the benches seen at 1:20 are one big piece of wood so if someone on one side of the bench wants to get the attention of someone on the other side, they can bang on the bench so the other person can feel it. The school is also designed for the visually impaired as well through stuff like putting pebble-like floors on places you shouldn’t walk like between ramps and walls so you can feel it with a cane. There was so much more but I don’t remember it all 🙁 dead culture seen though architecture is so genius and cool, I love it !!

  15. am I the only who who thought that this video should have zero sound and only subtitles as a way to show just how the world really is built around people who can hear.

  16. I'm not deaf but have issues with hearing/sound in addition to abysmal eyesight that requires A LOT of assistance/correction, AND THIS BUILDING WOULD BE A DREAM. This kind of design wouldn't just benefit the deaf/HOH community but also those with vision problems as well. Stairs suck when your depth perception is off so ramps would be amazing. The idea of contrasting furniture and defused light also would be super freaking helpful. The ability to function in a space where I could actually freaking see the things I needed to see would be AMAZING. I wish more spaces were designed with this in mind because it would make so many lives a million times easier.

  17. I am not deaf, but when I immigrated to Canada, I had no experience with the language. I could not understand nor was I understood at school. I communicated through google translate, which was my interpreter, and I didn't like the experience of not being able to communicate freely. I am currently developping a gadget to translate sign language into speech. I'd really love to know if that would be useful for some of you in the deaf community. If interested, I have a facebook page for the project: https://www.facebook.com/DigivoxGadget/
    Thank you! And great job!

  18. I used to work near Gallaudet Univ. making pizza. I learned how to sign enough to communicate what kind of pizza they wanted. It was a blast.

  19. For anyone looking for it, the song at the start is Flite by Cinematic Orchestra. Adding the word "music" to this comment for anyone searching for music in the comments. XD

  20. You know what I've always wondered, what does two deaf people signing dirty look like? I've seen people sign arguing, and man is it intense. For some reason you naturally think that it wouldn't be as intense as yelling. You think that they would be able to keep a cooler head. But nope, it's just as crazy. When you think about it, it might make the transition to a physical argument a little more likely. I mean if you are already waving your hands around… idk…

    But I demand to know what dirty talk looks like in signing. I wonder if it could be more creative? You have to use your hands to sign, and in an intimate situation it seems like that opens certain opportunities that talking doesn't have.

  21. I usually only watch the non-political videos and occasionally the political ones just 2 c what flaws r present in the video

  22. alright so i’m 2 years late but can we get a petition made for people to stop asking if deaf people can talk? my parents are both deaf while i can hear and all of my friends are like, “wow your parents can talk?” and i’m like, “yeah did i ever say they couldn’t?” lol

  23. Deaf gain? Ummmm…no. It is still a disadvantage to not experience auditory sensation. Hence the reason all these extra steps have to be taken.

  24. I love this! I think that this kind of architecture is not only benefitting for the deaf, but for me as someone with attention and anxiety problems as well. As the space is designed not to be distracting, with very clear visuals, a calming colour scheme and dimmed lighting, I would be much more able to focus. The wider hallways and glass walls and doors would help me to feel less anxious as there is more space and I wouldn't feel as locked up.

  25. I feel that a majority of the alienation that deaf and disabled people experience is not created from their disability itself but the difficulty they feel in an environment designed for the average, fully able person

  26. The lack of embedded subtitles severely limits the accessibility for this video to those who don't speak ASL. I would like to share it with my British SIgn friends, but there is no way for them to access this information properly, which is a shame as its really interesting.

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  28. I wish there could be this everywhere, but also stuff for the blind. There should be courses where you find out a day in the life of a blind and/or deaf person. Same for short people.

  29. if i have the chance, i would have water running inside the building and sliding down the ramps; that would be awesome.

  30. How would you all prefer I site this source? Currently, I have it as:
    “How Architecture Changes for the Deaf” published by Vox

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