I would like to thank Alison Preston for giving me the idea for this blog post (her original idea was to write it in the form of an open letter which could be sent to Councils, Town Planners, Architects, etc). I hope it will give you some idea as to the challenges I can face as I attempt to navigate the Obstacle Course known as the outside world.
To Whom It May Concern
I wonder if you have ever attempted to walk down a Helter Skelter at a Funfair (if not, may I respectfully suggest you attempt to navigate a spiral staircase when you have a sight problem - I think it would have the same effect)??? Or attempted to break through a "Berlin Wall" (formed of clothes rails or shelving at the entrance to a shop)??? Or seen a pretty pattern on a wall - only to realise it is actually supposed to be a staircase (when people appear to abseil down the wall without any visible means of support - whilst facing outwards)??? Or even been confused by shallow steps and decorative paving which looks identical???
Have you ever needed to use a microscope to read a sign??? Have you ever wondered whether you will need a torch or very dark sunglasses on entering a building of your choice???
Have you ever felt an urgent and drastic need to find a pot of bright yellow paint so other people can see the edges of steps, etc, before they narrowly miss falling and breaking their neck???
Have you ever experienced looking with your feet so you don't injure yourself whilst you attempt to find a seat???
Have you ever tried to look through a queue of buses to find out which one is yours??? (Warning - do not attempt this unless you have the same level of xray vision as Superman - it won't work.)
Have you ever just wished you could rearrange an entire building to make it more accessible for yourself and others like you??? If not, you do not know how lucky you are.
Whilst you are in your hallowed studio - creating your dream landscape and architecture - please spare a thought for us mere mortals who may not be as able-bodied as you are with your seemingly superhuman sight and hearing.
I realise that the mortals who are not the most obviously disabled among the people you are designing for are the "Invisible Group" - but we too are part of this Primeordial Soup.
All we would like is some recognition of your unknowing inhibition - and blockading of our mission. All we want is to be able to get around (and get back home in one piece - safe and sound). Of course, another desire is adequate (unblocked) escape routes in case of fire.
There are many parts of a body and some of them have been known to work better than others, So I have a favour to ask of you - my sisters and brothers.
When you are designing the world we all need to share - please show people like me that you care.
That little spark of hope - without which I just cannot cope - is what makes me wish you will not leave me in despair. A new form of all inclusive Council of Design wold really be a breath of fresh air.
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