Healthcare Design - March 2016 - 22
EFA EXPO & CONFERENCE
Keynote speaker Chris Downey to discuss
importance of designing for visual accessibility
Creating positive environments for seniors involves learning to look at the space through
their eyes-but also recognizing how different elements can affect their vision, even temporarily, within that setting, says architect Chris Downey, founder of Architecture for the
Blind (San Francisco). "Research has shown that you can take someone with good vision
and in the wrong environmental conditions-whether it's a lack of contrast, glare, or insufficient lighting-their visual ability is legally blind," he says.
Downey, who lost his sight in 2008, will present the opening keynote presentation
"Empathetic Eyes" at the 2016 Environments for Aging Expo & Conference (April 9-12,
Austin, Texas), where he'll discuss the visual needs of seniors, how the visual experience is
essential to the cultivation of delight, and new design ideas for senior spaces.
Thinking about color contrast to help seniors more easily see a doorway or controlling
glare so it doesn't reflect off a shiny floor are examples of ways architects and interior designers can think about making a space accessible to all. "It's not
just about being clinical about it," he says. "It's hard to be at ease
and enjoy a place if you're struggling to understand it."
For more information and conference details, visit