Friday, October 07, 2005

On thing that are totally not funny

Okay, so Matt at Basket Full of Puppies directs us to this article about a new library for the blind in Norway. I think a library for the blind is a great idea (they have a hell of a time finding reading material otherwise), but perhaps more attention should have been paid to finding a design that wouldn't trip, flatten, confuse or concuss blind people:
The entrance doors can only be opened with a switch on a wall behind the door, not easily found even for those with 20-20 vision. The doors then open outwards, and while the visually impaired are occupied with the switch they can easily get the door right in the face.

"There are no sensors that detect someone standing at the door. People can be caught easily," Fuglerud said. "It's incredibly heavy. The worst type of door I have ever seen."

After passing two doors, surprise obstacle number two: art inlaid into the floor that easily confuses the visually impaired.

"The visually impaired think that these are functional and are something that should be followed. But the artwork leads you out again," Fuglerud said.

The presence of the artwork prevents the customary use of guide lines on the floor, and so a line of light is used instead.

"Everyone must know that the blind won't have much use for that," said NBF consultant Hege Henrichsen.

All of the entering doors and walls at the library are made of glass. Henrichsen points out that the visually impaired will walk right into these, and library manager Arne Kyrkjebø adds that so far two fully sighted employees and a bicycle courier have also walked into the glass - though no one has been injured yet.

While I love the thoughtful idea of a nice line of light to guide the blind people on their way, I think the funniest part of the article is the architect's reaction to the criticism:
Architect Gro Eileraas is stung by the criticism from the NBF, and said that she thought a good dialogue had been in place and that they were satisfied.

"They kept saying, 'Hey, blind people will trip over this,' and, 'You should fix the door so it doesn't squish unsuspecting patrons,'" Eileraas said. "And I was, like, if this place is so dangerous to blind people, maybe they shouldn't come here, right?"

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