blind Blind person in a park / The Lighthouse

The blind are far from a monolithic group. There are those who are congenitally blind, meaning they had no eye sight at birth, and then there are those who became blind later in life. These two categories of blind people may navigate the built environment a bit differently. Describing a very small study of how congenitally-blind and late-blind people navigate a shopping district and an urban park in Izmir, Turkey, Fehmi Dogan, professor of architecture at the Izmir Institute of Technology, presented some interesting observations at the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) conference in Los Angeles.

Congenitally-blind people may more easily access their other senses, like touch, smell, and hearing, while late-blind people may more easily use their memory to navigate. In general, the blind were most aware of sound and least aware of temperature changes. Both groups preferred navigating…

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