How to investigate and improve legibility of urban projects to make them understandable for blind people?

Contribution of Social and Behavioral Sciences Methods to Design for All Approach

Ewa Kuryłowicz, Zuzanna Bogucka
Faculty of Architecture, Warsaw University of Technology, Poland

The following article is an overview of how well the architects are equipped with knowledge and rules of art regarding the issue of engaging disabled persons into user groups in environment built upon rules of full equivalency and a suggestion of further directions of complementing the Design for All principles and consequently rules and regulations based on
research conclusions from related branches.
The research report analyzed legibility of urban space (and architectural), the way it was understood by Lynch (1960), as a dimension essential to ease of learning by blind persons of a given terrain and creating its cognitive maps. Four land management urban projects of Olympia Park Berlin (Pichselberg Tip) in form of tactile maps were presented to participants
of research. After a standardized procedure of acquaintance with each of these projects a structured interview was conducted with each of the research participants, in which they were asked for items facilitating or hindering familiarizing with the map, learning the terrain and items potentially hampering individual movement around it. Qualitative data from these interviews as well as geographical data that presented trouble spots for blind persons in urban projects allowed determining which one from spatial systems was the most and which least legible and thus present recommendations for potential changes in eventual, further designing stages of Olympia Park Berlin.
Research presented in such format inscribes into participation design trend, which stipulates involvement of participants (future and/or potential) into designing process. Featured research, however, is an example of an urban projects evaluation method concerning the needs of blind persons and how can they become involved in designing process.

Keywords: Design for All, participatory design, cognitive maps, spatial orientation,
blindness, tactile map.

Download full Text