DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS has been designing for the blind, physically handicapped, handicapped, autistic, developmentally disabled, and learning disabled for 30 years and their completed work creates a friendly environment without shouting “special needs”. "I learned a long time ago that blindness for most is just a characteristic like short or tall and it comes with its own challenges and limitations; but it is not necessarily a disability” says Dennis Kowal about his experiences with the many blind professionals who conduct rather normal lives. The majority of the visually impaired get around without a white cane (less than 35% use a cane) or a guide dog (less than 3% use a guide dog). As a person ages, there is a one in ten chance of major vision loss but then their needs may be different as they may no longer drive, go to school or work.
At the National Headquarters of Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D), Dennis's design was based on orthogonal geometry, the easiest navigation system. Curves can disorient whereas ninety degree turns are easier to follow for someone with no vision. That same person composes a picture of the space from sensing the perimeter as opposed to walking into the middle and looking around as a sighted person might. Therefore, the placement of furniture and removing obstacles at the perimeter became important to the design process. Finally, acoustics also help compose the picture. Large volumes sound different than small spaces or lower ceilings. And just as too many colors is garish for the sighted, too many sounds can be annoying to the visually impaired.
DKA created custom designed conveyor systems that recognize specific tapes and automatically distribute them.
DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS designs for the blind, dyslexic and physically handicapped.