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Students and faculty host design workshop for the blind and visually impaired

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Visiting Instructor Andrew Gipe-Lazarou and students from the College of Architecture and Urban Design hosted the 2022 Blind Design workshop, a design workshop for students who are blind or visually impaired. The workshop was a collaborative effort between the college and the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired.
Where this is a collaboration between Virginia Tech School of Architecture he designed and the Virginia Department, the blind and vision impaired. There's a group of 13 blind and vision impaired learners from around the state of Virginia who are learning about design. Most of them are high school age. Some of them have completed a few years of college. And we've already gotten a few of them. So interested in architecture that they, they're thinking about applying to the, to the School of Design and start working. Anything advance. And then you can do, oh, wow. In addition to them, there are seven students from the School of Architecture and Design or leading a workshop and have organized different design projects that are blind and vision impaired participants. And we're very fortunate to have the architects, the blind architect, crust down, fly in to join us and be a mentor for the, for the participants in the workshop. I'll share a little bit today about actually what I learned about architecture. From losing my sight. We've got a lot of different activities planned for the workshop. One of the activities is to design your own home, which is standard first-year architecture studio project. Participants will be tasked with exploring different types of spaces. Thinking about different architectural elements like facade in court or how they would improve those spaces for the needs of the blind and vision impaired community. And adapt them in a way that creates a holistic architectural compositions. One of the best things about being able to do this workshop and organize everything is it's given me a really great insight into the other challenges that people with disabilities have and the way that that affects how we as architects should design. We talk about universal design principles all the time and making things that are accessible to everybody. But I think this workshop offers something so much more intimate and really eye-opening for us to be able to be more conscientious when we're designing and thinking about the way that spaces feel. So in the design industry, using work for flooring and installation for many years. I did a similar workshop like this one in the role of the student back in 2009, I was a student instructors. The experiences I had imposed on me an awareness of the needs of the differently abled. This awareness has stayed with me throughout my, my years as an educator and in practice. And I'm already seeing that the same kind of awareness being cultivated and the students who are leading the workshop here at eight.