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Rehab and Educational centre for Blind/Visually impaired people

NADIM EL HINDI 20082422


ARP590 | Senior Study | Mrs. Kristine Samra & Dr. Nicolas Gabriel
Summer 2015 | FAAD | NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY

Dedication:

I dedicate my dissertation to blind people, especially those living in Lebanon, where they struggle
in everyday life due to the lack of the governmental support. I also dedicate it to a blind friend that
I used to give a ride and listen to his sufferings that he used to face daily.

If I Am Blind

It doesnt Mean You Cant See Me

Abstract
This thesis identifies the obstacles that blind or visually impaired people face in the Lebanese
society. It goes through their daily struggles in society, either in terms of education and
employment or in lack of health services and transportation facilities. Pointing out the
circular relation, that relates blindness to education and poverty. How a proper education in
early stages could be helpful. Proposing at the end, an educational and rehabilitation center
for blind or visually impaired people, with a detailed program that could help with their
integration in society.

Acknowledgements

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my advisors Mrs Kristine Samra and Dr. Nicolas
Gabriel for the continuous support of my senior study and related research, for their patience,
motivation, and immense knowledge. Their guidance helped me in all the time of research and
writing of this thesis.

Table of Contents

Page

Dedications

II

Abstract

III

Acknowledgements

IV

Table of Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables
1. Phase A

: Preliminary Essay

2. Phase B

: Annotated review of Related Bibliography

3. Phase C

: Identification of the Project

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4. Phase D

: Site Data + Draft of the Program

23

5. Phase E

: Jurys Comments

30

6. Phase F

: Personal Approach, Conceptual Sketches

31

Bibliography

41

Phase A
Blind people are not really integrated in their communities. They dont have the same
opportunities or access to education, jobs, health services and transportation that other people have.
1

This injustice resulted in forcing these people to stay home, become misanthropists and
renounce society. Thus losing their productivity and rely solely on others to serve them instead of
creating personal power to be complete morally.
Their disability does not inevitably lead to poverty. It is at the point of discrimination that the
cycle could be broken. When disabled people are denied educational opportunities, then it is the
lack of education, and not their disabilities that limits them.2 Eighty percent of these people, who
are capable of working, are unemployed because of discrimination, according to Imad Al-Hou,
chairman of Al-Amal Society for Development and Social Care.
In this way, these people are frequently dragged further and further into poverty as a result of
exclusion from main stream social, economic and political opportunities throughout their lives.
According to the CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child), education should help disabled
children achieve social integration.
Therefore the aim of my project is to understand the needs and requirements of an educational
and recreational center for people who are Blind and visually impaired. I intend to design an
independent living environment that facilitates the needs of these people by providing them with
adequate training programs, living places, medical rehabilitation, job opportunities.
Hoping that, such facility would help them achieve effective communication, social
competence, employability, and personal independence.
Real possibilities exist for properly trained blind people3
The selection of the site should be taking into consideration 3 main point. First, the Facilities
that are provided near the center. Second the Accessibility to the center and third, the Environment
surrounding the center.
The reasons behind choosing Monot as a location of the site are:
- It is an urban setting where different types of facilities exist in (commercial, residential, industrial, public
spaces). This makes it easier for them to integrate with the community.
- Several institutions are located in the region of Beirut which makes it easier for the community and the
center to work together.
- The site is near Usj campus which helps with students integration.
- Monot is known by its historical arts and crafts. This give the chance to blind and visually impaired
people to revival this part of Monot in the workshops present in the center.
- This region is also near to different hospitals where in our case physical accidents might appear.
- Beirut the capital of Lebanon has always been the interface of the country and having this type of center
in the capital, which cares about the Blind people, will improve this interface and whereby other region will
be going to follow.

1
2
3

Coleridge, P. (2006). Disability, Liberation, and Development (4th ed., p. 237). Oxfam.
Peters, S. (2009). Review of marginalization of people with disabilities in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan
Omvig, J. (2005). FREEDOM FOR THE BLIND THE SECRET IS EMPOWERMENT (p. 143). NFB.

Target User:
Person who become Blind or Visually Impaired because of road accident.
Person with physiological trauma and psychological trauma resulting from physical injury.
Person who become Blind or Visually Impaired because of war.
Person who born Blind or Visually Impaired.
Proposed Program:
Education:
-

Information center
Braille Library
Classes
Workshops
Multi-sensory artworks

Rehabilitation:
-

Physiotherapy Unit
Therapy Garden
Rehabilitation Ward
Sense Training
Social Skills

Leisure:
-

Sports Hall
Multipurpose room
Swimming pool
Park - Gathering area

Administration / Profit:
-

Offices
Retails
Counseling
Exhibition Gallery

Intention:
Vision is the most common form of communication in architecture. The other senses are
unfortunately neglected. Therefore, the intent of my project is to create an architectural design that
will be remembered for its Sensory Experiences and not for its visual aesthetics or appeal.
Redefining architecture to fit with different senses and not creating machines to facilitate.

Phase B

REFERENCES ON Blind / Visually impaired People in Lebanon


Atallah, T. (n.d.). Are the Blind Community and the Global Community Opposed?
[Personal interview].
CATEGORY: Interview: informative, Personal experience
KEYWORDS: Blind community, Rehabilitation, Isolation
ABSTRACT:
In the interview Tony Atallah explains how there is no difference between the blind community and the
global community. But there is one community and the blind are integral part of it. Tony also explains
in detail some of the reasons behind this artificial differentiation between the blind community and the
global one.
QUOTATION(S):
The character of the blind person is the first main factor in allowing the integration of the blind in
the society or their unsociability for the aforementioned reasons.
Limited jobs are allowed for the blind who work for example in telephone centers, in the
radiology department in hospitals, particularly in the darkrooms, as lottery ticket sellers and in the
straw and wool crafts
They rarely get third-category jobs or work as university professors. In general, they are stuck in
the fourth-category jobs and by custom, are forbidden from being employed in the first-category
jobs.
There are little advanced technologies, especially in Lebanon, for the integration of the blind
among the normally sighted people.
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This source will help me understand the needs of blind people in Lebanon. How they are stuck in a
third category jobs while according to the law, nothing prevents a blind from getting such jobs, but
this normal right is denied to them by customs. And many
others and how these needs prohibit the integration of the blind with their community.

Peters, S. (2009). Review of marginalization of people with disabilities in Lebanon,


Syria and Jordan
CATEGORY: Report: informative, case study
KEYWORDS: Disability, Society, Lebanon

ABSTRACT:
Using a social exclusion conceptual framework, this paper identifies several causes of marginalization
of people with disabilities in the context of the MENA region. Focusing on Lebanon, Syria and Jordan,
the incidence, prevalence, causes and characteristics of people with disabilities are reported. The
educational experiences of children and youth with disabilities from early childhood through secondary
school are described. Findings from these experiences are used to recommend strategies to address
exclusionary policies and practices in order to promote inclusion. Strategies focus on legislation and
policies, as well as addressing cultural and structural barriers through specific interventions. .
QUOTATION(S):
Marginalization connotes a vision of being sidelined from participating in an activity, or, in other
words, being able to participate, but at the margins.
Within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, educational systems exclude more than
95% of the disabled school age population at the primary level.
Finally, there is a circular relation between poverty, disability, and education.
Among the most serious obstacles are negative attitudes towards the disabled, which affect both
the school participations and the self confidence of disabled children.
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This source provides me with some statistical data concerning the disabled people in Lebanon and
more specifically the percentage of blind people. It also backs up my idea by analyzing the relation
between disability, poverty and education. And shows us how education and rehabilitation help the
disabled people to get more integrated in their society.

Thomas, E., Lakkis, S., & Al-Jadeeda, T. (9). Disability and livelihoods in Lebanon.
CATEGORY: Report: case study
KEYWORDS: disability, livelihoods, Lebanon, residential institutions, education
ABSTRACT:
In 2002 the Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union (LPHU) conducted a study of 200 graduates of
institutions for disabled people, to find out if institutions help disabled people enjoy their rights in the
areas of education and employment, as set out in Lebanons laws on disability rights and education law.
It looked at the experience of 200 graduates of institutions for disabled people, aged between 14 and 40.
Special institutions for disabled children are common in Lebanon, although local and international
evidence indicates that these institutions undermine childrens rights.
The study showed that disabled people are one of several groups paying the price for Lebanons current
economic policies. These economic policies, sponsored by the
Lebanese government and international donors, often prioritise growth over fairness.
Effective solutions for disabled people in Lebanon could lead to improvements in the lives of people
from other marginal groups.

QUOTATION(S):
Disabled people have rights to education and to support in getting appropriate employment.
In Lebanon, disabled children dont get the education they deserve and disabled adults go on to
fail in the labor market.
The obstacles to disabled peoples rights are rooted deep in systems of education, social welfare
and labor market structures.
Disabled people have very low incomes.
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This source backs up my idea that emphasizes on the right of blind and visually impaired people to
have a proper education that helps them integrate more in their society by entering the labor market
and being economically stable.

Armstrong, M. (2012). Blind students in Lebanon struggle to overcome educational


segregation. Daily Star, 4-6.
CATEGORY: Journal: article
KEYWORDS: Blind, Students, Education, Lebanon
ABSTRACT:
This article goes into several visits to some institutions for blind visually impaired people and point out
on how these people struggle to overcome educational segregation.
QUOTATION(S):
Nobody can deny the positive role that specialized schools have played in the absence of new
government initiatives
Implementing integration requires a total shift in the social concept in the entire education
system; facilities need to be improved and staff trained you cant shift from isolation to
integration overnight.
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This source backs up my idea that emphasizes on the right of blind and visually impaired people to
have a proper education that helps them integrate more in their society. How the place of the
project also plays big role in this segregation and how it helps to develop the interaction with the
community.

Coleridge, P. (2006). Disability, Liberation, and Development (4th ed., p. 237). Oxfam.
CATEGORY: Book: informative, case study
KEYWORDS: Disability, social action, development, Lebanon

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ABSTRACT:
This book is an attempt to make a personal examination of some of the social, political, and
developmental aspects of disability, as they are encountered in a few widely differing developing
countries.
QUOTATION(S):
Is this all? Just rehabilitation exercises, and eating and sleep? Isnt there anything else? p 187
Disability is perceived as a medical problem. Funding for medical rehabilitation, which does not
address the long-term or social needs of disabled people, is the easiest to obtain p 190
Things get done and jobs secured through personal contacts and favors, rather than through a
system based on rights or objective principles. p 191
It has been a tradition in Lebanon that blind people can work as telephone operators in banks and
government departments. But as Munis Abdel Wahhab, a blind person from Tripoli, points out:
This is done on the basis of pity, not rights. These people have no job security, they are not
properly integrated into the employment system. p 192
Asad Daud, a blind from Sidon: You cannot give disabled people their rights by giving them
money. I cannot solve the problems of a disabled person by giving him 3 million dollars. That
amount of money does not defend him. What defends him is his job, his work. If he has a job, he is
living proof that he is a human being like everyone else. One has to depend on oneself to the
greatest extent possible. Disabled people have to work hard to get jobs. p 193
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This source will help me understand how hard it is on blind people to find jobs that they think they
fit in because they are capable of and not as a result of pity. It shows me the need of blind people to
be educated in order to be integrated in the job opportunities. And therefore backing up my idea of
an educational and recreational center for blind people to become skillful in order to help them get
suitable jobs, for them to be self-supporting, and reach the best social and economical inclusion in
their societies.

Tannoury, W. (2003). Enhancing Business Community Relations.


CATEGORY: Report: informative, case study
KEYWORDS: Disability, Rights, Society, Lebanon
ABSTRACT:
This case study is one of ten that was chosen as part of the Enhancing Business Community Relations
Project. The purpose of this study is to document successful experiences as learning tools in the field of
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Lebanon. Mimosa was chosen as a case study due to its
efforts in supporting its community and most importantly in their application and support of Law No.
220 which secures basic rights to disabled individuals, among them the right for employment.

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QUOTATION(S):
Its a privilege for an organization to employ us, because we are used to dealing with and
overcoming struggles - a skill that can make or break a company.
We need financial donations from companies, but what we need more is for companies to take
steps and realize their responsibility toward their community and most importantly, to employ
people with disabilities just like they would employ others. We have wonderful skills and abilities
that we are ready to put to wonderful use if only we are given the chance. I guarantee any
company t they won't be disappointed with the results
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This source helped me understand the benefits of employing disabled individuals in companies.
How it plays a role in integrating them in the community and helping them to be productive and
economically stable. Therefore, this backs up the idea of training blind people to be ready to enter
the work field which is a way to integrate in the community.

Kassak, K., Chaya, M., & Hourani, T. (1997). National survey of blindness and low
vision in Lebanon. British Journal of Ophthalmology, (81), 905-906. doi:10.1136
CATEGORY: Journal: Survey
KEYWORDS: Blindness, Low Vision, Lebanon
ABSTRACT:
Aim is to survey level of blindness and low vision in Lebanon. Methods a population survey was
undertaken in 10 148 individuals to measure the prevalence and identify the causes of blindness in
Lebanon. In the results, the prevalence of blindness was 0.6% and that of low vision 3.9%. The major
causes of blindness were cataract (41.3%) and uncorrected large refractive error (12.6%). As a
conclusion the most causes of blindness in Lebanon can be controlled by various educational and
medical programs.

QUOTATION(S):
20 years of civil war; a large number of motor vehicle accidents (Speed limits are not enforced,
and most motorcycle riders do not wear helmets); and poor safety conditions at work lead to an
increase in our average of blind and low vision people
For Lebanon in 1995 the rate of low vision would be around 2%
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This source helped me to know the number of blind and low vision people and how they are
distributed in Lebanon according to regions. This backs up my choice concerning the location of
the site.

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Lakkis, S. (2015). Lebanon: Disability and Access to Information. Free Word Centre.
CATEGORY: Report: informative, case study
KEYWORDS: Disability, Rights, Society, Lebanon
ABSTRACT:
Persons with disabilities face complex barriers to achieving their rights, and the CRPD represents an
important attempt to overcome those barriers. The CRPD has extended and reformulated many human
rights, incorporating concrete measures from existing human rights that ensure that the conventions
principles accessibility, non-discrimination, inclusion, and respect for dignity and evolving capacity
are put into practice.
QUOTATION(S):
In 2014, the ministry said there were 95,618 persons with disabilities in Lebanon. Over half 55.1
percent had motor (kinaesthetic) disabilities; 28.4 percent had mental disabilities; 8.7 percent had
hearing or speech disabilities; and 7.8 percent had visual disabilities.
A disproportionately large number of children with disabilities and many adults with disabilities in
Lebanon live in residential institutions that separate them from families, and isolate them from
participation in everyday life.
RELEVANCE OF THIS PAPER TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This source helped me conclude the need for educational center for blind people, due to the
comparison between the number of institutions and the number of blind people in Lebanon. It also
helped in showing the negative impact of residential institutions on the disabled people which gave
me an idea about the program that I should implement in order to maintain on the relation between
the blind people and their community.

REFERENCES ON Blind / Visually impaired People internationally


Newberry, F. (1993). THE BLIND CHILD: BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT ADULT. Future
Reflections, 12(2), 2-8.
CATEGORY: Magazine: article
KEYWORDS: Acceptance, Attitude, Development
ABSTRACT:
We tend to think of public education campaigns in terms of news stories and catchy television and
radio spots and we have our share of those the heart of the Federation campaign has been, and
still is, carried out quietly in the homes and communities of thousands of Federation members.
Striving to live normal lives, even when opportunities have been scarce and expectations low, blind
Federationists throughout the decades have been educating those around them about a new way of
thinking about blindness. Slowly, we have built a foundation of ordinary sighted members of the

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public who have, because of their personal contact with the Federation and ordinary blind persons,
embraced the notion that blindness can be reduced to a physical nuisance. This, in turn, has led to
greater acceptance of the blind on the job and in the community.
QUOTATION(S):
Rid the public of the notion that blindness necessarily means a life of unrelieved tragedy,
dependency, helplessness, and inferiority; and replace it with an understanding that with proper
training and opportunity, blind people can live equal, productive, and fulfilling lives right alongside
their sighted neighbors and friends.
A child who is blind can become a completely independent adult.
While the degree of a child's blindness will dictate the amount of different approaches needed to
solve his needs.
Blind children who are given the opportunity to develop good motor ability, orientation, and
independence will become adults who can get about independently and adapt and orient themselves
in new situations.
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This article shows the importance of recreational centers on blind and visually impaired people. It
shows how education plays a role in integrating these people in their society and helping them to be
more independent.

J. Carroll, T. (2008). Blindness: What it is, what it does, and how to live with it (p. 382). Little,
Brown.
CATEGORY: Book: Health and Fitness
KEYWORDS: Blind, Feelings, Braille, Segregation

ABSTRACT:
This book, written in two parts, identifies the many losses associated with the loss of vision,
followed by discussing solutions to addressing these losses. It is the premise upon which Fr. Carroll
based the St Paul's Rehabilitation Training Program, a nationally recognized model program, where
newly blinded adults would make their personal adjustment to living with blindness.
QUOTATION(S):
If a blinded person is to continue to appreciate objects visually, they must be brought to him through
description or through his other senses or through a combination of description and sense intake.
Thus he could, for example, come to appreciate a piece of sculpture visually. p 181
Learning braille simply means mastering a fairly simple skill p 154

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I believe that the newly blinded person can maintain his visual memories. On the other hand,
unless he does make use of his powers of visualization, he may well lose his sense of visual form,
shape and perspective, just as we know he can allow himself to lose his memory of color. p 181
The work to be done in rehabilitation center is to return the blinded person to his or her society.
p 97
If he does not have the necessary qualifications, he will have to llok elsewhere and perhaps
completely reorient his vocational goal. p 205
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This source will help me understand the different stages and types of blind people and how to deal
with each case. Also how blind people should work on themselves to reach the needed
qualifications for them to start integrating in their societies, by finding jobs.

Holbrook, C., & Koenig, A. (Eds.). (2003). History and Theory of teaching children and youths
with visual impairments (2nd ed., p. 397). AFB Press.
CATEGORY: Book: Literature, Theories
KEYWORDS: Student, Vision, Braille, Blind
ABSTRACT:
This book sets out information based on history as well as theory and principles, based on history
as well as theory and principles, reflecting a belief that if we do not fully understand and learn from
where we have been, we will be at a great disadvantage determining where we need to go. This
book provides a comprehensive compilation including both fundamental theory and specific
methodology on teaching visually impaired students in all areas.
QUOTATION(S):
Unfortunately, many society still hold negative and devaluating attitudes toward blindness and
visual impairments. A visual impairment may, at times, affect a persons ability to initiate and
participate in social relationships. p 171
Children with visual impairments can and do develop positive and wholesome attitudes toward
themselves and others, despite the prevailing negative and devaluing attitudes often encountered in
society p 161
Some would prefer to separate, protect, and educate children who are visually impaired without
acknowledging the fundamental right of every person to be a fully participating member of
society. p 163
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This source will help me understand the philosophical way of thinking regarding who to teach
children who are visually impaired and the theories applied in such case. How to help these people
overcome the discrimination of their societies and bounce back with a goal in mind which is getting
along with the society and try to integrate with the community.

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Castellano, C. (2004, September 16). A Brief Look At The Education Of Blind Children. Future
Reflections, 5-7.
CATEGORY: Magazine: article
KEYWORDS: Education, Blind, Sense, Student
ABSTRACT:
The following article is exactly what the title says it is a brief, simplistic look at how blind children
are educated in the United States today. We know that parents and teachers often have to explain
over and over to friends, family members, and even school administrators and other school
personnel, about the unique aspects of education for blind/ visually impaired children. We hope this
article will make that task a little easier.
QUOTATION(S):
Blind/visually impaired students have the same academic and developmental goals as sighted
students of equal cognitive ability.
Making friends and having normal social interaction with peers is not always easy for the blind
child.
Encourage the child to use tactual techniques.
Sighted people often hold dismal ideas about blindness and the abilities of blind people. They may
not know any competent, successful blind adults and cannot imagine how anyone can achieve good
results without eyesight!
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This article shows how easier it is for educated blind and visually impaired to integrate in their
societies. It gives also ideas of how to train these people in order to communicate with their
community and feel themselves as part of it. It also explains how such programs can affect the
people in society to accept blind and visually impaired people between them.

Omvig, J. (2005). FREEDOM FOR THE BLIND THE SECRET IS EMPOWERMENT (p. 143).
NFB.
CATEGORY: Book: Philosophy
KEYWORDS: Blind, Empowerment, Experience
ABSTRACT:
In this book Mr. Omvig brings together the best of rehabilitation practice with the wisdom and
experience of countless blind people who, through their own lives, faced and overcame the social
and economic barriers arising from myths and misunderstanding about blindness. His book speaks
eloquently to the point that the renaissance in the rehabilitation of the blind is not the product of our
technology nor of our science, but rather has emerged out of the collective will of tens of thousands
of blind people to live full, normal, productive lives.

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QUOTATION(S):
Rehabilitation is not something that is done "to" a blind person or "for" a blind person, but "with"
the blind person. p 6
People "CAN" change what they think about blindness and about the kind of life they can expect
to live as blind people. p 26
Real possibilities exist for properly trained blind people. p 59
Blind are perceived generally in our society as inferiors--as a minority p 61
RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This source provides me with a philosophy of how blind people think and backed up with
testimonies of blind people and their experiences in life. This book talks about the reasons behind
this discrimination of blind people in their societies and gives us several instructions that might
work in integrating the visually impaired people with their community. This is why I see that it has
a direct link to my thesis where the purpose is to try to reach this integration.

Taylor, J. (2012). Educating Students With Visual Impairments for Inclusion in Society.
CATEGORY: Website: article
KEYWORDS: Education, Blind, Society
ABSTRACT:
Students with visual impairments need an educational system that meets the individual needs of
ALL students, fosters independence, and is measured by the success of each individual in the
school and community. Vision is fundamental to the learning process and is the primary basis upon
which most traditional education strategies are based. Students who are visually impaired are most
likely to succeed in educational systems where appropriate instruction and services provided in a
full array of program options by qualified staff to address each student's unique educational needs,
as required by Public Law 101-476, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
QUOTATION(S):
A child with a severe visual loss can directly experience only what is within arm's reach and can be
safely touched, and in most cases, what can be heard.
It is important to remember that education goals for students with visual impairments are
essentially the same as those for all students. The goals are: effective communication, social
competence, employability, and personal independence.
Students with visual impairments have the right to an appropriate education.
Students with visual impairments can and do succeed, but at different rates and often in different
sequences. There must be significant intervention, coordinated by an educational team to ensure
that appropriate development does occur.

17

RELEVANCE TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:


This article shows how important are the recreational centers on visually impaired people. How it
plays a role in pointing out the skills of these people and developing these skills. Doing so, blind
and visually impaired people will have the tools to succeed and play a specific role in their society.

Hartmann, C. (2012, October 13). What Is It Like to Be Blind? [Online interview].


CATEGORY: Online Interview
KEYWORDS: Blind, Sight, Experience
ABSTRACT:
Cristina Hartman responds in her interview to several questions like: What the Blind See, how the
blind read, how people treat you, the Emotional Side of Losing One's Vision..
QUOTATION(S):
The truth is that there are infinite ways to be legally blind.
People describing things in terms of color gives you an idea, but it is still based on your thoughts
and not what color really is.
The younger you are when you go blind, the easier and more normal it feels.
People can describe things to you, and it helps because you do have a solid reference to it.
RELEVANCE OF THIS PAPER TO THE PROBLEMATIC AT HAND:
This personal experience helps me understand how blind or visually impaired people think and
react to their surroundings. How the surrounding designs can affect their daily life. This gave me an
idea on how small details can make these people feel more comfortable and which is not yet
present in our society.

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Phase C
Sight is the most developed sense in the human brain and is our main tool for the perception of
the world around us. 4 We all have experienced the feeling of a power blackout when a couple of
minutes seem so long and mobility becomes nearly impossible. Some people have either not been
blessed with the sense of vision upon birth, or have lost that gift due to an accident. For them, the
total blackout that we only experience for a minute is a daily struggle especially in a country that is
very poorly equipped with the necessities that they need to lead a normal life.

And as if that is not enough, in our Lebanese society, blind people are not well integrated in
their communities mostly due to the lack of governmental support, and in some cases, due to social
discrimination. They dont have the same opportunities or access to education, jobs, health services
and transportation that other people have (Hourani, 1997). This injustice resulted in forcing these
people to stay home, become misanthropists and renounce society. Thus losing their productivity
and rely solely on others to serve them instead of developing their self-reliance. The obstacles to
blind peoples rights are rooted deep in systems of education, social welfare and labor market
structures 5

This problem starts in early stages, where attending proper education will surely help getting
appropriate employment later on, which in turn leads to their social integration and their financial
and physical independence. But unfortunately in Lebanon, blind people dont get the level of
education they deserve, and thus fail to succeed in the labor field, knowing that blind and visually
impaired people share the same right of education and have the same academic and developments
goals as sighted students of equal cognitive ability. This discrimination against their right of
education is leading to very limited jobs that are granted to them either by pity or through
connections. (Castellano, 2004). They are stuck in the fourth-category jobs and by custom, are
forbidden from being employed in the first-category job.6
As if it has been a tradition in Lebanon that blind/visually impaired people can work as telephone
operators in banks and government departments. But as Munis Abdel Wahhab, a blind person from
Tripoli, points out: This is done on the basis of pity, not rights. These people have no job security;

Zamora, Antonio. "Anatomy and Structure of Human Sense Organs." Scientific Psychic. Scientific Psychic, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 24 July 2015.
Thomas, E., Lakkis, S., & Al-Jadeeda, T. (2005). Disability and livelihoods in Lebanon.
6
Atallah, T. (n.d.). Are the Blind Community and the Global Community Opposed? [Personal interview].
5

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they are not properly integrated into the employment system 7. Asaad Daud, a resident of Sidon
who was born blind, added that you cannot give disabled people their rights by giving them money;
I cannot solve the problems of a disabled person by giving him 3 million dollars, that amount of
money does not defend him, what defends him is his job, his work. If he has a job, he is living
proof that he is a human being like everyone else. One has to depend on oneself to the greatest
extent possible. (Coleridge, 2006, p 193). But in my opinion, it should be a privilege for an
organization to employ blind/visually impaired people neither as a result of pity nor connections,
because they are used to deal with and overcome struggles, a skill that can make or break a
company. This indicates the importance of employment for blind and visually impaired people and
how their jobs insure a good independent living, social integration, and a promising futureAnd
all of that could be achieved from the beginning, by a proper education and rehabilitation program
that will facilitate and open up to better job opportunities and easier social integration.(Tannoury,
2003)
We should also be aware of a circular relation between poverty, blindness and education.8
Their disability does not inevitably lead to poverty. It is at the point of discrimination that the cycle
could be broken. When blind/visually impaired people are denied educational opportunities, then it
is the lack of education, and not their disabilities that limits them. Eighty percent of these people,
who are capable of working, are unemployed because of discrimination or lack of education,
according to Imad Al-Hou, chairman of Al-Amal Society for Development and Social Care. In this
way, these people are frequently dragged further and further into poverty as a result of exclusion
from main stream social, economic and political opportunities throughout their lives.

Therefore the aim of my project is to understand the needs and requirements of an educational
and rehabilitation center for people who are blind or visually impaired. To design an independent
living environment that facilitates the needs of these people by providing them with adequate
training programs, living spaces, physical rehabilitation, job opportunities As Taylor .J mentions
in his article, talking about the importance of education for visually impaired people: It is
important to remember that education goals for students with visual impairments are essentially the
same as those for all students. The goals are: effective communication, social competence,

7
8

Coleridge, P. (2006). Disability, Liberation, and Development (4th ed., p. 237). Oxfam
Peters, S. (2009). Review of marginalization of people with disabilities in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan

20

employability, and personal independence.9 Hoping that my project would guide these people to
achieve these points and integrate them into the community and live safely at home with or without
assistance. Newberry also stresses in his article in Future Reflections magazine, on the
importance of educating blind or visually impaired people by saying that: Blind/visually impaired
children who are given the opportunity of education, to develop good motor ability, orientation, and
independence will become adults who can get about independently and adapt and orient themselves
in society10.

The role of the rehabilitation part in my project is also to train blind/visually impaired people to be
able to interact with their society. Caroll .J in her book talking about blindness and the important
role of rehabilitation says: The work to be done in rehabilitation center is to return the blind or
visually impaired person to his or her society. It is not something that is done to a blind person
or for a blind person, but with a blind person, together to achieve success.11 Also Omvig in his
book Freedom for the blind: The secret is empowerment, states that real possibilities exist for
properly trained blind people. Emphasizing on the role of education and rehabilitation that will
open up to more effective possibilities.(Omvig, 2005, p 59) 12.
Going through architecture, it is fundamentally about crafting the human experience and the
human experience is not just visual, it is also multi-sensory. Sensory design has been an underutilized element of architectural design. Traditionally, the approach to the senses has been static
and passive, regarding each sense modality as independent, but treating auditory, tactile, haptic,
gustatory and olfactory senses as secondary to the visual and more often neglected.(Smith, 2014).
Therefore, I intent to create an architectural design that will be remembered for its sensory
experiences more than its visual aesthetics or appeal. Redefining architecture to fit with different
senses and not creating machines only as shelters. According to Caroll J , in her book Blindness:
What it is, what It does, and how to live with it mentions how important is for a blind person to
use other senses than vision, to help him perceive objects visually by a different matter. She says:
If a blinded person is to continue to appreciate objects visually, they must be brought to him

Taylor, J. (2012). Educating Students With Visual Impairments for Inclusion in Society.

10
11
12

Newberry, F. (1993). THE BLIND CHILD: BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT ADULT. Future Reflections, 12(2), 2-8.

J. Carroll, T. (2008). Blindness: What it is, what it does, and how to live with it (p. 382). Little, Brown.
Omvig, J. (2005). FREEDOM FOR THE BLIND THE SECRET IS EMPOWERMENT (p. 143). NFB.

21

through description or through his other senses or through a combination of description and sense
intake.13
.
The selection of the site took into consideration 3 main points. First, the Facilities that are
provided near the center. Second the Accessibility to the center and third, the Environment
surrounding the center. On the macro level, Beirut encounters around 2500 blind or visually
impaired people with no official educational or rehabilitation center in the region that can fulfill
their needs (Lakkis, 2015). But several institutions dedicated to blind and visually impaired
individuals are present in the region of Beirut which makes the community present there, more
prepared than others in other regions.

On the micro level, the Monot district in the Ashrafieh area, is considered an urban setting
where different types of facilities exist (commercial, residential, industrial, public spaces), which
makes it easier for them to participate in everyday life and have the opportunity to interact with
different types of facilities in the community (Bishop, 2006, p260). Furthermore, Monot was once
known for its historical arts and crafts production, which gives blind and visually impaired people
the chance to revive this part of Monot in the workshops present in the center.Arts and crafts
experiences can help to refine hand or finger skill, as well as satisfy the urge to make something
(Bishop, 2006, p144). Adding to that, the site is near an educational campus, where students of the
center can benefit from that fact and build connections with other sighted students, which could
serve as a start for a merge between these two educational systems. According to Hyam Fakhourys
view, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Social Affairs: no one ever wanted to marginalize [the
blind], but [marginalization] is a consequence of there being no alternative. For her, implementing
integration requires a total shift in the social concept in the entire education system; facilities need
to be improved and staff trained you cant shift from isolation to integration overnight. (Daily
star, 2012).

13

J. Carroll, T. (2008). Blindness: What it is, what it does, and how to live with it (p. 382). Little, Brown.

22

Phase D

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

Phase E

Dr. Christine Mady

Dr. Jeanpierre Al Asmar


Dr. Hani Zgheib

Program is vague
Site justification
Imagine
Please contact Mr. Massoud Habib
Site choice is not justified
Accessibility etc..
Sensory Elements vs Context
Space perception vs Visually imp
Spatial approach ?
Not only texture and materials

Ms. Dina Baroud

30

Phase F

Multi-Sensorial Architecture
Seeking Perception Beyond the Visual
Modern designs focus on visual perception of space has created a disconnection between the body and the
sensory experience. This issue is emphasized by the contemporary lifestyle where physical engagement is
secondary the vast amounts of information received through retinal imagery. Multi-sensorial design allows
for an interpretation and an engagement with an environment rather than taking it for what it appears to be.
The visually impaired were chosen as a frame to view the design opportunities that are possible with nonocular sensory perception and discover ways to allow this experience to lead to an inclusive creation of
architectural space.
Since the nineteenth century, multi-sensory design has been advocated for as a counter to ocular centrism in
the perception of architectural spaces. Ocularcentrism, or dominance of the eye, has led to the design of
spaces that do not fully utilize the other senses. Finnish architect and Professor Juhani Pallasmaa states,
Modernist design has housed the intellect and the eye, but it has left the body and the other senses, as well
as memories and dreams, homeless.14 By designing for haptic and auditory perception, architects can create
a spatial awareness, clarity, and engagement that allows for a building to move past its purely functional
program and towards an active experiential quality. This study has been framed by concentrating on the
visually impaired, who have an intimate connection to architectural space and the non-visual senses, as
compared to the sighted.15

14

Juhani Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses, 3 ed. (New York: Wiley, 2012), 35

15

Jasmien Herssens Haptic Design Research: A Blind Sense of Place, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Press (2011),
http://www.aia.org/aiaucmp/groups/aia/documents/pdf/aiab087187.pdf

31

Perception
Comprehension of a place relies not only on the sensation (the flow of data received through the sensory
organs), but also through perception (the data after it has been processed and interpreted).16 A full spatial
understanding cannot be achieved using visual cues alone, but must draw upon the understanding of
sensation and perception together. People should build up the shape of the world rather than recognizing
17

it as the source, which stares into the face. Ultimately, people become more knowledgeable about
architectural spaces through individual experience and engagement. Haptic perception is the result of the
information our skin receives from the surroundings environment resulting in the understanding of tactile,
thermal, kinetic and pressure properties. For instance, Herseens states that haptic exploration allows
individuals to focus on particular points of specific information throughout a space, whereas vision gives a
simplistic overall understanding just by turning the head. 18According to Pallasmaa, an individuals sense of
reality becomes strengthened and articulated through the constant interaction of the senses.19 Humans
experience three different kinds of sensory response: involuntary immediate physical response, a response
conditioned through prior knowledge of its source, and a remembered sensation, which can reconstruct a
past response. 20A much deeper subconscious understanding of spatial interaction should be considered
when designing spaces. Blindness or visual impairment serves as a means to critique the visual dominance
that exists in architectural design and works in the direction of a multi-sensorial experience.

Engaging Touch
Haptic qualities of material can create a spatial sensory construct through physical qualities such as tactility,
density, elasticity (resistance to pressure applied) and weight as well as sensory qualities such as color,
texture, pattern, and temperature.21 Hapticity plays a major role in non-visual perception of space, and can
also enhance the spatial experience for the sighted. Unlike the other senses, haptic body movement enables
16
17
18
19
20
21

Malnar and Vodvarka, Sensory Design, 21


Malnar and Vodvarka, Sensory Design, 25
Herssens Haptic Design Research 2
Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, 44
Malnar and Vodvarka, Sensory Design, 21
Malnar and Vodvarka, Sensory Design, 201

32

people to modify and manipulate their environment, creating a more direct engagement with the building
and occupier.22 The physical act of touch creates a mental map for objects in space. French writer Jacques
Lusseyran describes his haptic abilities after going blind:
You can go very quickly, with your eyes. You can glide. Excuse me; I dont want to scold or insult you,
but I am obliged to say: you glide too quickly. This ends up becoming a frightening temptation for you.
Fingers dont glide. With my fingers I can know this table. I am obliged to feel my way around it. That is to
23

say, I make my fingers explore all its parts, one after another, until at last I know it all, completely.

Touch breaks down individual components to cognitively recast the whole. In Image of the City, Kevin
Lynch, describes an image of a place through elements such as landmarks, paths, nodes, edges and
boundaries.24 These principals can be applied to a haptic context by taking into consideration material
characteristics and form. For example, a tower can be a visual landmark in the same way the texture of a city
square can become a haptic landmark.25 The Bauhaus encouraged exploration of textural sensitivity and
educated design students by having them engage with a material repetitively to create a mental pallet for an
understanding of material choice.26 Tactile sensitivity has diminished with the availability of computergenerated simulations of materiality in modern design software, which allow for materials to be placed as a
skin over a building quickly and interchangeably. Touch can serve as an important teaching tool for the
visually impaired as well as those who have full ocular ability. Those not fully capable of ocular perception
should become comfortable with tactile exploration at a young age. Without being taught these techniques
they can feel detached and uncomfortable with the world that surrounds them, causing social isolation. The
way in which the sighted are educated does not include this kind of haptic involvement since vision and
auditory information are able to be used. This process is not as personal as the one those with a visual
impairment undergo. In order to way find and comprehend their environment, the visually-impaired have to

22
23
24
25
26

Herssens Haptic Design Research, 2


Devlieger, Patrick. Blindness and the Multi-Sensorial City. (Antwerp: Garant, 2006), 33
Herssens Haptic Design Research, 2
Herssens Haptic Design Research, 3
Malnar and Vodvarka, Sensory Design, 145

33

gain information through haptics. In this respect the blind can teach the sighted to rediscover the volumes,
outlines, and surface treatments of a space in a more direct and sensitive way.27

Aural Perception
The blind can grasp the size and character of a room based on the sound, echoes, vibration and breeze of the
air, however the sighted often ignore these perceptual clues.28 Architects of the past knew a great deal
about the effects of sound and worked with it in a positive way. Currently modern designers often know
little about sound and try to reduce the amount they have to contend with it.29 With this, a transfer from
developing hi-fi soundscapes (defined and informative sound that produces clarity and understanding of an
environment) to lo-fi soundscapes (auditory distinctions between spaces that cannot be defined) has
occurred. Currently, the uses of standardized sound walls, ACT, and even introducing unnatural
environmental sounds, like Muzak, have blinded our ears. Interaction with sound in space engages
occupants and develops a sense of spatial volume, scale, and physical orientation. Pallasmaa states that
buildings do not react to our gaze but they do return our movements and sounds. He continues with an
example of the sound of water dripping in an ancient ruin supporting his belief that the ear has the capacity
30

to carve a volume into the void of complete darkness. This reactive nature of sound creates an auditory
dialogue between man and space. By listening, an occupant can perceive an environment through sensitivity
to temporal changes in reflection, refraction, absorption and dispersion. This argument shows a way in
which a volumes size and scale can be understood in a non-visual manner. Unlike the static presence of a
physical structure, aural perception can become dynamic and adaptive through changes in sonic behaviors
and sound sources.Jacques Lusseyran describes his new-found perception of the ocean after going blind:
I remember well when I first arrived at the beach two months after the accident. It was evening, and
there was nothing there but the sea and its voice. It formed a mass which was so heavy and limpid that I
could have leaned against it like a wall. It spoke to me in several layers all at once. The waves were
27
28
29
30

Fondation de France/ICOM, Museums Without Barriers, 133


Fondation de France/ICOM, Museums Without Barriers, 87
Malnar and Vodvarka, Sensory Design, 140
Pallasmaa, The Eyes of the Skin, 54

34

arranged in steps, and together they made one music, though what they said was different in each voice.
There was rasping in the bass and bubbling in the top register. I didnt need to be told about the things that
eyes can see.31
Lusseyran feels that he does not live in a world of darkness, but instead one of light, illuminated by the
objects and people around him that are activated by his movements and his non-visual senses. To sculpt a
space with sound successfully, an architect must create continuous informative auditory information, proper
reverberation for conversation, and create distinguishable acoustic character and zones.

Conclusion
Although the dominance of the eye has helped shape modern design, the incorporation of the other senses
can increase the experiential value and connectivity of architectural spaces. Haptic and auditory sensory
perception allow for an engaging dialogue to occur between the building and the occupant. For the visually
impaired, these senses provide crucial information that can be understood through an active cognitive
process. Since those with low vision or blindness are more attentive to the non-visual senses, their
experience can be useful in designing cognitively engaging and human-centric multi-sensorial environments.
The knowledge and experience they can provide from their alternative perception of architectural space can
influence a movement to design beyond what our eyes acknowledge. As a frame of reference, the visually
impaired provide architectural researchers and designers with a useful perspective on the process of
developing experiential qualities in built form.

31

Devlieger, Patrick. Blindness and the Multi-Sensorial City, 31

35

36

37

38

39

40

Bibliography
- Atallah, T. (n.d.). Are the Blind Community and the Global Community Opposed? [Personal
interview].
- Blesser, Barry, and Linda-Ruth Salter. Spaces Speak, Are You Listening: Experiencing
Aural Architecture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2009.
- Carroll, T. (2008). Blindness: What it is, what it does, and how to live with it (p. 382). Little,
Brown.
- Castellano, C. (2004, September 16). A Brief Look At The Education Of Blind Children. Future
Reflections, 5-7.
- Coleridge, P. (2006). Disability, Liberation, and Development (4th ed., p. 237). Oxfam
- Joffee, Elga. A Practice Guide to the ADA and Visual Impairement. New York: AFB Press,
1999.
- Herssens, Jasmien. "Haptic Design Research: A Blind Sense of Place." AIA.
http://www.aia.org/aiaucmp/groups/aia/documents/pdf/aiab087187.pdf (accessed September
10, 2012).

- International Council of Museums, and Fondation de France. Museums Without Barriers: A New
Deal for the Disabled. London: Routledge, 1991.
- Kassak, K., Chaya, M., & Hourani, T. (1997). National survey of blindness and low vision in
Lebanon. British Journal of Ophthalmology, (81), 905-906.
- Lakkis, S. (2015). Lebanon: Disability and Access to Information. Free Word Centre
- Malnar, Joy Monice, and Frank Vodvarka. Sensory Design. Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota, 2004

- Newberry, F. (1993). THE BLIND CHILD: BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT ADULT. Future


Reflections, 12(2), 2-8.
- Omvig, J. (2005). FREEDOM FOR THE BLIND THE SECRET IS EMPOWERMENT (p. 143). NFB.

41

- Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses. New York :
John Wiley & Sons, 1996.
- Peters, S. (2009). Review of marginalization of people with disabilities in Lebanon, Syria and
Jordan
- Tannoury, W. (2003). Enhancing Business Community Relations.
- Taylor, J. (2012). Educating Students With Visual Impairments for Inclusion in Society.
- Thomas, E., Lakkis, S., & Al-Jadeeda, T. (2005). Disability and livelihoods in Lebanon.
- Ungar. "Cognative Mapping: Past Present and Future." Cognative Mapping Without
Visual Experience, Edited by R. Kitchin and S. Fredundschuh, 13. London: Routledge,
2000.
- Zamora, Antonio. "Anatomy and Structure of Human Sense Organs." Scientific Psychic.
Scientific Psychic, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 24 July 2015.

42

FEEL YOUR VISION

SENIOR STUDY
PRESENTED BY

INSTRUCTORS:

ARP

590

NADIM EL HINDI

Mrs. Kristine Samra & Dr. Nicolas Gabriel

FEEL YOUR VISION

Lack of governmental support

Social Discrimination

FEEL YOUR VISION

Access to Education

FEEL YOUR VISION

Jobs Opportunities

FEEL YOUR VISION

Health Services

FEEL YOUR VISION

Transportation

FEEL YOUR VISION

forced

This Injustice

Stay Home

FEEL YOUR VISION

Thus

Renounce Society

Loose Productivity & Rely on Others

FEEL YOUR VISION

Circular Relation

Proper Education

FEEL YOUR VISION

Social Integration

Appropriate Employment

Financial & Physical Independence

FEEL YOUR VISION


DESIGN

Edu & Rehab Center

lead

Help

For

PWD

Training

Effective Communication,
Social Competence
Employability
Personal independence
Which is integration

FEEL YOUR VISION


Program

FEEL YOUR VISION


Beirut - Monot

FEEL YOUR VISION


2000 blind or visually impaired in Beirut

Rich in institutions dedicated to blind/visually impaired people

FEEL YOUR VISION


Monot - Site

FEEL YOUR VISION

FEEL YOUR VISION


Strategy

If I am BLINDIt doesnt mean YOU cant SEE me

FEEL YOUR VISION


References
-Atallah, T. (n.d.). Are the Blind
Community and the Global Community
Opposed? [Personal interview].

-Omvig, J. (2005). FREEDOM FOR THE BLIND


THE SECRET IS EMPOWERMENT (p. 143).
NFB.

-Carroll, T. (2008). Blindness: What it is, what


it does, and how to live with it (p. 382).
Little, Brown.

-Peters, S. (2009). Review of marginalization


of people with disabilities in Lebanon,
Syria and Jordan

-Castellano, C. (2004, September 16). A Brief


Look At The Education Of Blind Children.
Future Reflections, 5-7.

-Tannoury, W. (2003). Enhancing Business


Community Relations.

-Coleridge, P. (2006). Disability, Liberation,


and Development (4th ed., p. 237). Oxfam
-Kassak, K., Chaya, M., & Hourani, T. (1997).
National survey of blindness and low
vision in Lebanon. British Journal of
Ophthalmology, (81), 905-906.
-Lakkis, S. (2015). Lebanon: Disability and
Access to Information. Free Word Centre
-Newberry, F. (1993). THE BLIND CHILD:
BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT ADULT.
Future Reflections, 12(2), 2-8.

-Taylor, J. (2012). Educating Students With


Visual Impairments for Inclusion in
Society.
-Thomas, E., Lakkis, S., & Al-Jadeeda, T.
(2005). Disability and livelihoods in
Lebanon.
-Zamora, Antonio. "Anatomy and
Structure of Human Sense Organs."
Scientific Psychic. Scientific Psychic, 12 Jan.
2015. Web. 24 July 2015.

THANK YOU