A City Built for the Deaf

The nation’s first university for the hard of hearing holds a competition to take “deaf architecture” to the next level.

Gallaudet University's Chapel Hall, via flickr user Mr.TinDC

Gallaudet University, the private school for the hard of hearing located in Washington, D.C., is a haven for the deaf. The school is officially bilingual, which means students are taught in both English and American Sign Language (ASL). It also has the same sorts of extracurriculars you would see at any liberal arts university, like Greek life, a football team, and a campus television station. Still, a specific deaf culture flourishes in Gallaudet, defined by the school’s unique history, literary traditions, and behaviors.

And its architecture. A 2005 partnership between Gallaudet’s ASL Deaf Studies Department and the architect Hansel Bauman created DeafSpace, a catalogue of design elements built with deaf peoples’ needs in mind. The university has already used DeafSpace principles to create two new campus buildings.

A few examples of DeafSpace considerations: Because deaf people often use wide gestures and their whole upper bodies to speak in ASL, deaf-friendly buildings should have wide hallways, with sufficient “signing space” for people to converse. Poor lighting is about as distracting for ASL speakers as a rock concert would be for the hearing, so well lit rooms are key. And for those who speak with their hands, opening multiple doors are a pain; better to have automatic ones, which won’t interrupt walkers’ conversations.

Now the university is taking DeafSpace outside. Gallaudet’s International Design Competition asks accessibility-minded architects to submit plans for a large redevelopment project, which will link the bucolic campus to the busy, up-and-coming Washington neighborhood that surrounds it.

What will a deaf neighborhood—and deaf city—really look like? Wider sidewalks might be a start, as the local Greater Greater Washington blog points out (though these present a host of other architecture challenges, like water drainage and sidewalk café use). Outdoor gathering spaces must be flexible enough to allow groups of different sizes to meet—and maintain sight lines to speak.

At the same time, Gallaudet hopes that the redevelopment will serve as a welcoming gateway to those who are not part of the deaf community. The final outdoor design “should act as a vibrant place of civic and cultural exchange between the institution and the wider city,” the competition organizers write.

The university says it will announce the winners of its design competition in February 2016.

Via Greater Greater Washington

via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading