No Power in Houston = A Lesson in Architectural Barriers

We survived Ike.  It was scary and some were less fortunate, but things aren’t nearly as bad in Houston as you may read in the papers or on teh googles.  We have been without power in our house since Saturday, but thanks to a cold front, the weather has been wonderful and airconditioning isn’t necessary…unless you lived in Michigan and think that 80 degrees is too hot.

Early this morning while I was stumbling around in pitch blackness with only the hum of my neighbors generator as a reference, I was reminded of how dependent I am on lights.  Without my sight, I stub my toe on furniture and step on Barbie shoes.  I can’t work, I can’t read.

Since the power may be off for weeks (yes, Shawn, I will admit that your estimation is probably more correct), we have to work around our disability.  Disability?  Yes, in that environment, I am disabled.

I have personally heard complaints from building owners about the cost of providing special features for people with disabilities.  Ramps, grab bars, Braille signs, visual alarm appliances, all add to the cost of the project.  There are some additional costs that go into new construction to accomodate people with disabilities, but still, the vast majority of the cost goes to accomodating the general population.

The woman with a vision impairment has no use for a $7,000.00 Artichoke Lamp.

The man in a wheelchair has no need for the $1000.00 Aeron Chair.

The boy with an hearing impairment doesn’t care what is playing over the lobby speakers.

These are all things that are provided for the use, necessity or amenity, of the building occupants.  Sometimes it takes a natural disaster to remind us of our built environment.  The next time your lights go out, try to imagine living permanently in that environment.

Garden Oaks, Houston after Hurricane Ike

Garden Oaks, Houston after Hurricane Ike


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