Creating an inviting, inclusive and accessible to the deaf community was the challenge faced by creative studio C&G Partners when designing the visitor experience for Gallaudet University‘s newly-opened Maguire Welcome Center. The team, working in collaboration with the University and Dagermond Keane Architects, based their experiential designs on the DeafSpace Guidelines, over 150 distinct design elements that address touch points between deaf experiences and the built environment. The Guidelines were established by Hansel Bauman, executive director, Campus Design and Construction at Gallaudet and founding partner of Hansel Bauman, Architect +Planner.
Becoming familiar with DeafSpace principles, as well as aspects of American Sign Language, enabled C&G to address the unique needs and culture of the deaf community. This was accomplished by a strong focus on sign legibility through typography size, height, weight and line spacing, as well as using high contrast imagery to promote visibility and avoid eye fatigue. According to DeafSpace principles, a soft diffused light attuned to “deaf eyes” is essential, so the designers illustrated GU’s branded slogans through large, decorative neon friezes. All design elements, including an interactive table, map, iPads and banners, were created to promote inclusivity, accessibility and a barrier-free space for shared experiences.
Credits at C&G Partners go to: Keith Helmetag, Exhibit Partner and Art Director; Fabio Gherardi, Senior Exhibit Designer; Irina Koryagina, ASL Artwork Designer; Anna Granacka, Designer; and Lucas Lind, Architectural Designer.