My City: Life as a blind architect in San Francisco

TED Blog

On St. Patrick’s Day in 2008, Chris Downey, an architect, planner and consultant who lives in Piedmont, California, some 10 miles east of San Francisco, reported to the hospital for surgery to remove a brain tumor. The procedure was a success. But two days later, his sight started to fail. On the third day, it was gone.

Remarkably, Downey managed to get back to work within months — and, he says, he never once thought of giving up his work in architecture. In his current role, as a consultant to architectural practices in San Francisco and beyond, he commutes to the city via public transportation four days a week. On the fifth day, he heads to UC Berkeley, where he teaches accessibility and universal design.

It’s a remarkable story, but Downey, who talked about the challenges of navigating through cities in his inspiring and funny TED Talk (the guy’s…

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