This is a brilliant read for young kids and parents to bond over. If you have never read a ‘Where’s Wally?’ you have a missing link in your education. It is this little guy in a red and white striped top who is hidden in plain sight amongst people and objects of similar colours and shapes. It is a lot of fun in a book, but not a concept that transfers meaningfully into the real life of someone with little or no central vision especially when it is inadvertently left unedited in your pathway.
I am talking about hidden levels and camouflaged steps accidentally abandoned in public spaces and even in modern constructions.
There are three buildings I have been in quite often lately and all of them are specifically for children, the sick or the elderly- two hospitals and an education centre. I love the modern sleek designs, the gentle greys and muted stone hues that are earthy and relaxing. ..except on the stairs! When you intend to go on a trip , this is not really the kind you meant. And, the ‘landing’ between stair cases, I don’t think was named implying a safe foundation where something generally considered dangerous comes to an end…like an airport runway or the mat at the other side of the gymnastics vault. A stairwell landing should provide maximum safety for ascent and descent. In all these cases there is either no contrast colour for the edge of the step or a dull grey that is the same colour as the shadows on the steps, making it confusing even for the sighted. (In one case the stairs double as the fire escape route, not making for a quick safe escape.)
When you think of having an access friendly building, one usually thinks of a ramp and a wheelchair friendly bathroom and occasional braille bumps on the lift buttons. It is very seldom that the needs of a vision impaired person, or a short sighted senior , are taken into consideration. Colour contrasts, clear lighting and tastefully bold signage can easily be incorporated into the theme of the build.
When these aspects are short-sightedly (excuse the pun) excluded at the design phase , the afterthought can land up being a thick yellow or white stripe sloshed on the edge of the step that looks unsightly and out of place and frankly ugly! And then, it is sometimes blamed on the unfortunate needs of the disabled. I feel sorry for some of these beautiful, elegant buildings as they nervously await an unavoidable desecration. Some steps are clear at only certain times of the day when there is a shadow on them.
There are so many attractively clear stairwells where the light catches the minimalistic shine at the edge because it was planned with high visibility in mind.
I think Wally would agree with me as he too wears a large pair of black- rimmed spectacles, but I get so passionate about this; I may need to watch my step!