An Obstacle Course For the Blind

I shouldn’t laugh, but this story about the new Norwegian Sound and Braille Library sounds like it should be a parody.

“Several users have already been injured at the building, which features electronic doors that can suddenly shut in your face, uneven floors, confusing artwork, and hazardous lighting at foot level.

Pitfalls and simply dangerous obstacles greet blind or visually-impaired visitors to the NLB in the new annex at the National Library of Norway in Oslo. As one approaches the area there are unmarked steps of varying height on the right. On the left side are raised lights built into the floor, which the visually impaired can quickly trip over.

“The library is one of the places most often visited by the blind. But the building is less suited for the visually impaired than most others,” said Svere Fuglerud, policy adviser at the Norwegian Federation for the Blind (NBF).

Fuglerud took Aftenposten’s evening edition on a tour of the library. The first stop requires a witness to yell out a warning that the door is heading for him.

The entrance doors can only be opened with a switch on a wall behind the door, not easily found even for those with 20-20 vision. The doors then open outwards, and while the visually impaired are occupied with the switch they can easily get the door right in the face.

“There are no sensors that detect someone standing at the door. People can be caught easily,” Fuglerud said. “It’s incredibly heavy. The worst type of door I have ever seen.”

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