Opening Keynote – Chris Downey
Chris Downey is an award-winning architect who, in 2008, unexpectedly lost his sight. As profiled in January 2019 by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes, Chris’ life was transformed, of course, but so was his practice. Today, he helps designers innovate with the disabled in mind, but also makes a strong case that designing for and with the disabled actually improves everyone’s experience. In all of his work, he endeavors to achieve greater access, not only of space and information, but also to “delight.” Chris teaches accessibility and Universal Design at the University of California, Berkeley, serves on the Board of Directors for the LightHouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired and has a gubernatorial appointment to the California Commission on Disability Access.
As one of the few practicing blind architects in the world, Chris has been featured in local, national and international media stories and speaks regularly about his many “outsights” (aka insights) since losing his sight. He’s graced the TED stage, among so many others, leaving audiences with a sense that silver linings are sometimes made of pure gold.