The growing aging population has been a social phenomenon all over the world, and we need age-friendly public infrastructure to support them. One way to address public infrastructure is through enhancing visual capacity for the senior populations, which is necessary for every day functioning and emotional well-being. Vision decreases dramatically after 75years old, which means many seniors are suffering from reduced visual acuity. Once seniors get eye diseases, they will have blurred vision, low contrast sensitivity and increasing sensitivity from glare. Thus, in crowded public areas, including airports and metro stations, seniors often lose their sense of direction, even on familiar paths with directional signs. This problem causes seniors to have a fear of open places, which are not only unavoidable in terms of urban public transportation, but have added significance in that they are site of social exchanges. Way-finding systems have to go beyond simplicity to become a multiple way-finding system of spatial signs, which is for seniors to move actively in public areas with cognition. Since visual signs are an essential role in way-finding, multiple way-finding signals reinforce a sense of security for outdoor activities to seniors who might feel intimidated by spaces they cannot easily navigate.
This thesis introduces “Light Lines”, a cognitive lighting design program to help seniors improve their visual accessibility to approach public areas. “Light Lines” considers both physical and psychological needs, which are connected to visual conditions, safety and emotional well-being. Seniors’ visual loss symptoms are closely related to visual acuity, which relates to increasing glare issues, visual sensitivities and having difficulties seeing objects with dark backgrounds. In this situation, incorporating way-finding and light is not only the method to link the elderly to public areas, but also a way to guide the independent activities of seniors. In addition, “Light Lines” will support seniors to travel independently without assistance. By balancing the contrast of light and materials, “Light Lines” assists the elderly to connect to public places safely and is a new element of age-friendly infrastructure.
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