Looking for Disabled Architects and Architecture Students


I am an architecture student that struggles with inattentive ADD as well as a fine motor disability that impacts my ability to sketch and build. While I have 504 plan accommodations, I’ve found that arch profs don’t seem to appreciate the struggle and just expect me to work in the same way and at the same pace as other students. I can’t be the only one with these issues. How do other architects and students deal with this? Is this profession inclusive for people with disabilities? Is the education for architects inclusive? I don’t want to change my career aspirations but not sure how to make it through such a rigorous and heavy program with these limitations and profs that truly don’t get it. Recommendations appreciated on good schools for arch that are better at supporting students with learning differences and disabilities. 

Dec 4, 22 5:10 pm

The unfortunate answer is no.  This profession and it's education is not very accommodating for those with disabilities.  

You're going to need to be able to keep up with the average student and when you graduate the average intern / architect.  

I know this is unfair.  Your best bet is to find a firm willing to work with you.  

Dec 5, 22 12:14 pm  · 
2  · 

I understand Chad's response but disagree a bit. 

In the real world, you will likely never sketch or build a model. Architecture professors are often dinosaurs of the industry, far behind what is actually happening. For physical disabilities, most primary tasks are computer-based. So you need to have a workflow with a computer that works for you. 

From a time sensitive/pressure disability, there are many firms out there that operate at different speeds. Architecture schools often replicate the more cut-throat replicated speed of major cities and competitive firms. Not all are like this. Some firm owners do not want to run a practice like this and they can still be profitable. 

There is a place for you in the profession. It will likely limit the type of firm you would ultimately work for, but they're out there. 

Dec 5, 22 2:51 pm  · 
2  · 

I never mentioned anything about sketching or building physical models. I said the OP needs to be able to keep up her / his teammates.  

The fine motor disability isn't the issue. I have a co worker whose hands shake. This person is a great architect. 

 It' the inattentive ADD that will be the OP's biggest issue.

Dec 6, 22 10:44 am  · 
4  ·  1

Keep your wits about you. Keep plugging away and make education your own thing. The university, professors, and system work for you. That's what you're paying for. You need to get YOUR education.  You need to make accommodations for yourself.  Need longer time? Fine, take it, complete the project and go back and argue for a grade, ask to present again. Can't build the model? Make it incredibly simple or just don't do it and do something else that works to express your idea. Can't do the drawing in the style asked? Outsource it! Just be honest about it. You still have it for your portfolio later and if you learned something doing it that's a success.  D's get degrees and NO ONE CARES after you graduate.  BUT YOU WILL CARE if you don't learn and if you give up. Regardless of disability, this applies to all. College is a time you can bend the rules in the interest of achieving your goals. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  

Dec 6, 22 1:20 pm  · 
3  · 

Agree with the above posters that actual practice is very diffrent from the work that you do in school. I only had to ever work on one complex physical model very early in my career, and a good deal of the "sketching" at my last two jobs done on tablets- fine motor skills are not as important to getting a good result in this case. I have mainly worked for large firms that have made big investments in technology - If manual processes are a weak point for you, you may find this type of environment easier to navigate. 

Continuing your education, you may want to consider an M. Arch / B.Arch program in a school that is more technology oriented so that you will be encouraged to take advantage of tools that work best for you.  Before you accept an offer,  you should insist on speaking to a current student about what the day to day experience in studio is like and what the attitude is towards choosing your own tools and methods. I am most alert and do my best work at night, but have really struggled to get started in the morning since pre-school . My grad school program(Sci-ARC) held design studio class in the afternoon and had many other classes in the 6-9 or 7-10 evening time slots, and it was amazing how much more productive I was compared to my experience getting a liberal arts degree and starting classes as early as 8 AM. Studio spaces were open 24-7 then, and I could work whenever I wanted to. While a school's overall record and reputation is also important, you are more likey to complete your degree and be satisfied with the experience if the program's culture already matches your needs. 

Dec 8, 22 2:30 pm  · 
1  · 

What baby_gene said. 

The one thing I'll add is the other important thing about the school you choose is that to make sure it's accredited.  No matter how accommodating a school is if it's not accredited it's a waste of your time and money.   

Dec 8, 22 6:48 pm  · 
1  · 

The AIA has failed to make the profession egalitarian. For an organization founded in April 1857 it is an embarrassment. The AIRFORCE which was founded in 1947 has done a better job at reducing social biases. Though not perfect at least they try. Given a random sample of Architects is more likely to have higher aptitude than a random sample of AIRFORCE it is unfortunate.

The schools have to work on social biases and reflect the direction of the general population and better. 

Dec 15, 22 6:01 am  · 
2  · 

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