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Blind architect helps design for those who are blind, visually impaired

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A California architect is helping design buildings for some Hoosiers who are blind or visually impaired.

Chris Downey had 20 years of experience in architecture before he lost his vision in 2008 after surgery to remove a brain tumor.

“A social worker visited me three to four hours after being told there’s nothing more doctors could do to restore my sight. It hadn’t even been a full day yet!” Downey said.

But instead of giving up, he persisted.

Today, Downey uses a 3D printer to print drawings in tactile form so he can feel them by touch. He also learned Braille.

Downey says his new skills landed him on a team to help modernize the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired on College Avenue.

“I really hope that me, an architect that’s blind, as part of the team and working on this project, will inspire not only the kids but also the families, the parents, and teachers,” Downey explained. “I want to raise their expectations of what’s possible for each individual child.”

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the public can hear Downey talk at the Indiana War Memorial about his designs for the school.

The event is free, but registration is required.