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60 MINUTES [UPDATED]
Air Date: Sunday, January 13, 2019
Time Slot: 7:00 PM-8:00 PM EST on CBS
Episode Title: "TBA"
[NOTE: The following article is a press release issued by the aforementioned network and/or company. Any errors, typos, etc. are attributed to the original author. The release is reproduced solely for the dissemination of the enclosed information.]

ARCHITECT WHO LOST HIS SIGHT SAYS HIS BLINDNESS HAS MADE HIM BETTER AT HIS JOB - SUNDAY ON "60 MINUTES"

A middle-aged architect who lost his sight in 2008 has found a way to continue practicing his profession, and even grow in it. He says blindness has ironically made him a better architect. Chris Downey tells Lesley Stahl his remarkable story on the next edition of 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Jan. 13 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Downey lost his sight after an operation to remove a benign tumor in his brain. "Lots of people, friends that were architects... would say 'Oh, it's the worst thing imaginable, to be an architect and to lose your sight,' but I quickly came to realize that the creative process is an intellectual process," says Downey. "I just needed new tools."

He found a printer that can emboss architectural drawings so that he can "read" them through touch - the architectural equivalent of Braille. And he came up with a way to "draw" his own ideas onto the plans using malleable wax sticks. The San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an organization that teaches the blind skills to help navigate life, helped Downey learn to get around on his own. He started relying more on his hearing and the sense of feel from the tip of his cane. That opened a new avenue, he says. "I was fascinated walking through buildings that I knew [when I was] sighted, but I was experiencing them in a different way," he tells Stahl. "I was hearing the architecture. I was feeling the space."

As his luck would have it, after losing his job in the recession nine months after losing his sight, he discovered a firm that was designing a facility for veterans with sight loss. They were intrigued to meet a blind architect. "It took my disability and turned it upside down," says Downey. He now had an expertise "that virtually nobody else had to offer."

That job led to others, including work on an eye center at Duke University Hospital, a project for Microsoft, and making a massive San Francisco commuter terminal accessible to the visually impaired. His pioneering designs include grooves to guide people along the platform and changes in floor texture to indicate when to turn to find the escalator. At the San Francisco Lighthouse, he came up with the idea to put an internal staircase connecting the building's three floors. The sighted can see it; the blind can hear the sounds of activities on the other floors.

Downey recently marked the 10th anniversary of losing his sight with a party at the Lighthouse, where he's been a student, architect, and now president of the board. In a way, he says he feels like a kid again. "I am relearning so much of architecture. It wasn't about what I was missing in architecture... it was about what I had been missing in architecture," he says. "I am absolutely convinced I am a better architect today than I was sighted."

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60 MINUTES (CBS)
BROADCAST HISTORY:
9/24/68 - ???
STATUS:
currently airing (spring 2019)
TIME SLOT:
sundays from 7:00 PM-8:00 PM EST
CURRENT SEASON:
51 (??? episodes)
VISIT THE OFFICIAL WEB SITE
DESCRIPTION:
(from CBS's press release, May 2018) SUNDAYS - A new drama launches between two hits on CBS' winning night. The acclaimed 60 MINUTES, television's #1 primetime news program for five decades, returns at 7:00 PM, providing a dominant lead-in to the new humorous and uplifting drama GOD FRIENDED ME at 8:00 PM. NCIS: LOS ANGELES, a top 10 broadcast drama that grew its time period by +8% in adults 18-49 this season, returns at 9:00 PM. MADAM SECRETARY starring Téa Leoni grew its time slot by +20% in viewers, closes out the weekend at 10:00 PM.
CREW INFORMATION:
· Jeff Fager as EP
GENRE(S):
· newsmagazine
STUDIO INFORMATION:
· CBS News