DO-IT Mentor Profile

Karen Braitmayer

My name is Karen Braitmayer and I am a DO-IT Mentor and practicing architect. I have osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a collagen disorder that affected my skeleton, musculature, growth, and, most recently, hearing. I use a wheelchair for mobility and found that experiencing life from a largely seated position gave me a unique perspective on the built environment. I fell in love with architecture as a way to make change in my community towards more inclusion for people with disabilities. I now specialize in analyzing facilities for compliance with accessibility regulations and standards, as well as designing more accessible environments.

I am particularly happy when I can design a home or facility to meet an individual's needs, especially people with disabilities. I was invited to participate in a recent episode of ABC Television's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition when they remodeled the home of a family with a son who had OI. I provided a list of recommendations for accessible features specifically suited to the young boy's needs and was shown on camera explaining why modifications can benefit those with disabilities. It was a fun chance to share my passion for accessible homes and communities.

I truly enjoy any opportunity to share with younger people that same passion. I am especially thrilled when those young people also have personal knowledge of disability and can see their environments in novel ways. DO-IT gives me a chance to connect with students who are ready to consider careers in technical fields such as architecture. Occasionally, DO-IT invites me to speak to students about my choice of career or work directly with a student who has expressed an interest in architecture. Recently, I had the pleasure of introducing Andrea, DO-IT Ambassador, to my office and work through a day-long job shadow. Andrea challenged me to think critically about what I do on a daily basis and refueled my enthusiasm for my work. I hope a bit of my love of architecture rubbed off on her!