We have a shiny new building on our campus. It’s gorgeous, with several conference rooms named for money donors, and a huge glassed-in meeting room. (Other faculty have pointed out that alas, said building isn’t a “LEED-building” meaning that the design lacks certain green/energy-efficient factors.)
What I find annoying about the new building are its access issues. Oh sure, there are the nominal “handicap” bathroom stalls, and brailled room-number plates. But the doors to the regular bathroom stalls swing inward, making one do-si-do around the toilet, and the seating areas in the floor lobbies don’t have any electrical outlets nearby for people to plug in their laptops.
Yet these are minor kvetches; what drives me nuts are the damn elevators! When you enter the elevator vestibule from the basement parking, the control panel is nearly hidden. This is such a major planning flaw that later on someone had to put up a sign:
Elevator vestibule, with sign on support column pointing to nearly-unseen control panel.
Once you get into the elevator, you find this:
Elevator interior corner with stainless steel wall & door
Maybe that looks perfectly ordinary to you, because you’re sitting in front of your computer rather than actually using the elevator. So let’s examine this. Here is a control panel with large, brailled floor numbers on high-contrast circles. Perfect for anyone with vision problems, right? I amble in, and having turned my ankle the other day, use the end of my cane to punch the Big 3.
I figure I must have missed, and shuffle over to stub my index finger on the Big 3. And this, O Best Beloved, is why the elevators suck:
elevator control panel
Because the Big 3 is NOT the action button — the subtley convex roundel to the right of the Big 3 is the action button — yes, that stainless steel thing the same colour as the brushed stainless steel background. Mind you now, it’s the action button to the right of the Big 3, not the one to the left of the Big 3, which is actually the action button for the Big 2.
Were I designing that control panel, the large, brailled floor numbers on high-contrast circles would BE the action buttons. :: sigh :: Some people still Just Don’t Get It.
Here are some more pictures of accessibility failures and a couple of accessibility wins.
(These next three are from the FAIL Blog.)
Sign hung on door that reads, “Caution This door opens outwards please do not stand directly in front of the doors” — with Braille message on bottom half of sign.
A series of concrete steps, each topped with an additional concrete paver embossed with wheelchair logo — hardly useful for anyone on wheels or who can’t handle steps.
City bus stop shelter, with back wall built right against the front of a bench, blocking everyone’s use of the bench.
But there’s hope in the world: here are a couple of Accessibility Wins.
Firstly is a street in London, with both steps and ramped areas.
View down a wet urban street, showing a long ramp on the left and wide steps on the right.
Secondly is a child’s shoebox business with toy cars parked out front. Note the “zero entrance” (no steps) and the handicap parking right in front of the door. Kudos to my niece and nephew!
Children's shoebox version of Pump It Up! play center, with toy cars parked out front.