December 10, 2008

Birding inside Penn Station? - No, Just More UD Coming Home to Roost

Universal Design in public transit is a key factor in developing a destination-of-choice for travelers with disabilities. Accessible train and bus systems that link to airports make travel in an unfamiliar place feel safe and more convenient.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has installed a new talking kiosk at Penn Station. The device, which gives detailed verbal navigation advice in association with a tactile map, is yet another innovation in inclusion. Personally, I like the added feature of "indoor virtual birdwatching" from the alerts it emits!

"We're really looking at systems here that are fully accessible to people with a variety of different needs, but also are completely usable and inviting to members of the general public," said Steven Landau, director of research for Manhattan-based Touch Graphics, which developed the technology for the MTA. "This approach to universal design is the wave of the future."

The wall-mounted device, which resembles an automated teller machine, is located between tracks 14 and 15 of the Long Island Rail Road in the main terminal and makes its presence known by emitting the sound of a lark sparrow.

A customer uses a tactile map of Penn Station that includes a "You are here" type of star with an indentation to communicate where he or she is relative to the surroundings. A programmed voice also will give instructions to a destination; for example, explaining that to get to the escalator to New Jersey Transit, one must "with your back to the kiosk, walk forward with your angle slightly to the left."

Full article at,0,7817306.story

Posted by rollingrains at December 10, 2008 04:05 PM