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Trace access technology aids visitors to Smithsonian Institution

Photo of job information kiosk.
Professor Gregg Vanderheiden (right) and Neal Ewers of the Trace R&D Center with an enhanced-access kiosk. Larger Image

Technology pioneered at the University of Wisconsin-Madison plays a major role in a national exhibit on the American disability rights movement that opened July 6 in Washington, D.C.

The exhibit — which runs through November at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History — features two web-based kiosks for people with disabilities to experience the exhibition in an alternative format. The kiosks' interactive technology, known as the EZ Access Method, was developed by UW-Madison's Trace Research and Development Center.

Three EZ buttons — one green, two yellow — will guide kiosk users through audio and visual descriptions, graphics and video clips to enhance the museum exhibition, which commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Built by isSound and NCR Corp., the Smithsonian kiosks are prototypes for a version that will eventually be available to museums and other cultural institutions, according to Smithsonian officials. Along with isSound, the Trace Center also helped develop the Smithsonian kiosk computer software.

Trace Center officials say EZ Access technology provides a standard way for people with disabilities to use information kiosks and other electronic devices, including automated teller machines, microwave ovens, cellular phones and coffee vending machines.

Founded in 1971 in the College of Engineering, the Trace Center is a national leader in making technologies more accessible to people with disabilities.

Contact: Katherine R. Vanderheiden, 608/265-4621, For more information, visit: