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Trace Center assists firm in making accessible door entry

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Trace Research and Development Center contributed to the development of the nation's first cross-disability accessible door-entry system at a demonstration held in February in San Francisco.

Trace assisted Viking Electronics of Hudson, Wis., with accessibility options and interface design of its AES-2000 door entry systems for multi-family residential and commercial buildings.

"It was a delight working with Viking and its president Bill Heideman," said Gregg Vanderheiden, Trace Center director and industrial and biomedical engineering professor. "They had done such a good job on the basic interface that it was already very accessible. They were able to easily incorporate the cross-disability access techniques suggested by the students and staff here as a natural part of the interface."

The project was initiated by the San Francisco Mayor's Office on Disability, which was looking for new ways to make multi-unit buildings accessible to all. The system was inaugurated by Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. and Viking Electronics at a Feb. 27 ceremony at a senior housing residence of the San Francisco Housing Authority.

The Viking Electronics AES-2000 door entry system incorporates Trace EZ™ Access interface techniques that include a "help" button to provide audible and visual instruction of button functions, and visual and voice output of the tenant directory. This allows people with visual impairments to access the door entry system without assistance. People with speech and hearing disabilities can communicate through the system's TTY/TDD text telephone, and visitors with physical disabilities can use the door entry system by hand or with a mouthstick.

Engineers and students at the Trace Center work with manufacturers of voting machines, ATMs, information kiosks, cell phones and computers to make products easier to use for everyone. A number of Trace accessibility solutions can be found in the control panels of every Microsoft and Macintosh operating system.

About 54 million Americans have some type of disability, and this system can be used by a wide range of people, including those who are aging; those who are blind or have low vision; people with low literacy or reading difficulty; people who are deaf or hard of hearing; or people with physical disabilities. The interface enhancements also ease use for the average person.

The Trace Center is a part of the UW-Madison College of Engineering. Founded in 1971, the Trace Center is primarily funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research through the U.S. Department of Education. Students involved in the accessible door entry project were from UW-Madison departments of industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, occupational therapy and interior design.

For information, call (608) 263-2309 or see trace.wisc.edu. To contact Viking Electronics, call (715) 386-8861 or see: www.vikingelectronics.com/ada/index.html.

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3/11/2002