Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Look Ma! No Arms!

(Almost as long as I've been at the California State University in which I work, the library has been undergoing construction, a retrofitting, to be exact.  After years under scaffolding and industrial tarps, the building is nearly ready for prime time and I'm in charge of the opening ribbon-cutting ceremony when it is finally complete.  This week I went on a sneak peek tour of the library to get a lay of the land for the upcoming unveiling of the new building.)

(A library staff person leads my boss and me on a guided tour.  Inside elevator with padded moving blankets lining its walls.)

Guide: ...up here on Four we've got our special collections and--

Boss:  What are these padded blankets for?

Me: To keep from scratching the walls, probably.

Boss:  Feels like a padded room for the insane.  (bumps around on walls)  Feels like home.

Guide: (deadpan) No, not for insane people.  Just movers so they don't scratch the paneling.  (elevator doors open)  Okay, please, step out.

(Boss, Guide and I step out of elevator into the elevator bay where there's new tiling, crisp carpeting where the stacks are and wood panels lining the newly constructed walls.  There is a bathroom directly in front of us.)

Boss: (craning neck, looking around) Nice.

Guide: Yes, and oh, as you can see, we've added bathrooms near each elevator on every floor and, maybe we can just take a look...(walking us over to the bathrooms, opening door to look in) I don't think anyone's in here.  Hello?

(As we walk to the bathrooms we pass two wall-mounted water facets, one higher than the other.  The lower facet has no handle to turn on water and instead has a motion sensor, mounted on the front of it.  The facet spouts water automatically as it detects us moving past.)

Guide: Oh, those darn facets always turn on.  Big design flaw.  Waste of water.  We're going to get that fixed.

Me: Do they have sensors that are not so sensitive?  Or maybe just move the sensor on the side of the facet then wave your hand along side it to drink?  That might work better.

Guide: That wouldn't be ADA compliant.

Boss: Yeah, I think a side sensor on the side would be better.  Otherwise it would turn on when anyone walked in front of it.

Guide: But if someone came up here in a wheelchair with no limbs, how would they wave a hand in front of a side-mounted sensor?

Me: Uh, er, I don't know.

Boss: Wouldn't they have a wand or something, like, in their mouth?  Just wave that.

Guide:  No. Some people don't have arms.  Or wands.  We have to think of them too.


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