Monday, May 12, 2008

Got Punctuation?


Like many, I delight in funny signs. These are often the result of misspellings or lack of punctuation. This example falls in the latter category, and was first spotted and admired by Paul. It is a handwritten sign on the second floor door for the handicapped elevator in the Colonial Inn in Edgartown, MA:

Do Not Slam Door Shut Gently
Do Not Slam Door Shut Gently
That sign is now three or four years old, and we delight in reading it literally every year: "Do not slam door shut gently." OK, we think, we will slam the door shut forcefully!

We by no means want to disparage the kind folks who run the Colonial Inn, for they are warm and wonderful and we go back there every year because they treat us so well. But we love the lack of punctuation on that little sign.

Zooming back a little, we can see a larger design issue:

Handicapped elevator

Notice the tennis ball on the string tether? No, that's not for some Golden Retriever's amusement. That's a door modification suggested by Paul when they first installed the handicapped elevator. See, if you are in a wheelchair and you need to open that door and get yourself into the elevator, the task is nearly impossible. You have to reach, pull the door, and back up all in a sequence that is easy for us able bodied people to not even think about. Paul's brilliant door modification allows him to pull the door open via the tennis ball, with his wheelchair already back out of the way of the opening door. Sorta makes me wonder if the elevator manufacturer did much user research.

I swear there is a consulting business to be had in handicapped access design in the hospitality industry. Traveling with Paul I've learned some of the most overlooked but important design points, like having clothes hanger rods in closets low enough for wheelchair access. Same with shower controls and shower heads. And light switch and phone access within easy reach of a handicapped person in bed, as they might not be able to reach over to the night stand like most of us can. All of these things are often overlooked in hotel room design for the handicapped. It's not just about adding a ramp and a wide door to the bathroom. I've learned all this only through Paul.

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