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Trace Center Assists Wisconsin Firm in Making Accessible Door Entry Systems

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Trace Research & Development Center contributed to the development of the nation's first cross-disability accessible door entry system that will be demonstrated Feb. 27, 2001, at an event in San Francisco by the mayor's office.

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. There are 54 million Americans who 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; and these interface enhancements make it easier to use for the average person.

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 will be inaugurated by San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. and by Viking Electronics at a ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 27, at noon. It will be held at a senior housing residence of the San Francisco Housing Authority at 345 Arguello St., San Francisco, Calif.

The Viking Electronics AES-2000 door entry system incorporates Trace EZTM 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 systems TTY/TDD text telephone, and visitors with physical disabilities can use the door entry system by hand or with a mouthstick.

"It was a delight working with Viking and its president Bill Heideman," said Trace Center Director and Industrial Engineering Professor Gregg Vanderheiden. "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."

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.

The Trace Center is a part of the College of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Founded in 1971, The Trace Center is primarily funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) 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 more information, visit the Trace Web site or call (608) 262-6966. To contact Viking Electronics, visit their Web site or call (715) 386-8861.

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