Queuing systems should be at least 1,200 mm wide. There should be a clear floor space of at least 1,500 x 1,500 mm at their entry and exit points and at locations where the queuing system changes direction.
Queuing systems that are configured using non-fixed guides (e.g., ropes or retractable bands) are difficult and even hazardous to use for people with vision loss. Such systems present several problems:
- They are often located in the middle of an open area and are difficult to detect with a long cane.
- People with vision loss may have difficulty determining where the line starts within the queuing system.
- People with vision loss may find it hard to know when the line is moving.
- Guide dogs can be easily bumped at travel terminals when people are waiting in line with baggage and carts.
- People with vision loss may find it hard to know where an available service person is located when they get to the front of the line. This problem is compounded when service personnel can’t see the front of the line from their workstations.
A solution to some of these problems is to create a detectable path through the queuing area using a surface material of a different texture, such as carpeting on a tile floor. The queuing path should also be colour contrasted to the surrounding floor surface.
When non-fixed guides must be used, improve the queuing system by moving it away from the building’s main path of travel. The ropes, retractable bands and stands should contrast in colour and brightness to their surroundings and should be detectable using a long cane. Non-fixed queuing guides that incorporate the use of two rigid horizontal guides between stands to afford cane detectability are preferred. Even when rigid horizontal members are not practical, systems are available with retractable bands at two levels for cane detectability and to keep guide dogs from passing under the horizontal barriers.
Queuing systems with fixed guides that contrast in colour and brightness and that are cane detectable are preferred.
A call-button system at the beginning and end of the queue should be included so that a person with vision loss can request assistance, if necessary. In high traffic or busy areas, the implementation of a paging system may be helpful. The paging system would cue a person with vision loss at the front of the queue that their turn has come and in which direction to proceed. Traditionally, these systems have relied on lights that flash when a service representative is available.
“Pick-a-number” systems are problematic for people with vision loss. Even if the next number to be served is called out, without sighted assistance, people with vision loss may not know what number they have pulled. To mitigate this barrier, businesses using this form of queuing system may wish to install dispensing machines with audible indicators which verbalize the number being pulled. While this may resolve the issue of knowing what number is being served, a customer who is blind will have no way of knowing which agent or service point is available.
If using a pick-a-number system, a dedicated service counter should be incorporated to serve people with disabilities. It should be integrated with the other service counters and located as close as possible to entrances and/or the position where the pick-a-number dispensing machine is installed.