As elevator technologies continue to evolve, it’s important for designers and specifiers to consider the usability of these technologies by people impacted by blindness. Assessing the accessibility of new technologies should be an integral part of the product evaluation and specification process.

For example, destination dispatch elevators, a recently introduced elevator technology, were particularly challenging for people impacted by blindness when first installed.

Destination dispatch elevators use either a telephone style keypad or an electronic touch screen at each floor for users to identify the floor they wish to reach. Once the destination floor is entered, the screen returns visual information to identify which elevator cab to use. When the elevator arrives, the destination floor is pre-selected and the user simply has to get on the elevator.

Unless appropriate features are provided, people impacted by blindness using this type of system will have difficulty entering their floor destination, identifying which elevator to go to and how to get to it. As such, the following design features should be incorporated into destination dispatch elevator systems:

  • A push button to activate audio instructions.
  • Audio instructions to guide the user through the process of entering their destination.
  • Once a floor destination has been entered, audio instructions to guide the user to the location of the elevator that will take them to their destination.
  • The elevator immediately next to the call panel should be programmed when summoned using the accessible panel. This will eliminate the need for anyone requiring this feature to navigate the lobby; which can be confusing and disorienting. Furthermore, if the passenger is unable to reach the car in time, they will need to navigate back to the panel and repeat the process.
  • A tactile map to provide information on the layout of the elevator lobby and location of the elevators.
  • Tactile signs to clearly identify each elevator.

The following audio clip illustrates the messaging which a destination dispatch elevator should provide.

Note the tactile numbering on the keypads as well as the elongated button on the bottom.