As a baseball fan, and as a lawyer representing children with disabilities, I was very interested in a recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper (“Target Field rates ‘A’ for accessibility,” April 19, Kevin Duchschere, http://goo.gl/YCPQ). The Minnesota Twins new ballpark, Target Field, appears to have set a very high standard for handicapped accessibility. The article brings up issues which most non-handicapped people never think about. For example, people in wheelchairs often never see home runs land, because the people in front of them usually jump up and block their views. Likewise, counters at concession stands, which are usually a good height for people who can stand, are usually too high for people in wheelchairs. And did you ever notice that the microphone and speakers in the ticket-selling booths are usually blocking the employee’s mouth, so anyone who needs to read lips cannot do so? The article points out many accessibility features designed to address these issues, such as:
“•All concession counters are 8 inches lower than usual, 34 inches high, to help customers in wheelchairs and shorter people. Many include signs in Braille or large print for sight-impaired fans.
•There are two elevators, not one, at Target Field’s rail station. That was done to make sure fans in wheelchairs coming in from the Northstar commuter line, which runs below the ballpark, won’t be stranded if a single elevator breaks down.
•Speaker boxes at ticket windows were placed below the agent’s mouth so fans who are deaf can read their lips. Ticket windows have amplification devices that agents can use to transmit to a buyer’s hearing aid.
•Fans who are hard of hearing can read the ballpark announcer’s messages on captioning boards along the foul lines overlooking left and right field. Assisted listening devices to transmit ballpark audio are available for free.
•Curb cuts that are supposed to be 3 feet wide are double that in places near the ballpark so wheelchair users don’t have to fight with pedestrians to cross the street.”
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