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Friday, May 8, 2009

Elevator Issues

I had a little elevator trouble today at school. In my three months of being an independent traveler on campus, this is the first time I've had a problem with the elevator. I guess if it's not one thing, it's gonna be something else. It was inevitable.

My class is on the top floor of a three story building. I know which button to press for both the first and third floors. But I have no way of knowing which floor the elevator actually stops on. There's nothing inside the elevator to inform me when it's time to get out. It's always guesswork.

If I pay attention, I can tell about how long it takes to move from the first to third floor. If the elevator doors open too soon, I assume it stopped on the second floor. Perhaps someone else is getting into the elevator or someone inside is getting off. It happens.

The first thing I do each and every time I exit the elevator is to check the floor sign just outside the doors. It has braille to identify the floor number. I ALWAYS check this sign to find out where I am.

On a few occasions, I have gotten off on the wrong floor. It's not really a problem. The sign will immediately inform me of my mistake so I can get back on the elevator.

I was in the elevator today, heading up to the third floor for my ASL class. I was very distracted. My mind was on the tech problems I've been having. I forgot to pay attention to the movement of the elevator. By letting my mind wander, I was asking for trouble. It's always important to keep focused on your travels or you will cause yourself unneeded problems.

I was surprised when the elevator stopped. It seemed too soon. I assumed I was on the second floor so I didn't get off the elevator. No one got on or off. I realized this was actually my floor. By this time, the doors had already closed. The elevator just sat there. It didn't go up or down. But because the doors were shut, I couldn't get off.

I hit the button for the third floor a few times. I was hoping the doors would open. It didn't work. Nothing happened.

I know that all elevators have a special button that will open the doors. I tried to find that button. The panel had so many buttons and only a handful were marked with braille. I had no idea where to look for the button that would open the doors.

Sighted people are often fascinated with the braille buttons on elevators. Many times, it's the only place they've ever seen braille. Well, here's a news flash for you. Those braille buttons are nearly impossible to read. Or, at least they are for me.

Elevators are designed to be accessible for everyone. It's a noble idea. It doesn't work so well, in my opinion. They put the button panel down low for people in wheel chairs. However, that places the braille buttons too low to be read with comfort. I can reach up to read braille. Reaching down puts the wrong part of my finger on the dots. I can't read the braille at all.

I tried scrunching down to read the buttons from a different angle. It was still too high. I thought about kneeling so I could reach upward. Ahhh... screw it! That was way too much work. All I wanted to do was open the stupid doors so I could get off!

I hit the button for the first floor. The elevator began moving and the doors opened on the main floor. I stayed in the elevator and hit the third floor button. Up it went. When the doors opened, I checked to make sure I was on the third floor. I was. I walked off to my classroom.

It wasn't a major event. Mostly I think it was a silly situation... but also somewhat frustrating. Thankfully, I came up with a quick solution and was able to get off the elevator. Can you imagine the headlines if I hadn't? "Deaf-Blind Woman Trapped On Elevator Because She Couldn't Open The Doors!!"

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