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Leveraging Digital Campus Maps to Display Accessibility Resources

April 26, 2018 by Sam Slater

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The most elegant and efficient way to help students, faculty and visitors find accessibility resources on your college campus is to clearly display those resources on an interactive campus map. A leading digital mapping provider can work with you to make this happen. Here we explore Rice University's leading-edge solution in detail. Then we explore several other examples of college mapping solutions that help those seeking accessibility resources find exactly what they need in an intuitive, at-a-glance, fully interactive fashion.

Rice University

One of the best examples of a richly interactive campus map is found at Rice University. The power of Rice's campus map lies in the interaction between the richly featured, intuitive sidebar and the campus map itself. Each item in the sidebar menu, such as Housing, Transportation and Parking, gives the user the option to instantly light up the campus map with a particular area of interest. Clicking or tapping the checkbox beside Housing, for example, will cause the map to light up with blue icons marking the locations of all campus housing units. Likewise, when you check the box beside Accessibility Information, the map will light up with icons marking the locations of all campus accessibility resources.

Given the impressive range of accessibility resources found on the Rice University campus, nearly every inch of the map will light up if you choose to view them all at once. Thus a user might find that they would prefer to narrow down the visual results to a specific sub-category of Accessibility Information. Rice University's interactive map sidebar makes this process extremely straightforward. You simply click on the arrow icon to the left of the Accessibility Information menu item. An alphabetized list of sub-categories will instantly appear, including all of the following:

  • Automatic Accessible Entrance
  • Bus Stops
  • Curb Cuts
  • Entrances
  • Information Center
  • Ramps
  • TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf)
  • Wheelchair Lift

Curb Cut

For example, suppose you are primarily interesting in following paved or concrete walkways and sidewalks throughout the campus grounds as you explore Rice University for the first time. However, before starting off, you would prefer to know where the walkways and sidewalks cross streets. Furthermore, you would like to have some reassurance that the walkways and sidewalks you plan to take are wheelchair accessible. In this case, you would want to click or tap the checkbox beside the Curb Cuts sub-category. Instantly, the Rice University map will light up with dozens of green icons marking the precise location of every campus curb cut (i.e. embedded concrete slope generally connecting a walkway or sidewalk with a crosswalk, parking lot or other paved public area). By viewing all the curb cuts at once, you can clearly see the precise pattern of wheelchair accessible transitions from walkways and sidewalks to crosswalks and other paved areas throughout the campus. Then you can use this information to plan your route.

Next, you decide on a few campus buildings you would like to visit along the way. So you click or tap on the Entrances sub-category. This view highlights all campus buildings with one or more accessible entrances. However, some of these buildings are quite large, and have many entrances. Therefore, in order to plan your route more precisely, it's best to know precisely where the accessible entrances are. You see two menu items, Ramps and Automatic Accessible Entrances, that fit your criteria, so you click or tap on them. The campus map instantly lights up with icons marking the locations of each accessible entrance. Now you can plan your route more precisely.

Other noteworthy examples

As long as you have a best-in-bread interactive mapping provider on your side, there is no end to the variety of accessibility information that you can display on your campus map. Here are three additional examples of universities bringing accessibility information to their leading-edge maps in innovative ways.

University of Colorado

The University of Colorado features a robust, fully interactive Accessibility category within its Boulder campus map. The Accessibility category, in turn, includes an innovative sub-category for Accessible Paths. When you click or tap on the checkbox beside the Accessible Paths menu item in the map's sidebar, the university's map lights up with vivid lines tracing all accessible routes throughout the Boulder campus.

Accessibility University of Colorado Boulder

Duke University

Duke University has invested in a remarkable interactive mapping solution that includes a richly featured ADA Accessibility category. One of the category's most remarkable features is the ADA Steep Grades option. When you click or tap on the checkbox for ADA Steep Grades, the map instantly highlights all steep routes throughout campus in red. This feature is especially helpful for hilly campuses, and gives those who wish to steer clear of these steep sections an excellent way to plan ahead.

University of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has an  intuitive interactive map that includes an Accessible Elevators option. Simply click or tap the corresponding checkbox and the UNC map will light up with orange icons marking the locations of all wheelchair accessible elevators on campus. Mouse-over one of the orange icons to view the name of the corresponding building. By clicking the arrow to the left of the Accessible Elevators menu item, you can also browse a complete list of campus buildings and addresses with accessible elevators. Furthermore, by double-clicking on a specific building or address, the map will instantly zoom to that location to give you a closer look.

The best way to display campus accessibility resources

Campus accessibility is an important consideration for many students, parents, faculty and visitors navigating your college campus. Dozens of forward-looking universities are meeting the challenge by integrating their accessibility information into their online, fully interactive campus maps. Rice University's map provides one of the best examples, featuring an intuitive sidebar menu that lets you view ten different types of campus accessibility resources meeting a wide variety of needs. Other exceptional examples, as explored above, are found at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Duke University and UNC. Naturally, you can create your own custom solution that highlights your campus's unique set of accessibility resources. With the help of a leading digital mapping provider, there is no end to the innovative options you can provide to those seeking accessibility resources on your campus.

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