Access Monitoring Project Analysis Education Essay

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This paper examines the Carnegie Science Center (CSC), and its' accessibility to individuals with cognitive, behavioral, sensory, and physical disabilities. Examined in this paper will be the building, parking areas, hygiene areas, seating areas, overall participation experience, and emergency procedures, as well as the impact on individuals with disabilities. While the CSC meets the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, analysis shows that it is far from completely accessible to individuals with disabilities. Most of the analysis was done through firsthand experience, however employees of the CSC were also contacted to answer questions in regards to accessibility to persons with disabilities. This paper will examine the facility to create an understanding of the accessible and inaccessible areas, and how the inaccessible areas can be improved upon to allow full access and create a positive experience for the exceptional population.

Access Monitoring Project: Carnegie Science Center

The Carnegie Science Center (CSC), located on the North Side of Pittsburgh, is one of the four Carnegie museums of Pittsburgh. Spread across five floors, it serves as an interactive science center for children of all ages, housing a planetarium, an aquarium, an OMNIMAX theater, a Cold War submarine, and three demonstration theaters. It is considered a learning and entertainment hub to take children of all ages for a fun-filled day. The mission of the CSC is to delight, education, and inspire through interactive experiences in science and technology ("Mission & Aspirations," 2010). Through a visit to the CSC, a discovery of accessibility of the museum was evaluated for individuals with cognitive, behavioral, sensory, and physical disorders. While the Carnegie Science Center is accessible to persons with disabilities, and meets the Americans with Disabilities Act standards, it is not fully accessible for the exceptional populations. People with all types of physical, sensory, behavioral, cognitive and other disabilities must be ensured equal access to facilities, services, and programs.  And people with disabilities must not be discriminated against through structural barriers, unequal policies and practices, or inaccessible means of communication and dissemination of information. Therefore, there are many improvements that can be done to the Carnegie Science Center to allow full access and create a positive participation experience for the exceptional populations, and this paper examines the accessibility and the areas of improvement.

AMP Location History and Description

The Carnegie Science Center (CSC) opened on October 5, 1991, through the combination of two unique local institutions: Carnegie Institute and the Buhl Science Center (formerly Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science) ("History," 2010). It was the first science education center of its kind for students, teachers, and the general public in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located on the North Side of Pittsburgh along the banks of the Ohio River, the CSC fosters scientific literacy in the community.

The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, otherwise known as the Carnegie Institute, was founded by Pittsburgh industrialist Andrew Carnegie 116 years ago ("We go back a long way," 2011). Carnegie envisioned a culture complex where "Pittsburghers of every age, occupation and income could enjoy what he called the noble quartet: art, science, music, and literature" ("History," 2010). The original Carnegie Institute included the Museum of Natural History, Museum of Art, Library, and Music Hall, and opened on November 25, 1895 in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh. Carnegie strove to bring the work of artists and researchers from around the world to the people of Pittsburgh. His personal mission eventually led to the creation of the Carnegie International art exhibition in 1896 ("Employee Handbook"). When Andrew Carnegie died in 1919, he gave away most of his wealth, but the Museums and Library stood as reminders of the steel tycoon's fortune, vision, and generosity ("History", 2010).

The other institution that combined to form the Carnegie Science Center was the Buhl Science Center, formerly known as the Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (The Buhl). The Buhl opened on October 24, 1939, and was the home to the fifth major planetarium in the United States ("History," 2010). The Buhl was created by the Buhl Foundation in memory of its founder, Henry Buhl, Jr. (1856-1927) as a gift to the people of Pittsburgh. Buhl had made his fortune as co-owner of the Boggs and Buhl Department Store on the North Side ("Employee Handbook"). The money that he left behind as part of his foundation was specifically suggested that part of the funds be used to support initiatives in the North Side neighborhood. During its peak, the Buhl became the home to scientific knowledge and careers for Pittsburghers ("History," 2010). Its focus was the "Theatre of the Stars," which featured a Model II Zeiss Star Projector that could accurately display 9,000 of the brightest stars in the sky within the planetarium. Other items of interest included a Foucault Pendulum that demonstrated the earth's rotation on its axis, a siderostat telescope that followed a star or planet across the sky, as well as some of the world's first interactive exhibits that featured push buttons ("Employee Handbook"). The push buttons were innovations, as they were an audio explanation of the exhibit played from a record in a control room operated by staff members. The Buhl was a basis for the support of scientific education and the founding of the science fair ("History," 2010). During World War II it was the training place for the military in celestial navigation, and continued to offer Pittsburghers excitement after the war. In 1954, the Miniature Railroad & Village® opened at the Buhl, and by 1958, the Buhl had begun the Junior Space Academy as a response to the launch of Sputnik during the dawn of the Space Age ("Employee Handbook").

For many years both institutions were highly used by the people of Pittsburgh. But by the 1980s, the original Buhl building was aging and the Foundation was considering options for expansion and growth, which ended up being ruled out. It was decided that a new location was needed for the expansion efforts, as well as increased staffing in development, building services, science education, and public relations to keep up with the evolving trends in science ("History," 2010). It was during this time that the Carnegie Institute became interested in merging with the Buhl, and in 1987 both institutions Boards approved the merger. Construction of the CSC began on October 5, 1989 at the current location along the Ohio River with the opening occurring two years later with a reinvented Planetarium and Observatory named after Henry Buhl, Jr. ("Employee Handbook). The CSC is still in operation today and an integral part of the scientific community with exhibits that travel all over the world.

AMP Accessibility for Exceptional Populations

The Carnegie Science states that it is accessible to persons with disabilities, and meets the requirements of the American Disabilities Act. However, some exhibits require full physical mobility for full enjoyment ("Hours and Location," 2010). When looking specifically at the accessibility for targeted populations, the CSC differs in its ability to be accommodating.

When it comes to cognitive disabilities it must be broken down into two of the specific groups. While they are able to access everything, they might not necessarily do well. Many of the exhibits have lines, and children that do not do well with being patient, tend to not understand and throw a fit. Many of the shows are also not appropriate for the processing disorder as they may be difficult to follow along as there are no easier explanations given. Additionally, there are no real modifications available for children with cognitive disorders on a daily basis. All children with cognitive disabilities that are not severe are able to attend the summer camps. According to Matthew Zwier, there is a phone conference between the camp director and the teaching assistant/parent (personal communication, April 2, 2011). The phone conference discusses the development of an action plan so that the child will be able to get something out of the camp. It was noted that children that have autism do not do well at the CSC, as they go into sensory overload, according to one CSC employee (K. Mercadante, personal interview, April 2, 2011). For guests that have mental retardation, they might not be able to process the exhibits, and might feel overwhelmed or confused. There is no personal guide that can go through the exhibit one on one with them. Overall through examining the CSC for accessibility for people with cognitive disorders, they do not do too badly, as long as their disability is not severe. If it is severe the CSC does not have anything in place to make any form of modifications or aid available to guests.

For guests that might have a behavioral disorder, the CSC is not very friendly for accessibility. Children that attend camps that have behavioral disorders receive the same courtesy as those with cognitive disorders. A phone interview is conducted with the camp director and the teaching assistant/parent to discuss how the child will be able to get the most out of the camp. Additionally, they will discuss if there is something that will set the child off, such as if they need to be served first for meals, hate being touched, are unable to share, etc. so that it may be avoided at all costs (M. Zweir, personal communication, April 2, 2011). Additionally they try to learn how to calm the child down if an incident does occur. For regular guests of the CSC, there is not much that can be done for children with behavioral disorders. If the child happens to have an episode, there are a few quiet spots that have books and chairs that the child can be taken to in order to be calmed down. However, in the event of an episode the staff does not remove the child, but instead may advise the parents of the quiet areas that are out of view. Parents are unable to make special arrangements for their child to keep them from having an episode at the CSC. The lack of ability to handle children with behavioral disorders on a daily basis is a problem in terms of accessibility

For guests that suffer from sensory disorders such as visual impairments and hearing impairments, the CSC has a few modifications in place to allow accessibility, but it is not entirely friendly. For those that suffer from visual impairments such as low vision, there are no expanded texts or guides that they are able to use. However, if asked the staff is willing to make a larger copy of the daily schedule and building map, but these are not readily available to all guests (M. Zweir, personal communication, April 2, 2011). For those that are legally blind, or require the usage of Braille, the CSC is inaccessible. Nowhere in the CSC is there any indication of Braille on floor signs, or bathroom entrances. While the CSC offers listening systems to guests for the Omnimax Theatre, the rest of the center is without audio devices. Additionally, because of the nature of the CSC, guests who are unable to see the exhibits, shows, and displays will not be able to access the full experience of the CSC. Guests who are blind would not be able to attend Rangos Omnimax Theatre, the Planetarium, or any of the shows. For those that suffer from a hearing sensory disorder the CSC opens up some accessibility more than it does for those with visual impairments. While there is no closed captioning on the monitors where there are TV/video/movie displays, every exhibit has a visual display that has what the exhibit is, the science behind it, and any directions on the exhibits use or how it functions. CSC does not offer self-guided tours, but groups are able to request a sign-language interpreter for a program/demonstration in advance, and glow in the dark gloves are available for interpreters translating films or programs in low lighting theatres upon request. (M. Zweir, personal communication, April 2, 2011). Scripts and assistive listening systems are also available for Rangos Omnimax Theatre ("Hours and Location," 2010). Overall through examination of the CSC building itself for those suffering from sensory disorders, the CSC is more accessible to those with hearing impairments then it is for those with vision impairments. Sadly, for those with vision impairments, the CSC would not be an enjoyable experience, and would be difficult to navigate or get an appropriate experience.

Individuals that suffer from physical disabilities are the ones that are the most accommodated for at the CSC for accessibility. The building offers elevators to allow guests to reach all five levels of the building. There are also bench areas for people to sit and relax at various areas throughout the building, but they are often occupied. While guests with physical disabilities are able to use the elevator there is also a ramp that goes throughout the building to access the floors. However, the ramp is rather steep and would be difficult for individuals in a manual wheelchair being self-propelled or pushed to use. Despite being able to go to all levels of the CSC, those with physical disabilities are not able to fully participate in all exhibits as some require full physical mobility ("Hours and Location," 2010). Some of the exhibits that require full physical mobility are the submarine, trampoline, rock wall, and high cycle. For users to get to the submarine, they are required to walk down steps and climb through the hatches, which is problematic for guests who are in a wheelchair. Additionally the trampoline, rock wall, and high cycle can be accessed by those with physical disabilities, but are limited to users depending on their physical disability. Furthermore, it should be noted that in order to participate in any of the simulators, guests who are in wheelchairs must be transferred out of their chair and into the simulator seats. Overall, through examination for guests with physical disabilities being able to access CSC, the CSC is the most accommodating and accessible in this area. While guests without full physical mobility might be limited from some of the exhibits they are able to enjoy a majority of them.

The CSC, although ADA compliment, is not accessible to all members of the exceptional population. Guests who suffer from any exceptionality group are unable to fully participate in the CSC experience as they lack appropriate accommodations for guests. Before going to the CSC any person with exceptionality should review the accessibility for their particular issue. They should also attempt to work with staff members to help them have a great experience at the CSC, and receive any accommodations that the CSC does and is able to provide.

AMP Building & Parking Access

In the CSC information guide, it is specifically stated that some of the exhibits require full physical mobility. While all guests with exceptionalities are able to access the building and parking lots, the CSC is not the most ideal situation for individuals with disabilities. While some of the barriers of the building and parking can be modified for those with exceptionalities there are other areas that cannot.

The building has three sets of automatic doors available to enter the museum. They are: the main entrance of the main building, the ground floor group entrance, and the SportsWorks main entrance. Most of the doors are automatic, however if they are not, they have directional signage indicating the location of a handicap accessible entrance. The handicap parking is located around the new SportsWorks building, and if guests choose to park and then enter the building they will use ground floor group entrance, or they may use the security service entrance. If they decide to unload they are able to use the turnaround to drop off at the traditional main entrance of the building that is handicap accessible.

As the CSC is ADA compliment, all of their doorways are wide enough to provide entrance into all exhibits. However, in the submarine exhibit, individuals that are physically handicapped are not able to access the experience. To enter the submarine, individuals must walk down steps and climb through a hatch. Additionally, the simulators are not able to be done from the confines of a wheelchair, and require individuals to be transferred out of the device into the simulator seat. Furthermore, the trampoline, rock climbing wall, and the high cycle require individuals to be transferred out of any assistive device and ultimately require full physical mobility for proper use.

In terms of parking, those that require handicap parking must park in a different lot. Upon paying to park, guests see directional signs indicating handicap accessible parking spots. Once they get to the handicap area, there are two rows of parking of approximately 15-20 spots. From the handicap parking lot, those that require handicap access can either take the sidewalk ramp to the ground floor group entrance, or they can go through the security service entrance to enter the building. The service entrance is within 500 feet of the handicap parking area, and the group entrance, which is more commonly used, is just a bit farther. For those that do not have a handicap placard, and are required to park in the normal parking lot out front, they are likely to enter the main entrance of the building. From the regular parking lot, guests are required to cross the main entrance driveway. While there are crosswalks, they are not lit nor do they have signs posted that state watch children or any indications of pedestrian traffic. If the main lot is full, guests are required to go to overflow parking, which requires guests to cross four lanes of major traffic at an intersection crosswalk.

For individuals with cognitive disabilities the CSC can be confusing to navigate. Upon looking at the map of the interior of the building a lot of the exhibits are right next to each other or require one to walk through an exhibit area to access another exhibit. For this reason, guests who suffer from autism or mental retardation may go into sensory overload trying to navigate the building and the exhibits, especially when the building is crowded. While there are CSC employees throughout the building, according to Matthew Zweir, they are not always available for guest assistance beyond the first floor information desk (personal communication, April 2, 2011). Additionally, because there is the ability for little modification within the exhibits and shows, the CSC can be considered inaccessible to some guests who have moderate to high levels of mental retardation and difficult to manage autism. The shows within the building are also difficult to process for those with cognitive disorders, as the science behind them, and the explanation of the demonstration might be difficult to comprehend. Due to the schedule, the show cannot take additional time to explain to these guests the science behind the show. Additionally, guests with cognitive disorders do not do well with change, and therefore the accessibility in the building might be severely limited due to the sensory overload. If guests that suffer from cognitive disorders are required to park in the regular lot or the overflow lot, there is a higher chance of injury for these guests. They might not be cautious of traffic patterns in the parking areas.

For individuals with behavioral disorders, the CSC is accessible if the disorder is well managed. The CSC can become crowded and many children that suffer from behavioral disorders have difficulty waiting in line for exhibits and shows, as well as taking turns on the exhibits. Many children that suffer from behavioral disorders need to have a safe spot where they can be calmed down. Unfortunately the design of the CSC is very open and therefore very public, making the access to those with behavioral disorders difficult when they have an episode. While there are areas that are less crowded, most individuals that have a behavior disorder will have to leave the CSC when they have an episode due to the inability to calm down in a public environment. If guests that suffer from behavior disorders are required to park in the regular lot or the overflow lot, there is a high chance of injury for these guests. Children that refuse to walk with a parent are liable to run into oncoming traffic.

The CSC is the most inaccessible for individuals with sensory disorders. As the CSC is a hands on type of environment, those with visual disabilities are extremely limited in what they can access within the building. They will not be able to fully experience most of the shows, the planetarium, or the Omnimax. The same goes for individuals that are blind. Guests that require the use of Braille to find their way around the building are severally limited to building access. They will not be able to find the bathroom, an exhibit or rooms. Additionally, as many of the exhibit areas are open and have displays in the middle of the floor, navigation of the building is rather difficult, and almost impossible with large crowds. Additionally, the doors to the elevators do not beep or state what level floor the elevator has arrived on. Therefore it is rather easy for someone to get lost within the CSC building. Furthermore, guests with visual impairments would not be able to participate in the simulator experiences. While most guests that are visually impaired would park in the handicap parking lot and have easy access to the building, those that have to park in the normal lot are required to cross traffic to enter the main entrance. The crosswalks are not lit, and are only painted brightly. Furthermore, crossing the overflow parking lot crosswalk can be rather difficult as guests are not able to see oncoming traffic. For individuals that have hearing disorders the CSC is fully accessible except for the TV/videos/movie displays. Interpreters are available for guests that plan ahead, and scripts are available for many of the exhibits. Therefore, the building and parking lot are highly accessible for individuals with hearing impairments.

The Carnegie Science Center was designed with a ramp system that allows guests access to all five floors of the building. At each level the ramp system has an exit point that allows guests to visit each floor of the museum. Elevators are also available for guests that require that amenity. As some of the exhibits require full mobility such as the submarine that has stairs, and the simulator which requires a transfer out of the chair and into seats, individuals with physical disabilities are able to receive many modifications at the CSC. However, the trampoline, rock climbing wall, and the high cycle are unable to be accessed by any individual without full physical mobility.

To improve the building access and parking access to groups with exceptionalities, several items should be addressed. To accommodate individuals with cognitive disabilities the CSC building should enable parents to arrange a special tour for them to access exhibits. This would allow individuals to have a more one on one approach with the exhibit and get to work with a staff member to help relieve some frustration. Another option is to give the parent or teaching assistant a guide to the science center that is available online so that a trip can be planned in advance. To accommodate individuals with behavioral disorders, the CSC could offer arrangements for a special tour for them to access the exhibits so that they do not experience frustration and have an episode. Additionally they could develop more quiet areas that children that have an episode could go to relax and calm down. This would enable all guests of the CSC to feel safe when an episode occurs. To accommodate individuals with vision disorders the CSC needs to incorporate Braille onto all the signs within the building. This will enable individuals to find their way to exhibits. The CSC could also improve the experience by installing a beeping mechanism in the elevator that indicates when the door is open. It could also indicate what floor the guest is on so that they do not get lost within the building. Furthermore, because of the hands on exhibits at the CSC, there should be the opportunity to arrange a special day and time for individuals with low vision to come and explore the CSC. There would be less guests in the building, and therefore allow individuals to move more freely about the building. Additionally, the CSC could create an audio guide that individuals with vision impairments could borrow upon entering the CSC. This could act as a self-guided tour of the building in which all exhibits are read to the individual as well as explained in full detail what is occurring at the exhibit. To accommodate individuals that have hearing impairments, the CSC is doing a decent job so far. However, they should include closed captioning on all monitors that are visual displays. To accommodate individuals with physical disabilities the CSC should provide alternatives for these children to participate in activities that require full physical mobility. While they may not be able to change the submarine, they could create a video that those with physical ailments could watch to have a similar experience. Additionally, the CSC needs to consider creating the ability for those that are in a wheelchair to enjoy simulations from the comfort of their wheelchair.

The parking lot could stand for a lot of improvements. First off, the parking lot as it stands now is unsafe for children and those with any form of exceptionality. As guests have to cross traffic when they are parked in the normal or overflow lot they are putting guests at risk. Therefore, to make the travel from the normal lot safer, the CSC should consider making a bride that guest can walk over to avoid walking across incoming traffic. Additionally, on days where guests are required to park in the overflow lot, the CSC could provide a crosswalk guard to safely help guests cross from the overflow lot to the CSC side of the street. Another improvement that should be considered is lighting up the walkway of the entranceway from the parking lots to the CSC. This would help guests follow a path safely. Additionally, if they CSC decides not to create a bridge, they should post signs that indicate pedestrian traffic so that drivers are aware when they are driving. Another option is installing a crosswalk, that is lit and enables pedestrians to walk at certain times, and cars to travel at others.

AMP Hygiene Areas

When looking at a map of the floors of the CSC, the bathrooms on every floor are in the same location within the floor. Upon examining the inside of the bathrooms on each floor, the women's restroom was found to have one ADA compliant stall. This stall was a larger stall that included handle bars and a higher toilet setting within the stall. According to Matthew Zweir in the men's restrooms the stall is in the front and the urinals are in the back (personal communication, April 2, 2011). Within the restroom all of the sinks are at the same level and have handles one can push or pull instead of having to grip. There are no lower or higher sinks that are strictly for wheelchair access. There are also step stools available for children to use to access the sink.

There is only one family restroom in the entire building. It is located on the first floor of the building, but it is only able to be accessed by guests that request the key at the ticket counter. It is locked at all times to prevent misuse. The family room is a larger room that can allow multiple people to be in the room at the same time for safety and convenience for any guest. The location of the restrooms is quite conducive to the facility as they are easy to find due to them being at the same location on all floors.

The major barrier of the restrooms at the CSC is the lack of ADA compliant stalls on each floor. Often this stall is used by individuals that are not handicapped, and therefore the access to these stalls by individuals that need them is limited. Additionally there are not enough family restrooms. With the only one being located on the first floor that is a long way from the fifth floor if an emergency bathroom situation where to occur during a visit. Furthermore, due to the bathroom being locked, guests must rely on the ticket counter to gain access to the room. Furthermore, for guests that require Braille to find their way, the bathrooms are not clearly labeled and they might end up in the wrong restroom which could be embarrassing for the individual.

While the number of male and female restrooms is appropriate for the facility, the number of family restrooms is not. They should be increased to allow individuals with exceptionalities to be appropriately accommodated. Furthermore, there should be wheelchair friendly sinks in the facility so that guests are able to use the sink without too much effort. It would be best to put the sink in the ADA stall so that step stools would not be in the way of this sink. With improvements in the hygiene areas of the building, the CSC would be more family friendly to individuals with disabilities.

AMP Seating Areas

The Carnegie Science Center has several theatres throughout the building. All of the theatres have handicap accessible seating arrangements, wheelchair spaces, and moveable seating. In the Omnimax theatre there is the ability to have up to ten wheelchairs in an assigned seating area. All wheelchairs enter at the top (the exit) of the Omnimax theatre due to the stadium seating and steps. This theatre holds up to 340 people. In the Planetarium there are also assigned wheelchair areas at the very front of the room, and it could hold approximately ten wheelchairs. The Planetarium has moveable seating which allows it to be accommodated for those with wheelchairs. In all of the other areas where there are shows or seated arrangements, accommodations are made for those that are in wheelchairs to sit at the front of the room so that they are able to clearly see the demonstrations. These numbers are unlimited as the seating is moveable and can be arranged to accommodate. Furthermore, for guests that require interpreters they are strategically placed in an area where they will be able to see the sign language interpreter, but there is no special seating in place. Beyond the demonstration areas, the Planetarium, and the Omnimax there are a few areas to sit and rest around the CSC. While they are able to be found, many times they are occupied as parents rest as their children run about the building.

Unfortunately the seating areas in the CSC are only accommodating to those with physical disabilities. As previously stated, those with visual impairments are unable to fully experience the shows and theatres as the CSC due to the inability to see the program and demonstration. The typical population uses the regular seats that are provided in the theatres and in the demonstrations. Each theatre has a different type of seating, from reclining chairs to stadium seating, to stools. While those that have hearing impairments may be strategically placed in the room, there is no exact seating for them, as assistive listening devices, interpreters, and scripts are available.

Due to the layout of the theatres there needs to be the creation of family type areas in which there is a couch or similar shared space. This similar shared space would be appropriate for sitting parents with a child who is autistic, suffers from another cognitive disorder, or has a behavior disorder. By having a shared seating space, a parent is able to help the child relax more, and keep them in a safer type of environment. Additionally, the seating areas could be approved within the theatres and demonstration areas by having the ability to seat individuals with exceptionalities near exits. There should also be more areas around the exhibits where individuals can sit and relax. This could be done by labeling certain areas as "save for persons with disabilities" or by simply placing a handicap sign on the seating area. From discussion with Matthew Zweir, he stated that there should be more handicap areas around the entire CSC building. He also mentioned that they should be more clearly labeled, as guests often have to ask for assistance on where to sit or go to enter certain theatres and shows (personal communication, April 2, 2011). The best way to improve the accessibility of the museum as a whole is to create an accessibility guide to the museum that indicates seating arrangements, accessible areas, and accommodations that can be provided by the staff.

AMP Participation Experience

To best understand a typical experience that would be obtained by those individuals from exceptional populations, activities were participated in as if having that disability.

First, individuals with cognitive disorders will have different experiences based on the level of severity of their disability. At the low end of the spectrum individuals with autism and slight mental retardation should be able to experience the Carnegie Science Center fully. While they may feel overwhelmed by the amount of people and the activities at the CSC, with proper guidance they should be able adapt and have a great experience at the CSC. Those with moderate severity cognitive disorders would have a more difficult time at the CSC. Many of the shows are not appropriate at this level as they may be difficult to comprehend and the instructors do not repeat the material. Moderate level cognitive disorders may have trouble processing the material or have difficulty with large groups. When the CSC is busy many of the exhibits have lines, and children that do not do well with being patient, tend to get overwhelmed and throw a fit. At the severe end of the cognitive spectrum, the CSC is almost completely inaccessible. Guests are unable to process the materials, will become overwhelmed, and will not be able to enjoy the CSC experience. The CSC unfortunately does not provide any form of modification for individuals that suffer from cognitive disorders. It is either participates fully in the exhibits and experiences, or nothing at all.

For regular guests of the CSC, there is not much that can be done for children with behavioral disorders. If the child happens to have an episode, there are a few quiet spots that have books and chairs that the child can be taken to in order to be calmed down. However, in the event of an episode the staff does not remove the child, but instead may advise the parents of the quiet areas that are out of view. Parents are unable to make special arrangements for their child to keep them from having an episode at the CSC. The lack of ability to handle children with behavioral disorders on a daily basis is a problem in terms of accessibility for this group of individuals.

For guests that suffer from sensory disorders such as visual impairments and hearing impairments, the CSC has a few modifications in place to allow accessibility, but it is not entirely friendly. For those that suffer from visual impairments such as low vision, there are no expanded texts or guides that they are able to use. However, if asked the staff is willing to make a larger copy of the daily schedule and building map, but these are not readily available to all guests (M. Zweir, personal communication, April 2, 2011). For those that are legally blind, or require the usage of Braille, the CSC is inaccessible. Nowhere in the CSC is there any indication of Braille on floor signs, or bathroom entrances. While the CSC offers listening systems to guests for the Omnimax Theatre, the rest of the center is without audio devices. Additionally, because of the nature of the CSC, guests who are unable to see the exhibits, shows, and displays will not be able to access the full experience of the CSC. Guests who are blind would not be able to attend Rangos Omnimax Theatre, the Planetarium, or any of the shows. For those that suffer from a hearing sensory disorder the CSC opens up some accessibility more than it does for those with visual impairments. While there is no closed captioning on the monitors where there are TV/video/movie displays, every exhibit has a visual display that has what the exhibit is, the science behind it, and any directions on the exhibits use or how it functions. CSC does not offer self-guided tours, but groups are able to request a sign-language interpreter for a program/demonstration in advance, and glow in the dark gloves are available for interpreters translating films or programs in low lighting theatres upon request. (M. Zweir, personal communication, April 2, 2011). Scripts and assistive listening systems are also available for Rangos Omnimax Theatre ("Hours and Location," 2010). Overall through examination of the CSC building itself for those suffering from sensory disorders, the CSC is more accessible to those with hearing impairments then it is for those with vision impairments. Sadly, for those with vision impairments, the CSC would not be an enjoyable experience, and would be difficult to navigate or get an appropriate experience.

Individuals that suffer from physical disabilities are the ones that are the most accommodated for at the CSC for accessibility. The building offers elevators to allow guests to reach all five levels of the building. There are also bench areas for people to sit and relax at various areas throughout the building, but they are often occupied. While guests with physical disabilities are able to use the elevator there is also a ramp that goes throughout the building to access the floors. However, the ramp is rather steep and would be difficult for individuals in a manual wheelchair being self-propelled or pushed to use. Despite being able to go to all levels of the CSC, those with physical disabilities are not able to fully participate in all exhibits as some require full physical mobility ("Hours and Location," 2010). Some of the exhibits that require full physical mobility are the submarine, trampoline, rock wall, and high cycle. For users to get to the submarine, they are required to walk down steps and climb through the hatches, which is problematic for guests who are in a wheelchair. Additionally the trampoline, rock wall, and high cycle can be accessed by those with physical disabilities, but are limited to users depending on their physical disability. Furthermore, it should be noted that in order to participate in any of the simulators, guests who are in wheelchairs must be transferred out of their chair and into the simulator seats. Overall, through examination for guests with physical disabilities being able to access CSC, the CSC is the most accommodating and accessible in this area. While guests without full physical mobility might be limited from some of the exhibits they are able to enjoy a majority of them.

To accommodate individuals with cognitive disabilities the CSC building should enable parents to arrange a special tour for them to access exhibits. This would allow individuals to have a more one on one approach with the exhibit and get to work with a staff member to help relieve some frustration. Another option is to give the parent or teaching assistant a guide to the science center that is available online so that a trip can be planned in advance. To better improve the ability for individuals with cognitive disorders to full participate in the experiences offered at the CSC, the creation of an accessibility guide should be created. This accessibility guide could provide modifications for exhibits shows and events to all individuals. To accommodate individuals with behavioral disorders, the CSC could offer arrangements for a special tour for them to access the exhibits so that they do not experience frustration and have an episode. Additionally they could develop more quiet areas that children that have an episode could go to relax and calm down. This would enable all guests of the CSC to feel safe when an episode occurs. To accommodate individuals with vision disorders the CSC needs to incorporate Braille onto all the signs within the building. This will enable individuals to find their way to exhibits. The CSC could also improve the experience by installing a beeping mechanism in the elevator that indicates when the door is open. It could also indicate what floor the guest is on so that they do not get lost within the building. Furthermore, because of the hands on exhibits at the CSC, there should be the opportunity to arrange a special day and time for individuals with low vision to come and explore the CSC. There would be less guests in the building, and therefore allow individuals to move more freely about the building. Additionally, the CSC could create an audio guide that individuals with vision impairments could borrow upon entering the CSC. This could act as a self-guided tour of the building in which all exhibits are read to the individual as well as explained in full detail what is occurring at the exhibit. To accommodate individuals that have hearing impairments, the CSC is doing a decent job so far. However, they should include closed captioning on all monitors that are visual displays. To accommodate individuals with physical disabilities the CSC should provide alternatives for these children to participate in activities that require full physical mobility. While they may not be able to change the submarine, they could create a video that those with physical ailments could watch to have a similar experience. Additionally, the CSC needs to consider creating the ability for those that are in a wheelchair to enjoy simulations from the comfort of their wheelchair.

AMP Emergency Situation Barriers

At the Carnegie Science Center there are emergency procedures in place in the event of an emergency. During an emergency there are people assigned to check the floor in the event of an emergency. Also in the event of an emergency the people at the ticket counter would be directing people outside of the building, and there would be one person sent over to Heinz Field to coordinate the family meeting area. After discussion with CSC employees, they do not have an Emergency Action Plan in place for an emergency (K. Mercadante, April 2, 2011). Essentially, when an emergency occurs, the staff in the building will know what to do effectively. There are safe platforms in the stairwells where handicaps can wait for assistance, but little else is available for any other type of disability area. As staff members do not seek out individuals with exceptionalities during an emergency, there are no procedures in place.

Guests of the CSC are not provided materials that discuss what to do in case of an emergency on their tickets or through any publications provided by the CSC. The only emergency materials provided are the emergency evacuation plans located on each floor next to the elevator. These evacuation plans list the location of all emergency exits on the floor, all fire alarm pulls, and all extinguishers.

To better improve the emergency procedures at the CSC, they should brief their staff on what to do in all types of emergencies. They should also create an Emergency Action Plan that addresses each type of emergency. These can be readily purchased, as they are available in most school buildings. Additionally, staff should be made aware of individuals in the building that have exceptionalities, and should seek out these individuals in a case of emergency.

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