Walter Pyramid improved accessibility for guests with disabilities
Americas, September 13 2011
The Walter Pyramid has improved accessibility by designating seven different sections that ensure guests with disabilities will have a better view of the event they’re attending.
Wheelchair seating sections were chosen for their visibility angles, which ensure an unobstructed line of sight to the floor, even when people in front of them are standing. This is in compliance with the line of sight requirement set by the Accessible Stadiums guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“It’s important to not only conform to the letter of the law, but to embrace the spirit of the law as well,” said David Sanfilippo, director of Disabled Student Services. “It’s the little things that make a difference.”
Assigning several sections as wheelchair seating areas also gives guests with disabilities a choice of different viewing angles to choose from, consistent with the dispersed seating requirements set by the Accessible Stadiums guidelines in the ADA.
The sections that have been set up for wheelchair seating that ensure handicapped guests a direct line of sight to the floor are: 104, 105, 106, 107, 110, 112 and 114.
Bleachers were moved backward three feet in Section 114 to make wheelchair seating available on the floor level.
Because there is nowhere to put wheelchair seating and still guarantee a direct line of sight to the floor in the student section, Section 111, comparable seating is offered on each adjacent side in Sections 110 and 112.
A contingency plan has been put in place to remove banners along the blue railings of the concourse level, should the other wheelchair accessible sections fill up. This creates an alternate wheelchair seating location to be used for overly crowded events.
Achieving better accessibility at the Pyramid was discussed at a staff retreat in the summer of 2010 that focused on improving guest services.
Pyramid management, in conjunction with Sanfilippo, decided to revamp the previously existing wheelchair seating policy as well as implement a new protocol in which all Pyramid employees are trained on how to best accommodate guests in wheelchairs.
Early in the fall 2010 semester, Sanfilippo did a walkthrough with the entire Pyramid staff — roughly 75 workers — to focus on responsibilities, etiquette and the new protocol in regards to wheelchair seating.
Sanfilippo will continue doing periodic trainings for all employees to make sure the staff knows how to best accommodate guests with disabilities.
Cameron Ungar, associate general manager and director of event services, has been to multiple conferences within the past year that focused on various guest services, including innovative ways to improve accessibility and wheelchair seating configurations.
As a result of the new protocol, Pyramid management is briefings with before games to prepare and after games to learn from anything that could have gone smoother.
Ungar said that being prepared allows Pyramid management and staff to be much more adaptable when unexpected situations arise, such as overly crowded events.
Dozens of signs have been added to both the floor and concourse levels of the arena to make all wheelchair seating areas, entrances, exits and elevator locations easier to locate.
Ungar said those who designed the Pyramid had envisioned the blue ramp as the primary entrance for wheelchair users, but it is certainly not ideal because of how steep it is. Signs were placed in the gold section to mark that as a wheelchair accessible entrance.
According to Ungar, achieving better accessibility at the Pyramid is something Pyramid management and DSS will continue to focus on.
“It’s frame of mind now — something that we are addressing and continuing to improve,” Ungar said.