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Gallaudet U Upgrades Computer Lab for Accessibility

Gallaudet University, an institution for deaf and hard of hearing students in Washington DC, recently completed a makeover of its Harkins Digital Learning Center. The upgraded space, designed to meet the unique needs of the student body, includes new conference tables, motorized iMac tables, flip-top tables, and laptop tables.

Gallaudet U's Technology Services Team worked with SmartDesks, a Hibernia, NJ-based manufacturer of computer furniture, on the redesign project.

The university's plan for the computer lab included creating more open space and stations for both group work and individual study. While the previous design featured booths and rows of rectangular computer tables, the new space includes broad aisles, which conform to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations, as well as triangular Collab computer conference room tables and iMac computer desks. The conference tables, featuring 18-inch pop-up power and data port, support group collaboration. The iMac desks afford privacy for students that need personal work space.

The center's raised access floor houses the cables that supply the power and data to the computing tables. Connection boxes mounted on the iMac desks—behind the screens—provide access to power and data for users at those stations.

A set of Nesta computer tables, placed in front of the glass wall in the lab, enable students to work while standing up. The rectangular tables, with flip-top work surface, come with casters and data and power connection box.

Next to the Nesta tables are a Cirrus Series tables. The motorized tables, featuring adjustable height capability, are often used as computer podiums, according to a statement from SmartDesks. The tables adjust with the touch of a button and heights can be "stored in memory to accommodate those who return on a routine basis."

The center's teleconferencing suite was included in the redesign. The room's U-shape table was replaced by a SmartDesks Piano5 conference table. The triangular table includes built-in wire management as well as six flipIT laptop safes to store the school's MacBooks when not in use. The notebooks stay connected to the table's power and data source when in use or when stowed, according to the company.

Project team members from Gallaudet U and SmartDesks used SmartDesks' Design Cloud to collaborate and communicate about the project. The platform allowed the teams to discuss ideas, share documents, and review drawings throughout the design process.

About the Author

Kanoe Namahoe is online editor for 1105 Media's Education Group. She can be reached at knamahoe@1105media.com.

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