• Part of a roofline shows from one building. Trees with fall color leaves on them fill most of the photo. A lamp-post is near center of the photo.

    Harpers Ferry Center

Touched by Waysides at Gulf Islands

A park ranger seated in a wheelchair feels tactile bark elements on a wayside exhibit.The hurricanes of 2004 and 2005 pounded the 160-miles of coast at Gulf Islands National Seashore, damaging visitor centers and decimating the park's wayside exhibits. Harpers Ferry Center was on-site within months and contracted for over 250 waysides. The park-wide program included multiple orientation exhibits at key entry points and site-specific interpretation of the coastal ecosystems, the forts, and the history throughout the park. Some of the waysides have tactile elements and Braille.

With a commitment to reach visitors of all abilities, park staff challenged HFC to make the wayside exhibits fully accessible. Relief models and tactile maps were prototyped, reviewed by consultants from the National Center on Accessibility, and revamped to include their input. This process resulted in HFC Tactile Wayside Map Guidelines, which include fabrication requirements for contracted Braille.

As I've gotten out and viewed the new wayside panels and kiosks, I've been very impressed not only with the design and location of hardware, but with the high quality of the text, graphics and layouts.

Daniel Brown, Superintendent
Gulf Islands National Seashore

Click here to see a sampling of tactile waysides up-close


two wayside exhibits with maps on them are sitting along a path

A wayside exhibit entitled “Standing Tall� shows tree leaf photographs and tactile elements.

Mounted on a wooden boardwalk near a tidal creek, a low-profile wayside illustrates the birds, fish, and crabs that live in the surrounding salt marsh.

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