November 30, 2015
With the completion of recent state-of-the-art renovations, the White House Visitor Center, which offers a unique window into the iconic home of the Presidents of The United States, now offers more accessibility options and technology. The National Park Service worked closely with the National Center for Accessibility to provide all visitors a fully accessible experience.
Included in the nearly 16,000 square foot remodeled space, is a new assistive technology system intended to provide a more immersive experience for visitors who have visual and hearing disabilities. The assistive system utilizes the DURATEQ handheld device, with proprietary Disney SyncLink™ technology. The system was developed and implemented by Softeq, a seasoned provider of software development services and solutions for the Internet of Things.
The DURATEQ assistive solution installed by Softeq enables all White House Visitor Center guests to seamlessly follow self-guided tours and learn about nearly 100 artifacts from the White House Collection, some for the first time on exhibit. Historic items on exhibit include President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Desk and an Eagle Finial that topped the White House flagpole in the late 19th Century. The indoor tour starts following check-out of the DURATEQ device at the Visitor Center desk. Placement of infrared (IR) emitters in proximity to each major exhibit in the Visitor Center allows automatic triggering of pre-recorded audio description content on the DURATEQ handhelds. As visitors follow the tour around interactive exhibits and tactile elements, the DURATEQ handheld device allows visitors to hear detailed content about these areas without the need of pressing additional buttons or entering codes. The description of the tactile building layout maps located in the pull out drawers under the large scaled model of the White House, is one example of audio described content exclusively found on the DURATEQ device.
“We were honored to have the opportunity to provide our Durateq assistive technology solution to support the efforts of the White House Visitor Center in extending accessibility for visitors of all abilities,” noted Paul Fruia, VP Engineering of Softeq Development Corporation.
About White House Visitor Center
The White House Visitor Center first opened in March 1995. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, ticket distribution for White House tours was moved to Congressional offices and embassies. No longer a center for ticket distribution, the White House Visitor Center evolved to serve visitor’s education and informational needs. As time passed, the static exhibits became outdated and, in the late 2000’s, planning began for a new facility that would include engaging and interactive exhibits. There are six permanent exhibits, along with other exhibits, which change throughout the year. Visitors can shop at the White House Historical Association bookstore and watch a short film in the theater. Admission is free for both President’s Park and the White House Visitor Center. For more information, please visit http://www.nps.gov/whho/index.htm.