Tactile models and visitor flows: Test laboratory for a barrier-free book fair encourages visitors to participate
No steps or kerbs, but tactile models and large writing (also at eye level) instead – in the “test lab” for inclusive design of the research project “Frankfurter Buchmesse for All” (Hall 3.0 K 83), visitors to the Frankfurter Buchmesse (10-14 October 2018) can learn about concepts for reducing barriers at the book fair, explore an almost barrier-free stand design and give feedback. The aim of the research project “Frankfurter Buchmesse for All”, which was launched in 2017 by Frankfurter Buchmesse and Technische Universität (Technical University – TU) Darmstadt, is to improve the accessibility of the book fair for all visitors.
At the stand in Hall 3.0 the Urban Health Games research group of the TU Darmstadt will present the results of the project to date. These include not only a barrier-free stand design, but also concepts developed by the project team to reduce barriers on the exhibition grounds, including changes to the navigation concept and guidance system as well as to how visitor flows are directed. In addition, at the stand, visitors can experience the perspective of a blind person navigating the exhibition grounds. A wheelchair invites visitors to shift perspective yet again, discovering what it feels like to be a mobility-impaired person visiting the fair. The test lab is connected to an almost barrier-free café, which offers, amongst other things, a low counter, wheelchair accessible tables, parking for prams and room for children to play. Exhibitors, trade visitors and visitors at the book fair weekend are invited to provide feedback via a questionnaire about the accessibility of the spaces and content at the stand, to be taken into account for the project's analysis. At 2 pm on the Saturday and Sunday of the book fair (13 and 14 October), students from the TU Darmstadt will present their concepts for a barrier-free fair.
The joint research project with the goal of moving towards a barrier-free book fair was launched in 2017. The first phase of the project focused on three visitor groups: mobility-impaired and visually impaired visitors, and families visiting the fair with their children. Measures to improve access and usability that have already been implemented in 2018 include a new website that is easier to read on reading devices, as well as improved signage. At this year’s fair, additional measures will be tested: In Hall 3.0 there will be a corridor that is five-metres wide in places. Moreover, a circular pathway in the hall and the corridors leading to the open-air exhibition grounds will be marked with red carpeting to examine what effect these changes have on visitor flows.
Gabi Rauch-Kneer, Vice President Exhibition Management at Frankfurter Buchmesse, says: “Thousands of visitors come to Frankfurter Buchmesse each year. As the organisers of this major event, we want all culture lovers to be able to participate. It’s important to us to create a book fair that is as barrier-free as possible, so that people with disabilities and special needs also enjoy coming here.” Rauch-Kneer continues, “We launched the project with the TU Darmstadt in 2017. While we know we still have a long way to go, it’s good to see that ‘Frankfurter Buchmesse for All’ has already had an impact: Our new website and improved signage will make it easier for this year’s visitors to access information and the exhibition halls. With the help of the test lab, we will explore other possibilities to continue to reduce barriers at the fair.”
Regarding the second test phase of the project, professor Martin Knöll, Head of the Urban Health Games research group at the TU Darmstadt, says: “Based on our analyses with visitors in 2017 we developed the following four action areas to remove barriers at the book fair: Doubling the Via walkway, guidance system 2.0, spatial expertise and conveying one information through different media at the same time. For example, we are testing how opening another passage from the main entrance to the Agora might improve visitors’ ability to find their way around the exhibition grounds.” Prof Knöll adds, “During the test phase, these measures will be integrated into business as usual at the fair: This will allow us to observe how visitors respond to the new options. In the test lab in Hall 3.0, all of the action areas will be presented and ‘smaller’ measures, such as tactile models, corridor widths and a floor guidance system, will be made into prototypes. This will allow us to ask visitors concrete questions such as: What works well? What’s still missing, in your opinion? The data we gather in this way are doubly valuable: To date, there are few systematic findings in the research on barrier-free design from such large-scale events. Moreover, as part of this research partnership, we are creating a basis for deciding which measures can be implemented on a larger scale in the future.”
Invitation: press talk
Media representatives are invited to the press talk on Friday, 12 October, at 11.30 am in the test laboratory (Hall 3.0 K 83). Here, Gabi Rauch-Kneer, Vice President Exhibition Management at Frankfurter Buchmesse, and Prof Martin Knöll, Head of the Urban Health Games research group at the TU Darmstadt, will offer insights into the project and provide details about the test laboratory. They will also be available for interviews.
The hashtag of the project Frankfurter Buchmesse for All is #fbmforall
Click here to download the project logo:
Research group Urban Health Games
Researchers who are part of the project team "Frankfurter Buchmesse for All":
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Knöll
a.o.Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sabine Hopp
M.Sc. Norwina Wölfel
Dipl.-Ing., M.A. Thorsten Stelter