Accessible Practices Exchange
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Protruding Objects

An exhibit with an overhang projecting at head height has a protective skirt around its base. 
This photo shows how we added a barrier around the base of an exhibit to make it detectable to a long cane user. We had placed the exhibit against the wall, to prevent visually impaired visitors from bumping their heads, but a run-through with someone who uses a cane showed that to be inadequate. The protective skirt was then installed. This experience reminded us that only users - those people we are hoping to accommodate - can judge an accommodation, whether exhibit component or architectural element. Betty, Boston


Woman approaching tent rope and anchor. As I walk, I use a cane to detect protruding objects. This photo shows how ropes holding up a tent at an outdoor event are unsafe. I rely on event managers to keep the area free of both low-hanging objects and tripping hazards. Carol, Maryland


Glass display case. When we measured, we saw right off that this glass display case protrudes more than four inches from the wall and it's located in route to rest rooms. As a temporary measure, we will put two potted plants, one on either side. R, Minnesota


Man approaching box on wall. This photo shows the need to constantly check for protruding objects in the path of travel. In this case, the protruding object is a metal box located to the left of the entrance to the gift shop. The box protrudes more than 4 inches from the wall and is located more than 27 inches above the floor. It's a sure hazard for someone rounding the corner. Also, the shot points out the need to check for sharp edges and for electrical cords and outlets. Sally, Washington, D.C.


Large puzzle pieces on the floor. We found this potential tripping hazard on our survey. Also, as we thought about it more, our asking visitors to use the floor to put together puzzle pieces excludes kids and parents who use wheelchairs or have mobility impairments. C, California


The two illustrations that follow show what to pay attention to in order to avoid display cases and pedestals from becoming protruding objects. The illustrations were taken from the print version of the Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design, a document produced by Jan Majewski, former coordinator of SI's Accessibility Program. The text, minus illustrations, is online. Measurements are given in inches and millimeters. Sally, Washington, D.C.

Woman in wheelchair at display case. Maintaining case at 27 inches above the floor provides both cane detection and knee space for wheelchair users.

Keeping the case as shallow as possible allows most visitors to see objects up close.


Display cases of appropriate heights.

Case heights for accessible viewing.

Display cases on walls should not jut out more than 4 inches from the wall. Also, avoid sharp angles, corners, and edges.


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