David Griffin paced The Hall at Patriot Place with his eyes gazing upward. Griffin, who is a teacher and director of the PAVE (Partnership of Academic and Vocational Excellence) Program at Foxborough High School, toured the new Patriots and New England football museum with a group of his students recently. On this occasion, Griffin, himself, felt like a kid.
Though Griffin ultimately conceded that this particular field trip was all about the kids, he added “I get a kick out of these trips, too.”
“On my first day, I had to teach a student who was deaf and blind to swim,” Griffin paused, “I was scared at first, but it also opened my eyes.”
During his life’s work in education, Griffin has come to find that his students, who have a wide scope of intellectual disabilities, excel while engaged, particularly through interactive learning,
The Hall provided the perfect playground.
“You can see it on their faces when they’re really grasping something,” Griffin said. “They’re all very in tune with history. They remember all the records and who won the games, who lost. This was just the perfect setting.
“When the other group came back, they couldn’t stop talking about it. Before they came, it was like Christmastime; they couldn’t sleep the night before.”
Galanti said the student’s ability to interact with The Hall’s exhibits was the highlight.
“They really enjoyed the interactive touch-screen exhibits and the high school football display,” added Galanti, who’d taken a separate group of students before Griffin’s trip. “It was interesting to watch them go through the exhibits and what each of them picked up on.”
The Hall’s array of interactive exhibits can be enjoyed by all, thanks to a concerted effort to make The Hall accessible to all of its visitors. While the facility boasts cutting-edge technology throughout its gallery, perhaps the most impressive technology helps bring the experience to life for disabled visitors.
“We really try to push a little bit with each project,” said Kevin McGuire, ADA Accessibility consultant for The Kraft Group. “We come into every project thinking that we can always do a little bit more, and that’s true. But I think the Kraft family can be really proud of what they’ve created here.”
Among the items that McGuire and Kraft Group Design and Construction Manager Kevin Luczkow looked to address while planning for The Hall was helping to enhance the experience for visual and hearing impaired visitors.
The ensuing project teamed technology systems integrator Softeq Development Ltd. and WGBH’s Media Access Group. Using Softeq’s Durateq mobile platform, which looks like a more rugged version of a typical PDA, and its ALICE (Assistive Listening and Captioning Engine) technology, audio description, assistive listening and closed captioning for The Hall’s exhibits are contained in hand-held form.
The Durateq technology was first employed at Disney World’s theme parks, but The Hall is the first New England site and the first museum setting where it has been integrated
The Hall was equipped with 42 infrared and FM radio band transmitters to create a seamless environment for the visitor throughout the facility. The transmitters trigger signals to the device to provide added volume to particular sections, assist in closed captioning and provide audio environmental description to exhibits that are interactive in nature.
Ultimately, the high technology blends together to create an experience that can truly be enjoyed by all: a main focus of The Hall project.
“I don’t think it’ll hit me until I’m in there and, for the first time, I get to see that child getting to hear about that particular because of the device, when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to,” Luczkow said. “That will bring a smile to my face. That’s when I’ll know that all the work paid off.”
Griffin can attest.
“Obviously, I want everybody to treat them they that they would want to be treated,” he said. “That’s all I can hope for them. We try to give them experiences that any other kid would have. Hopefully, with the program, we can try to give them a sense of autonomy and independence. They’re amazing because they teach me a lot of things about life every day.
“Coming here today, it’s just a nice experience for all of us.”