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A new way of seeing the North Metro Rail Line

On any given day, the public information team receives requests to present information on the North Metro Rail Line to community groups, HOAs, City Councils, etc. The request I received on April 13 was no different. The National Federation of the Blind, North Metro Chapter, asked if someone from our team could present information about the rail line to their group.

As I talked to Mary, the point person for the group, I ran down my checklist of items I needed before I could schedule the presentation. This helps with preparation, finding out how many people will be in attendance—to bring enough handouts. What kind of information they are looking for—is it a North Metro Line update or all new information to them? Do they have equipment I can use to present such as a laptop and projector to display visuals? My standard checklist didn’t quite fit with this group, however.

“Ms. Smith, the presentation will be held at my house, and I’m not sure a visual presentation would be best for the group. Most of us are visually impaired. Big, big print would be best, and anything in braille would be helpful to the group,” Mary said.

Stopping in my tracks, I found myself looking left, then right. I realized I could no longer follow my checklist. Rather, I had to think outside the normalcy of how I set up presentations, including the content of information I was to provide.

The North Metro Line Public Information team relies heavily on visual presentations showing people station design layouts, pictures of what the commuter trains will look like, schedules and other factoids. To accommodate the group I was presenting to, I developed a presentation with as big of text I could fit on each slide, printed out the presentation and brought about 10 copies with me thinking this would be a better alternative than displaying the information on a screen.

Mind you, my style of giving presentations is relatively formal and straight forward. But I quickly realized after making informal introductions, waiting for other members to arrive to begin their meeting, printed presentations for the group would not be enough. Again, I had to think outside my normalcy on how I present. This wasn’t going to be a formal presentation. It was going to be a descriptive conversation—one that you would have with a friend over dinner, where there were no pictures to show what you are discussing.

104th-Ave.-commuter-rail-station-map

Instead of showing the difference between a light rail train verses a commuter rail train, I had to describe it in detail. On a commuter rail train a passenger will board from the platform to the train, unlike a light rail train where a passenger boards from the platform, walks up steps on the train, and then is able to board. Instead of showing where a station on the North Metro Rail Line was located on a map, I had to describe where the station was located using direction. For example, the Thornton Crossroads at 104th Station is located just south of 104th and just west of Colorado Boulevard.

In an everyday occurrence, I don’t think to describe the North Metro Rail Line with the precise details I provided for members of the National Federation of the Blind, because I can use visuals to help provide supplemental information. Being able to present to this group was an intriguing encounter, allowing me to realize another aspect of transit that I only thought about, not actually experienced. This group truly helped me “see” the project in a new light, and I’m better for the experience.