Stuck in an Elevator—Technology to the Rescue!

Tami Tidwell, DO-IT Staff

The pop television show, American Idol, may have made "text messaging" a household term, but the benefits of texting go well beyond casting votes for your favorite media darling. For example, while attending DO-IT's AccessCollege Team conference at a downtown Seattle hotel in February, DO-IT program manager Michael Richardson left his room on the tenth floor and hopped on the elevator for a ride to the lobby. He was in a chipper mood as he looked forward to meeting the participants of this conference, many of whom were disabled student service coordinators from colleges around the country. Then, disaster struck.

"I was singing to myself, as I always do when alone in an elevator, when I noticed that the elevator was moving much too slowly," Michael explained. "It then stopped between the third and fourth floors and went quiet." The elevator was dead. Michael pressed every button, jumped up and down, and prayed to a higher being to bring the elevator to life again. Nothing worked. The emergency call button was pressed, but it was very hard to discern what was being said by the hotel staff, due to poor sound quality and the fact that Michael is deaf and uses a cochlear implant. Michael tried calling me on his cell phone, but the signal strength was very poor, as was the sound quality.

Then Michael remembered the text messaging capability on his cell phone and, by using this technology, was able to get through to me and communicate that he was stuck in the elevator. Much to Michael's chagrin, little could be done to speed up the process of getting him sprung from the elevator, but messages from me kept him updated on the repairman's progress, which made being stuck much easier. New technology saved the day and started our collaborative meeting (see previous article) with a little extra excitement!