1. Gymnasium: how many courts/bleachers/locker facilities does it have:
The Gymnasium is a full-size gymnasium with volleyball, basketball, and shuffleboard lines painted in the floor, and under floor supports for the 2 volleyball nets. There are two corner storage areas for tables, with shelves for other storage (sports equipment, seasonal decorations, supplies). We have a large stage in the center as the Deaf community is very visual and an upraised stage is necessary for everyone to see the workshop presenters, plays, presentations, etc., and has a built-in P.A. system for those who are hard of hearing or hearing. There is a storage area behind the stage which is very handy. We have recently installed locking cabinets in there to allow organizations to store items they use often at the Center, and an unlocked open area to store large displays, etc.
We have overhead gas lights for sport lighting, electric lighting around the perimeter. We have recently added a strobe light system with switches near the doors and the stage. Deaf people flash the lights to get people’s attention and we found it was shorting out our halogen lights so we recently installed a separate flashing system to get attention with amber strobe lights. Our fire alarm system has white strobe lights and our doorbell system has blue strobe lights. The seating capacity is 500 with tables, 700 without tables. We have a variety of tables which fold, on rollers which come in quite handy. Round tables seating 8 for break-out sessions or meals, and rectangular for serving food, registration or other conference needs. The bleachers seat about 200 people, and we have about 300 folding chairs. The Locker Rooms to the side of the stage have two toilet stalls for women, one stall and one urinal for men, one large shower stall with 4 heads, and one handicapped stall with seat, rails and shower curtain, sink with electrical outlet and large mirror. There are about 3 sets of lockers, each one has 8 lockers in it, and two benches.
2. Do you have a separate theater, or a large meeting space for showing movies?
We have two areas: (1) Gym stage has a built-in screen which can be seen through most of the Gym we use for large groups. We have a portable MMP (MultiMedia Projector) however a built-in version would be helpful. (2) Our newly constructed wing includes a Lecture Hall complete with screen, lighting with control to dim all around for various types of lighting, and spotlighting for interpreters and presenters, built-in MMP, satellite connection, Comtek sound system (assistive technology for hard of hearing), microphone/P.A. for the hearing, DVD, VCR, and closed caption decoder. Built-in theater-type seating with swing-out table top seats about 78 (sloped towards the stage in flat @ 4′ deep increments), with area at the back row (@ 6′) for either breakout tables, seating for handicapped participants, or additional seating with portable chairs seating about another 40 people. We kept ours small for cost factor and had a hard time justifying the need for a large Lecture Hall. One thing we didn’t include is some storage for chairs, easels, TV’s, or a “green room” type area that would be helpful in a best-case scenario. We had to cut ours due to cost. We also have data and voice jacks in the floor in three spots at the front of the stage (center, right, left), under the first row chair (for secretary to take notes or for computer connection for MMP) and a couple of rows back. There is a microphone/P.A. connection at the front of the stage, side, under the first row chair, and a couple of rows back as well.
3. Does the center have a catering type kitchen?
Yes, we do, but it was justified as a teaching tool and an accessory for accommodating large groups to reduce isolation, not just a luxury. We have cooking classes as we have found many people lack sanitary and food preparation skills. Our classes have included canning, bread making, juice making, use of seasonal fruits and vegetables, health benefits, measurements, proper cooking techniques, and cost-saving benefits as well. Our Independent Living staff also work one-on-one with clients with severe lack of food preparation skills for either parenting, or self care. We have a mirror mounted over the island and a round table seating 8 for class participants. (Our staff also use the refrigerator and table for lunches.) It has two microwaves, full-size refrigerator, upright freezer, washer/dryer unit, large “catering” sinks as well as a small sink for food preparation, dish rinse, as well as a hand washing sink. We have a window from the kitchen to the Gym for food pass-through. Lots of cabinets and a storage closet. Also have juice machines, bread making machines, tablecloths, silverware, convection oven (counter top), built-in range, and stove. I would recommend adding an ice machine if you can (we have ours in our mechanical area).
4. How many meeting/training rooms does the center have?
When the facility was built in 1992 we had a conference room with a LARGE oak octagon-shaped table with screen and white board at one end, data/phone jacks at two sides, and added a TV/VCR cart later on (which I suggest you have built-in), and a storage closet (for assistive technology, etc.) We also had two classrooms, one seating about 15-20, the other seating about 30, then the Gym could be used for conferences, and a Lounge which has a pool table, overstuffed couches, chairs and end tables, large screen TV with decoder and large stereo speakers, a small kitchen-ette with sink, under counter refrigerator, and microwave. This room was sometimes used for meetings, but was also used for babysitting, teenagers, and other social gatherings. As our programs grew, we ended up consuming the smaller classroom for office space, then went back to the Legislature for money for a new wing. The wing has one large room with 8 cubicles, 4 private offices across the hall, a mechanical room, bathrooms, the Lecture Hall and Classroom B & C. Classroom B is in the corner and seats about 40, Classroom C is next door and seats about 20, with a folding divider wall so the rooms can be combined. Each room has a white board at the end, we are adding built-in TV/VCRs, cabinets and counter top along one side. Portable tables, and about every 10′ a built-in floor mounted data and telephone jack. The room is equipped with a Comtek microphone system and combination P.A. system with speakers mounted in the ceiling. The lights can be dimmed on either side, with perimeter “spot” lighting for the presenter and interpreter area.
The old classroom we started to consume for office space ended up being remodeled for a Certification Lab. Our Division has the responsibility of certifying interpreters for the Deaf. We do this through video tape and needed a private, quiet room with video camera and blue background wall. We also needed a secure locking storage closet for all of the testing and practice videos. Also in the new wing we added a Certification storage area for all the expensive cameras, VCR’s, and other equipment that occasionally tended to disappear from the more accessible storage areas.
5. Are all your offices located in one area, or are counseling services separated from educational/training staff?
Currently the majority of our offices are located in two wings we jokingly refer to as the “east wing” and the “west wing.” This is not ideal. In my opinion the offices should all be centrally located with one work room, and separate from the common areas, class rooms, Gym, Lounge and kitchen. Our initial construction costs were too high, and our former Administrator chose to remove offices rather than cut down the size of the Gym as adding offices are much easier to justify than expanding the size of the Gym. The Deaf community of Utah really cherishes its large Gym and takes sport activities very seriously (although that’s hard to justify to the Legislature). One problem we have, you have to pass through offices to get to some common areas and this creates a problem for some staff for constant interruption when activities are held during office hours, or for confidentiality and need for no disruption for mental health counselor and VR counselor. I would recommend the mental health counselor be located at a place where individuals do not have to parade past offices or large open areas to come or go. It may be better to separate counseling offices and exit from the community-use areas.
Currently our mental health counselors have the offices at the end of a hall. Their clients have to enter the lobby and traipse down the long hallway of offices to counseling offices, however there is an exit door right around the corner so they can at least leave without being noticed. We are lucky to have private offices for many of our staff. Although often higher level staff have private offices and their staff often have cubicles, the way ours is set up is the cubicles are so far away, many secretaries have private offices near their program heads and the other staff in other programs share the cubicles in the east wing. I would suggest perhaps a large square with private offices banking the outside wall, and cubicles in the center. As a secretary, I also support having a window near the door of the private offices allowing the secretary to know when the boss is available, and also to see a little daylight from the outside world from time to time. However, our wing system has created two courtyards in between the wings which have been used for weddings and wedding pictures, staff pictures, social gatherings, and refreshment breaks for workshops.
6. Do certain parts of your facility stay open for extended hours?
Our office operating hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm M-F, but the Center’s hours are 8:00 am to 10:00 pm Tuesday through Saturday. Although the offices lock for evening activities, daytime activities are disruptive to staff. If a staff member stays late or comes in on Saturday, we find individuals walking around in areas where they shouldn’t be. I would suggest the offices be kept separate, perhaps with a hallway locking door.
7. Does the center have:
a computer/assistive devices training lab?
We had a library full of old stuff. Since it was old and we were in need of office space, space for an Interpreter Training Lab…we re-installed the built-in shelves in our Lounge and we are calling that our Library. We are starting to order new books and videos. We have recently installed new built-in cabinets in our Lounge. We plan to add glass doors to prevent items from disappearing. We have an intern coming soon to help us organize the Library. It is a needed resource.
Bookstore: The “Bookstore” is operated by the Utah Association for the Deaf, Inc. who rents the space from us. Currently there is no other known retailer of sign videos, TTY’s, assistive listening devices, T-shirts and jewelry, phone and doorbell flashing devices, etc. Since we are a state agency, we do not sell anything. We simply provide the space as a service to our consumers.
Computer/Assistive Device Training Lab: We have both. Along with other remodeling with the construction of the new wing have created a Demo Lab which we intend to have all sorts of devices for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals to educate about devices available, or test equipment prior to purchase. We also have a computer in a locking cabinet in the Lounge room, and 4 computers in small cubicles in the rear of one of our classrooms. All have network access for surfing the Net or printing on our printers. A classroom full of computers in an educational seating arrangement with a built-in MMP would be more ideal.
Another service we provide which you haven’t mentioned is a TTY Shop. We repair TTY’s, decoders, baby cry devices, and our technician will even attempt to solder hearing aids, etc. We provide the parts which commonly give out up to a price of about $25 per TTY…repairs costing more than that or which should be covered under warranty, we assist the client to mail them to the manufacturer for repair. We provide this service (his salary) free of charge to the community. He also installs assistive devices such as doorbell flasher systems in people’s homes, or will visit homes (or businesses) to determine problems with TTY’s that have been checked at our offices and work fine, but are still having problems at their location.
8. Any “wishlist” type spaces you can think of?
With all we have, could you possibly want anything else? Since we just completed our wing, we’ve yet had time to think of more. Storage, storage, storage.
Additional parking would be nice, we lost our outdoor volleyball pit due to the new wing, an outdoor playground is helpful to entertain children of deaf adults or children who are Deaf or hard of hearing to attend events with their parents. Our maintenance man has created a “horseshoe” pit under a group of trees which the seniors enjoy playing, and we have a small softball field…a full-size softball field would be more desirable as our neighbors don’t like the balls flying towards their houses and people retrieving them from their yards.
The Certification Lab is great if your Division has responsibility for certifying interpreters for the Deaf, and our Interpreter Training Lab is a great resource for interpreters to improve their skills. The Interpreter Training Lab has about 8 stations set up in cubicles, each with a small TV, camera, VCR, audio cassette recorder, headphones with microphone. There is a switcher system which allows the Teacher/Mentor to either send audio or video to all stations, or allow them to work on their own (and the teacher can tap in to see or hear them without the student knowing when the teacher is looking). We also developed a call button system to summon the teacher’s assistance when there are questions.
We’re also developing rural training services through video conferencing. We have recently purchased equipment to place a hub unit in our facility with video conferencing units in 3 areas throughout our state in the near future. These units can be used for educational classes for individuals or small rural groups, for interpreter training/mentoring, and for mental health counseling.
9. Any adjacency relationships of spaces that work well or do not work well?
The kitchen near the Gym works well, and bathrooms that are accessible to the large meeting areas to accommodate the hundred(s) of people all going to the bathroom at the same time during breaks. Suggest water fountain near the Gym. Outdoor access near the kitchen and Gym for ease of loading food or other supplies, VR counselor near the Independent Living Counselors, Certification Lab and Mental Health Counselor away from noise and peering eyes, INDIRECT lighting (glare is our enemy), built-in assistive listening devices in all meeting rooms, ADA accessibility (also serve people with multiple disabilities in wheelchairs, deaf-blind, etc.) locking storage cabinet areas for the community to use near the common areas, courtesy phone with TTY where receptionist can see (or in some locking-type or secure storage system so the TTY remains safe). Separate air conditioning system for Gym from offices. Strategically placed benches for people to sit and chat. Wide hallways (seems people always stand and chat in the hallway). Case management/mental health counseling area separate from community access areas to offer privacy to visit counselors, perhaps separate exit by counseling offices.
Best of luck to you! Any more questions, let us know.