How do you support visitors who cannot climb the stairs to the second floor of Oak Alley's antebellum mansion? Oak Alley now manages that with iPads and a video tour, funded in part by Entergy.
Oak Alley Foundation, in conjunction with Entergy, is pleased to announce the launch of ReachOUT!. This new project, aimed at ensuring all visitors have a memorable educational Oak Alley experience, will provide video iPads for those guests who are physically challenged, or who for other reasons would miss portions of the mansion’s guided visit.
Oak Alley Foundation, the non-profit Trust which preserves and maintains the antebellum mansion and historic grounds, holds education as one of its primary missions. Striving to meet that mission, it welcomes thousands of visitors per year--yet many have physical challenges which prevent them from the full experience offered at this National Historic Landmark.
A key component of the Oak Alley experience includes a guided visit of the plantation's mansion, the "Big House". This tour includes a second floor which, true to its 1800's design, is only accessible by stairwell, thus making it challenging for many guests to participate beyond the first floor.
"We surveyed our guests, and annually, nearly 2,000 are unable to traverse the stairs to the second floor," according to Zeb Mayhew, Executive Director. "We work hard to provide a great experience for all of our visitors, and we certainly don't want anyone to miss learning more of our fascinating history."
Previously, those who were unable to climb the stairs would remain on the first floor and read a book on the history of the plantation. While the book was considered helpful, it did not provide the same experience presented by Oak Alley's trained docents.
Mayhew also stated that with the grant assistance from Entergy, Gary Dauphin, Director of Technology, Education and Media Production at Oak Alley, designed and executed a video tour of the second floor, working closely with the Foundation's department of Research and Interpretation to ensure a quality and accurate video. This video has been loaded onto multiple iPads, ensuring that even on the most busy days, the video alternative will be available.
"The iPad is a perfect delivery platform for our guests," according to Dauphin. "The device is lightweight, durable, has a long battery life, and plays the video beautifully. And, thanks to the generosity of Entergy, we are able to provide four of these systems to our guests as needed."
When needed, an iPad is loaned to the guest in a protective case, including a pair of disposable earphones so that each person may set their own volume level. In keeping with their high standard of providing a personal and educational experience, a Docent will be available to both assist with the technology and answer any questions the guest might have. The iPads are available beginning today, for the "Big House’s" visitors.
We thank you, Entergy, for your support!