Dialing Wands

I was on a business trip down to D.C. this week, and at the hotel I saw something I had never seen before: elevator dialing wands. Every elevator panel, inside the car or at each elevator lobby, had an 18″ wooden dowel attached to a chain with a convenient velcro holder.

Obviously, they were intended for use with the elevator buttons… but why have them? My first thought was of The Simpsons episode where Homer becomes obese and is informed “We’re sorry; the fingers you have used to dial are too fat. If you would like to order a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now.”. That couldn’t possibly be the reason.

I asked what they were for at the front desk, and was informed it was for people in wheelchairs; I hadn’t noticed, but all of the panels were a bit on the high side, particularly in the lobbies where they were mounted above a large ashtray. I guess the hotel couldn’t be bothered to modernize all of its control panels to accessible standards (or they’re perfectly happy to be grandfathered in).

7 comments on “Dialing Wands
  1. irilyth says:

    I was going to guess that it was to slow the spread of elevator button transmitted disease.

  2. wayman says:

    OK, the first forty or so hits on Google were all Simpsons quote pages, and there’s nothing helpful in Google Images. What the heck is a dialing wand?

  3. Nicolas Ward says:

    It’s either a plastic rod or a painted wooden dowel, roughly finger-diametered (let’s say half an inch), and somewhere between a foot or two long. The idea being that, in our digital button-operated world, some buttons are just out of reach or too small to poke if you’re big boned. The latter is the usage in The Simpsons; the former is the reality for older pre-ADA regulation buildings.

  4. dukhat says:

    Dialing wands were first created for rotary phones. My friend has one. Dialing a rotary phone with one’s fingers puts more stress on the fingers than pushing any sort of touch tone system.

  5. Nicolas Ward says:

    /me has never used a rotary phone

  6. sildra says:

    I’m the tallest of the last three people to work on my experiment, but the guy who set it up years ago was over 6′ tall. There was one power supply, for our magnetic coils, that had to be turned on every day. Before we revamped the experiment, it was up so high that we had two foot-long optics posts screwed together, and we would use them to poke at the on-switch to turn the power supply on and off every day. Of course, standing on my toes I could (barely) reach the switch, but this had the added advantage that we could stand off to the side, and therefore not be in any danger of being hit by a laser beam (from another project in that room) that was strong enough to burn skin.

Nurd Up!