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First Braille Brochure for SANParks

11 December 2007

SANParks Northern Region (Mapungubwe, Marakele and Golden Gate) has published SANParks first ever braille brochure for visually impaired visitors.

"This is an attempt to open access to our parksto all South Africans by providing information regardless of personal disabilities" explains the region's Marketing Manager, Priya Mudramuthoo.

The translation, editing and proof reading of the brochure was done by the Blind Society of South Africa. "We are hoping to continue such efforts next year by compiling videos that would include sign language interpretations to continue to cater for smaller, special needs communities in South Africa and from abroad" continues Mudramuthoo.

Visually impaired travellers are a market that has traditionally been under provided for, not just in SANParks, but everywhere around the globe. SANParks has in the past made special allowance for blind people reliant on guide dogs to overcome the necessary restrictions on bringing domesticated animals into the parks to do so, and there are two or three trail facilities in the parks where guide-ropes and Braille sign-boards are targeted specifically for visually impaired guests. But hopefully this level of specialised direct marketing will help make the National Parks more receptive to unsighted people, who it is maintained get a large level of self fulfilment from being able to hear, smell and feel the senses that purvey outdoor wilderness areas, despite not being able to “see” in the conventional sense of the word.

SANParks has an good track record when it comes to providing universal access to its facilities and would like to be considered accessible to all people regardless of their mental, sensory or physical capabilities. As such a number of opportunitiesexist forthose people with special requirements - and providing this braille brochure adds to that variety.

"Most of the camps and visitor destinations in all of the parks provide ramped access and accessible ablution facilities"says Chris Patton, Strategic Projects Manager for SANParks, " and furthermore there are 86units throughout SANParks thathave been adapted for use by the mobility impaired which will provide a comfortable stayforpeople in wheelchairs, on crutches, with prams, with frailty or reduced energy levels".

There are also activities, such as the Karoo Fossil Trail, Addo's PPC Discovery Trail, the Silvermine Boardwalk at Table Mountain National Park, among others, for people with special needs.

"We would like to thank Chris Patton and the Eco-Access Association for assisting us with vital contacts to ensure that this pilot project takes off", concludes Mudramutoo, "and encourage all South Africans and visitors from abroad to come and enjoy what the Northern Region, and SANParks,can offer".