Brazil has launched a set of unique projects based on sensory experiences aimed at visually impaired tourists, reports Tourism Review. Sensory tourism allows people with visual impairments to enjoy attractions through other senses such as touch or smell. It is a concept Brazil’s Tourism Ministry has been working on in several of its most iconic cities. The Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro, for example, invites visitors to experience the textures and aromas of plants such as orchids and herbs. Every second week, Brasilia Zoo offers walks for groups of up to 15 people, where visitors are allowed to touch the animals. Tour itineraries linked to coffee and the taste and aroma of traditional drinks have also been piloted in Araguari in the State of Minas Gerais. Visually impaired visitors experience the stages of coffee production: harvesting, drying yards, pulped coffee, the bean selection process, the levels of roasting, and even tasting the quality of the drink.
São Paulo’s Pinacoteca Museum allows 12 bronze sculptures that are part of the museum’s collection to be touched. Size, shape, texture and aesthetic diversity facilitate understanding and appreciation of these artistic works when felt with hands. The selection of works took into account recommendations by the people with visual disabilities. There are also projects aimed at facilitating access to beaches in Pernambuco, Río de Janeiro, Alagoas, São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul. These sites make provision for equipment such as mechanical belts or amphibious chairs, and also promote activities like sitting volleyball and an adaptation of traditional bowling.
Rosangela Barqueiro, who is part of the Brazilian Association for Assistance of the Visually Impaired, says that minor adaptations are all that is needed in order to include the visually impaired in tourism. Barqueiro pointed out that the training of guides and assistants to deal with visually impaired visitors can solve most of the problems in this segment. Also helpful is the provision of audio descriptions and texts in Braille.
For its part, the Tourism Ministry has created the Acessível Tourism website in collaboration with the Human Rights Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic and the National Council on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CONADE). On the website you can check the accessibility of tourist sites, hotels, restaurants and various attractions in Brazil. Users can also suggest new facilities or places of interest which will help people with disabilities or reduced mobility to travel around the country with greater independence. This initiative, which is also available on a Smartphone app, won last year’s National Prize for Web Accessibility.
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