World Braille Day Making Travel More Accessible

The tactile maps describing monuments and Braille maps at railway stations are a step in the right direction
A woman reads a Braille plaque describing a tourist site in Cyprus                             Credit Light Field Studios / Shutterstock
A woman reads a Braille plaque describing a tourist site in Cyprus Credit Light Field Studios / Shutterstock

The United Nations has been commemorating World Braille Day (January 4) since 2019. It reiterates the role Braille plays as a form of communication for the visually impaired, and also marks the birth anniversary of Louis Braille, who was born on January 4, 1809.

Braille, and other tactile props, are being used to increase accessibility and reduce barriers to travel. For instance, Braille guides at railway stations and airports, and at monuments. Though a lot more needs to be done, here's a look at some of the ways Braille is making a difference. 

Signage and Maps At Railway Stations

Indian Railways has introduced Braille signs and maps at several railway stations. Braille navigation maps have been installed at Dehradun, Coimbatore, Bhopal, Chennai and Egmore stations. These help the visually-impaired to navigate stations, access ticket counters, toilets, drinking water taps, waiting rooms, and more. 

Tactile Maps At Monuments

Information pertaining to monuments in the Braille script has been put up at several monuments and public spaces in Delhi. For instance, at the Safdarjung Tomb, and at the Old Fort complex. These are special tactile maps that the blind can touch-sense and get to know the location of the various places around. In the Lodi Road area, there are special walls with tactile miniature monuments carved on them which the visually-impaired can touch and know about the shape of the monuments.

Describing A Stunning View

In August 2021, the news of a railing installed at the top of the Castel Sant&rsquoElmo (St Elmo Castle) in Naples, Italy, was doing the rounds of social media. The star-shaped 14th&nbspcentury castle located on a hill-top offers an amazing view of the city of Naples and the bay. The metal railing around the gazebo describes the view for the visually impaired. It also contains quotations from poet Giuseppe de Lorenzo&rsquos La Terra e L&rsquouomo (The Land and The Man) written in Italian and English, as well as that of other authors. 

Exploring Museums Better

Braille is also being used in museums to make the world of art more accesible. With labels, signs, and text in Braille, musuems are describing objects for the visually impaired. For a transcontinental exhibition, Delhi's National Museum had made many tactile items which people could touch and feel in a bid make the experience a more inclusive and barrier-free.

Comfortable Stays In Hotels

Many hotels have adapted their spaces to meet the needs of visually impaired people. Their interiors often include Braille lift buttons and signs, Braille documents,&nbsplifts with Braille controls and voice notifications 

A Support Network For The Visually Impaired

The Blind Travelers Network&nbsphas many tips and advice on their blogs written by visually impaired (and those with low vision) including a column on orientation and mobility. They also review resorts, cruise ships, museums, theme parks, restaurants, and other places. You can ask questions and get information you need. 

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