With our thoughts turning to the long school holidays, I, Dave, thought that I would write an Insight about Sightseeing from a blind person’s perspective. In last year’s VIDA Insight number 16, Going on Holiday - http://vidatraining.weebly.com/blog/16-going-on-holiday, I briefly touched upon how not being able to see the new surroundings, colours, etc makes holidays for me less enjoyable than when I could see.
Building on that Insight, an element of most holidays and day trips is ‘Sightseeing’; taking in the environment and looking at new things, be that buildings, statues, sculptures, etc. Clearly, if you have sight, then you can experience this just by looking at whatever you’re seeing, however, when you can’t see you miss out on the visual aspect – I’m pointing out the obvious, right?
However, there are ways in which a vision impaired person can enjoy the same to some degree. For example, you could do some research online before you go so that you know where you’re going or what you’re going to see and read about the history, etc. Alternatively, you could just ask the person who you go with to describe or read about it (only possible if you’re with someone). Another option would be to take advantage of some great apps and then find out more when you’re there.
Technology has really made living with a vision impairment so much more accessible; smart phones enable you to make calls, send texts and emails, use social media and browse the internet and much much more. There are many apps specifically for vision impaired people including some apps that are for identifying items or objects. TapTapSee, CamFind and iDentifi are 3 apps that come to mind and that I have on my phone. These apps allow you to take a photo of a two or three dimensional item from most angles and, using cloud based image recognition API technology, recognise it and tell you what it is. Some of these apps will then provide links to webpages where others will require you to use a web browser to find out more. These apps are particularly useful for statues and objects where it isn’t always obvious what they are.
Depending on where you’re visiting, there might be options for you to get a touch tour (a hands on experience) or the ability to use electronic audio guides. Museums and the larger places of interest usually have audio guides (often available in different languages) enabling you to walk around and listen to information about particular objects or rooms or the history of a place at your own leisure.
Another way, that doesn’t require the use of technology, is to book yourself on to a guided tour. I find these tours a great opportunity to find out about a new area without having to do the research in advance. I also find that the tour guides often know more about the local area and therefore you find out about some things that you wouldn’t necessarily find online. You don’t require sight for these (other than to follow the guide) so it’s more ‘Hearhearing’ than ‘Sightseeing’??
I’m not saying that Sightseeing is the same when you can’t see, what I’m saying is that there are other ways to appreciate something or somewhere new that don’t require sight.
For anyone interested in the apps I mentioned (might be useful for people with vision too), you can read more at:
TapTapSee – https://taptapseeapp.com/
CamFind – https://camfindapp.com/
iDentifi - https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/identifi-object-recognition-for-visually-impaired/id1135223189?mt=8
We’re always interested to know about other people’s experiences and thoughts. Please share these by commenting…
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Our VIDA Insights...
Following our experiences from delivering our Vision Impairment Awareness training days over the past couple of years, we know that there’s loads more that we could talk about and examples we could have shared. Whilst these won’t be a substitute for our training, they will give you an insight (hence the name!) into our thoughts, observations and experiences from each of our perspectives - Dave’s living with sight loss and Vicky’s from being a sighted person and working alongside and supporting people who have sight loss.