Braille Trail is a South African first for the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden
Enjoying the beauty of South Africa’s biodiversity should not a privilege enjoyed only by those without disabilities
The Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden in Worcester has opened its Braille Trail: the first of its kind in South Africa and a universally accessible 154m route in the heart of the national botanical garden that allows persons with disabilities – and not only persons with visual impairments – to enjoy the unique beauty of South Africa’s arid and semi-arid flora.
The garden marked the closing of Tourism Month by officially opening the Braille Trail on Friday, September 30, 2022.
The Braille Trail features a variety of specimens that either have a beautiful fragrance, interesting texture or both. Visitors are invited to handle the plants that are displayed in raised beds so they are easy to access. The trail features comprehensive Braille signage; is wheelchair accessible, offers an audio guide; and includes an interactive exhibition of the common rocks of the Karoo so that visitors may touch, feel and learn more about them.
Says Lize Labuscagne, environmental interpretation officer at the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden: “The Karoo is home to some of the most spectacular plants on earth. It’s high time that everybody – whether with a disability or not – enjoys this natural splendour, learns more about the unique Karoo biome and how vulnerable and beautiful it is.”
Worcester is the care capital of South Africa. The Pioneer School for the Blind and the Innovation Centre for the Blind are both located in the town. Both entities invest significantly in empowering persons with disabilities for self-sufficiency and independence. The Braille Trail in the national botanical garden is evidence of the garden’s endorsement of their work.
“All persons have a right to enjoy and engage with the biodiversity of South Africa. It’s not a privilege that should be accessible only to persons without disabilities,” Lize says.
Although the Braille Trail has been in the pipeline since 2014, lack of money presented a hurdle to its completion. The fact that it is now complete and open is thanks to support from various organisations and investors who share the universal accessibility conviction of the SA National Biodiversity Institute. These investors and partners include Worcester’s Pioneer School, North West University and its Byderhand project, the Cape Winelands Municipality, Worcester Tourism, the Botanical Society of South Africa and the Rowland & Leta Hill Trust.
The succulent collection is a precious treasure at the garden, says Angelo Heyns, marketing coordinator at the Karoo Desert national botanical garden. “However, this garden is also the perfect place to view the spectacular late winter Karoo desert daisy extravaganza and the stunning show that the vygies put on this time of year. It’s home to nearly 100 bird species, three species of tortoise and the charming little Grysbokkie.”
Lize says the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden welcomes thousands of visitors each year. She and her colleagues now look forward to counting more persons with disabilities in that number.
Find the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden in Roux Rd in Worcester. Visit https://www.sanbi.org/gardens/karoo-desert/ for more information on the garden and its Braille Trail.
Issued by Flow Communications for the SA Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
Edwin Reichel, Flow Communications 082 558 3645 firstname.lastname@example.org