Zimbabwe first to cater for visually impaired tourists

Lookout Cafe top deck in Victoria Falls Braille material installed on the rails at Lookout Cafe Victoria Falls mayor (left) unveils braille plaque at Lookout Cafe with the help of Enock Mawema (centre)

from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) ZIMBABWE’S tourism facilities and heritage sites are installing braille material to cater for visually impaired members of the public.

The Southern African country is the first in the region to embark on such a rollout, which is aimed at promoting inclusiveness.

Lookout Café in the resort city of Victoria Falls is the first facility to install braille material.

Mobi Tech Smith Zimbabwe, a local organisation, came up with the initiative, which it envisions to spread extend and into Southern Africa.

The company has partnered the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe and on this project, the Wild Horizons Adventures, which owns Lookout Café and Love for Africa.

“This is an initiative to make facilities accessible for the visually impaired within all our national parks and monuments as well as iconic locations ,” said Enock Mawema, director of Mobi Tech Smith Zimbabwe.

He was speaking during the official unveiling of the braille facility on Wednesday.

“This is the first in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. We are the first to have implemented this project,” Mawema said proudly.

Lookout Cafe top deck in Victoria Falls Braille material installed on the rails at Lookout Cafe Victoria Falls mayor (left) unveils braille plaque at Lookout Cafe with the help of Enock Mawema (centre)

Female tourists at Victoria Falls’ Lookout Cafe admire the Braille material installed on the rails

The company created an aluminum frame on which it engraved braille with information that narrates what happens around the facility, Victoria Falls in general and local culture.

The braille material was fitted on Lookout Café’s top deck, facing the Zambezi River.

The eatery had two decks with a combined capacity of about 200 sitting clients.

It was upgraded for US$900 million and reopened in 2019 following a fire incident that burnt it down in 2018.

Somveli Dlamini, the Victoria Falls Mayor, who was guest at the unveiling of the braille, said the move would make tourism facilities accessible to local citizens and international visitors.

People living with disability have constantly complained about difficulties accessing public buildings including some hotels and shops.

Most have no wheelchair ramps or hand rails.

The failure by hotels and restaurant to provide menus in braille language makes it difficult for visually impaired people.

Mobi Tech Smith Zimbabwe will next install braille at Matopos National Park, a heritage site, as well as Khami Ruins and Great Zimbabwe Ruins.

Shelly Cox, the campaign manager for the We are Victoria Falls initiative, said this would ensure inclusivity and accessibility for all travelers.

“This will make Zimbabwe a tourism destination of choice,” Cox said.

Braille is a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or who have low vision.

It is the world’s most popular tactile reading and writing system.

– CAJ News

 

 

 

 

 

 

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