PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Walking through one of Philadelphia’s many museums, or strolling through the Italian market is difficult to say the least for the visually impaired. But now, a local tour company is working to provide up-close and personal tours for the blind to some of Philly’s most popular attractions.
What if the Italian market’s bright produce, its quirky coffee shops, its eclectic vendors couldn’t be seen. What if our museum’s historic exhibits went dark? For the blind and visually impaired they are, which is why Trisha Maunder created Philly Touch Tours.
“My daughter was born blind 30 years ago. As an artist and art educator, it was a revealing experience and it started me on a new way of thinking,” Trisha said.
Trisha had the idea a few years ago working with local museums and vendors at the Italian market to open their exhibits and shops to those who can’t see, allowing those on tours to smell, listen, and most importantly touch the best of Philly.
“They take the times to show us foods and pieces of things in their stores we can handle, and smell the pasta freshly cut. It’s just a revealing experience for everyone,” said Trisha.
Now Trisha is offering training to other venues who would like to offer tours for the visually impaired.
A group training from Philly Magic Gardens is learning how to help a visually impaired person navigate through the ancient Egyptian exhibit at Penn Museum.
“Our intention is to aid and assist other cultural venues in thinking about how to create a sustainable and accessible program.”
I got a chance to take one of the tours myself.
“If you put your hands side to side, this is the front of the statue,“ Trisha said demonstrating.
“What is so fascinating about this experience is a lot of folks are not able to go to a museum and touch things like this.”
A special event Trish says, can be felt, literally.
“It’s a great world to explore through all our senses and we should all be doing it together,” Trisha said.