Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Importance of Nature-- Braille Trails and Sensory Gardens for the Blind

Nature trails and sensory gardens for the blind and visually impaired promote health, well-being and independence...

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Now the blind and visually impaired can experience outdoor trails and sensory gardens on their own.  With guided ropes, braille signs, barrier-free pathways and path markers, enjoying the gardens and trails have allowed those with visual challenges to explore the great outdoors safely and independently. Some trails have tactile walkways to provide direction, and others are wide enough for wheelchair accessibility.  Guided audio tours or smartphone access are provided as well at some of the locations, giving more information on the nature trails and sites.

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MaxiAids has provided accessible items for those with visual impairment and physical challenges to live independently so they can experience the world outside of their home safely and confidently. Look to MaxiAids for products for the blind and visually impaired, low vision products and blind accessories to make these outdoor experiences eventful and exciting.

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Having access to outdoor nature trails are important for exercise and fresh air, adding to one's health and to help increase endorphins- the happy hormones! Winding paths and braille information signs at different locations on the trails offer an inclusive way to interact with nature.  These accessible gardens and trails provide everyone (sighted or not) an opportunity to explore nature in its natural setting while gaining education and awareness of the outdoor world.

Sensory gardens tap into the many senses, giving the blind access to smell scented herbs and fragrant plants, touch river rocks, trees and uniquely textured plants and flowers, and hear the sounds of nature and other outdoor life.  Trickling water from fountains, waterfalls and babbling brooks, meditative wind chimes, sound producing plants that make noise when wind passes through them, and autumn leaves that crunch underneath ones' shoes when walking over them, all contribute to a sensory pleasing experience.

If you have a family member or friend who is blind, you can create your own mini sensory garden. (See "Five Ways to Create a Sensory Garden for the Visually Impaired" )

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Braille trails and gardens may include railings, raised garden beds, and special pathways so the visually impaired can walk along these paths without assistance. There are many healing benefits of gardens and outdoor spaces dedicated to the blind, according to Amy Wagenfeld, college professor of occupational therapy and author of Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces. Outdoor gardens can improve physical and psychological health, lift depression and help those with illnesses.  "Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones."

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Braille trails and sensory gardens can be found in public parks and botanical gardens all over the world. http://www.naturefortheblind.com/directory-redirectory  --Audrey Leonard

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