Touching Connecticut

On June 22nd, Center Vice President Kevin Harkins met with ADA trainer-consultant Elana Sherman, and officials from the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  The two-hour meeting at Gillette Castle in East Haddam sought ways in which disabled visitors to the state’s parks and historic locations could more completely experience all these sites have to offer.  The high-energy meeting focused on awareness and an abiding understanding that providing a more enriching outcome for handicapped individuals is possible.  One manager described how, with the visitor’s permission, he guides the fingers of blind patrons so that they can safely feel the shape and texture of actual turtles and other creatures without risk of being bitten or exposed to harmful bacteria.  Another D.E.E.P. representatives suggested exploring whether wooden structures and furnishings that can be harmed by the oil from human skin might be felt with special gloves, or if certain features like doors and historic tables might be set aside for tactile discovery by visitors.  The challenges of giving adequate training to temporary volunteer docents was also discussed.  A training seminar is being planned for later in the year that will feature a panel of disabled citizens to further explore accessibility in our state’s many parks and historic sites.

Gillette's Castle