Thursday, October 6, 2011

Interpretive Sensory Trail Grand Opening in Easthampton

Sample audio tour stop offers a tactile
opportunity for everyone.
Congratulations to Massachusetts Audubon for their dedicated work in preparing inclusive trail experiences at ten of their statewide nature sanctuaries! In a grant project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Mass Audubon has been adding sensory interpretation along wheelchair accessible sections of trail that start from parking lots at visitor centers and offer a dynamic exposure to the natural environment. With input from trail lovers with disabilities and other specialists, the project has developed methods of providing a site-suitable audio component to assist with navigation in addition to offering interpretive information. I've had a tiny part in helping advise the project - and having been a member of Mass Audubon for over 20 years, I am really happy to see more of their natural places accessible to a wider variety of visitors.

The project spans a three year period over which sensory trails are opening across the state. Broadmoor Sanctuary in Natick and Stony Brook Sanctuary in Norfolk already have accessible interpretive sensory trails in place. Trails at Attleboro Springs and Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary have been recently completed. More will open next year, so this is a great time to get out and explore new trails, especially for those who have visual impairments!

Mass Audubon's sensory trails often travel along wetlands
like this one shown at Broadmoor Sanctuary in Natick.

Coming up October 15, Arcadia's new sensory trail be officially opened and celebrated at 127 Combs Road in Easthampton. This new addition to the Arcadia trail system will include 12 interpretive stops that can be listened to via cell phone, or read in text or Braille. Bordered by forest, the trail meanders through field and pond habitats, offering a selection of edge habitats. The free event officially starts at 11am with a ribbon cutting and refreshments at 11:30, followed by  informal guided walks highlighting multi-sensory learning stations until 2:00 p.m.

Everyone is welcome! For further information call 413-584-3009 or email You can check out the cell phone tour at 413-272-0006.

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