Cabrillo National Monument is quite accessible to our visitors with mobility and sensory impairments. Some of our features include:
Cabrillo National Monument is the proud recipient of the National Park Service’s 2005 Design Project Achievement Merit Award for Making Exhibits and Waysides Accessible!
The National Park Service (NPS) initiated the National Accessibility Achievement Award Program in 1998 to recognize outstanding accomplishments that result in greater opportunities for persons with disabilities within the NPS.
In October 2005, Cabrillo National Monument was recognized for our efforts in using tactile models and wayside exhibits to help accomplish our mission and forge connections between visitors of all abilities. Special recognition was given to the park Superintendent and Chief of Interpretation for their long-term dedication and commitment to universal design and equal opportunity.
National Park Service Director Fran Mainella stated, “Cabrillo’s accomplishments are not only creative and original; they are an outstanding example of providing effective communications to an extremely diverse audience, including those who have a visual limitation.”
Located in the seventh largest city in the country, Cabrillo National Monument is near a diverse population of over 1.4 million people and draws nearly a million visitors annually. Over the past several years, we have strived to remove structural and non-structural barriers for persons with hearing, visual, cognitive, and mobility impairments.
After evaluating the needs of visitors and the need to make emotional and intellectual connections between the resources and visitors, the park has designed, fabricated, and installed a variety of tactile models that effectively tell the stories with minimum words. The first tactile model installed was a bronze sculpture of a gray whale and calf, which was mounted at the Whale Overlook. Gray whales migrate past Cabrillo each December through February on their way to the calving lagoons in Baja, California, and can be seen from the Monument. This model gives all visitors a sense of the size, shape, and characteristics of these marine mammals.
The second set of bronze tactile models installed interprets the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and its setting in San Diego Bay. One model contains the lighthouse and its outbuildings, the assistant keeper’s quarters, barn and oil shed, and the rain catchment basin and picket fence. The model of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse provides a way for visitors to understand the shape and sizes of the various structures and their juxtaposition to each other. The other model illustrates the lighthouse on the end of the Point Loma peninsula and its relationship to the geography of San Diego Bay. These models were installed in a plaza with an audio station at the end of the walk leading to the lighthouse. Through research, we have learned that bronze sustains constant touching, threats of vandalism, and effects of exposure to ocean salt air.
Visitors from the convention of the American Association for the Deaf-Blind, held recently in San Diego, enjoyed learning about the lighthouse through the tactile models. One gentleman was accompanied by two guides who told us, “This has been the best place in San Diego because there is so much to touch and feel here!” He was delighted with the tactile models and also had a great time examining the weapons and armor in the visitor center.
The models were sculpted by Carl Glowienke of Sea Life Sculpture Studio in Santee, California. Cabrillo National Monument thanks Mrs. Connie Golden and other Cabrillo National Monument Foundation members for their generous contributions which made the tactile models available.