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Project funding came through to make the trails at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve more accessible to any visitor who is blind or visually impaired. In 2016, the 100th year of the National Park Service, a first of its kind project was completed. This groundbreaking work was performed by Craig Phillips, MS Ed. COMS, a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist and teacher of the blind and visually impaired. He “virtually marked” the 40 miles of trails, recorded routes, defined landmarks, and placed electronic wayfinding points using the hand-held Trekker Breeze+. This GPS device is designed for use by travelers with visual impairments and is manufactured by Humanware of Drummondville, Canada, the global leader in assistive technologies for people who are blind or have low vision.
The devices automatically provide auditory location and position information in real time, as well as recorded anecdotal commentary about the flora, fauna, history, and other pertinent information about the traveler’s geographic position in the environment. They also provide auditory warnings where applicable, such as on the trail that winds through the pasture populated by a herd of bison. The device alerts the traveler of the impending danger of traveling through this area, giving further instructions and information.
Four hand-held units are available for checkout at the visitor center by all visitors, as the sighted traveler can benefit from the information that is provided as well.
Other opportunities for accessibility are available at the preserve. In the visitor center, the exhibits have been audio-described and can be experienced through a headset and hand-held device. The 10-minute orientation film is open captioned, with additional amplification devices available to the user. The park brochure is available in braille and the grounds map located in front of the visitor center is equipped with braille.
In celebration of the National Park Service, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve invites you to discover the meaning of national parks, how your park inspires you - both in personal connections and memorable experiences. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is located two miles north of Strong City on Kansas State Highway 177 (the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway) and is a unique public/private partnership between the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy. For more information, visit the preserve’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NPS.TallgrassPrairie , website at www.nps.gov/tapr, email e-mail us, or call the preserve at (620) 273-8494.
To learn more about The Nature Conservancy in Kansas, visit the Conservancy’s website at www.nature.org/Kansas or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TNCKansas .