Future Reflections Convention Report 1997, Vol. 16 No. 3


Sensory Safari: A Hands-On Wildlife Exhibit for Blind Children and Adults

[PICTURE] Kathy Wentz of Louisiana at the 1997 NFB Convention Sensory Safari Exhibit.

From the Editor: In just a few short years (six to be exact) Sensory Safari has become a much-anticipated part of the preliminary activities at the Annual Conventions of the National Federation of the Blind. An exhibit of "touchable" mounted wildlife from all over the world, this event attracts children and adults of all ages. But it isn't just the opportunity to touch otherwise untouchable animals—such as tigers, bears, and cobras—that makes this such a unique experience. The volunteer guides are superb. These members and friends of Safari International (the sponsoring organization) make this the intriguing, fun, and educational experience that it is. Courteous and knowledgeable, they adjust the amount of information and assistance they provide to the desires of each individual. Whether you want to zip through on your own without much information or assistance, or whether you want to linger and ask lots of questions, you can do it "your way" thanks to these excellent volunteers.

At this year's NFB Convention the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children invited Safari Club International officials to give a presentation about the traveling Sensory Safari, and about a new program initiated by the club to bring permanent Sensory Safari collections to locations around the country. The information distributed by Mr. Lloyd Dubuisson and Mr. Ray Stroup was enthusiastically received by the representatives of some 25 parent divisions from all over the country. As a result of this meeting, several of the parent divisions have begun discussions with Safari Club International about how to bring Sensory Safari exhibits to their states.

The following article describes the opening of the first permanent Sensory Safari at the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired:

Sight impaired gain `vision' of wildlife: Permanent Sensory Safari dedicated at Louisiana School for the Visually impaired. by Ray Stroup SCI Education Coordinator

Reprinted from Safari Times, December, 1996.

More than 30 students of the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired eagerly awaited the opening ceremony for their very own Sensory Safari on November 12.

The Sensory Safari exhibits are permanently located at the school and will provide the children with a hands-on safari of taxidermy wild game animals taken in Africa, North America, and Asia.

The display is arranged to allow the blind and visually impaired to explore the animals by touching the size, texture, and shape of large animals and hides. The Sensory Safari will be open to the public by appointment during school hours. To better serve the students, all items are described in large print, and Braille directories are available in the school's safari room.

Earlier this year, SCI Central Louisiana hosted a Sensory Safari as part of the 24th annual state convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana. When Lloyd Dubuisson, board member of SCI Central Louisiana, attended the function, numerous people approached him to discuss the possible opportunities for Sensory Safaris in their own communities.

Dr. Richard N. Day, superintendent of the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired, called Sensory Safari "... an exciting and dramatic enhancement of our educational and recreational resources."

Leading up to the ribbon-cutting ceremony were several speakers who welcomed the first permanent SCI-sponsored Sensory Safari in a facility for the visually impaired. Speakers included Dr. Day; SCI Central Louisiana President Michael Lindsey, SCI Past President John J. Jackson III; Betty Schroeder, education curator at the Greater Baton Rouge Zoo; and B. J. Militello of the Greater Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce.

All of the Sensory Safari's mounted animals were donated by local SCI chapter members, the SCI International Wildlife Museum, and the SCI Trophy Mount Donation Project.

Dubuisson's experience with several Sensory Safari exhibits has led him to motivate others to become involved in the program. He is editing a videotape of the ceremony and including footage filmed by local television station Channel 9 and his assistant, Cathy Dawson. Dubuisson will show the video at SCl's Silver Anniversary Convention.

For more information about Sensory Safari exhibits, contact:

Ray Stroup, Education Coordinator, Education Department, SCI, 4800 West Gates Pass Road, Tucson, Arizona 85745, telephone (520) 620-1220, extension 223; or Jerry Nielsen, Director of Development, SCI at the same address and telephone number, extension 276.