“It is good to know that there is such a book,” he said, adding that reading a Braille book was easier and quicker than finding tourism information on the internet and letting a computer application read the information out to him.
“The book is also another option when all computers in my school are occupied,” he said. The book was launched last year by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), and is entitled Tiew Muangthai Samphad Duay Jai Lae Playniew, which means “travelling in Thailand by heart and fingertips”.
“Tourism must not be limited to those who can see because travelling is for everyone,” TAT Deputy Governor Sugree Sithivanich told Life. “Those who are blind or virtually impaired should have a chance to travel.”
With that in mind, TAT set aside a 5-million-baht budget in 2013 for producing 5,000 Braille books and organising other activities for the blind, such as hosting short trips and providing white canes for blind students.The Braille guide has 100 pages, and is 2.5cm thick and 30cm long. It is published in full colour and is in Thai. Each page is laid out like a normal travel book, with beautiful pictures and information, but without maps. The Braille inscription is superimposed on regular text and pictures of each right page, starting from the cover until the back page.
The inside content includes a message from the TAT governor, index pages ,and travel content for five regions in the Kingdom. Each region comprises four to five well-known provinces. Each province has brief information about selected attractions such as history and highlights plus contact numbers.
“The book can also benefit those who are not blind. They might use the book to travel with the blind so they can read information out loud and enjoy travelling togeth er,” he said.
TAT outsourced the book project and supplied the content to a private company to manage and publish the books. The Foundation for the Blind in Thailand also contributed to the project. The books have been distributed to libraries in schools for the blind nationwide.
Although the book is the first Braille travel guide, two years ago one publication distributed its free copy magazine called Ya Hae with Braille inscription raised over a travel story in the six middle pages. It received about a 1-million-baht fund from TAT. However, the magazine has shut shop since.
The magazine made TAT realise that printing Braille alphabets need paper of a certain level of thickness. “Although the magazine used good-quality paper, Braille inscriptions disappeared if the magazine was put under heavy things or after several times of reading,” Sugree said. So TAT put an emphasis on the quality of paper for its first Braille book.
This year, TAT plans to publish five Braille books for each region in Thailand. It plans to launch 1,000 Braille books for the North and another 1,000 books for the Northeast this year.
In addition to the publications, TAT also wants to train service people in the tourism industry on how to take care of the disabled, and has joined forces with travel agents to host tours for the blind, deaf and for those who use wheelchairs.
“We used to host a trip for the blind at Santi Chai Prakan Park [on Phra Arthit Road]. We walked them through the [riverside] park, tell them about the history of the fort and describe the atmosphere and things around them. The park also has Braille paths to facilitate the blind,” he said
“We like to host such trips as often as we can because travelling will help the blind to know more about the beauty of our country and to widen their knowledge on it,” he said.
Source: Bangkok Post Travel