An Accessible Experience – the Salt River Street Art Tour by Winston Fani

The Image shows a woman reading a wall-mounted braille poster

I am always excited to hear about travel experiences that have been designed to be accessible to people with disabilities. Which is why I was so thrilled to hear about the Limitless Cape Town campaign launched in my home city.

Cape Town is generally considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful travel locations, with much to attract visitors no matter what they’re looking for – breathtaking natural views, food, wine, mountains, sea, sports – you name it and Cape Town has it! And yes, we have many tourist experiences that are accessible to people with disabilities. But perhaps not as many as we could have.

Limitless Cape Town is a campaign designed by Cape Town Tourism to make the tourism and hospitality industries more inclusive by taking the needs of people with disabilities into consideration. The programme was launched recently with an accessible walking tour of the street art in Salt River, led by South Africa’s first qualified blind tour guide, Winston Fani.

I was excited to be invited to experience Winston’s tour and explore some of the accessible features that have been included. Winston guides visitors through an area that is rich in street art, some of it done in partnership with Baz-Art, a local community art organisation. The tour has been made accessible to those who are blind and partially blind through the inclusion of braille posters and QR Codes linked to audio descriptions of the artworks.

So, what was the experience like for me?

I really enjoyed meeting Winston. As a tour guide he is engaging and easy to chat to. I found him knowledgeable about the artworks on the tour and the artists who have created them. His descriptions gave me enough detail to understand what was represented, while not being so detailed as to cause a full sighted person frustration. And that is not always an easy balance to find, believe me!

I was excited to try out the accessibility features on the tour. It was lovely to not be dependent on others for the information, for once in my life.

Sadly, I found the braille posters hard to read. The braille characters were larger than usual, which posed something of a problem. I suspect the decision to increase the size of the characters was taken by a sighted person, as the idea of increasing font size to make text more readable is a sighted one. I was also surprised by the use of contracted braille, as not all braille readers use contracted braille.

I wasn’t sure if my discomfort with the increased size was particular to me because I don’t really use braille, but checking with a disability inclusion colleague reassured me it would impact on others as well.

I found the addition of QR Codes linked to an audio tour a lot more to my taste. The audio files are located on the Baz-Art website and can be accessed during or after the tour. The files give information and detailed descriptions of the artworks. I particularly enjoyed the more casual questions being asked of Winston at the end of many of the recordings, which gave greater insight into his life and experience of the tour.

I felt the audio files would have been easier to access if they had been on a cleaner web page. As it was, I found myself having to swipe through quite a bit of other information before finding the play button. Despite that, I really enjoyed being able to access the tour independently.

I’ve given this feedback to the tour organisers and hope it will help Cape Town Tourism to make accessible tours more common in and around Cape Town.

As a summary, I would encourage you to register for the tour. It was fascinating to learn about the street art in Salt River, which is a suburb I seldom visit, beyond travelling to Cape Town Society for the Blind, which is where the tour starts. It was lovely to be a tourist in my own city. And the tour will be of interest to sighted and blind people alike.

Besides, you’ll also be showing Cape Town Tourism that there is a need for this kind of inclusive tourism so that all people can experience our beautiful and diverse city.

You can book for Winston’s tour at:
Tel: +27 83 234 6428.

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