New Cape Town Fossil Centre

The Western Cape Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church took it upon themselves to begin a project to create the Institute for the Blind and Deaf in 1880. The institute was founded in 1881, and by June of that year its first students walked through the doors. In 1905 the decision was made to teach the deaf and blind students separately and in 1933 it became apparent that the school would have to address after-school employment, which has led to six factories supporting the school. So many positive changes have taken place, and now a new project has been launched for the tourism industry.

A new fossil centre has opened at the Institute for the Blind in Worcester. It has four different divisions and offers a very unique product to the tourism industry, as it caters for those who are visually and hearing impaired. The construction of the centre was enabled through funds donated by the National Lotteries Distribution Fund, as well as other companies that supported the project. The four divisions at the new centre are the Blindiana Museum, the Eddie van Dijk Exhibition Fossil Centre, the Blind Spot for visually impaired visitors and the George van Heerder Tactile Fossil Trail.

CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Calvyn Gifellan, commented on the centre saying: “What makes this whole attraction different from anything I’ve ever seen before, is that it is conceptualised, designed and implemented from the perspective of people with visual, hearing and other impairments. With most other tourism developments, the disabled are accommodated on the terms of the able-bodied (sometimes as an after-thought). With this project, they are central but without excluding the able-bodied. This is a critical philosophical point of departure that will assist in the understanding, reshaping and reinventing of the tourism product and experience in the Western Cape and indeed the world.”

The new centre at the Institute for the Blind was launched in spectacular fashion, with dignitaries, guests and sponsors coming together to celebrate this initiative. Even though the centre is focused on the visually and hearing impaired, able bodied visitors will also be able to enjoy the facility, using all their senses, touch, taste and smell, to explore the interactive exhibits and the museum. It is a very unique attraction and will hopefully set an example for other holiday destinations and open a new market in the tourism industry.