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Guest Commentary: Georgia's Planning and Tourism Initiatives for theDisabled Trina BoltonAtlanta July 2, 2009 Could a blind visitor ever fully enjoy a visit to Georgia's Aquarium withoutbeing able to see the marine life?Yes. Due to the collaborative efforts ofexperts at the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Georgia Department ofEconomic Development, and several local organizations committed to thedisability community, it may someday be possible for a blind guest to havean enriching experience at this Atlanta attraction. The Accessible Aquarium Project, under the leadership of Georgia Tech, aimsto engage visitors with blindness or vision loss in the venue's manyexhibits. In depth research is being conducted on motion, tracking, music,and narrations with a goal to convey the dynamic nature of a tourismdestination such as the Georgia Aquarium. These alternative means of representing a tour draw on other senses and seekto enhance the holistic elements of an aquarium, zoo, museum, or outdoortourism zone. This project is part of an overarching initiative to advanceAtlanta and Georgia's accessibility for the disabled population,particularly in the areas of travel and tourism. On June 15, the Georgia Alliance for Accessible Technologies InitiativeGAAT of the United Nation's Global Initiative for Inclusive Informationand Communication Technologies G3ict held a meeting at the offices of theInterContinental Hotels Group IHG. This seminar of presentations and dialogue focused on the progress of GAAT'soverall work and allowed members of the group to share updates about theirrecent endeavors related to establishing Georgia as an accessibledestination for the disabled. Participants
from a range of organizations attended, includingrepresentatives from IBM Research, Delta Air Lines Inc. , Hartsfield JacksonAtlanta International Airport, the Governor's Council on DevelopmentalDisabilities, Georgia Tech, the Atlanta VA Rehab Center of Emory, AeolianSolutions, among others. These leaders reconvened to follow up on its last workshop in late April,hosted by the Center for the Visually Impaired CVI, and to devise a newset of immediate
goals, all with the ultimate objective to promote Georgia'scompetitiveness in accessible travel and tourism.