As our supporters will know, Suffolk Owl Sanctuary’s central mission statement is one of “conservation, rehabilitation and education”.
Staff are continually working hard to ensure the educational remit is enhanced and complemented by the evolving recreational facilities at the Sanctuary and that these are accessible to all visitors. Over the winter months, chief fundraiser, Maz Robinson has been working hard to raise funds to improve the design and content of the site to better meet the needs of disabled, deaf, hearing impaired, blind and sight impaired visitors.This has resulted in the inception of the S.O.S. “See Hear” project, through which we aim to elevate the visitor experience to the gold standard through improved communication and support and a variety of new innovations.
Phase One of the project has seen fundamental access around the whole Sanctuary improved for buggy and wheelchair users with the completion of level, tarmac paths - these extend into the new seating enclosure at the flying ground which also has improved wheelchair space and carer seating. A new bird hide has been built in the Woodland Walk with a wheelchair specific viewing hatch and entry ramp. Braille information boards have been installed around the aviaries and the help of a BSL signing interpreter has been enlisted to aid communication of the falconers’ flying display commentaries. Resources have also been developed in the Sensory Garden - the pretty, relaxing area has been enhanced with a delicate water feature, subtle wind chimes and unique wooden sculpted seating particularly suited to class gatherings and storytelling.
For younger visitors, a new play area has been built comprising of custom made wheelchair friendly equipment with increased capacity for supported play, with a soft safe surface beneath.Sponsorship for the completion of the play area was generously provided by ABC Charitable Trust, Paul Bush Foundation Trust, Branch Out,Grey Court Trust, Moondance Foundation, People’s Postcode Lottery, Pets at Home, David & Claudia Harding, Hamilton Wallace Trust, the Grocer’s Charity, the Ivo Trust, Warburtons, Rowan Bentall, and the Roger Vere Foundation. We are extremely grateful for all their contributions.
Fundraising is now ongoing to finance Phase Two of the See Hear project. This will hopefully include a large outdoor touchscreen information point with subtitled images, a hand held or smart phone enabled audio guide of the Sanctuary and an S.O.S. subtitled DVD which will be freely available to teachers and those working with the deaf.
Our next Signing Day for the Deaf will be held on Sunday August 2nd