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The Warsaw Voice » Regional Voice » March 31, 2011
The Lower Silesia Voice
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Seeing Through Touch
March 31, 2011   
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The “Seeing Through Touch—Wrocław in Miniature” campaign, conducted by the Wrocław Assembly of Disabled People, has entered its second stage. The assembly’s partner in the project is ING Real Estate Development, the developer behind the Thespian apartment building in Wrocław. Thanks to the company’s involvement, the city has gained three new miniature models of some of the finest historic buildings in Wrocław.

The first model, a miniature Wrocław Opera, was unveiled Dec. 3, which is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The second one, unveiled March 31, depicts the St. Elizabeth of Hungary’s Garrison Church, which stands near a tourist route in the heart of the city. The third model will be the Thespian building, which is a modern project from ING Real Estate Development, designed to blend in with the surrounding 19th-century tenement houses.

The one-of-a-kind campaign has a large target audience, but the project’s main focus are blind people and individuals with visual impairments. There are 4,000 such people in Lower Silesia alone. The project’s website at www.dotknijwroclawia.pl is the first website in Poland designed especially for visually impaired visitors, with easy and intuitive navigation, adjustable font size and text-to-speech features.

The miniature buildings are made of bronze with captions written in Braille characters. They are set on low pedestals to make sure they are easy to reach and touch for little children and wheelchair users. The bronze casts were made by the Wytwórnia team of Wrocław-based sculptors led by Piotr Makała.

“The project enables disabled people to interact with world cultural heritage that so far was frequently out of reach for them,” said Bogumił Maszewski, chairman of the Wrocław Assembly of Disabled People. “We are happy to work with a trustworthy partner like ING Real Estate Development, as this is an important project for them.”

The handmade models are unique in artistic and sensory terms, allowing blind people to explore the buildings complete with fine details such as bas-relief facades, little statues and bay windows.

“We are keen to support all efforts aimed at enhancing urban space,” said Piotr Wodzyński, CEO of ING Real Estate Development. “This explains why we have been so thrilled to become involved in this project. Not only does this allow us to tear down barriers to mainstreaming disabled people, but we are also able to promote the city’s most precious historic buildings among Wrocław residents and visitors from around the world.”

Barbara Deręgowska
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