Friday, October 09, 2009

Way down under!

Today we toured the salt mine museum. When we got to the museum they said they had a tour just starting, so we joined in. You start the tour by dropping 680 feet down on an elevator. Once out, we were directed to the trams where we took seats in front. Before we left, we were asked to move to the back because the group we had been placed with were all deaf and they needed to sit together so they could see the interpreter. No problem, so we joined one other couple at the back.

What a ride. Every time the tour guide said anything, we had to stop and two people would jump off the tram and while the guide spoke his text, another who signs very little tried to interpret to the deaf signor so that person could interpret to the rest of the group. It took so long and of course, we were in a cave, so they were trying to use flashlights to shine on the hands of the interpreters. It just did not go well. I felt badly for the group which had this impairment, but I also thought the museum could have done a better job preparing for this. They told us later that the group showed up unannounced and they had no interpreter available. They are able to get someone when the event is scheduled. We slogged along and got what we could from the presentation. When the ride ended and we were turned loose in the museum/gift shop area, the tour guide came over to the four of us and apologized and offered to put us on another train. But we didn't want to spend another two hours underground, so after our visit to the exhibits, we left. A very nice lady took us up to the surface and went in and talked with her boss about our experience.

We weren't disappointed in the mine. It was fabulous. But there was a lot more material the guide did not deliver because he was so frustrated by the ineffective job the interpreters were doing. I suggested a very simple solution and told the director. They should have all the stops numbered with large numbers. At each stop there is a display that they stop to tell you about. The hearing impaired could be provided with a brochure identifying each stop with a picture and corresponding number and the text of what the speaker says. They could also be issued a small penlight along with their hardhat with which to view the brochure along the way. That way the speaker could speak as he normally does and everyone gets the same tour. That would work very well and everyone could benefit from the tour. It also means that those who just show up would get a tour and they would not have to rely on an interpreter. Also, we discovered that they have another problem with foreign visitors. They cannot communicate with them either. Any museum I have been to will have brochures in dozens of languages preprinted and that is given to the visitors. They could do the same thing here.

The manager thanked me for my suggestions and said she thought they would be extremely useful and certainly cost effective and would make sure she mentioned it to her boss. So maybe they will do something like that. It wouldn't be alot of money and would be very helpful. Then she refunded the admission price for both of us and gave us our choice of a book on the mine or a DVD. We took the book.

I had not asked for my money back and I didn't complain. I just said it was not a good situation and there was a reasonable solution.

Afterwards, we drove around the area and found the grain elevator you can see from any roadway in the area. This the longest and largest grain elevator in the world. I think it is one-half mile long. Wow! But the smaller" ones n the area are large by most standards.
Till next time. . .


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