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On the Discovery Trail with the Kansas State School for the Blind

This summer, eighteen visually impaired students and twenty-two volunteers, teachers, and artists are following the tracks of two historic trails. The discovery caravan will travel west along the California trail, visiting important landmarks and historic sites along the way. Upon reaching the Pacific coast, the group will return to Kansas City along the path blazed by Lewis and Clark.

BLM staff meet with Discovery Trails director Eleanor Craig. L-R, Lance Porter-Rock Springs FM, Eleanor Craig-Kansas State School for the Blind, Jo Foster-Rock Springs Recreation Specialist, Gavin Lovell-Rock Springs AFM, and Terry Del Bene-Rock Springs Cultural Resources Specialist.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of Wyoming has partnered with the discovery trails caravan. Historian and Interpreter Terry Del Bene of the Rock Springs Field Office will accompany the youths on their explorations of the California Trail. In Wyoming, the group will stop and visit places such as Fort Laramie, Independence Rock, South Pass, the Little Sandy River Crossing, and the Lombard Ferry. Recreation Specialist for Rock Springs, Jo Foster, provided living history interpretation for the group and aided the students in understanding the difficulties of travel in the 19th Century.

While in Wyoming, the group will continue testing a GPS system designed to allow the visually impaired to travel on historic trails unguided. The forward thinking technology is being developed by Humanware of Quebec, Canada and boasts the ability to provide not only real time audio guidance to the user, but to deliver interpretive information about the area as well. This technology has the potential to be used by sighted individuals as well. The students on the discovery trail will test the latest version of the technology in guiding them on a hike through South Pass.

Projects such as this are important commitments made by BLM to support youth education initiatives.

Last updated: 08-12-2010