Columbus Dispatch News with ME!

Hey there folks!

I have done more blogs these past two weeks than I have, well, forever!

And it is all thanks to my ambition, ennui and determination!

Wait, what was that? Ennui…? Wah? That is a fancy-schmancy word for boredom. It seems to set in right after my kids are out the door for school… takes me a good hour to get back to business of being active!

And so, now I am getting this rolling… and I want to take this moment to thank my readers, new and old, and the people who randomly read my articles whenever I post them! Thank you!

Today’s transcribed news article is from the Columbus Dispatch newspaper, in Columbus, Ohio. The exact date is mysteriously omitted. Which is unlike me, as a university graduate I always write the date of publication. However, I do know this happened in the summer, late July of 2000. I had just returned to Canada from my whirlwind Europe tour, stayed with my girlfriend, now wife, for the weekend, then met up with other friend and future boss – two different people – to attend to the American Association of the Deaf-Blind conference in Columbus, Ohio.

Let the article begin…

Zoo’s special touch impresses visitors

People with impairments were able to handle some of the animals.

Grainy picture of Craig MacLean petting baby alligator. Photo by Wendy Berna

By Julie R. Bailey

Dispatch Staff Reporter

Craig MacClean had a touching experience yesterday while visiting the Columbus Zoo.

As one of the 300 delegates of the American Association fo the Deaf-Blind who took time away from the conference to tour the zoo, MacClean was thrilled to come into contact the 4-year-old American alligator named Bayoo.

“I’m really enjoying this — its awesome,” said MacClean, from Vancouver, British Columbia, who smiled and giggled (What? I did not giggle!) as he gently stroked the back of the small reptile.

Although he is totally deaf-blind (no, not totally, but I think Julie put that ‘totally’ there to draw attention to the overall experience, and maybe she didn’t know how to approach the person to ask how much they can see or hear? Or maybe she was totally ga-ga over me? I can hear my wife giggling now…) and communicated through an interpreter, using tactile sign language, MacClean easily detected the real reptile for a plastic replica.

“This is fake,” said MacClean as he put his hands near the mouth of the plastic animal.

Zoo employee Barbara Ray held the real alligator tightly around the neck so it wouldn’t snap at those petting it. Next to her on a chair sat a plastic alligator so conference attendees could feel its teeth.

“I’ve never touched a real alligato before; it feels neat,” MacClean said. “This is not what I expected.”

But Nicholas Daddona, a delegate from Danvers, Mass., was a little more cautious before he extended his hand to touch the alligator.

“Do they bite, do they have teeth?” Daddona (hopefully Julie got this guy’s name right!) asked his interpreter. (I’ll come back to this in a second…)

A few seconds later, Daddona touch the reptile and said while shaking his head, “It feels like leather.”

While some stayed in small groups led by zoo docents, others were more adventurous and travelled out on their own with their interpreters by their sides.

Exhibit highlights included the touch pool inside the Discovery Reef, the Reptile Lab, the Kids Zoo Barn, and a nature-biology tactile lab set up underneath a tent on the zoo grounds.

Visiting the zoo was not a new experience for Luis Palacio of Long Island, N.Y., who makes an attempt to go to zoos as he travels throughout the country.

When asked how the Columbus Zoo compares with other zoos, he said, “It is really, really nice.”

“Not all zoos let you pet the animals,” he said. “This zoo is special because they allow us to touch the animals.”

Through Friday, the nearly 1,000 delegates and interpreters at the conference will tour other attractions in the city such as German Village, the Short North and Easton Town Centre.

The conference is being held at Ohio State University.

The delegates — deaf, blind or deaf-blind — from throughout the country and overseas (is Canada overseas now?) are attending workshops about independent living and technology for people with disabilities.

To help visitors during the week, university staff members have altered the campus for better access. A blue line was painted on the sidewalk to the Ohio Union from the Dormitories for those with low vision and guides. Who aren’t familiar with the campus.

Larry Wilson of Little Rock, Ark., was not crazy about petting the goats in the Kids Zoo Barn.

“I think they need a little Prozac,” Wilson said as the animals circled around him.

“But I know all the want is just a little attention.”

End of article…

About those goats… I recall vividly how they “circled around” people, and it wasn’t polite… the goats would surround anyone who ventured inside the barn, you couldn’t move without being assaulted by goats trying to get the food you had in your hand, even if you had none! Think of screaming fans at a Michael Jackson, even The Beatles, concert… now add horns and four legs… snapping teeth! There ya have it!

Before I close this blog, I do want to draw your attention to this comment: “…Daddona asked his interpreter.” Julie, the staff writer, made a grave error. Nicholas Daddona did not ask the interpreter this questions, but he asked Barbara Ray, zoo employee or one of the docents. An interpreter does not reply for themselves, but conveys information between two people. The interpreter would relay the question to Ray or whomever is closest. Interpreters do not speak for themselves.

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BTW, if you happen to know Julie R. Bailey or Wendy Berna, do share this blog with them!

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