Nature experiences contribute substantially to our mental and physical well-being. Exposure to any form of nature is proven to lower stress, has a restorative effect on our neurological and hormonal system.
Visiting green spaces, hiking, and contacting animals have an essential role as health-promoting actions, providing free and effective mental health services to people. However, nature experiences are not equally available to everyone. Blind and partially sighted people are seriously hindered in visiting and enjoying these. The barriers inhibiting their access can be, for example, the lack of available information on the accessibility and facilities in the site.
This raises serious concerns, as subjective well-being of blind and partially sighted people are even more compromised, being more prone to stress, crisis and isolation due to the psychosocial challenges associated with their condition.
In the recently started InVisible Green project, we work closely with the Blind and Partially Sighted Association in Csongrád County (VAGYCSOME) to tackle equal access to nature. We reflect on how blind and partially sighted people experience nature. We also address the challenges of improving the quality of these experiences.
In the coming months, the ESSRG and VAGYCSOME co-researchers will talk, walk, hike, record sound notes, discuss and inspire the promotion of innovations to improve access to nature’s healing services for the blind and partially sighted.