Earlier this week I went on a training course, where I learned all about the various aspects and issues pertaining to disability.
In our organisation we pride ourselves on making every effort to provide as enjoyable an experience as possible for all our visitors. If people are unable to access rooms upstairs, for example, we provide a virtual tour instead (or, in my smaller, less affluent property, a photograph album depicting the the rest of the house). For the visually impaired visitor, properties are encouraged to compile a sensory list of items which can be touched, or plants that have a particular scent, or sounds to listen out for, like the chiming of certain clocks, and so on.
Our trainer on the course was blind himself, and had a wonderful tale to tell of a visit to one of our properties (thankfully not mine) where he was relentlessly persued by a room steward who could not fathom why he didn't want to touch Winston Churchill's walking stick. He personally does not get a great deal out of handling items, but the fact that properties have items specifically for handling by the visually impaired, or have constructed a "feely box", has led to some volunteers believing these have to be utilised. In our trainer's case, having politely declined the offer of a feel of Winston Churchill's walking stick, he was then followed through three further rooms by a mystified volunteer, urging him to "go on, just touch it!"
I did have to point out that this was not discrimination due to him being disabled, but that our room stewards will cheerfully pursue anyone. "They were taught that on a different course," I said. "They must engage our visitors at every opportunity. If you don't want to be engaged they're at a bit of a loss."
Mind you, I wouldn't stick my hand in an anoymously presented "feely box" either, if I couldn't see. Actually, I wouldn't even though I can see.