Gordon Brown officially opened the Skiffington Cottage and sensory garden at Elmwood College on 1st Dec 2011. He was invited in his capacity of honorary President of Fife Society for the Blind.
Gordon Brown commented, “This is my first duty as Honorary President for the Fife Society for the Blind and it is a tremendous organisation helping 2,000 people annually. I am incredibly proud of Elmwood College and it is an honour to be here today. It is a College which is known for its expertise in golf and landbased specialisms. The collaborative work between FSB and the College is a beacon not just for Fife but for the whole of Scotland and this facility will allow us to serve the blind and partially-sighted as well as the Deaf and hearing impaired in a way which we have never been able to before. Fife works best when Fife works together.”
Elmwood College and FSB have been working in partnership for a number of years to provide a unique link between college and community for the benefit of people and students with a sensory impairment. With the support of funding from the Lady Margaret Skiffington Trust, the partners have developed Skiffington Cottage to become an assessment and rehabilitation centre for the visually and auditory impaired.
The Cottage provides a ‘domestic’ style demonstration environment, being equipped with the latest technology including talking devices in the kitchen and lounge, a creative use of tonal contrast to ensure ease of use, and flexible and controllable lighting to support those having a serious sight loss.
The College has also constructed a sensory garden, which has been designed as a safe environment for people with sight or hearing loss to enjoy the smells, sounds and textures of a unique environment. The garden was designed in conjunction with the Fife Society for the Blind and Elmwood’s horticultural staff, along with students and secondary school pupils from across Fife. At times more than 200 people worked on the garden, including pupils from Glenrothes HS, Cowdenbeath HS, Kirklands HS, St Andrews HS, Bell Baxter HS and Kinross HS. The garden will be equipped with a new interpretive facility using tactile and easy read maps having audio output at designated points.
Elmwood College Principal Jim Crooks welcomed Mr Brown and invited guests to the College saying, “The whole community of Elmwood is a welcoming and inclusive one and we love to see the evidence of partnership working. The cottage and garden will be a legacy from our hardworking students and our inspirational staff and also our supportive partners. This is a project that demonstrates how skills can be used to benefit everyone in our community and to bring pleasure to those with visual and other sensory impairment. We are so proud to have been able to bring this project to its wonderful, creative fulfilment.”
During a tour of the campus Gordon Brown also visited the Karten CTEC Centre, which provides access to assistive technology for the visually impaired and the Autism Base, a unique facility which allows students with Autistic Spectrum Disorders to progress from school to college.
The College and Fife Society for the Blind are committed to improving the quality of life and access to education for those with visual and hearing impairments. This builds on Elmwood’s long history of working with students with additional support needs.