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In a big win for Four Freedoms Park, Conservancy gets $35K for QR-sourced, self-guided tours

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QR-sourced, self-guided tours are on their way to FDR Four Freedoms Park, thanks to a $35K grant. The conservancy overseeing park activities will match it, bringing voices from Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., to local historian Judith Berdy to visitors.

By David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

“We are so grateful to Parks and Trails NY for awarding FFPC with this critical funding that will allow us to create better and more accessible programming for FDR Four Freedoms State Park,” Conservancy CEO Howard Axel said in a press release.

Parks and Trails is an initiative from the Environmental Protection Fund.

“Technology is a great solution for ensuring that a wide variety of people can enjoy everything that the Park has to offer, and we look forward to engaging more visitors than ever before on FDR’s four freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.” 

A sample QR code like ones that cellphone users will use for taking self-guided tours of the park.

About the QR-based self-guided tours

In the past, public tours took place one day per week, with three tours offered per day. While each tour welcomed around 30 visitors, less frequent special guest tours had a similar guest capacity.

Now, QR Code technology opens special guest tours for all Park visitors with mobile phone capacity. And audiences broaden, adding Spanish-speaking, visually impaired and hard of hearing communities. But that’s not all.

The Roosevelt Island Daily caught up with Axel for a closer look.

“As the Conservancy tackles how best to share information with our park visitors, we’ve tried everything from paper brochures to seasonal guides,” he said.

“But the pandemic pushed me into thinking more about technology and real accessibility. How do we provide information about history, architecture and human rights in multiple languages? How do we provide captioning for those with issues around hearing?

“I am glad that NYS Parks and PTNY agree that we might have a solution with tours sent by QR codes to visitors’ phones.”

But that’s where the “more” comes in, according to Axel.

“And I’m particularly excited to be able to capture tours by folks like FFPC’s newest board member Dr. Peniel Joseph — the Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values at the University of Texas at Austin — along with Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., who will share her perspective on the Roosevelt family.”

Intensifying the local angle, he said, “We are also hoping to include a tour from a leader of the Lenape, the indigenous population who once lived on Roosevelt Island before it was colonized. And, of course, we will be delighted to offer a tour from Roosevelt Island’s own Judy Berdy!”

We can’t wait.

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