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Makadi Bay near Hurghada has hosted the first international festival for visually impaired divers organised by the ADV (Sight Disability Association in Italy).  Of the 16 participants, some were experienced divers whereas others were coming into contact with the wonders that the coral reefs can offer and unforgettable touch sensations, for the first time.   Alongside this  group there were an additional 10 divers made up of specially qualified dive buddies and dive guides. Other guides were arranged on location and headed by Barbara Alessi. They were known as “rudder” or “timone” and became experts in the system of guiding visually impaired divers.  The guides were provided by “DIVING OCEAN”, who also took care of all the logistics and organisation. 

The mascot for the expedition was Pluto, the loyal companion of one of the participants. Even though the rules in Egypt are not the same as in Italy, where a blind person can enter any public place with their guide dog, some objections were overcome and Pluto was able to carry out his role on the African Continent.  He boarded the plane with the other passengers and followed his trusted owner throughout the whole trip. He was welcomed with honour at Hurghada Airport, where a special arrival procedure had been prepared allowing him to carry out his role as guide dog for his owner during this diving holiday.

A spokesperson for ADV said, “For 40 years, the ADV, has been dedicated to helping to improve the mobility of poor sighted persons in all aspects of life; school, work, access to culture and information, and non traditional sports, for example, recreational diving, downhill and cross country skiing.  This festival serves as an example to all in demonstrating how we can act effectively to improve the quality of life and experience for those with visual disabilities in Italy and the rest of the world.”

 

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