Ghent launches route for visually and hearing impaired tourists

The city of Ghent on Wednesday unveiled a tourist route and booklet for people with visual or hearing impairments. Tourists who are totally or partially blind or deaf can now get to know the city's most famous monuments through tactile plates, audio descriptions or videos in sign language. 

The booklets are an initiative of Tourism Flanders and the City of Ghent and feature seven tourist highlights, including the Gravensteen and the three medieval towers that overlook the historic city centre. They allow visually impaired people to feel and hear the tourist attractions or link to videos with descriptions in sign language. 

"'Tactile plates are photographs covered with a tactile layer or a relief. And these tactile plates also contain an audio description that people can listen to on their phones," Alain Cloet, who came up with the idea for the route, told VRT. 

"Nowadays a lot of things are visual," said Cloet. "This is a growing problem for people with visual impairments. And we want to do something about that. We want these things to be accessible to them as well."

"The booklet is a Flemish first," Astrid De Bruycker, Ghent city councillor responsible equal opportunities, told Het Laatste Nieuws. "There are still a lot of barriers in our city when it comes to accessibility, but this is a step in the right direction." 

Various experts were involved in developing the guides, says De Bruycker. They are available in Dutch and English and can be borrowed from the Ghent tourist office.


#FlandersNewsService | Graslei along the Leie river in Ghent © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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