An Inclusive Community of Practice for Cultural Heritage Tourism
Tourist activity has grown to be of extreme importance for a country’s economy, notably in several countries like Portugal, where the tourism sector accounts for over 15% of the national GDP. As of this moment, ensuring that our country has conditions to welcome and assist every tourist interested in our cultural heritage tourism while offering equal opportunities in the access information and use of infrastructures, is a priority. The Inclusive Cultural Heritage Tourism project uses assistive technologies, as well as inclusive and educative tools, to enhance inclusive tourism and to raise awareness of the lack of inclusion and accessibility of the deaf community, through regular interaction between deaf and non-deaf communities promoted by a Community of Practice developed for this purpose. One of its major purposes is to inform and educate about sign language. Also, this forum allows both communities to share their difficulties, thoughts, and ideas on matters of inclusion and tourism. This is accomplished through social networks, where a structure of interaction is built to enable the discussion and engagement of all participants in numerous activities. By developing a Community of Practice where everyone can communicate without barriers, we are contributing to the overall goal of the project: to create an environment where deaf and non-deaf individuals have the same opportunities to understand and be understood. The focus is to make cultural heritage venues inclusive and accessible, aiming for the easy access of deaf individuals to information and infrastructures. This, along with our community of practice, developed to assist and welcome every deaf individual, has the potential to offer better conditions to the deaf community, in their right to equal opportunities. Thus, the aim is to ensure that Portugal is able to position itself as a pioneer in inclusive tourism, as well as an up-to-date technological, inclusive, and accessible country for any tourist, local or foreigner, wishing to visit national cultural heritage venues.
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