Accessibility of national cultural heritage to deaf tourists
Keywords:Inclusive Tourism; Sign language translation; Accessibility; User interfaces; Holography
Individuals with hearing impairments face numerous obstacles when engaged in touristic activities or using infrastructure and services in touristic spots. When tourism is considered a social good of first necessity, new concerns arise and pressure for inclusion in the sector stimulates the advance of innovative solutions for inclusive tourism. There are also economic interests in inclusive tourism, an unexplored market niche that might compensate the expected drop on the tourism growth rate in comparison to recent years in Portugal. The ICHT project – Inclusive Cultural Heritage Tourism – aims to promote the accessibility of deaf tourists to cultural heritage by embedding new technology-aids, online and on-site, to raise awareness, to attract deaf tourists, to assist them while visiting us, and to exploit their experience as a new dissemination channel. ICHT is focused on creating digital tools and digital content in sign language to be available online, on mobile devices and on-site at cultural touristic attractions in the North of Portugal through innovative channels like games, holography, and collaborative platforms. ICHT advocates the integration of novel high-tech sign language user interfaces in tourism destinations and stimulates local operators to learn the basics of sign language communication to welcome deaf tourists in Portugal. ICHT brings in R&D world-class results in the field of automatic sign language translation qualifying Portugal to guide Inclusive Tourism worldwide and become a pioneer leading the Tourism of the Future. The full system includes an on-site application using holography, a game to play on a mobile device (before, during, and after visiting the attraction), an online collaborative platform to assist deaf and non-deaf tourists, and a set of International Sign training courses. The ICHT system will be available in five pilot installations at Torre dos Clérigos, Lello bookshop, Maia Zoo, Port wine cellars, and Viseu thermae. ICHT brings a new approach to teach sign language to the professionals in the touristic sector opening new opportunities for a more inclusive society. The sign language training together with the assistive technology tools developed by ICHT generate inclusive environments for the deaf. ICHT has the potential to become a PIN project in the Tourism sector.
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