Leuven Town Hall - an impressive building with a long history , Source: Depositphotos

Digital tools help Leuven open up tourism to the deaf

Digital tools help Leuven open up tourism to the deaf

The city will launch an urban walk with a digital visual guide

On 3 December, the city of Leuven in Belgium will launch a city walk in sign language for people with disabilities, marking the International Day of People with Disabilities. The tour will be available through the Heritage app (Erfgoedapp), a digital tool to help people navigate local landmarks.

The walk has 15 stops and each offers people a short film in Flemish sign language and in International Sign Language with subtitles in Dutch or English. The new offer, on the other hand, will greatly increase the accessibility of the city for tourists, as most tour-guide offers include a speaker but not a sign language interpreter.

Developed by a member of the community

One of the most unique features of the city walk in sign language is that it was produced in collaboration with Gery Gerits, who is deaf himself and a member of the city’s Accessibility Advisory Committee. He explained that the deaf are a forgotten minority quite often because their disability is invisible.

On the other hand, the addition to the app was developed by Leuvenese cultural authorities like Erfgoedcel Leuven (Leuven Heritage Unit), a municipal organisation managing the digital tourism offer in the city.

Currently, the team has adapted the walk to have fifteen stops along the (tourist) highlights in the city centre (including town hall, Sint-Pieterskerk, M Leuven, University Library and Groot Begijnhof).

However, as Gery Gerits explained in an official statement, his aim is to open as many sites as possible to the deaf, especially museums.

Alderman for Culture and Tourism, Denise Vandevoort, was quoted in an official statement saying: “We think it is important that everyone can enjoy our beautiful city. According to our information, Leuven is therefore the first city in Flanders to offer a city walk for deaf and hard-of-hearing people with this tour.”



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