By Analou De Vera
The Department of Tourism (DOT) recently accredited 13 new deaf tour guides, who aim at serving tourists with special needs.
The new tour guides were members of the Deafinite Tour Guiding Service (DTGS), a nonprofit, professional organization consisting of deaf tour guides committed to deaf identity.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said that having tour guides skilled with knowledge of sign language and an understanding of the services needed by persons with disabilities (PWDs) is a must under the tourism department’s “thrust for barrier-free tourism.”
“Not only will this provide quality service to tourists with special needs, but more importantly, this will create opportunities, which are the very essence of an inclusive tourism industry,” she said.
The tourism chief said they are eyeing to conduct more training programs in partnership with the National Council on Disability Affairs.
“We’re working with the National Council on Disability Affairs. We’re identifying areas, where there is a notable number of population of deaf and mute,” said Puyat.
The DOT initiated an interagency consultation to address the facilities and infrastructure lacking in the country’s tourism establishments earlier this year.
One of the identified challenges is the small number of service providers who have the skills to communicate with local and foreign tourists who are deaf, the DOT said.
At present, only 27 deaf tour guides have passed the training process of the DOT-Office of Industry Manpower Development (DOT-OIMD).