T-GuIDE Survey Results

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In accordance with the Leonardo “T-GuIDE” project’s aim to produce a training package for tourist guides in guiding people with learning difficulties or/and intellectual disabilities, the partnership has examined the current state of the art in this field and has engaged with stakeholders to identify the most critical issues and training needs to be addressed. The results of three online surveys have thus fed into the production of a Competence Manual and a Training Manual which will be piloted and evaluated by professional qualified tourist guides from various EU countries in two phases in summer 2014.

Three different surveys were used in order to gather the different perspectives of tourism providers, visitors and tourist guides, respectively on the experience of guiding people with learning difficulties or/and intellectual disabilities.

The large response by 152 tourist guides was particularly impressive and encouraging. The two other surveys remain open until 30th September 2014 so as to include more views and experiences of visitors and tourism providers which will be used to validate the final training products. The surveys are available on http://www.t-guide.eu/?i=t-guide.en.surveys

The perspective of Tourism Providers

The majority of the respondents already provided tourist services to customers with disabilities, including guided tours to people with learning difficulties or/ and intellectual disabilities (78%). Reports on perceived barriers showed varied levels of awareness of cross- disability accessibility standards, from little knowledge to some understanding of access requirements such as providing information in alternative formats or  assisting visitors when finding their way through a venue or attraction.

All of the respondents (100%) reported that they already employ/ contract, or would like to  employ tourist guides who are already trained in this field. Another important finding is that providers tend to view such services as part of their mainstream service provision, which goes hand in hand with mainstreaming accessible tourism provision and increasing social inclusion.

The perspective of Visitors

Most of the participants in this survey included people working in disability support organizations as well as travel companions or family/friends who support people with learning difficulties or/and intellectual disabilities when traveling. This group clearly expressed (100%) that the ability to travel and participate in leisure and culture activities is of great significance, heightening the need for increased service provision in these respects.

The respondents identified a range of barriers in their experience of guided tours, which related to the accessibility of venues, but also importantly to the way a tour was delivered, in terms of pace of speech, terminology and explanations used, room for questions and interaction allowed, all of which influenced visitors’ satisfactionwith a tour.

That group of respondents was quite naturally in the position to suggest useful ideas that would make a tour more friendly and accessible to people with learning disabilities, such as a respectful and warm attitude towards visitors, use of easy to understand language, interactive presentations and awareness of access barriers. All respondents (100%) said that they would be more likely to choose a tour if they knew that the tourist guide had been trained to lead a group including people with intellectual disabilities or learning difficulties.

The perspective of Tourist Guides

The great majority of the 152 respondents were certified tourist guides, actively working in the field and interested in career development opportunities. Half of them had some experience in guiding groups of people with learning difficulties or intellectual disabilities, however only 30% of them currently offered such service.

Issues reported based on their experience of guiding people with learning difficulties or/and intellectual disabilities had to do with the preparation of such a tour, such as checking the accessibility of a venue in advance, the management of the group and catering for different needs and preferences, but also importantly their own attitudes and reflection that it may be hard to change conventional practice to accommodate differentiated needs.

Finally, most tourist guides believed that special training should be offered in this area, and expressed their interest to follow such a course, so as to gain relevant competences and skills, hands-on techniques and awareness of barriers, while there was a view that these should be offered in a high-standard certification framework. The T-GuIDE project very much aims to meet this expectation.


Lifelong Learning Programme

The T-GuIDE project is supported through the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme, "Leonardo da Vinci", Transfer of Innovation. Agreement number: 527776-LLP-1-2012-1-IT-LEONARDO-LMP.

T-GuIDE is conducted under the supervision of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.

This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.