Just in time for the Paralympics, the Brazil Ministry of Tourism unveiled their guide to help welcome tourists with disabilities to the country. Titled Dicas Para Atender Bem Turistas com Deficiência (Tips for Better Serving Disabled Tourists), the guide was distributed to 35,000 tourism outlets including hotels and travel agencies throughout the country.
“Great service is a universal premise in tourism,” said Acting Minister of Tourism Alberto Alves, “and along with the accessibility of an attraction’s structures, it is important that tourist service providers know how to serve those with disabilities.”
After reviewing the booklet (which is published in Portuguese) I have to say that it’s a very good start. Filled with colorful illustrations, the publication gives basic tips for communicating and interacting with customers who are blind, deaf and have a physical or mental disability. Although it’s probably very basic information to customer service personnel in the US, this information isn’t typically dispersed throughout the tourism industry in Brazil.
Tips for interacting with wheelchair-users include:
- Look them directly in the eye, and come down to their level if possible.
- Always address the customer in a wheelchair, not their attendant.
- Ask if they want assistance before giving it.
- Never move a wheelchair-user without permission.
- Don’t not lean on wheelchair, as it is an extension of that person’s body space.
The booklet also includes some very basic information (like knowing the room numbers of disabled guests) about what to do in an emergency; but frankly I think they really could have covered much more on than subject.
And I have to say, I could do without some of their language — deficiency and impairment, for example — but it’s a good first try overall.
Still, I give them a big thumbs up for giving it a try and at least addressing the situation. After all, access has to start somewhere.