By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Inside of one week to the start of the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism unveiled on Wednesday, August 31st, a guide to help welcome tourists with disabilities to Brazil, titled Dicas Para Atender Bem Turistas com Deficiência (Tips for Better Serving Disabled Tourists).
Officials plan to distribute 35,000 copies of the guide, which provides information and recommendations to facilitate travel throughout the country for tourists with disabilities.
“We need to make people aware of how they should behave in relation to tourists with disabilities,” said Hercy Rodrigues, acting National Secretary of Tourism Promotion and Training, at Wednesday’s press conference at Casa Brasil. “This guide is an invitation to look at people with disabilities more attentively.”
Acting Minister of Tourism, Alberto Alves, emphasized to reporters that accessibility is a universal right, and tourists with disabilities visiting Brazil must be given the best possible conditions to move around and travel throughout the country.
“Great service is a universal premise in tourism,” said Minister 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.”
“This initiative helps everyone understand that we are people with disabilities, but we are also consumers,” added Rosinha of Adefal, Special Secretary of People with Disabilities.
Using easy-to-understand illustrations, Dicas Para Atender Bem Turistas com Deficiência provides various examples of serving tourists with specific disabilities and explains particular aspects to ease communication with people who have hearing or visual impairments, who are deaf or blind, and those with physical or mental disabilities.
In addition, the guide offers tips to enhance accessibility for people with reduced mobility, such as the elderly and pregnant women. The guide states, “For each deficiency, there is a specific service required.”
Finally, safety tips are also included for employees of commercial establishments, public agencies, and hotels, on how to take care of guests with disabilities during an emergency situation, such as how to inform a person who is deaf about an emergency alarm.
Andrew Parsons, the President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee, welcomed the launch of the guide, which he considered especially timely on the eve of the Rio Paralympics, where over four thousand of the world’s greatest para-athletes will compete. “The Games in Rio offer a unique opportunity to enhance this campaign, it’s so important for people with disabilities,” said Parsons.
The Ministry of Tourism will distribute 35,000 copies of the guide to various outlets within the tourism industry, such as hotels and tourist agencies. “We will distribute the guides to all those who receive and provide support to tourists,” said Secretary Rodrigues. The 75-page guide is also available for download at the Ministry of Tourism’s website.
Dicas Para Atender Bem Turistas com Deficiência was launched at a press conference at Casa Brazil, the largest of the Olympic Houses, located on Olympic Boulevard. During the Games, the three-kilometer long waterfront stretch located in Rio’s Port Zone offered live Olympic coverage on big screens, three stages with live music, street art performances, nightly firework displays, food trucks and activities for kids.
Until the start of the 2016 Rio Paralympics, many of the activities have closed, but tourists visiting the area can still visit Casa Brazil, which opens from 2PM to 8PM. Starting September 7th, the beginning of the Paralympics, Casa Brazil will extend hours from 10AM to 8PM.