Venice and Disability: Inclusive Tourism

Venice is for everybody... More and more frequently, along with able-bodied people, quite a few people with disabilities or impairment travel around the world, sometimes with companions, some other times in total autonomy.
But how can a blind or visually impaired person experience Venice? Or a person with motor disability? Or deaf? Or someone with cognitive problems?
Venice is a very versatile city, particularly suitable for multi sensory experiences: it becomes then important to adapt the guided tour to the different needs of our guests, engaging everyone in an original and personal way.
This is actually the reason why I have decided to take some specialisation courses, in order to offer to all my guests a memorable experience in my sublime city.

Guided Tours for the Blind it the Visually Impaired

How can someone appreciate Venice if they cannot admire its colours, its marble laces, its unique architectures, its reflections and its glows?
I have frequently asked myself this question, but I have eventually realised that Venice is anyhow accessible to everyone, you just need to find the way to transmit its beauty differently.
I must admit that a special course really opened my eyes: the Venetian section of the Italian Union of Blind and Visually Impaired Persons (Uicve) has organised specific lessons in cooperation with some Tourists Guides that have proved to be excellent.
Both the theory lessons and the practical ones have led me into a totally different world, in which the sense of touch, the sense of smell, hearing, and taste partially substitute sight and give the possibility of experiencing the Pearl of the Adriatic (as Venice is also known) in a different, and nonetheless engaging and deep, way.

Guided tour with blind guests

Strolling around Venice on a Wheelchair… or in silence

When you say Venice, you automatically say bridges, steps, water…
Those who sit on a wheelchair or who have motor impairment might feel really frustrated. But with a bit of patience, and together with an expert Tourist Guide who has an excellent knowledge of the city and of the possibilities the city offers, the tour can become exciting!

In Venice on a wheelchair

The course held by CERPA (the European Centre for Research and Promotion of Accessibility) has allowed me to understand what critical issues people with motor disabilities have to cope with, and what can be the possible solutions. If you chose the itineraries and the means of transportation appropriately, visiting Venice won’t be more difficult than visiting other art cities in Italy.
The local authorities, moreover, have put resources and energy to transform Venice, in order for the city to become more accessible, and new investments are expected in the near future.

Ramps on the Venetian bridges

Thanks to CERPA I have also had the possibility to approach the world of deafness and of its main characteristic, silence.
I have wondered: “Venice without its noises… what kind of Venice is it?”.
Obviously the best solution would be to know the sign language… but there are a number of sign languages, specific for every different Country, and special courses are held in the universities to learn them… it is impossible for a Tourist Guide to learn all this.
However, a conscious guide can be really helpful for the fruition of a guided tour, adopting some important shrewdness…
After all, the real issue is to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes, in order to respect the necessities of all the different people we meet.

Venice and Cognitive Disability

Cognitive disability is frequently invisible, but not for this reason is it less important. Welcoming at our best children, teenagers, adults, senior citizens, who have disabilities that are not necessarily physical, is a challenge that our society must face, because everybody has the right to find in Venice an environment that can meet their necessities.
Once again the CERPA speakers have been really helpful, along with those of another association that mostly deals with autism.
For a Tourist Guide like myself this challenge has to be taken: knowing which kind of difficulties some people might find in a city like Venice, it is possible to organise a guided tour that will allow everybody to spend some pleasant moments.
The recipe is always the same patience, attention, respect and above all competence, not only as a guide but also as a person that is aware of the characteristics of different disabilities.
So here I am, ready to do my best to receive all of you, to help you live your magic moment in Venice!

Monica receiving her Certificate of Attendance

p.s. I would like to thank the Association Best Venice Guides, of which I am a memeber, for having projected and activated all these courses.