Communication Barriers

In a tourist destination, communication barriers can adversely affect the quality of reception as well as the architectural ones and it often happens that people with hearing disabilities face obstacles that prevent them from understanding information or the comfortable and safe use of spaces and services. We talk about it with ENS National President Giuseppe Petrucci and Consuelo Agnesi, architect and professional for accessibility.

Article by Serena Stefanoni


Communication barriers, like architectural barriers, can negatively affect the quality of a holiday for people with hearing disabilities. This can happen both during the trip and in the stay at a tourist facility.

From the interpersonal relationship with the operators to the access, to the exchange of information that allow to use services, spaces and equipment, the problems that can be encountered are different, but all referable to the principle that communication, to be effective, must privilege the visual channel transforming everything that can not be heard into something that can be seen.

And this can help not only the training of personnel but also the use of design and technological solutions suitable for the case. We talk about it with ENS National President Giuseppe Petrucci and Consuelo Agnesi, architect and professional for accessibility.


What are the problems, related to communication barriers, that can meet a person with hearing disability during a trip?

The trip, often can be revealed an odyssey, from the beginning, for those who do not feel, both in terms of the environment and in tourism, often due to the lack of services.

The person with hearing disability lives in a world where sound communication is the primary channel and consequently fails to actively participate or to grasp everything that is not visible to his eyes or to discriminate all the individual information that is conveyed through the sound.

In our country we have a lot of misinformation about the universe of deafness and related daily problems, so that in the environment, in total absence of auditory feedback, we have insurmountable obstacles that jeopardize both the security and the use in full autonomy of space.

There are many problems: from the lack of attention to environmental communication – which often does not allow the orientation or identification of places of interest – the absence of visual warnings in the event of an emergency, the lack of visual translation of announcements in stations such as exchange of the train to the impossibility of being able to use any service such as calling the ambulance in case of need or making a hotel reservation.


Why did you choose to treat this theme in the article?

Simply because today we tend to speak only of architectural barriers and little or nothing of perceptive and communication barriers, which, although “invisible”, affect the daily life of people with hearing disabilities / deaf, in any context (school, work, free time).

If we want to achieve collective well-being, it is important to understand the specific needs of each and offer the possibility of being able to access any service and, in particular, to guarantee its quality.


What can be done to improve reception?

To improve reception in the tourism sector, the right way to provide information on both the environment and services must be developed in every context.

Today we are too tied to the sound society when in reality we have available tools, methods, resources and devices that allow us to have a multi-sensorial communication of all information: only in this way can we guarantee active participation to anyone, including deaf and deaf people.

In accommodation facilities, for example, very little is enough: today we have a wide range of possibilities to make it accessible, both in terms of technological tools and human resources. You can start from simple booking services through e-mail, chat and / or video call, have a complete website of information and for the reception, if possible, the training of staff so that it can be prepared for communication with people deaf.

The autonomy can also be guaranteed inside the building through technological devices that allow visual and vibrating signals of alarms, alarms and possibly also the improvement of communication with the reception.


Do you have any other suggestions?

I think it is important, in order to guarantee the collective well-being and offer quality services, the involvement of professionals and associations in the realization of inclusive solutions, as they are aware of both the tools and the necessary information.

I think it’s important to start a change of course in terms of culture: accessible tourism is not a mere “niche” sector, it is simply an unexplored market and the integration of new resources and services only brings benefits and opportunities to the whole collectivity.