MGTO partners industry to steer personnel towards effective communication with persons with disabilities to foster accessible tourism

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MGTO and MGM co-organize the Seminar on “Effective communication with persons with disabilities towards a barrier-free environment”

MACAO, March 26, 2019 – Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) and MGM co-organized the Seminar on “Effective communication with persons with disabilities towards a barrier-free environment” today (25 March), in tandem with the co-launch of the “Power in Our Hands” community e-learning program of Macao sign language. The two collaborative initiatives aim to steer tourism services towards greater accessibility and instill deeper awareness in tourism industry personnel about different special needs, supporting the scheme of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government to optimize the accessibility of the urban environment.

The Seminar on “Effective communication with persons with disabilities towards a barrier-free environment” was held at MGM COTAI. Arranged by the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation, individuals with physical, visual and auditory disabilities from Fuhong Society of Macau, the Hong Kong Society for the Deaf and Hong Kong Blind Union were present at the Seminar for an exchange of insights and sharing of experiences with industry participants. The occasion was attended by MGTO Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, MGTO Head of Training and Quality Management Department, Doris Leong, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of MGM China Holdings Limited, Grant Bowie, Senior Vice President of Human Resources of MGM, Wendy Yu, Senior Assistant Deputy Director-General of Social Affairs Department of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macao Special Administrative Region, Lam Tan Hong, and President of Macau Deaf Association, Lou Weng Hang, among others.

Foster accessible tourism with industry partners
Following the training session “Communication with people with disabilities” organized for its staff last year, MGTO held a seminar for free admission of local hotel staff to help them gain deeper insights into the needs of people with different disabilities and ways to communicate with them, so that they can gain stronger confidence in respective communication and provide higher-quality services for people with special needs. The Seminar engaged close to 200 industry participants.  

In speaking at the Seminar, Senna Fernandes stated that in view of tourism as a service industry, MGTO hopes to help industry personnel learn more deeply about people with different special needs and how to communicate with them, in order to enhance service quality across the industry. MGTO strives to support the SAR Government’s endeavor to optimize the urban environment towards greater accessibility in terms of hardware facilities, human resources and other areas. In recent years, MGTO has continued to organize training courses, workshops and other initiatives for industry personnel, as well as co-organized training initiatives like seminars with industry partners last year, with the hope that industry personnel can capitalize on these opportunities. The Office will continue to take into consideration suggestions from the trade and tailor a wider spectrum of training activities according to the demand of the trade.

Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of MGM China Holdings Limited, Grant Bowie, said, “MGM fully supports equal opportunities and diversity in our workforce and we are very honored to co-organize this meaningful seminar with MGTO. It allows our team members and the industry to deeper their understanding of the needs of different people. We are also proud to be the pioneer in launching the first e-learning program for sign language in Macao, making a convenient learning platform available for the Macao community. We will continue to support the Macao SAR Government in promoting and enhancing accessible tourism, thus building a harmonious and inclusive community.”

Senior Consultant of the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation, Ng Hang Sau, gave an introduction about disabilities, followed by a presentation of Director of Fuhong Society of Macau, Jennifer Chau, about rehabilitation services in Macao nowadays. Industry participants expressed genuine interest in the presentations, listening intently and proffering enthusiastic response. Through sharing of individuals with physical, visual and auditory disabilities, they gained more profound insights into their disabilities and special needs. Instructor at the Vocational Rehabilitation and Retraining Centre, the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation, Lam Leung-ming, shared about his needs and experiences in daily life as a physically-disabled, while Public Education Ambassador of Hong Kong Blind Union, Alex Chan, and Senior Employment Officer of the Hong Kong Society for the Deaf, Sarah Lee, shared about their world of senses and ways of effective communication as persons with visual and auditory disabilities respectively.

During the Q&A session, participants and guest speakers had a discussion about things for hotels’ attention when attending to overnight guests with auditory and visual disabilities. Guest speakers suggested installment of flashlights and touchable maps at hotels to facilitate persons with auditory and visual disabilities in case of emergency.

Launch of first e-learning program for sign language
MGTO and MGM also co-launched the “Power in Our Hands” community e-learning program of Macao sign language, facilitating learning of industry personnel about communication with people with different special needs by offering a handy e-learning platform. This is the first e-learning program MGTO presents in partnership with a tourism enterprise. With the support of Macau Deaf Association, the program provides elementary knowledge about sign language, expression of Macao’s tourism resources and basic daily conversations in sign language and so forth, enabling industry personnel to learn and grasp sign language at rudimentary level. The program aims to facilitate their exchange with coworkers or patrons with auditory disabilities at work, and promote barrier-free communication at workplaces and within travel experiences. Local tourism industry personnel are welcome to join the e-learning program for free, available in Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese and English, by clicking the link to the “Power in Our Hands” community e-learning program of Macao sign language at Macao Tourism Industry Net (http://industry.macaotourism.gov.mo) for program introduction and use.

With Macao stepping up to become a world centre of tourism and leisure, the composition of visitor source markets has grown increasingly diverse and international, leading to a growing demand for barrier-free transportation and urban environment in Macao. In view of this, MGTO creates pertinent training opportunities for staff and industry personnel, with the dedication to enhance service quality for people with different disabilities while creating high-quality, accessible tourism and work environments inclusive for the disabled and able-bodied, in line with the scheme of the Macao Special Administrative Region Government to optimize the accessibility of the urban environment. 

A kick-off ceremony for the “Power in Our Hands” community e-learning program of Macao sign language is held at the seminar
Guests and industry participants get a hands-on experience of the sign language e-learning program
Instructor Lam Leung-ming shares about his needs in daily life as a physically-disabled
Seminar on “Effective communication with persons with disabilities towards a barrier-free environment”