Disabled-friendly Tourism led by Disabled People
Jongno-gu office

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Promotion of disabled-friendly tourism : Protecting the human rights of people with disabilities has greatly increased in today's global society. A majority of countries are expanding their social welfare systems and infrastructure to protect their socially disadvantaged citizens. As part of this worldwide effort, many countries incorporate the concept of welfare and promote accessible tourism in which various programs enable people to enjoy travelling and pastime activities despite their disability. In other words, the tourism industry in these countries has adapted facilities for people with physical disabilities and made available safety devices such as teletypewriter kits, vibration alarm clocks, or flashing- light door buzzers available for people with hearing impairment. Disabled-friendly services are also evident for tourists with visual impairment at tourist destinations because information is available in large print and braille formats along with audio alarm services. However, further investigation is needed to ensure disabled tourists are fully satisfied with the improved access to tour sites and whether there is any discrimination against disabled tourists being encountered. The lack of support services may pose a problem in accessible tourism : Jongno-gu is located in the heart of Seoul, which has served as the capital city of Korea since 1394. Over the last 600 years, Jongno-gu has flourished as a historical and cultural community. There are four palaces for ancient royal families, Jongmyo Shrine, and a large collection of cultural artifacts. Especially Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shirine are designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. According to a statistic report, 8.3 million foreign tourists visited Jongno-gu in 2013 , accounting for 70% of total foreign visitors to Korea. Jongno-gu is one of the most visited places in Korea. Jongno has started storytelling services like world`s major sites and cities for visitors. Storytelling tours in Korean and foreign languages are offered at 19 destinations including Bukchon Hanok Village and Seoul City Wall in Jongno-gu and named that services “Alley Tour Program” . In 2013, 18,000 tourists participated in the storytelling tours provided by Jongno-gu but the use of this service is very rare among disabled tourists according to our research. Moreover, the number of disabled tourists visiting Jongno-gu has also been very low. These findings stand in contrast with the expectation that demand for travel has risen among people with disabilities. Although tourist attractions improve accessible infrastructure and provide mobility aids, the visits of disabled tourists remain low. We therefore investigated the barriers faced by disabled people who want to travel and found that It was very hard for disabled people to get some information or guides to meet the level of their disability such as different size prints and braille formats at cultural destinations in Korea and sign language is not offered either. Group tours for disabled people to cultural heritages have been sometimes organized by welfare or community centers, but these remain one-time events. Indeed, we found no support services for disabled people. Thus, an accessible tourism environment is not sufficiently developed in Korea to attract people with disabilities.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Jongno-gu's approach in accessible tourism : The Tourism and Sports Team in Jongno-gu District Office resolved to determine solutions to promote tourism among people with disabilities because the issue was considered too important to be left unsolved. As the first step toward improving travel opportunities and access to cultural destinations among disabled people, Jongno-gu started its research on nationwide tour guide operation. A total of 2,530 certified tour guides were employed in 2011, and 207 of these were working in Seoul. Because tour guides are paid for their services, many people want to obtain a certificate as a tour guide. However, as well as lacking guiding service for disabled people, there were no disabled people working as guides either. Typical tour guide services are designed for non-disabled people, making them inadequate for meeting the needs of the disabled in many cases. We contemplated such support services as tour routes for use by the visually impaired and sign language services for the hearing impaired. In other words, it is the disabilities – tailored We have ensured that any disabled-friendly services will benefit a large number of disabled people and help improve their quality of life. Preliminary activities to launch a tour guide training program for disabled people : Our initial plan was to train non-disabled people to serve tourists with disabilities. To identify the general characteristics of disabled people, we visited schools of special education and related associations. The results of our research showed that many people have amblyopia among those with visual impairment while acquired disabilities, which result from accident or disease after birth, are rapidly increasing. Most people with acquired disabilities cannot read Braille, and information prepared in large print is not sufficient to accommodate different types of amblyopia. In particular, people with acquired vision loss tend to consider the idea of a tour a luxury fantasy. However, hearing impairment is present at birth in many incidences, making hearing impaired individuals unable to communicate with speech. Often, illiteracy is also high among this population. Separately, sign language interpreters encounter difficulties in interpreting sign language because it is not the language they use daily just as when a non-native speaker may have trouble speaking another language as fluently as the native speakers of that language do. In addition, disability programs delivered by the central government have not appealed to the target population and relevant associations. They tend to consider most disability services insincere and inconsistent. And the government didn`t fully understand the situation of disability people. As a result, it would be very hard to motivate them to increase their social or leisure activities, including travel, with the pre-existing programs. A new approach toward disability services : While identifying those problems during research, we hesitated, contemplating what would be the better solution between tour guide services by non-disabled people and taking a new approach toward disabled-friendly tourism. Based on the two prominent issues--a variety of disabilities among disabled people and their strong mistrust of national disability services-- Jongno-gu sought a solution in people with disability. It was decided to train disabled people as tour guides and have them provide guide services to their peers. That is, visually impaired people will provide guide service to those with visual impairment, and hearing impaired people will take care of those with hearing impairment at tour sites. To ensure the effectiveness of this approach, we conducted the program on a trial basis and launched the tour guide training program for people with hearing or visual impairment for the first time.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Disabled people are trained as tour guides in disability services : The training program is aimed to train disabled people as program operators providing a disability service. Additionally, guidance methods were tailored according to the degree of disability in trainees and new tour routes were developed to help trainees feel more comfortable. This program represents a significant departure from the typical work available for disabled individuals because they are given the chance to play a leading role through their work as a tour guide. Disabled people may find tour guiding a very interesting thing to do. Guidance methods should be modified to suit the needs of disabled tourists. Tour guides should be able to help visually impaired people imagine the structure of palaces and hearing impaired people understand the story of the palace via sign language. Disabled tour guides may be more appropriate than non-disabled guide to provide guide services for their peers. What we had to was to train these candidates and support them in their efforts to provide guide services successfully. The aim of this program led by disabled people is to promote the social participation of disabled citizens and to create a job category that can be available.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The tour guide training program for disabled people : Jongno-gu first sought an education institute qualified to train people with hearing or visual impairment and scheduled to create teaching materials. When briefing teachers of special schools about the plan, their reactions were skeptical, commenting that there is almost no chance of success despite good intentions. They said this project must be needed but the impracticalities. However, an NGO named The Rediscovery of Korea showed its willingness to join the training program based on its experience in producing non-disabled tour guides. The tour guide training program kicked off : Jongno-gu created a tour guide training program for people with hearing or visual impairment, and a total of 32 applicants (13 the visual impaired and 19 the hearing impaired) signed up for the training. The training course is composed of three sessions: theory and practice, advanced course and actual job performance for monitoring and delivered through 27 classes (excluding the time for manual composition), taking 146 hours. The course started with the first class introducing cultural artifacts on March 8, 2011. The teaching materials were tailored according to the types and degrees of disability among trainees. ⓐ Theory and practice at tour sites Teaching materials were prepared in braille and large print for blind and visually impaired trainees, respectively, while audio materials were offered to blind trainees who cannot read braille. Trainees were escorted to tour sites by instructors (one instructor per two trainees) and instructed to develop a precise sense of touch for the things they learned in class. Two sign language interpreters and mentors assisted visually impaired trainees in taking in-class lectures and field trips and answering queries from trainees. Pictures were widely used for hearing impaired trainees whose reading ability is low despite good eyesight. The theory and practice session was completed by tests that were conducted verbally for visually impaired trainees and in writing for hearing impaired trainees. Trainees who passed the test undertook the advanced course. ⓑ Advanced course Trainees were classified into different groups depending on their test results and tour sites. A total of 5 tour sites were chosen as workplaces for the trainees, and each trainee was assigned to one of the sites. Following this, the trainees augmented their knowledge of the allocated tour sites and their skills as a tour guide during the 6-class advanced course. As an assignment, the trainees were required to design and create a tour guide manual on their own. ⓒ Assessment of work performance The advanced course was completed by guiding an actual tour using a manual created in class at tour sites. Visually or hearing impaired guests were invited as tourists, and they provided feedback on the guide performance of the trainees. Tours guided by disabled people in Jongno-gu : A total of 16 trainees (5 visually impaired and 11 hearing impaired) completed the advanced course, and they now work as tour guides at Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Jongmyo Shrine and Bukchon Hanok Village. They are the first disabled tour guides in Korea.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Intersectoral collaboration : Collaboration with an NGO was one of the main keys to the success of the tour guide training program. ⓐ Jongno-gu: Jongno-gu recruited trainees, provided administrative support to have the training program delivered as planned, and evaluated the outcomes for future trainings, in addition to funding the first training course. ⓑ The Rediscovery of Korea: This NGO is engaged in a variety of activities to inform clients about the history and culture of Korea in an easy and user-friendly manner. This NGO played diverse roles in the training program through overseeing trainees, recruiting lecturers, creating the curriculum, operating classes and field trips, arranging tests and developing manuals. ⓒ Nowon Welfare Center for the Visually Impaired and Silroam Braille Library: These intersectoral partners provided teaching materials, including enlarged print textbooks and braille and audio books, and supplied helpers for the field trips of visually impaired trainees. They also built a website to promote the training program. ⓓ Cultural Heritage Administration: This unit allowed field trips and the free entry of the trainees and accompanying tourists anytime when the trainees visited the tour sites for practice sessions and actual work performance. ⓔ Korean Deaf Association: The association provided sign language interpretation and promoted the training program among its members for their participation. ⓕ Korea Tourism Organization and Hanyang University Tourism R&D Center: These units were jointly responsible for providing financial resources for the 2nd training course.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Financial resources : Jongno-gu allocated a budge of KR30 million to launch and operate the tour guide training programs in 2011. In 2014, the Korea Tourism Organization and Hanyang University Tourism R&D Center funded KR18 million as part of the intersectoral collaboration for the launch of the training program for the second time. Human resources involved : Individuals involved in the program from March 1 to July 28, 2012 reached nearly 500, including 5 consultants involved in creating teaching materials. Involvement included 11 lecturers for theoretical education and 88 lecturers for field education for practical experience and the advanced course, 110 helpers assisting trainees at sites and 140 tourists invited as guest tourists who evaluated the job performance of trained guides. One lecturer was assigned to two visually impaired trainees whereas one lecturer was assigned to 10 hearing impaired trainees. Developments of teaching materials and assistive devices : - Enlarged print textbooks, braille and audio books ※ Audio books were replaced with audio readers for the 2nd training course in 2014. - Braille maps to improve understanding of visually impaired trainees on tour routes. - The maps were created in 2013 to help visually impaired trainees understand the overall landscape structure of tour sites, and trainees were required to be familiar with tour routes in advance. Raise Fund on internet portal site ‘ Daum’ : - Disabled Tour Guides tried to let people know their starting and activities. So they planned to raise the fund for publicity events through funding program on the internet. They really hoped even the non-disabled people know their discomforts moving and feeling inside tourist attractions and wanted to draw the understanding from the non-disabled about the need of the disability-tailed services and activities of disabled tour guides. At last they`ve got one million from funding program and held events to promote the program. Actually they want to be a part of this program actively.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
a. Inclusion of people with disabilities in tourism is expected to rise : Currently, around 1,000 tourists use the guided tours provided by the trained guides, with an increasing number of tourists using the services. They visit a greater number of tourist attractions for sightseeing while tourists encounter a new experience with tour guides who have the same disability as they do. Disabled tourists are likely to enjoy the tour as the guidance is easy to understand and they are given enough time to touch the objects they encounter and to appreciate all the stimuli presented during tour, feeling open and relaxed. b. Development of tour guide manuals : The tour guide manuals that were created by trainees will be updated for the use of trainees in the second training course. Separately, a disabled-friendly manual was also developed to help disabled tourists understand and feel the surrounding environment through their senses of touch, hearing and small, in addition to the other actions they are capable of. The tour guide manuals are being used by trainees in the second training course. c. Job creations for disabled people : This training program can lead to more job creation for those with hearing or visual impairment. Tour guides with a disability have the potential to provide more disabled-friendly guiding services to disabled tourists while their services can attract non-disabled tourists as well. When they have enough work experience as tour guides, they can extend into lecturing and other job categories. d. The healing effect of the training program : People with acquired visual impairment reportedly have a higher risk of developing stress and depression. They are 2 to 3 times more likely to commit suicide. A young man with acquired vision loss and his sister took the guide service provided by a trained guide. His sister was concerned about the isolated life of her brother because he stayed home all the time. He was touched by the tour guide; his bravery in overcoming his disability and his work as an active member of society was impressive and encouraging. In another case, an elementary school student attracted attention when helping her hearing impaired mother. Interpreting for her mother is not always simple for a child. However, she felt comfortable when experiencing the guide service provided by a hearing impaired tourist because she did not need to interpret. She even enjoyed using sign language with other tourists.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
a. Progress monitoring : Once the training program was launched, the progress made by the trainees was monitored in multiple stages. The first assessment was made by certain employees of Jongno-gu District Office and lecturers in terms of attendance, learning attitude and test results. The second assessment was based on the tour guide manual that each trainee created during the advanced course. The third assessment took place at tour sites where trainees performed guide services, and lecturers and invited disabled tourists evaluated their work performance. b. Monitoring of the guide services : While working as tour guides, the trained guides are required to attend the advanced courses scheduled 3 to 4 times a year to update the guiding content, and their services are also evaluated by tourists. Evaluation is conducted using texts because a questionnaire cannot be completed by disabled tourists. Trained guides are instructed to improve their services if they receive lower scores in the evaluation, and their certificate is revoked if their work performance remains poor. Trained guides can work as tour guides by submitting an applicant to the responsible employee of Jongno-gu District Office and must submit photos taken as evidence of services rendered; the daily fee is paid to them based on the evidence. One visually impaired trained guide was fired because he submitted fake evidence.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
a. A lack of trust toward national disability services : It was not easy to attract the attention of disabled people to the training program because of their generally cynical attitude toward disability services. However, Jongno-gu kept up its efforts to convince them of the direction and prospects of the project. b. A lack of aid from the central government agencies: The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) and Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) : Jongno-gu found the estimated costs for the training program for disabled people were three times higher than costs for a similar training program for non-disabled people. Jongno-gu therefore requested a subsidy available from the MCST for the wellbeing of disabled people but the MCST did not agree to the need for such a training program and refused aid. The CHA also did not consider the training program necessary for disabled people because of possible accidents to tour guides at tour sites and the interruption to tours of non-disabled tourists as their excuse. Jongno-gu invited employees of CHA as lecturers for the training and class viewers. The CHA now assists Jongno-gu in promoting the training program via its website. The CHA allows trainees to visit tour sites that are not open to the public in an attempt to support the training program. c. A lack of budget for the training program : The training program requires much funding to finance custom teaching materials, 1:1 lessons, lecturer payroll, sign language interpretation, accessible lecture rooms and assistants. Jongno-gu didn`t have enough money at that time. Fortunately, Silroam Braille Library created teaching materials for almost nothing and lecturers and sign language interpreters accepted low pay. Welfare Center for the Visually Impaired sent volunteers to help trainees. As a result, the program was done with one third of the costs Jongno-gu initially estimated.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
a: Disabled-friendly tourism : A total of 16 visually or hearing impaired tour guides have been produced in Jongno-gu since 2011, and a total of 2,883 disabled tourists (1,634 visually impaired people and 1,249 hearing impaired people) used the guided tour offered by these trained guides. Among these tourists, 996 were members of various associations, including the Korean Association of Visually-Handicapped People and the Daegu Deaf Association. By area, 1,578 tourists were from Seoul and 1,069 were from other areas. Given the central location of Jongno-gu in Seoul, visiting Jongno-gu may be a long-distance trip depending on departure area. However, many visitors from areas other than Seoul have also used the guide services. b. Disability service led by disabled people : Disabled individuals are usually objects of compassion and beneficiaries of disability services that are offered by non-disabled people. This stereotyped practice is prominent in Korea; disabled people are paid for their attendance in a training program, in the worst cases where some organizers used the attendance rate as the indicator of the success of their education program. These programs were offered in favor of the interest of organizers rather than the welfare of the disabled community but getting paid for just attendance is enough to incentivize disabled people. Jongno-gu took a novel approach in disability services by introducing a model in which disabled people are service providers and derive income from their services as a tour guide. Demand for their guide services has steadily increased, spurring some media outlets to cover the program already. The training program is becoming a common interest among people with disabilities. Foreign tourists can also apply for the guide services, which will be delivered through international sign language for hearing impaired tourists. English-speaking tour guides are also available for foreigners with visual impairment. c. Disabled-friendly program operation : The training program is aimed for the wellness of disabled citizens, so it is maintained in a way that ensures their convenience and easy use. They can use a telephone, text or email to submit their application, and all document formats are easy to read and fill out, regardless of educational background. d. Social prejudice against tour guide by disabled people reduced : As the guide services by the trained disabled people are covered by media, many non-disabled people, including students learning sign language, have signed up for the services. There are parents who took their children to this guided tour on purpose to have their children develop a broader understanding of disable people as full and equal members of society and values in building a harmonious society. As non-disabled people favorably respond to their guide services, the trained guides raised money online using Daum, one of Korea's search portals, to purchase eye patches and canes for the use of non-disabled people who want to share the experiences of vision impairment during a guided tour. e. Creation of new job category for the disabled people : In Korea, it is very hard for the disabled people to have a job and the field of jobs are so limited . It is true that the system of welfare has been approved and developed nowadays. However the jobs are totally different stories. Jongno-gu that has operated the program for two years is convinced that the job of tour guide at the cultural sites could be the livelihood for the disabled people. It depends on the government`s will.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
a. Prospects for the training program : The training program and guide services by trained disabled people are worth pursuing for the wellness of disable people as backed by the Disabilities Protection Welfare Act. The program provides disabled citizens with opportunities to participate in the society and improve their quality of life. Economically, new job opportunities for freelance lecturers, tour service providers or jobs in NGOs can arise. Increasing participation of the disabled in outdoor activities including travel will also have positive effects on their family lives. Based on these prospects, Jongno-gu has offered the training program since 2011. The training program is taking place for the second time with an increase of applicants of 21 visually impaired and 6 hearing impaired trainees. Hanyang University and the Korea Tourism Organization provide partial funding for the program. We expect the program will become more stable if it can be integrated into state-funded programs that are currently conducted to train non-disabled people. b. Benchmarked by Seoul Metropolitan City 's tour guide training : Seoul Metropolitan City has been implementing the tour guide program for 13 years since 2003. The trained guides provide guide services at 17 different tour sites in Seoul. Their guide services are widely used by tourists visiting Seoul. However, there had been no guided tour designed for tourists with disabilities before Seoul Metropolitan newly installed the training programs for the disabled in 2013, benchmarking the training program offered in Jongno-gu. Now Seoul Metropolitan City provides guided tours led by the visually impaired at three different destinations. To start the program, Seoul Metropolitan City requested all the teaching materials, educational manuals and other materials related to the operation of the program, meaning that their training program is offered in the same manner as provided by Jongno-gu. Seodaemun-gu, one of the Gu districts of Seoul, has requested all the materials to launch a guided tour for disabled tourists at one of its historic travel destinations. Other local cities such as Gyeongju have also showed interest in installing guided tours by disabled people. Thus the training program has led to several favorable outcomes.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
a. A tricycle race with three partners : A welfare program will fail in its purpose of benefiting those in need, regardless of the budget amount and intended goals, if the target group does not participate. There is a high possibility of failure for welfare programs randomly implemented for a selected segment of the population such as the elderly, disabled people and multicultural families, without identifying the needs of the target population. Although we received negative reactions ranging from unfeasible goals to wasting money to its plan for the training program, we implemented the program as planned in collaboration with an NGO. The joint efforts were then joined by the active participation of disabled people, making the program successful as a disability service. If this successful case is applied to other welfare programs, the chances for success will increase. b. Changes in public perception of people with disabilities : Some government employees have negative attitudes toward disabled people because they have witnessed cases in which disabled people involved in eye-catching demonstrations or anti-social behaviors to cooperate with organizations that are eager to get national funding. Their negative attitude is greatly lessened by the trainees who have completed the first training course based on essential qualifications and passion. These trainees successfully overcame all the challenges they faced due to their vision and hearing impairments during the 5-month training. In cold winter months, they had to touch objects with their bare hands to foster more precise senses and learned sign language as well. Although they sometimes tripped over uneven pavement or hit their legs against stones at sites, they kept learning the knowledge and skills required to serve their peers and have not had any accidents while working. Their brave and persistent efforts have moved the minds of people around them. We need to think about whether our misunderstanding and inattention to people with disabilities has resulted in a negative perception of them. c. The guide service is expanding to foreign tourists : The guide services are offered to foreign tourists while an increasing number of foreign tourists seek these services, which are available at the most visited tourist destinations-- Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palance, Changgyeonggung Palace, Jongmyo Shrine and Bukchon Hanok Village -- in Jongno-gu.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Jongno-gu office
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Young Jae Kim
Title:   manager of planning&budget division  
Telephone/ Fax:   +82-2-2148-1367/+82-2-2148-5813
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   ojac@mail.jongno.go.kr  
Address:   43, Sambong-ro, Jongno-gu
Postal Code:   110-701
City:   Seoul

          Go Back

Print friendly Page