KU Leuven: KU Leuven University Library launches guided tour for the deaf and hard of hearing

The University Library with its distinctive tower on the Ladeuzeplein in Leuven has been a crowd puller for many years. The library has an eventful history with two fires – during World War I and II – which caused immense damage each time. Twice hard work had to be done to rebuild the building itself, but also the book and magazine collection. Meanwhile, the imposing library at Mgr. Fully restored to its former glory, Ladeuzeplein is home to countless encyclopedias, manuals, reference works, precious manuscripts and unique government publications.

Experience for everyone
Until today, 40,000 annual visitors were able to discover the historic building on the basis of an audio tour via the ErfgoedApp, available in Dutch, French, German, English and Spanish. But that is about to change. The University Library translated the audio tour into a visio tour in Flemish Sign Language and International Sign Language.

“As a deaf or hard-of-hearing person, it is not always easy to visit a public place or monument”, says Gery Gerits, employee of the University Library and co-initiator of the visiotour. “This project is close to my heart and I am very proud of the end result. I hope this vision tour can be an example for others.”

“I am pleased that the visiotour will find its place in the Leuven University Library”, responds Kristof De Weerdt, chairman of the Flemish Sign Language Group and teacher of Flemish Sign Language interpreters at KU Leuven. “In this way, the library can reveal its treasures to everyone and visitors can experience the history of this unique building, each in their own way.”

The timing of the vision tour launch is no coincidence. This ties in nicely with Open Monuments Day, on Sunday 12 September, with ‘inclusion’ as the central theme this year.