The University of Waterloo’s Visitors Centre facilitates a range of tours for prospective undergraduate students, including campus and faculty tours. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Visitors Centre provided tours to over 12,000 visitors each year, often giving prospective students and their families their first impression of the University and its campus. Campus visits make an enormous impact on a prospective student’s decision on where to apply and to accept an offer of admission. With such a diverse student body with a range of backgrounds and experiences, the Visitors Centre endeavors to make each and every visitor feel welcome and included. Continuing to build accessibility for all guests into everyday activities is one of these goals.

Campus tours involve travelling through many indoor and outdoor spaces, with information about the campus delivered verbally. Tours typically have 10-15 visitors per tour, although may see as many as 45 visitors during peak times or events. Planning for re-opening of the Visitors Centre for tours in Fall 2021 was an opportunity to further the strategic goal of increasing inclusivity and accessibility in the campus visits program. When considering how to provide better service for all visitors, including tours that occurred in less-than-ideal situations, such as windy days or in crowded settings, the Visitors Centre also considered guests who had additional hearing challenges. The Visitors Centre partnered with the Canadian Hearing Services to source a portable amplification system for our tour guides to ensure delivery of the best possible experience for visitors of all hearing abilities, under various environmental circumstances. This initiative builds on the Visitors Centre’s previous project of mapping the most accessible tour route for mobility, denoting accessibility features in campus buildings throughout the tour, and orienting all tour guides on nearest accessible washroom and elevator locations to support visitors' questions as they arise.