As Cites Grow, Disabled People Shouldn’t Be Left Behind, Says The Architect Who Made India’s First Braille Book On Museums

The ability to move freely in public spaces while experiencing things intellectually is an indisputable right for all of us. While we engage ourselves in our daily activities, we tend to ignore people with several disabilities. No, its not that we don’t care. In most of the cases we don’t know what to do about certain situations our fellow humans find themselves in.

While we, sometimes, wonder what can we do so that they become able to match the brisk pace of modern lifestyle, there are a lot of moments for them when they remain devoid of the ease with which others can get their work done.

A couple of weeks ago, the government finally passed The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016 and included in it acid attack and Parkinson’s disease in the list of recognised disabilities. The work does not end here. We all have to contribute in all our ways to ensure that the new laws secure our fellow humans.

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National Museum

City: New Delhi

Scope: Resource Consultant, Website Accessibility, Descriptive Script writing for audio guides for Visually Impaired

Project: Anubhav: A Tactile Experience

A Gallery with Enhanced Access for Visitor

Anubhav is a special tactile gallery that aims to expand access for all visitors particularly those with disabilities. It has on display 22 tactile replicas of museum objects, carefully chosen from the vast collection of National Museum by its curators representing 5000 years of Indian art. The idea is to provide a rich and engaging experience to visitors aesthetically, historically and intellectually. The objects range from archaeological finds, sculptures, and tactile impressions of paintings, utilitarian objects, ethnographic objects and decorative arts. Siddhant Shah, as a Resource Consultant was responsible for website accessibility assessment, scripting a descriptive audio guide for the visually impaired visitors and the loan box. The work was coordinated in tandem with Rige Chiba and Joyoti Roy from the museum’s outreach and education department. This consultation was support by Saint Gobain Research Scholarship, which was awarded to Shah in January ’15.

MSMS II Museum Trust (City Palace, Jaipur)

City: Jaipur

Scope: Visiting Research Fellow (2015), Architecture & Access Consultant (2016)

Projects:

  • Physical Access Audit
  • Architectural Planning
  • Needs Assessment Plans
  • Restoration & Adaptive Reuse of Havelis
  • Designing Prototypes for Intellectual Access
  • Braille Guide Book, Tactile Repro

As a visiting research fellow at the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum Trust, Jaipur and under the Saint Gobain Scholarship for ‘Research for Prototyping of Cultural Material for Universal Access (physical & intellectual disability) :: Heritage for ALL’, Siddhant Shah’s expertise was instrumental in a major project where India’s 1st Open Source Braille Guide Book with Tactile plates for the City Palace Museum of Jaipur was launched by Princess DiyaKumari of Jaipur on the eve of Commonwealth Association of Museums’ Access Workshop in India. Other prototypes designed were tactile adaptations of the miniature paintings, maps and the photographs for the Painting & Photography Gallery, which would allow the visually impaired visitors to engage with the object.

As an access consultant, Shah was instrumental in creating ramps and designing the wheelchair friendly toilets in the museum’s ground as an outcome of the access audit. Along with Umang Jaipur (a school for kids with special needs) Siddhant conducted an on-site simulation and sensitization activity for the in-house museum staff and its curatorial team. He has been coordinating the in-house architectural and restoration works for the new exit area, temporary gallery, legal office, adaptive reuse of havelis and needs assessments plan as per the Strategic Plan. Shah has been working closely with the outreach department to create Braille tactile exhibits for visually impaired, for the various festivals of Jaipur.

DAG Modern

City: Multiple Cities

Scope: Art Access Consultant, Outreach for Visually Impaired and others with special needs

Projects:

  • ABHAS Tactile
  • Art Walk
  • Tactile Repros
  • Braille book
  • Outreach
  • Intellectual Access
  • Social Access

Siddhant Shah is a Disability Access & Outreach Consultant for the exhibitions held by DAG Modern. With the support from DAG Modern, he has designed a project called ‘ABHAS, a Tactile Experience’. This is India’s 1sttactile art interpretation program for visually impaired. The aim is to open the understanding of modern art to a wider audience including the visually impaired, while using all the senses. He has specially designed Tactile Repros along with Braille book on Indian Modern Masters.

ABHAS runs parallel along with the exhibitions held by DAG Modern in their galleries in New Delhi, Mumbai and New York along with their shows at the art-fairs across the globe. Till date ABHAS has impacted over 300 visually impaired kids across the country, with the help of our Braille Tactile adaptations. Shah has also designed activity kits for kids and young adults based on the exhibition.

Serendipity Arts Festival

India, Goa

Scope: Art Access Consultant, Outreach for Visually Impaired and others with special needs

Projects:

  • SENSES
  • Tactile Art Walk
  • Tactile Repros
  • Braille book
  • Tactile Maps
  • Outreach
  • On-site activities and workshop
  • Intellectual Access
  • Social Access

With an approach towards making the art-scape more accessible Siddhant Shah, art access consultant, was brought on board to create a tactile experiential program called, SENSES @ Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa 2016.  The main aim of this program is to make the events, spaces and its artworks more welcoming and accessible to the visually impaired visitors along with others with special needs so that one goes back with a fulfilling experience.

He designed and created tactile maps, braille books, tactile reproductions of art works on display, tactile and braille equipped signage. He also conducted specially curated tactile art walks for kids with blind school and special needs school.

Shah has also designed ‘Kids Activity Sheets’ for the children and young minds to engage with space and the displayed works of art. He conducted a Blindfold Photography Workshop, where the participants clicked pictures without seeing.

The tactile products help everyone to understand the various aspects of the art-works through multiple senses. The products allowed a wide range of interaction with the artworks on display, thus making it UNIVERSAL to a large section of the society, which otherwise is left out of the circuit.

State Bank Museum, Karachi (PAKISTAN)

Pakistan, Karachi

Scope: Access Consultant, Outreach for Visually Impaired

Projects:

  • Tactile Repros
  • Braille book
  • Intellectual Access

Pakistan is one of the very few places in the world where the currency developed from its very rudimentary form to the advanced level of coinage. To document this interesting history, the museum has been planned, including education and outreach program for the common people, especially for the students and children.

Siddhant Shah has created Pakistan’s 1st Braille Museum Brochure for State Bank Museum in Karachi, Pakistan. According to the Director of Museum & Art Gallery Department, The State Bank Museum is the only Museum of Pakistan which caters to the need of physically challenge and this Brochure in Braillewill be a revolutionary step in the world of the Museums in Pakistan.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

JantarMantar, Jaipur

Scope:  Interpretation & Accessibility

Projects:

  • Tactile Model
  • Braille Interpretation Signage

Shah has been approached to create a braille and interpretation model for the UNESCO World Heritage Site of JantarMantar in Jaipur. The JantarMantaris a collection of nineteen architectural astronomical instruments, built by the Rajput king Sawai Jai Singh, and completed in 1734 CE.

SarmayaTrust

Scope: Outreach Consultant

Scope:  Outreach Consultant

Projects:

  • Tactile Walks
  • Curriculum based activities,
  • Braille Books
  • Activity Sheets
  • Intellectual Access
  • Social Access

With the support of Sarmaya Trust, Siddhant Shahhas designed a program called ‘DASTAK @ Sarmaya – Disability Awareness and Sensitization Through Art Knowledge’

Dastak is a knock on the windows of the world, allowing one to explore art with a multi-sensory experience. It also subtly acts as a catalyst in making us aware of how, those who with special needs can access & experience art and cultural heritage of our country.

This project will help to connect with and interpret heritage objects in creative and innovative ways for diverse audiences including those with special needs. This kit will also be used as an outreach program for Sensitization and Disability Awareness for kids, young adults, professionals along with making them aware of our rich heritage.

10 works from the collection are selected, for which we have created Braille-Tactile reproductions and Braille book (for blind schools) for use at the tactile walk in Malaysia as well as in Mumbai and other cities in India.

Art1st + Bookaroo

Scope: Art Access Consultant, Tactile Art Walk, on-site activities and workshop

Scope: Art Access Consultant, Tactile Art Walk, on-site activities and workshop

Projects:

  • SENSES
  • Tactile Art Walk
  • Tactile Repro
  • Intellectual Access

Shah was approached to design a multisensory art walk based on the paintings of Modern Master’s from the bookwhich was to be conducted during the book launch of Eye Spy Indian Art.

EYE-SPY Art Walk, allowed the participants to engage with the artworks through touch, smell and auditory senses, when blindfolded. The key objective of this walk was to experience these tactile reproductions and aids with different senses without seeing it. This activity allowedus/them to be aware and explore the potentials of other senses that are general not used to interpret art or recognize the surface quality and the object of artwork.