Accessibility in museums and heritage sites is a pursuit that is taken seriously by many institutions. ReReeti’s Tejshvi Jain chats up with Siddhant Shah , a heritage architect and access management consultant who works towards accessibility in a heritage space at different levels.
TJ – You work with museums and heritage sites as a consultant on disability access. Could you elaborate the term accessibility and the scope it has in public spaces.
SS -In the domain of museums, heritage sites and monuments, ‘Accessibility’ is discussed as a very shallow level and it is immediately associated with physical access into a site or museum complex. Well, being an architect my first aim is always to make any public space/ site physically accessible through ramps, wheelchair friendly toilets, signage and other potential interventions. Nonetheless, I do not stop here and my efforts have always been to push the discussion beyond ramps and have dialogue about intellectual and social access, something that is still in a nascent stage. There is an immense scope for various involvements to make the public spaces and services more accessible. For example, a graphical map that I designed for Jaipur’s Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum brochure, with only icons (comprehensive disabilities), color coding (works for those with low/ partial vision) and a simple key reduces the pressure of space negotiation and address multiple access related issues. Thus, in my opinion, ‘Accessibility’ refers to all the aspects of ‘DESIGN’ of products, strategies, services, or environments for people; be it abled or specially-abled.