Accessibility to Cultural Heritage

Accessibility to Cultural Heritage

Today cultural heritage is considered to be an inseparable part of our environment and social life. It is significant as such only because of the people who evaluate it. Hence the importance of accessibility to cultural heritage for all of us.

In general, the understanding of accessibility to cultural heritage is limited to provision of means for a physical contact of disabled people (mostly considering motor impairments) with the environment based on the relation “value – accessibility”. Given the fact that covering the physical access needs is the most challenging conservation task as it often requires intervention in the heritage site structure itself, this approach is understandable. But at the same time it is quite alarming. Focusing only at providing physical accessibility we unwittingly separate the disabled people in a distinct group (against which we all strive) and we also risk ignoring other human abilities and needs. At the same time – beyond a certain point – while providing facilitated access and movement, other unique heritage features might be sacrificed and/or left inaccessible.

Isn’t it time to face the ethical and philosophical dimensions of accessibility to cultural heritage? To comment on the logic and the lie in the cultural heritage conservation process? To change the perspective?