Siddhant Shah, an architect, recently wrote an article for Architectural Digest and stated that a building’s esthetics should not only be designed to look amazing, but should facilitate the experience for all, including individuals with disabilities. Smooth polished marble floors, for instance look pleasing to the eye, but they also impede navigation for people who are visually impaired or the elderly. With a little forethought, a floor designed with different coloured tiles to highlight or demarcate sections would act as a guide for the user. An example of such innovative design is Anubhav, a tactile gallery in the National Museum, New Delhi, designed especially for individuals who are visually impaired.
Shah has an organization called Access for ALL which focuses on inclusion and designs spaces which are universally accessible in places such as museums and art galleries which are already functioning to the general public. The aim is to achieve accessibility with a minimum of disruption and renovation. Simple measures, such as designing tactile reproductions and Braille captions of art works mounted next to the original, can make a visitor who is blind or visually impaired appreciate the ambiance of the gallery.
The size, placement and colour of an exhibition’s signage can also be crucial for the enjoyment of the visit for wheelchair-users, the elderly or for those who have mild visual impairment. Also, placing universally accepted signage for those who are not familiar with the spoken language is helpful.
Shah says his job is more than just installing ramps and elevators. He says his job is to bridge the gap between disability and cultural heritage, through physical, intellectual and social accessibility.
For more information about how inclusive design can change the way we access resources, click here.