Heritage Access for the Visually Impaired: An Analysis and Assessment of Museum Adaptations in Catalonia

By Helena Xicola-Tugas.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Today, in Catalonia, we have outstanding performances from some of the most emblematic monuments and museums, but several issues emerge from the museums’ own practise and visually impaired users’ experience: Is it a fad? Are the principles and rules of a general access policy particularly accessible to them? Are they sufficiently widespread? And finally, are they effective and meaningful? The study we present is therefore a review of the state of the art from a theoretic perspective based, on the one hand, on mainly Anglo-Saxon literature, and on the other on empirical data provided by questionnaires and user interviews and our own observations.
To respond to the questions which are formulated:
First we reviewed the featured literature on the subject; Second, we explained the background and historical evolution, as well as the legislative framework and the number of people recognized as legally visually impaired in Catalonia; Third, we collected and classified heritage settings; Fourth, we collected and classified visually impaired users opinions through interviews and questionnaires; Lastly, we empirically analysed the above data to deliver results and accomplish a major objective of the research: developing a protocol of action to target museums and heritage sites in the task of making available the contents of the collections they put on show. This document, structured according to the four substitute senses of sight, is a compilation and synthesis of proposals and information gathered from various sources and tools used. We think it would be interesting to consider it as a practical approach to design projects that take into account the users opinions.

Keywords: Blindness, Visual Impairment, Intellectual Access, Museums, Heritage Sites, Catalonia

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.59-68. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.030MB).

Helena Xicola-Tugas

Head of Department in Secondary Education., Department of Education, Generalitat of Catalonia, Department of Education, Generalitat de Catalunya, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Helena Xicola-Tugas is head of the Department of Art in Secondary Education in Barcelona. She has a degree in Fine Arts (UB, University of Barcelona), a postgraduate in Special Education: Therapeutic Pedagogy (UNED) and has just received the Official Master’s Degree in Cultural Heritage Management (UB). She has written “Strategies and teaching materials for the integration of the blind students in the arts class” for the Department of Education and presented a lecture about this work in the IV International Conferences on the Attention of the Educational Diversity in Europe and America (Madrid, 2007). She has been linked to the creation and management on the field of artistic production and teaching, organizing exhibitions and exchange trips to Europe and America. Her current research focus is to develop effective and meaningful resources to make the contents of museums and heritage sites available to blind people.


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