Inclusion and Accessibility of Persons with Disability in Brazil: Senses and Sensations in the Access to Patrimonial Historical Museums in the State of Rio de Janeiro

By Regina Cohen and Cristiane Rose de Siqueira Duarte. Alice Barros de Horizonte Brasileiro (ed.)

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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

This paper will show some partial results from a research on accessibility developed by both the Pro-Access Research Group in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro together with the Brazilian Historical Patrimony. It aims at an interdisciplinary perspective of the theme “access to museums”, considering the understanding of atmosphere as an important tool for the mobility of the disabled body. We quickly discuss the concepts of “universal design” and “inclusive architecture” used internationally, working with what environment makes evident on the level of primary emotions, our leading thematic at Pro-Acesso.
What does a person with disability feel when moving into the exhibition halls? The context of the environmental perception is usually built based on the level of access and on the affective relationship people develop towards the spaces they visit. We all agree that a person with disability will answer to the perceived world and also to the real world through their sensations. In this way, the notion of sensitive “atmospheres” is an important aspect in the relation between disability and museums, putting on evidence all the senses and sensations they experience during a walk through a museum.
Rather than being concentrated on the behavioral theories or the physical barriers of accessibility, this research is based on the principle that atmospheres of museums are themselves disabled when not allowing mobility. This article also uses the works which have already been developed by the Department of Museums of the Historical Patrimony, the works of Cohen and Duarte (2004, 2008) about the developing of affection towards a place and by the senses and feelings spread on the routes of exhibitions (Mariani-Rousset, 2001; Thibaud, 2001).
Our main objective is to enhance the theme of ‘Accessibility to Museums’, working with sensorial and emotional perspectives on environmental perception; in addition to this, we make use of a person with disability through its action-object: the museographic universe she wants to know.
We work with a methodology that is concentrated on the ethnographic participant observation and on the analysis of routes made by persons with disability in the museums. Making use of guided visits, we map and shoot the experiences and, afterwards, interview the subjects of our research and the chairmen responsible for those institutions. As a researcher with disability, Cohen – one of the authors of this paper – is naturally enrolled in the anthropological perspective of investigation, living her own museographic experience, full of senses and sensations.

Keywords: Inclusion, Accessibility, Persons with Disability, Museums, Historical Patrimony

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.67-82. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.197MB).

Arch. Regina Cohen

Associated Researcher (Post-Doctorat), Coordinator of Pro-Access Group, Department of Architecture Planning, Post-Graduate Program on Architecture, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Architect, Community Psycho-sociology and Social Ecology DSc. (EICOS/IP/UFRJ), Associate Researcher at DTC/FAU/UFRJ and Coordinator of Núcleo Pro-acesso/PROARQ/FAU/UFRJ

Arch. Cristiane Rose de Siqueira Duarte

Titular Professor, Department of Architecture Planning, Post-Graduate Program on Architecture, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Architect, Territorial Planning DSc. (Sorbonne - Université de Paris-I), Titular Professor at FAU/UFRJ and Coordinator of Núcleo Pro-acesso/PROARQ/FAU/UFRJ

Arch. Alice Barros de Horizonte Brasileiro

Architect, Adjunt Professor, Researcher, Department of Construction Technology, School of Architecture and Urbanism, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Architect, Architecture DSc. (PROARQ/FAU/UFRJ), Teacher at FAU/UFRJ and Researcher of Núcleo Pró-acesso/PROARQ/FAU/UFRJ

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