Accessibility is the core of one of the areas of action of the European Disability Strategy 2020-2030 and culture is one of the most crucial contexts in which accessibility is declined, because of its centrality in the growth of both the individual and the society. Nevertheless, the level of education of persons with disabilities continues to be largely lower than the one of persons without disabilities. Despite the effort carried out so far, it is still necessary to adopt positive actions to promote access and guarantee that Higher Education contents are adapted and accessible to the largest possible number of people with special needs.
The In-VisIBLe (Innovative and Inclusive learning tool for Visually Impaired and Blind people) project aims at addressing this growing need for inclusion, specifically by improving access of people with special needs to Higher Education contents, by using and implementing innovative tools for communication and fruition of cultural contents.
As suggested by its name, In-VisIBLe is focused on visual disability: a real access to culture for visually impaired and blind people (henceforth “VIB”) is an important issue and, when it comes to the Higher Education offer, inclusion is especially challenging in those fields of knowledge that apparently exclude VIB without remedy, the so-called “visual” arts. Among the disciplines related to visual arts, the project is focused on History of Architecture, because it is a cross-sectorial discipline which is present in almost all the bachelor/master degrees in this field.
The main expected outcome of the project is to improve inclusion of people with special needs in Higher Education and specifically in the fields of Arts/Architecture/Design, creating Innovative and Inclusive Didactic Modules (IDM) of History of Architecture accessible to students with visual disabilities. This will require the development of tools to make the project result accessible to as many people as possible: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) of History of Architecture accessible to VIB; an Image Captioning Dataset and System; a Teaching & Learning Web Platform where all the project tools/materials/courses are stored and accessible; Guidelines for the design and realization of 3D architectural models accessible to VIB; Guidelines to make architecture and visual arts accessible to VIB.
The project is also expected to draw in a broader cross-section of society into HE, establishing collaborations with cultural institutions, organizations for VIB, research networks, relevant stakeholders, and implementing them in the long run, also after the project’s end. In doing so, cultural accessibility can fulfill its role and become one of the most strategic and effective tools for creating a truly inclusive society.
European Erasmus+ programme