“An information system allowing people with special needs to engage with cultural heritage- A.D. Arte- L’informazione” is the title of a project approved by the Administration of Cultural Heritage in 2007 and launched in February 2012 by the service of the Directorate General for the Promotion of Cultural Heritage.
The project arose from the growing importance of the relation between cultural heritage sites and its audience. Government intervention in the field of cultural heritage management is key to increasing the level of satisfaction of serviced offered. The time implementation of the project is 24 months, and includes extensive and detailed components.
The project is being conducted in collaboration with the Cooperative Society Integrated Tandem and is being advised by a prestigious panel of experts from various industries and fields representing various conditions of disability, as well as a European observer.
Valorization of cultural heritage as defined by the Code of Cultural Heritage and Landscape refers to all activities aimed at promoting awareness of cultural heritage and to ensure the best conditions for public use. In addition, these initiatives are created in order to heighten the public’s satisfaction and enjoyment in visiting cultural heritage sites.
The government legislation in this regard, established in 2001, requires all cultural heritage sites to present access ways for the disabled public. The importance placed on physical accessibility is fully relevant as it allowed the cultural heritage sites in question to attract a wide range of clients, who may have conditions of either temporary or contemporary disability.
The Ministry of Heritage and Culture has been heavily involved in recent years in the removal of architectural barriers, which were previously preventing visitors with disabilities to enter certain cultural heritage sites. This initiative was made possible through the establishment of a Ministerial Commission in 2008, which published a series of guidelines for the elimination of said barriers.
It is now not enough for the cultural good to be simply exhibited to the public- there is now a commitment to communicate and identify a cultural heritage site to the public. In addition, there is a need to provide for and satisfy the audience, most especially when members of the latter have specific needs to be addressed. It is now a priority to establish a public policy in regards to cultural sites.
The proposed project trajectory is destined to define a fully integrated system in which adequate support will be offered to people with special needs. Most particularly, this will all visitors to fully utilize 848 cultural sites owned by the Italian state.
The project is mainly targeted towards a select audience composed of people with special needs. This is due to the fact needs may vary based on condition, age, or specific moments of disability which may occur to all.
Taking into account the various factors which may limit the opportunity to visit the Italian state-owned cultural sites, it was found that users often neglect or refuse to travel to certain national heritage spaces, particularly as the information and communication systems available today do not allow them to ensure the accessibility of facilities and services throughout the entirety of their visit. The process of “consumption” of a cultural site, which includes reservation, transportation, on-site services, as well as appreciation and enjoyment of the site question is remarkably similar for both visitors with special needs and those without. Both groups of visitors are more likely to travel with family, friends, or caretakers. This signifies that institutions are capable, and obliged to ensure adequate levels of availability and service efficiency to meet the expectations of users/
The “appreciation” of persons with special needs of cultural heritage hence requires a whole series of access ways which will allow all visitors to organize and decide on their visit in an independent manner.
The objective of this project is therefore to design and implement an effective system of accessibility of state-owned cultural heritage sites, the strategy of which is communicated through the Ministry of Heritage and Culture official website.