EBU Access to Culture Survey 2012 Mapping current levels of accessibility to cultural venues and activities in Europe
SURVEY OUTCOME SHOWS:
(visually) disabled people?s right to culture poorly implemented
Date: May 2012
EBU Access to Culture Survey 2012
„Mapping current levels of accessibility to cultural venues
and activities in Europe‟
Introduction : the right to culture poorly implemented ....... page 2
1. Aims ...................................................................................page 3 2. Policy Context ....................................................................page 6 3. Findings ............................................................................. page 8 4. EBU Call for Action
to European, national and local cultural institutions,
bodies, organisations and service providers .......................page 11
5. Conclusion ..........................................................................page 16
Introduction: right to culture poorly implemented
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability (UNCRPD) is one of EBU?s guiding documents. Article 30 says:
“States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life …”
On European Level, the Council of Europe Action Plan (2006-2015) on "Full Participation of People with Disabilities in Society reads:
"The right of people with disabilities as individuals to be fully integrated into society is dependent on them being able to participate in the cultural life of that society..."
EBU Access to Culture Survey of 2012 maps the current level of accessibility in Europe of cultural venues and activities. The survey results show that the Right of (visually) disabled persons is poorly implemented.
High time for action to improve the situation. This report provides the background for the EBU Survey, the political context of cultural rights and the results of the Survey. It calls for significant change and provides practical steps for stakeholders to take in order to make culture a truly accessible shared space for all.
1. Aims of EBU Access to Culture Survey 2012
1.1 EBU purpose
The European Blind Union (EBU) is the united voice of blind and partially sighted people in Europe, protecting their rights and promoting their interests for full participation in social, economic, political and cultural life (www.euroblind.org).
1.2 EBU cultural beliefs
EBU believes that:
1. full participation in society requires full participation in cultural life (as much as
in social, political and economic life)
2. full participation in cultural life is therefore an inseparable from the
implementation of the UNCRPD
3. adoption of Design for All principles for all cultural buildings, spaces, activities,
programmes, events, exhibitions, services and information is the right and
most creative; response to a world in which diversity is the norm.
1.3 EBU Access to Culture Project 2012
The EBU Access to Culture (ATC) Project is a small scale pilot project, which aims to improve the accessibility to cultural venues and activities for blind and partially sighted people in Europe.
As part of the EBU ATC Project, the EBU ATC Survey findings and
recommendations will be widely disseminated in Europe and serve as a tool for advocacy and lobbying. The ATC Survey Report is a tool for societal change and organisational change in cultural organisations. It supports:
; disability organisations with advocacy and lobbying for the cultural rights of
people with a disability
; culture sector policy makers, decision makers, funders and managers to take
strategic action for the implementation of the cultural rights of people with a
1.4 EBU Access to Culture Survey 2012
The EBU ATC Survey Report is the main output of the EBU ATC Project 2012. It provides highly relevant Europe-wide insights into:
; current levels of accessibility for blind and partially sighted people to cultural
sites, events and activities,
; good practice
; national legislation and policies for access to culture ;
; barriers and scope for improvement;
1.4 EBU Call for Action
The EBU ATC Survey concludes with a Call for Action for cultural policy and
strategy change at European, national and local levels in order to urgently
address the over-riding conclusions of the EBU ATC Survey 2012, namely:
; the cultural rights of people with a (visual) disability are poorly implemented
; many cultural sector funding and project development practices discriminate
against people with a disability.
2. Policy Context
2.1 Access to culture is a human and cultural right
International policies, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 27) (www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/ ), clearly establish the cultural rights of people with a disability. These UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
(article 30) and Council of Europe Recommendation R(92)6 (chapter VIII - section
8.5, www.coe.int) for:
; participation in culture on an equal basis (UN Convention, 2006)
; lasting and significant improvements (Council of Europe, 1992).
2.2 Progress in cultural accessibility is not being monitored at European
and national levels
The cultural rights policies of people with a disability are hardly beginning to be
implemented. The Council of Europe, the European Union and most national
governments do not monitor progress in cultural accessibility for people with a disability.
2.3 The Council of Europe, the European Union and most national
governments do no meet their commitments to monitor progress in
These commitments have been made in:
; Council of Europe Action Plan (2006-2015) on "Full Participation of
People with Disabilities in Society" (chapter 1.5, p 8 and chapter 3.2, page
; European Council Resolution of 6 May 2003 on accessibility of cultural
infrastructure and cultural activities for people with disabilities (http://eur-
lex.europa.eu, or search).
Such neglect is inacceptable and consigns people with a disability to the status of
2.5 Cultural funding discriminates against people with a (visual) disability
Most cultural funding pays little attention to the cultural equality of people with a (visual) disability. For example billions have been spent over the last decade in Europe on new museums and major extensions, most of which offer extremely poor intellectual and sensory access to collections to people with a sensory disability or with learning disabilities. With many of its most prominent new cultural buildings, collections and services, Europe is failing people with a disability.
2.6 Cultural sector research excludes people with a (visual) disability
Research in the cultural sector hardly takes persons with disabilities into account, making this group invisible. This invisibility in turn results in low levels of investment in cultural accessibility and design for all (also known as inclusive design) solutions. On innumerable occasions cultural funding is being spent without there being a commitment to high quality inclusive cultural experiences by people with a disability. This re-enforces the existing cultural exclusion of people with a disability.
3. Findings and Recommendations of the EBU Access to Culture Survey
3.1 ATC Survey Findings
1. Many countries do not have disability rights legislation that explicitly
covers the right of access to culture.
2. 82.5% of EBU member organisations state that the cultural rights of
blind and partially sighted people are being poorly or very poorly
3. There is a clear correlation between the existence of disability rights
legislation and dynamism for cultural accessibility.
4. 65% of EBU member organisations state that key accessibility features
are missing in cultural places.
5. At least 65% of EBU member organisations rate the impact of cultural
accessibility on the quality of life highly.
6. People with a disability remain largely invisible cultural sector research.
This hinders e.g. skills development needed in the cultural sector to set
high professional standards for cultural accessibility.
3.2 Recommendations made by respondents for cultural policy and strategy change to significantly widen cultural accessibility
The respondents were national EBU member organisations and cultural organisations with a history of commitment to cultural accessibility. There was a strong overlap of views.
1. Put rights legislation in place to guarantee cultural accessibility
UNCRPD based legislation has to be in place to ensure the
implementation of lasting and significant improvements in access to
cultural places and cultural activities by people with a disability.
2. Make accessibility a condition for cultural funding
Cultural accessibility for people with a disability is to be a criterion for all
3. Adopt an inclusive budget policy
Budgets of cultural organisations are to be inclusive of accessibility
features for disabled people - and visually impaired people specifically. 4. Take responsibility for the right to culture
Cultural policy and decision makers, cultural funders and culture sector
Awards schemes are to take responsibility for bringing about lasting
and significant improvement in cultural accessibility
5. Involve all concerned
The involvement of all stakeholders is needed: public and private sector
cultural bodies and organisations, disability NGOs and, crucially, people
with a disability themselves, as well as cultural accessibility
6. Apply an inclusive organisation policy
Cultural organisations need to transform into inclusive organisations,
which involve disabled people and visually impaired people specifically
at all key stages of project development also employ people with a
7. Apply the Design For All principles
Design for All (also known as inclusive design) principles are to be
adopted for the design of all cultural buildings, spaces, events,
programmes, exhibitions, products and information and marketing
should be promoted.
8. Inform on accessible activities
Information about the accessible cultural offer should be easily
available in accessible formats locally, nationally and Europe-wide. 9. Campaign for cultural rights
Advocacy for the cultural rights of people with a disability needs to be
10. Raise awareness in society
Societal change should start with raising awareness of disabled
people‟s equality in schools.
The findings and recommendations of the EBU ATC Survey complement and strengthen previous needs analyses about cultural accessibility for blind and partially sighted people. In particular, the Resolution of the St Dunstans/EBU international
“In Touch with Art 2010” Conference “on equal access to museums, galleries and heritage” (October 2010, Victoria and Albert Museum, London), developed by multi-disciplinary teams of experts identify the need to:
; Build and professionalise the skills involved in creating cultural accessibility for
people with a disability
; Undertake qualitative and quantitative research, guidance and good practice
examples about all aspects of the accessible museum and heritage
experience for blind and partially sighted people, including audio description
onsite and online; touch and multi-sensory opportunities; tactile models and
images onsite and accessible online; easily accessible, reliable, concise, yet
comprehensive information on the accessible museum and cultural offer; the
power of technologies to provide accessible cultural experiences and inclusive