Access For all

Access for All - What does that even mean

Tactile Braille Museum Guide Book 2

Authors

SURBHI JAIN

SURBHI JAIN

Akhil Narang

Akhil Narang

Sananda Maity

Sananda Maity

Mansi Malpani

Mansi Malpani

School

Goa Institute of Management

Goa Institute of Management

Professor

Divya Singhal

Divya Singhal

Global Goals

4. Quality Education 5. Gender Equality 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 10. Reduced Inequalities 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

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Summary

Access for ALL is a company that aims to provide accessibility to disabled people in heritage sites and art galleries and make travel easier for them, thereby pushing the boundaries of physical, intellectual, and social access through innovative, indigenous design and advocacy while fostering an INCLUSIVE experiential culture. The team focuses on access audits, interpretation & educational activities, inclusive outreach programs, sensitization & awareness programs, braille-tactile kits, braille books, and CSR-based engagement programs.

Below are the SDG GOALS followed by Access for ALL :

SDG 4: Quality Education

SDG 5: Gender Equality

SDG 8: Decent work and Economic growth

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities


Innovation


Access For All is a company that is determined to push the boundaries of physical, intellectual, and social access in spaces like museums, art galleries, cultural tourism, monuments, and other public/private sites of social significance through creative, indigenous design and campaigning, Access For ALL aspires to expand the parameters of physical, intellectual, and social access. Access for all was founded in 2015 to promote an INCLUSIVE experience culture by providing housing solutions to those in need. The company has developed and focuses on braille-tactile kits, braille literature, inclusive outreach programs, sensitization & awareness campaigns, access audits, interpretation & instructional activities, and CSR-based engagement initiatives designed to be sustainable and cost-effective.

Access for All uses braille-equipped tactile renditions to understand the various iconographies, symbols, and representations of Various Events and displays of arts with specially designed ‘Braille Tactile Art Charts’ So that the visually impaired can go through the entire process by engaging their multiple senses. The company also provide Resource consultant, making websites more accessible by descriptive Scriptwriting for audio guides for visually impaired children and providing them with quality education ( SDG Goal 4).

Access For All is a company dedicated to helping the United Nations with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The company’s mission is to provide Physical Access Audit, Architectural Planning, Needs Assessment Plans, Restoration & Adaptive Reuse, Designing Prototypes for Intellectual Access, and Braille Guide Book.


Access for All - What does that even mean

Inspiration

Siddhant Shah was in his third year of architecture when he learned that his mother had acquired visual impairment, and suddenly, everything changed. His own house, where they had been living for like 35-40 years, suddenly became uncomfortable and unsafe. He was very excited in his third year about studying an elective called Universal Design, which teaches you about designing for everyone with different needs. But to his utter dismay, they only spoke about wheelchair access for six weeks. They did not even consider other disabilities in that space design, which was his trigger point.

And the second trigger point was when he, along with his two colleagues, participated in a competition hosted by UNESCO. That competition was to make world heritage sites in India disabled-friendly. Since his mother got visually impaired in the past two years, they have stopped traveling. That competition became the place to put all the ideas he would have had to help his mother travel. The fact that people with disabilities don't travel because of various reasons. Just imagine the impact on the economy, as because of one disabled person, their family also stops traveling. And that triggered him to work in this domain. It started as an initiative to make Heritage sites accessible, but it grew into a full-fledged program. They started working with art galleries, museums, etc.

They eventually started working with corporates. So, the larger construct and the idea of inclusion and access came in. And that is how ACCESS FOR ALL was formed. In 2008, the company also received an award from Microsoft for being an equal opportunities provider.


Overall impact

One of the essential practices the company conducts is that they do not have a physical office space because they realize they don’t need it. Also, their services helped a lot of people during Covid times. People would ask if any of their visiting cards or brochures don't have an address, and they would tell them that it's a service they need and they don't have to come to them. They will come to the clients themselves. They worked in that model where they wanted to cut costs and not cut the cause to reduce the expenses.

Siddhant also said that if they had had an office, they would have been paying for electricity, ambiance, refreshments for people coming into the office, furniture, and whatnot. So, to be more inclusive in an approach and sustainable in practice, they made sure that they had their individuals spread around the country so that whenever required in whichever area, they could activate them.

Also, one of the significant challenges was that people would ask them why they did not have an establishment or a setup and that some judge the authenticity by the establishment of the physical buildings. Still, over some time, when you win a national award and get recognition, people start believing in you, and that’s what happened to them too.

They've taken to QR code scanners and put their content over there. Like if they want anything available to you in a digital format. So, it's a try to reduce these elements. But why would people enjoy reading a book over a Kindle, right? Experiencing something tangible is often considered better. So keeping this thought in mind, they are currently trying to figure out a balance in both mediums.


Business benefit

Access for ALL is determined to push the boundaries of physical, intellectual, and social access.

Team ALL works in collaboration and partnership with museums (National Museum, MSMS II Museum), historical sites (Jantar Mantar, City Palace Jaipur), monuments, foundations, art galleries (DAG Modern), private art collectors, art fairs, and other cultural organizations. People are getting aware of accessibility and want their organizations to be more accessible for all, and that’s where Access for All comes into the picture of providing these services. The organization targets museums, art galleries, cultural Tourism, monuments, and other public/private sites of social significance. These opened a new market and inspired to make new products and services for accessing and making all people inclusive every day.

Access for ALL partners with a range of experts depending upon the needs of a project. The core support includes Anisha Shah, Anand Pandit (Architect), and Smt. Vidhyalaxmi Dadapatil (Artist and Special Education Teacher), Wilma Fernandez (Social Worker & Teacher), Vanghelis36 Kyriyakidis (Heritage Expert & Linguist), and Amit Marathe (Volunteer).

In events, the volunteer and group team extends up to 25-30 people, and others are hired on the bases of the scale of the event.


Social and environmental benefit

The founder Siddhant Shah, says that Access for ALL doesn’t require an office space, and they offer services at the doorstep. They want to make a space that is more accessible and inclusive, keeping in mind not to overshoot their cost but also not to cut their cause to reduce the expenses.

To induce inclusivity as an approach and sustainability in practice, Access for ALL made sure that they had individuals spread around the country to activate them whenever required in whichever area. They have urged organizations not to print separate elements like when you print a text, print Braille and the text together.

One must not create waste to balance blending things and being environmentally conscious. Sheets of paper, you print on that same thing, and then you have that one element that is integrated as an approach. They started integrating that way or another, and they used elements when they also do programs like Community Development and like scaling artists with disability and working with them, they get them to utilize materials and resources available to them in their vicinity. They repurpose the elements by using waste fabrics and available textiles. For them, sustainability as a concept matters at every step, and every small thing that one does, matter in that space.

Their approach has touched base with technology wherein they have reduced using paper for Braille when you can audio record certain things. They do not go for print media on paper. They use OR code scanners to redirect them to the content they put up.

Like for anything, things are available to you in a digital format, just like people still enjoy reading a book over a Kindle. It’s because you experience something tangible, something that's tactile. That is there in your hand? We always have different ways to figure out a balance in both.


Interview

Siddhant Shah, Founder

Photo of interviewee

Business information

Access For all

Access For all

Mumbai, All States of India and world, IN
Business Website: https://www.accessforall.co/
Year Founded: 2015
Number of Employees: 11 to 50

‘Access For ALL’ aims at pushing the boundaries of physical, intellectual, and social access through innovative, indigenous design and advocacy while fostering an INCLUSIVE experiential culture. The team focuses on access audits, interpretation & educational activities, inclusive outreach programs, sensitization & awareness program, braille-tactile kits, braille books, and CSR-based engagement programs.