The Nuit du handicap has been a major celebration every year for the past four years, the aim of which is to promote people with disabilities across France. Encourage exchanges between disabled and able-bodied people, change the way people look at disability, but also… raise awareness of culture, in particular thanks to the contribution of new technologies.
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For the first time this year, the Accès Culture association is participating. It works alongside more than a hundred theaters and opera houses in France to set up live performance accessibility services for the hearing and visually impaired. Created in 1990, the association is located in the Palais Chaillot, in Paris, with which it collaborates closely on new devices. This year, it is setting up on the Esplanade des Invalides, to offer participants three workshops combining culture and digital.
Vibrating vests, tactile models, audio description …
The first workshop offers the discovery of tactile models of the National Dance Theater, the Palais de Chaillot. “They are tailor-made for people with visual impairments”, explains Jérôme Sala, accessibility referent of the institution. In the form of boxes, the models are to be handled and touched in order to understand the different elements that make up the Palace, from the large hall to the small one, all enriched with explanations.
The second workshop offers an extract from the opera Tosca by Giacomo Puccini, in audio description. Equipped with a helmet, blind, visually impaired and able-bodied people will be able to enjoy the music with evocative comments on the staging, allowing the imagination to run free.
Finally, the third and final workshop, intended for deaf or hearing impaired people, is devoted to Subpac vibrating vests, “The counterpart of audio description for blind people”, emphasizes Jérôme Sala. Vibrant backpacks, “Originally intended for gamers” let, thanks to the vibrations, feel the music at low frequencies. This last object is quite new, according to the person in charge, because few theaters have it. “We are the first in Île-de-France to have acquired it. “
“A new field of exchange”
With these workshops, Accès Culture emphasizes the importance of culture and wishes to stimulate exchanges between disabled and able-bodied people. “When we talk about accessibility, it doesn’t just concern ramps and elevators! Accessibility to the work also exists and is even essential ”, specifies Lara David, of Accès Culture. The different objects, handled and tried by everyone, create real moments of emotion and sharing.
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Jérôme Sala remembers this moment when a blind woman in her thirties went to the theater with her mother to attend a dance performance: “The young woman was equipped with the vibrating vest and it was also offered to her mother so that they could share the same experience. But this one was a little recalcitrant. In the end, at the end of the performance, she came to thank us: finally, she had felt herself what her daughter could feel. This opens up a new field of exchange. “
Lara David regrets a little this year that the restricted gauges linked to Covid, “Leave only a small contingent of space for people with disabilities. They are very demanding and deprive them of cultural outings, while the crisis has led many people to withdraw into themselves, I find that a shame… ” Very committed, she However, hopes that the action highlighted in this way will continue, in particular thanks to the Parisian Month of Handicap, which runs until July 10.