Monday, 14 December 2009

Are there any blog readers who are wheelchair users?

I’m looking for any blog readers who are wheelchair users, or who have accompanied wheelchair users around the Vesuvian sites. I’ve accompanied wheelchair visitors myself and know that it is well worth it, if somewhat tiring!

We all know that archaeological sites are particularly challenging in terms of access, and it is something that the Soprintendenza is aware of and trying to prioritize (Commissario Fiori is keen to tackle this issue properly in 2010).

However, in the immediate we’d like to help improve the experience of wheelchair visitors (we being the Herculaneum Conservation Project) – and one proposal we’re looking at is a scheme where you could borrow a wheelchair from the ticket office on arrival at Herculaneum, one that would be more robust, lighter and could take the curbs better.

What do you think? Is it a waste of time and money? Is your average wheelchair already robust enough to cope? Would you rather have other services offered?

Any feedback would be very much appreciated!
Thanks, Sarah


Sera Baker said...

This is an excellent initiative for further development. Through conversations with a fellow young Roman archaeologist who is a wheelchair user, I understand that it can be very difficult to visit archaeological sites. Since your work with this initiative is in a similar area, I'd like to propose that you keep in mind archaeologists and other academic researchers who are wheelchair users.

Jo Berry said...

This comment was emailed to us! Thank you, Dr Stronk!

Dear Sarah,

I have frequently been in Pompeii when I still was valid. I am by now 13 years in a wheelchair and, though it is a relatively sturdy one, I would not dream of it of using it on any dig at all. Digs are notoriously wheelchair-unfriendly, at least for ordinary wheelchairs. The torsions you encounter on a tour on your average site are not where an ordinary wheelchair-frame is built for. You need at least a very sturdy chair with equally sturdy (all-terrain) tyres for the wheels to be able to visit an excavation-site. It would be a great idea if one or two of such chairs were available at major sites: in practice even those are (nearly) inaccessible for us today. At the last excavation-site I visited, Vindolanda (Hadrian’s Wall, England), part of the terrain was (made) accessible for ordinary wheelchairs, but even there I could not get close to the actual excavation. I would applaud it greatly if your initiative would prove to be successful –and would find imitation. Kind regards and season’s wishes,

Jan P. Stronk

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