Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Seoul Seodaemun Welfare Center for the Deaf are now offering a barrier-free cultural education program from May 2021. The program is to be held over three days on May 7, 11, and 18. It is expected to continue on future dates as well.
A barrier-free facility or city is oriented to support everyone including the elderly, disabled, and parents with children. Easier access to elevators and gentle slopes instead of stairways are some examples of the main differences between a general facility and a barrier-free facility.
With growing number in barrier-free policies, not only basic access needs for things like transport, but also education for students about certain forms of discrimination faced by several members of the society are now being addressed.
The barrier-free cultural program held in Gyeongbokgung Palace aims to further barrier-free ideas. The program gives an opportunity to all members of society to enjoy Korea’s culture and historical treasures.
“The purpose of the program is to help the hearing-impaired enjoy the opportunity to freely visit museums and attractions,” said Lee Jung-ja, the director of Seoul Seodaemun Welfare Center for the Deaf.
The program information from Gyeongbokgung Palace is modified and put together by the team at the Information Culture Team of Seoul Seodaemun Welfare Center for the Deaf and specialists who provide materials for those with hearing impairments.
At the palace itself, sign language commentary videos are shown for people with hearing disabilities to encourage more people to visit, even if there are no in-person interpreters available.
Promotional brochures are also available to those who are impaired, have partial hearing loss, or partially impaired by activating 22 sign language videos using a QR code system.
Through the videos, those with hearing impairments can learn about the major parts of the palace. There are also sign language interpreters that can be arranged through a reservation.
“This program not only encourages the hearing-impaired to become interested in Korea’s palaces but also helps increase the social awareness of sign language,” Lee said. “The Cultural Heritage Administration is also paying attention to the program’s positive influence.”
Despite the progress to providing more barrier-free programs, there are only 17 barrier-free museums and memorial halls, according to Lee, that provide support for those who have hearing impairments.
“Although today’s society has developed to provide services in which automatically write down the letters according to the language spoken, sign language is still in its early stages when it comes to application,” Lee said.
Lee said the awareness of the needs of those who have disabilities needs to be placed into the construction plans of the buildings.
“Rather than renovating facilities after completion, we should consider the potential sources of barriers the certain facility may bring before designing and constructing new facilities.”
Along with continuous focus on these issues, Lee believes this can help build a city for all.
“I hope Ewha students view society with the perspective of equality and fairness towards their neighbors and acquaintances.” Lee said.