In honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2020, UNESCO released, Accessible Documentary Heritage, which offers a set of guidelines for digitizing heritage documents that centers disability and accessibility.
The publication draws upon key features of the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the 2015 UNESCO Recommendation Concerning the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage Including in Digital Form. This is in promoting and facilitating maximum inclusive access to, and use of, documentary heritage. The means to this is by empowering memory institutions to provide equitable person-to-person access services to original documents.
The publication has been structured in a way that makes it easy for different types of stakeholder to navigate and assess various aspects to which they must commit. For this purpose, two types of guidelines are proposed by the publication: a) basic guidelines – intended for stakeholders who commission documentary cultural heritage platforms; and b) advanced guidelines – prepared for content creators of these platforms.
Authored by Alireza Darvishy and Juliet Manning (both at Zurich University), the guidelines address barriers that persons with disabilities often face when getting access to digitized documentary heritage. Although online digital collections have enabled global access to culture and history, digital content remains frequently inaccessible to persons with disabilities – particularly to those with vision, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments, making these guidelines one step towards greater digital inclusivity.