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Accessing Amsterdam

A Look at Inclusion and Accessibility in a Cultural City

Anabel Paco-Cano

12075353

Supervisor: Dr. Meredith Glasser Second Reader: Dr. Courtney Vegelin

Amsterdam, The Netherlands June 2022

Graduate School of Social Sciences International Development Studies

Anabel.paco.cano@student.uva.nl

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This template was created by Endre Bjørndal for the Norwegian School of Economics published on the website Overleaf. The template was minimally modified for this thesis.

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Acknowledgements

I would first like to thank my supervisor Dr. Meredith Glasser, who gave me invaluable guidance and feedback through this entire process that was new to me. I would also like to thank Dr. Courtney Vegelin for not only being my second reader, and a great professor, but for her support and time when I needed an extra hand. Thanks to all my friends who helped me refine my ideas, focus, and frameworks, and that were there to proofread all the paragraphs that I could not bear to look at anymore. A special thanks to Dilan, who stayed up with me multiple nights to motivate me, keep me on track, and challenge my logic when I wasn’t sure if I was making any sense. Special thanks to Margot as well, who has always proofread my work and made me laugh when I was struggling. Thanks to my family for all their emotional support from miles away. Finally, thanks to all the participants that took time from their days and jobs to sit down and chat with me about something as important as accessibility and your personal lives. You have changed my life, and I am forever thankful for you.

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Abstract

Municipal inclusion policies in Amsterdam are working to make the city more accessible for people living with disabilities. The location of many leisure and cultural sites are at the heart of Amsterdam, which also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the Heritage designation protects the old city and its surroundings, it also attempts to prevent as many changes to the center and buffer areas as much as possible. There is a struggle between municipal inclusion projects are preserving the heritage of Amsterdam to create a more accessible city for people with disabilities. This qualitative research looks at the accessibility of cultural sites and its inclusion of people with disabilities, alongside emerging municipal inclusion policies, and how they all balance together to allow the city to remain authentic, but also to be more accessible for anyone that wants to participate. While little is known about the implementation and results of these inclusion initiatives, the Municipality has been working alongside museums to make them more accessible for people with disabilities in 2021-2022 and has been including disabled people in their decision-making. While much work is still to be done, the accessibility of cultural sites, and more specifically, of museums, seems to show improvements. Further research is recommended as results unfold.

Keywords: Accessibility, UNESCO, Amsterdam, Disabilities, Inclusion

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Contents

1 Introduction ... 1

1.1 Gaps and contribution ... 3

2 Theoretical Framework ... 6

2.1 Justice and Parity of Participation ... 6

2.2 Spatial Justice ... 9

2.3 Mobility Justice ... 11

2.4 Social Model of Disability ... 12

2.5 Accessibility ... 14

2.6 Inclusion ... 15

3 Methodology ... 18

3.1 Research Design and Approach ... 18

3.2 Data Collection ... 21

3.3 Data Analysis ... 24

3.4 Ethical Considerations... 25

3.5 Positionality ... 26

3.6 Methodological Reflection ... 27

4 Research Context... 31

5 Findings ... 34

5.1 On Accessibility of Cultural Sites and Spaces ... 34

5.1.1 Accessibility Considered ... 35

5.1.2 Accessibility Not Considered ... 40

5.2 On Active Action Towards a More Inclusive Amsterdam ... 43

5.2.1 Advocacy & Activism ... 43

5.2.2 Demands & Implementation ... 44

5.3 On Inclusion of Disabled People ... 46

5.3.1 Inclusion ... 46

5.3.2 No Inclusion ... 47

5.3.3 Positive Feelings ... 48

5.3.4 Negative Feelings ... 48

5.4 On UNESCO Designation and Overall Preservation ... 51

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5.4.1 General Municipal Approach ... 51

5.4.2 Preservation Procedures ... 53

5.4.3 Preservation Worries ... 55

6 Discussion ... 58

6.1 Attempting Accessibility ... 58

6.2 Uneven Applications? ... 63

6.3 Inclusion Barriers ... 66

6.4 To What Extent is “Authenticity” Good Enough? ... 68

6.5 Recommendations ... 70

6.6 Limitations ... 72

7 Conclusion ... 74

References ... 76

Appendix ... 81

A1 Test ... 81

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1 Introduction

Our cities are made of culture. Every step you take on your streets, you experience history and culture laid for you by people thousands of years ago. This is especially in Europe, and here, in The Netherlands, where cities and towns can tell you everything about where you are standing. But not everyone gets to experience culture like this. There are 872,380 adults in the capital of the country, Amsterdam, of which 15% of adults experience “one or more disabilities, and are hard of hearing/deaf, blind, or have limited mobility” (Geemente Amsterdam, 2021). That is 101,000 adult Amsterdammers (Geemente Amsterdam, 2021).

34,000 have “severe disabilities,” 29% have a “chronic condition” and 29% have a “long- term illness or condition” (Geemente Amsterdam, 2021). People with disabilities have raised a variety of complaints about accessing cultural and leisure sites (Gemeente Amsterdam, n.d.- a). Many of their challenges come from a lack of accessibility within the center of

Amsterdam and its surrounding areas, which holds a lot of cultural and leisure places and is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site (Gemeente Amsterdam, n.d-a). This means that the buildings within the designated UNESCO Site and its buffer zones are protected to preserve the heritage as much as possible and require many permits to modify them (Gemeente Amsterdam, (n.d.-b). Recently, the Municipality of Amsterdam, or Gemeente Amsterdam in Dutch, started an inclusivity program to guarantee the participation of every resident of Amsterdam in the city (Gemeente Amsterdam, 2020, 2021). While there are many new policies and plans to make the city more accessible for everyone in a variety of ways, this thesis focuses on the municipality’s initiatives at making cultural sites accessible for people with disabilities, and how they work on being inclusive while protecting UNESCO Heritage sites. One question, therefore, that remains unsolved is how can these venues become more

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accessible while maintaining their historic value, while ensuring fair participation for every visitor?

There have been multiple discussions about the fine line of keeping unique cultural buildings and areas, such as World Heritage Sites, as untouched as possible for the future enjoyment of generations or modifying these buildings to make these cultural spots more accessible for people with disabilities, and others in the future (Gissen et al., 2020). Some preservationists argue that changing a cultural site, no matter how minimal or necessary modifications are, makes these sites lose their “historic value” (Harrison, 2013), (Smith, 2015), (Morris, 2020), (Gissen et al., 2020). On the other side of the debate, Soja (2009) argues that cultural spaces are created by humans, meaning that they are socially constructed. Since they are socially constructed, spaces, and in this case, cultural spaces, can and are given meaning by people (Soja, 2009). On top of meaning, they are also controlled and modified by people, which puts access to these sites under the control of people (Soja, 2009). With these concepts in mind, re-thinking the accessibility of cultural and public spaces is fundamental to creating “the fair and equitable distribution in space of socially valued resources and opportunities to use them” (Soja, 2009).

One population particularly vulnerable to accessibility issues are people with disabilities.

People with physical disabilities often struggle with unequal mobilities, ranging from

“uneven qualities of experience, uneven access to infrastructure, uneven materialities, uneven subjects of mobility, and uneven events or temporalities of stopping, going, passing, pausing, and waiting” (Adey et al., 2014), (Sheller, 2018). With mobility justice, the relation between physical ability and accessibility can be used to analyse the interaction between people with disabilities and cultural spaces (Sheller, 2018). When there is even access to these

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infrastructures, and unequal mobilities are no more, accessibility is achieved. Accessibility, if framed as a cultural practice, can change the culture itself once it is open “to people that have been out of it for centuries,” empowering people with disabilities and allowing them to coexist in spaces that they couldn’t access before (Kleege, 2020). Nancy Fraser’s concept of parity of participation addresses both “fair and equitable” spaces with Soja’s thinking but also goes beyond that, and its goal is to guarantee the conditions necessary for everyone to be able to equally participate in the spaces they are in (Park, 2020), (Soja, 2009) (Fraser, 1996, 2008).

Research is needed to untangle the effect that municipal inclusion policies have on the possible accessibility of cultural venues in UNESCO-designated preserved sites. Using a social justice framework, this work engages with mobility justice, spatial justice, parity of participation, and the social model of disability to explore and uncover how accessibility and inclusion in cultural sites can be affected by municipal initiatives, and how these sites can be considerate of socio-spatial relationships taking place within their venues while creating the sense of inclusion and belonging for people with disabilities while juggling their World Heritage designations.

1.1 Gaps and contribution

There have been a variety of research done on historical preservation, user-friendly

modifications, and accessibility of historic cities (Harrison, 2012), (Smith, 2015), (Gissen, 2019), (Young-Park, 2019). Some research has also been done on spatial justice, and accessibility (Soja, 2008), (Pineda, 2020), yet many have not discussed people with

disabilities in their research. Researchers like Nancy Fraser (1996) and Mimi Sheller (2018) have included people with disabilities in their research and theories, but research in disability

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studies has only increased starting from the year 2013 (Parent, 2016). This study aims to address the gap of the lack of inclusion of people with disabilities and accessibility in socio- spatial theories and research.

Despite recent initiatives of cities, venues, and governments attempting to be more inclusive to all, the progress has been slow. Emerging policies of venues and states are changing to create more inclusive and accessible spaces, cities, and environments, as seen in Amsterdam.

Since this movement towards inclusivity has just started to take off in the city, and recently within the past 5 years, this research will explore and address the gaps in the newly found accessibility and inclusion schemes of the Municipality of Amsterdam. Based on what has been discussed, the above has inspired me to research the following questions:

Main research question: How are municipal inclusion policies affecting the accessibility of cultural venues for people with disabilities?

Sub-question one: Which municipal inclusion policies aim to enhance the accessibility of cultural venues and historic cities?

Sub-question two: To what extent has the implementation of these policies affected historically preserved sites?

Sub-question three: To what extent do people with disabilities feel included and experience a sense of belonging in cultural venues?

The thesis will proceed as follows: After this introduction chapter and presentation of the problem statement, the theoretical framework used for this research will be presented in Chapter 2. In Chapter 3, the methodology used to carry out this research will be discussed, and in Chapter 4, the research context will be laid out. In Chapter 5, the findings of this

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research will be presented, and then will be analysed in further detail in Chapter 6. Lastly, in Chapter 7, the discussion and conclusion will take place, which will offer suggestions and recommendations for further research and a reflection. All appendixes and sources will follow.

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2 Theoretical Framework

This section explores the theory used to approach and carry out this research. There have been few social justice theories that specifically address disabled people or accessibility issues in their framework, as disability has consistently been marginalised by social theorists and activists (Mladenov, 2016). Disability work has often been regarded as a “specialist domain” and has been generally “side-lined” (Mladenov, 2016). This work uses Nancy Fraser’s theory of “justice,” and “parity of participation” to analyse the accessibility of cultural sites, as well as the ability to experience these sites by people with disabilities.

Fraser’s work has been used multiple times for disability research, yet she has “hardly ever mentioned disability” in her theories (Mladenov, 2016). In addition to this, this framework also uses Edward W. Soja’s “spatial justice,” and Mimi Sheller’s “mobility justice,” which do address disability and/or accessibility issues in their theories (1996, 2009, 2018).

Furthermore, this research also uses the social model of disability as the basis and

understanding for an explanation of disability, impairments, and accessibility, based on the work of the Union of the Physically Impaired Against Segregation (UPIAS), the Disability Alliance, and many disabled activists between the 1970s and 1980s (UPIAS, 1975), (PWDA, 2020), (Buder & Perry, 2021). These definitions are also supplemented by the United

Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the European Commission. In the upcoming paragraphs, these theories and definitions are explored further.

2.1 Justice and Parity of Participation

Fraser has extensively written about her perceptions of justice multiple times (1996, 2005, 2008). For Fraser (1996), the definition of justice is that of “parity of participation,” which she defines as social arrangements that permit all members to participate in social interaction

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on a par with one another (Fraser 1996, 2008). For this “parity of participation” to be possible, multiple strategies are required to achieve it, such as economic redistribution, but also cultural recognition (Fraser, 1996), (Pineda, 2020). According to an analysis by Pineda, these strategies can be “affirmative or transformative, but only the latter achieve real change”

(Fraser, 1996) (Pineda, 2020). These paradigms are part of what makes up justice. Later, she added political representation as another dimension for “parity of participation,” to account for “the impact of transnational structures and processes on social justice” (Fraser, 2005, 2007), (Mladenov, 2016, p. 1228). Fraser recognizes the difficulties in creating parity of participation; it can be highly demanding, but if it is successful, it would guarantee all the conditions necessary for every single person to be able to equally participate at any place and time, including people with disabilities (2008). In her latest additions, she also expanded the paradigms of “redistribution,” “recognition,” and “representation,” which are used to achieve justice. (Fraser, 2009). Redistribution is not just coming from state-distribution of resources, it goes further than this, into “deep-structural changes,” that can be affirmative or

transformative, like surface-level reallocations that don’t affect the system, or deep-level systemic economic restructuring, respectively (Fraser and Honneth, 2003), (Mladenov, 2016).

The term “recognition” is used by Fraser and Honneth (2003) as “not limited to the sort of valorization of group differences that are associated with mainstream multiculturalism, [but also encompassing] the sort of deep restructuring of the symbolic order that is associated with deconstruction” (2003). Recognition as a strategy could affirm differences or commonalities or could transform culture by deconstructing a variety of frameworks that create differences within a culture (Fraser and Honneth, 2013), (Mladenov, 2016). Finally, the newly added representation paradigm presents representation as political representation, like in political alignment and voting, as affirmative strategies (Fraser and Honneth, 2013), (Mladenov, 2016). The transformative counterpart to political representation would be “democraticising

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decision-making on a transnational basis” to address problems like global inequality and unjust division of labor, among other things (Fraser and Honneth, 2013) (Mladelov, 2016).

These three paradigms are what make up “justice” for Fraser, and what drives “parity of participation” into fruition.

As mentioned before, Fraser’s work has been already used multiple times in disability research (Danemark and Gellersted, 2004, p. 342, Dodd, 2016, Hungermark and Roman, 2007, Mladenov 2014, 2016, Grech, 2014, and Vehmas and Watson, 2014, p. 647)

(Mladenov, 2016, p. 1227). However, Fraser’s theory of parity of participation has not yet been applied to the accessibility of cultural sites, nor has it been used within the context of Amsterdam. Parity of participation has been shown to be a useful concept in disability research, and its use in the context of municipal efforts of inclusion in cultural and historic venues has not yet been seen. It might be interesting to see how preservation challenges and inclusion projects interact and include this concept of parity of participation and to see what the results of the inclusion or application of this theory might be within the municipality.

With its aim of equal participation in all settings, with no institutional obstacles and the necessary conditions for equal opportunity, it directly relates to the modifications needed in historical cities, places, and venues. If one were to apply Fraser’s theory during preservation efforts, then an inclusive and accessible setting might be created during accessibility

modifications, projects, and analyses. As mentioned before by Park, modifying a historical venue does not mean that it is less authentic if the concept of “authenticity” is broadened (2019). How can parity of participation be applied to cultural sites, which are working on being more accessible for everyone?

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2.2 Spatial Justice

“Spatial justice” is directly related to the concept of “parity of participation”. This term is the intersection between social justice and the use of physical space, according to Edward W.

Soja and David Harvey. (Pineda, 2020). But what is spatial justice? According to Soja, spatial justice involves “the fair and equitable distribution in space of socially valued resources and opportunities to use them” (Soja, 2009). While this term had not been frequently used until recently, and there are still some geographers and planners that tend to avoid “the explicit use of the adjective “spatial” in describing the search for justice and democracy in contemporary societies,” Soja believes that it was “crucial in theory and in practice to emphasize explicitly the spatiality of justice and injustice” (Soja, 2009). Many times, the spatiality of justice has been ignored or drained of its specificity into other topics, which, while they might still be important, it is the specificity of spatial justice that is able to create new opportunities for theory building, empirical analyses, and even “spatially informed social and political action”

(Soja, 2009). Soja is adamant that the socio-spatial relationships people have positive and negative consequences, that spaces are social constructions, and that spatial (in)justice is both an “outcome and a process” (2009). Soja takes a critical spatial perspective when talking about space and spatial justice. For him, spatial (in)justice refers to “an intentional and focused emphasis on the spatial or geographical aspects of justice and injustice,” which also involves the fair and equitable distribution of valuable space and resources in society (Soja, 2009). For Soja, space is socially constructed, as it has been literally and figuratively created by humans, and affects other people within all spaces (Soja, 1996). Also, spatial justice is not an alternative to other perspectives of justice but just offers a lens for justice with the critical spatial perspective (Soja, 2009). Spatial (in)justice can be seen as both an “outcome and a process” of just and unjust geographies or distributional patterns and the processes that produce these outcomes (Soja, 2009). Soja also mentions that while it might be “easy” to give

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descriptive examples of spatial justice, it is much more difficult to understand the root of the processes that create “unjust” geographies (Soja, 2009). Locational discrimination, which is created through the “biases imposed on certain populations because of their geographical location” is the main producer of spatial injustice and of “lasting spatial structures of privilege and advantage” (Soja, 2009). As Soja explains the three most common factors of locational and spatial discrimination are class, race, and gender, but this should not be limited to segregation, or these specific factors (Soja, 2009).

Soja’s spatial justice is a key theory that allows people to be able to analyse how the interactions between people and spaces are socially constructed, how space is shared, and what causes (in)justices within spaces. Accessibility and inclusion efforts in historical sites can be analysed with this concept since cultural spaces were created by and restored by people; they can and are still modified by people constantly, to make these spaces better.

Since they are constantly being modified for a variety of reasons, and they are, literally, socially constructed, people are able to modify spaces to create spatial justice for people with disabilities. People are also able to create a fair and equitable distribution of space and socially valued resources (Soja, 2009). Applying this theory to such a restricted space like UNESCO Heritage, which has strict rules about authenticity and preservation, in contrast to the municipality’s inclusion projects, might convey an interesting interaction between the theory and the use of the space. Using Soja’s concept alongside Fraser’s displays the social justice lens that is applied during this research on spaces and their accessibility.

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2.3 Mobility Justice

Related to both Fraser’s and Soja’s theories, mobility justice is a concept used for “thinking about how power and inequality inform the governance and control of movement, shaping the patterns of unequal mobility and immobility in the circulation of people, resources, and information” (Sheller, 2018). Mobility justice offers a new way to think across the micro, meso, and macro scales of transitioning toward more just mobilities with a capabilities approach to think about differing capabilities for mobility (Sheller, 2018). With a capabilities approach, questions like “what is uneven mobility?”, “Who is to exercise their rights to mobility and who isn’t?” And “how can we support greater mobility building?” These are some of the questions that emerge with this theory and that are attempted to be answered (Sheller, 2018). The unevenness of mobility may turn into “uneven qualities of experience, access to infrastructure, materialities, subjects of mobility, and uneven events” (Sheller, 2018). Not only do these unevennesses bring out “socio-technical infrastructures to the social and political foreground”, but they also display the “social practices in which delay,

exclusion, turbulence, blockage, and disruption are an everyday experience for those who must dwell in and move through marginalized spaces seeking livelihoods, passage, and asylum” (Sheller, 2018). Uneven mobility, as Sheller explains, is then based on four different main points: First, it refers to divergent, different, or incomplete access or connective terrains (Sheller, 2018). Second, it refers to the methods of movement and their extent of ease,

comfort, safety, and flexibility (Sheller, 2018). Third, it looks at spatial patterns and forms of management that control mobility, like gates, walls, and regulations (Sheller, 2018). Fourth, and last, it refers to domestic and global systems that control space and create mobility regimes, like passports, logistics, and unevenly distributed resources (Sheller, 2018). This concept of uneven mobility can be used to understand and explain what people with disabilities experience when they visit a place with limited access, for instance.

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Sheller also talks about mobility (in)justice by looking at five different scales of mobility and proposes “more positive forms of advancing more just mobilities” (Sheller, 2018). Mobility injustice, as explained by Sheller, begins with people’s bodies, as some bodies can move more easily than others since there are more or fewer restrictions and constraints depending on each body (Sheller, 2018). It is also concerned with the shapes of “built environments by infrastructure and land use,” and how these have been used against minorities to create places of exclusion or segregation, for instance (Sheller, 2018). Third, “planetary urbanisation,”

which refers to entire urban forms and more environmental-related unevenness (Sheller, 2018), Following this, Sheller continues by saying that mobility justice also concerns the scale of the nation-state, borders, migration, passports, and control of similar things (Sheller, 2018). Lastly, mobility justice issues are key to understanding the uneven impacts of climate change and uneven mobilities (Sheller, 2018). By understanding Sheller’s uneven mobility systems, uneven spatialities, and her scales of mobility justice, one can start applying these concepts to the setting of Amsterdam, disability, and accessibility. Mobility justice is intertwined with all the concepts mentioned above, as it is another tool that can be used to analyse and address mobility inequalities in all spaces, including spaces limited by

infrastructure or rules. Mobility justice is constantly aiming to ensure a just way of navigating spaces, despite body mobility or building infrastructure, and applied to UNESCO protected sites, alongside all prior and upcoming theories, might display the difficulties yet ease of carrying out such a task.

2.4 Social Model of Disability

Understanding the social model of disability is critical to understanding this research. The social model of disability argues that ‘disability’ is a social construction created by the

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“interaction between people living with impairments and an environment filled with physical, attitudinal, communication and social barriers.” (PWDA, 2020). In other words, the social model believes that “a disability is only disabling when it prevents someone from doing what they want or need to do,” and that the burden of responsibility in regards to accessibility is placed on society instead of the individual (Buder & Perry, 2021), (PWDA, 2020). The social model of disability makes an important distinction between ‘impairment’ and ‘disability’. An

‘impairment,’ according to the understanding of this model, is a “medical condition that leads to disability”, while a ‘disability’ is the “result of the interaction between people living with impairments and barriers in the physical, attitudinal, communication and social environment”

(PWDA, 2020). As People With Disability Australia explains, “it is not the inability to walk that keeps a person from entering a building by themselves but the stairs that are inaccessible that keeps a wheelchair-user from entering that building” (PWDA, 2020). Disability can be situational, temporary, or permanent, and if designs are inclusive for everyone, then any person with impairments should be able to participate anywhere (Shum et al., 2016).

Situational disabilities are those that are based on the environment or surroundings. For instance, as people move through a loud environment, they might not be able to hear very well, or a new parent might only be able to do activities with one arm only (Shum et al., 2016). Temporary disabilities are those that are short-term injuries or short-term contexts that can affect how people interact with their surroundings (Shum et al. 2016). For example, someone with a cast might struggle lifting objects or someone ordering dinner in a country with a different language might experience temporary disabilities (Shum et al. 2016). With this understanding that disabilities are universal and dynamic, and they affect much more of the general population than some might think it does, taking it into consideration in designs alongside the social model of disability might create a more inclusive and accessible space and perspective (Shum et al. 2016).

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The medical model of disability contrasts with the social model of disability. In this model,

‘disability’ is seen as a health condition that has to be treated by doctors and specialists, and disabled people are considered to be “different” or not “normal” (PWDA, 2020). ‘Disability’

is then the problem of the person who is disabled, and overall is seen as an individual

problem (PWDA, 2020). From the perspective of the medical model, ‘disability’ is something that needs to be cured or fixed, and people with disabilities are to be “pitied” (PWDA, 2020).

This model is all about what a disabled person can and cannot do and cannot be (PWDA, 2020).

The social model of disability is now the basis for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is the basis for many other inclusion treaties.

While impairments are natural and common and can happen to anyone at any point in their lives, they do not necessarily need to equate to disability; if all accommodations needed were provided, impairments would not lead to disability (Buder & Perry, 2021). With this model in mind, the accessibility of cultural venues, especially those protected under UNESCO

designations can be analysed and assessed alongside all concepts described above. This model lays the foundation to think of accessibility and ways that parity of participation can be achieved in any and every context. By using the social model of disability to analyse the accessibility and sense of inclusion in this research, one can gauge to what extent the model is applied in the municipality’s initiatives.

2.5 Accessibility

Understanding the concept of “accessibility” is necessary for this research. Here, accessibility is thought to mean “people with disabilities have access – on an equal footing with other

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people – to the physical environment, transportation, and information and communication technologies, as well as to other facilities and services" (European Commission, 2012) (Popiel, 2014). Similarly to Fraser’s, Soja’s and Sheller’s theories, the definition of

“accessibility” by the European Commission connects with the aim of guaranteeing equal access for people with disabilities to all their surroundings. With this definition, we are able to convey accessibility as a way of justice in inaccessible cultural venues. Accessibility works alongside these three concepts by being the bridge between the spatial relations that people with disabilities might face in an inaccessible setting, offering the parity that Fraser talks about and the socially constructed power that Soja mentions. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol (CRPD, 2006, A/RES/61/106) defines persons with disabilities to "include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others" (UNHCR, n.d.). These theories are all connected and the application of the social model of disability can be seen in all of them, as well as in the CRPD. With these theories as a theoretical foundation, they can be used together and applied to the context of Amsterdam and of the municipality’s inclusion initiatives, specifically with their focus on being more inclusive towards people with

disabilities navigating in cultural venues.

2.6 Inclusion

Inclusion, for many people with disabilities, means that the barriers between full social and economic inclusion are removed. In other words, the “inaccessible physical environments and transportation, the unavailability of assistive devices and technologies, non-adapted means of communication, gaps in service delivery, and discriminatory prejudice and stigma

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in society” are removed (World Bank, 2021). Inclusion is a very relevant definition for this topic, as it is one of the main goals, if not the most important one, for the municipality of Amsterdam to achieve. With inclusion goals in mind for the municipality, inclusive design might be one of the tools necessary to create and achieve the more inclusive spaces that the municipality is motivated to create. As Shum et al. put it, inclusive design is a methodology that “enables and draws on the full range of human diversity, [...] including and learning from people with a range of perspectives,” which allows for everyone to participate and experience a “sense of belonging” (Shum et al., 2016). By understanding the different kinds of disability and the exclusion or lack of accessibility a disabled person might face, it is easier to take the steps to address the root of the challenges and work towards inclusion with inclusive design (Shum et al., 2016).

Inclusivity intertwines with mobility justice, spatial justice, and parity of participation, as well as the social model of disability. Inclusivity can be directly linked with Soja’s aim of examining the socio-spatial relations people have, with a focus on creating a just distribution of this space, its resources, and opportunities. With Sheller’s and Fraser’s theories, inclusivity can also be linked to their goals of creating spaces that are evenly distributed and accessible by and for everyone. With this, the recognition of the social model of disability also occurs, as by creating inclusive spaces, they are also creating access for anyone with a disability.

This recognises that disability is then created by the environment and that it is not a problem that a disabled person has to solve themselves. By creating inclusion projects like these, the application of all these definitions and theories can be seen in use. Without inclusive spaces, I theorise that it might be difficult to create a just distribution of resources and space. If this does not occur, it might lead to uneven mobilities and spatialities, lack of parity of

participation, and negative socio-spatial relations. If this happens, then lack of inclusivity can

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then steer feelings of not being welcomed or belonging in sites that are not accessible for people with disabilities. The use of all of these theories and definitions together are what is going to be applied to analyse the findings of this research and to really inspect how the municipality of Amsterdam is doing with its inclusion projects. As space is limited in Amsterdam, and there are many restrictions from UNESCO World Heritage designations, inclusion is still a goal that is desired and needed for many.

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3 Methodology

This research focuses on the accessibility of cultural venues in Amsterdam, and to what extent local policies have an influence on the accessibility of these sites, many of which are protected by the UNESCO World Heritage designation. This section provides the methods and design used to carry out this research. As discussed in the theoretical framework (chapter x), this research was done with a constructivist ontological and epistemological approach, which means that, as a researcher, reality was understood as "multiple, tangible mental constructions, socially and experientially based, local and specific in nature... and dependent for their form and context on the individual persons or groups holding the constructions"

(Guba & Lincoln, 1994, pp. 110-111). In other words, throughout this research, reality was seen as “socially constructed” (Bryman, 2012, p. 33). This research was purely qualitative with inductive reasoning, gathering data from semi-structured participant interviews, observations of buildings, and a document review of relevant documents from the Municipality of Amsterdam. In the ensuing sections, the reader will be able to find the research design, ethical considerations and limitations, and the methodological reflection, with further details.

3.1 Research Design and Approach

This research was done as a case study within the time and resource constraints set. A case study is in line with constructivist ontology. Inspired by the walkability of Amsterdam streets, but the stark contrast of accessibility and challenges that come from the inside of buildings in Amsterdam, I began to do my research with the theoretical frameworks of mobility, accessibility, and a social justice lens, explained in the theoretical frameworks chapter. I started this research doing desk-based research because of COVID measures, and to learn more about the existing policies and documents. For that, I read through 19

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documents. Most documents came from the Municipality of Amsterdam, but some were national documents, and research from accessibility or cultural parties. After reading through them and thoroughly analysing them, I used the information I gathered to continue my research process. Next, with the information from the Municipality, I started looking for participants, began drafting possible interview questions, and started looking for a way to measure the accessibility of some cultural sites that were accessible at the time.

For the participant recruitment, I did research on a range of people that could possibly be relevant to my topic. I did not do random participant selection, because I felt that I could not get the information that I needed. Instead, I did what is called a purposive sample. The goal of purposive sampling is “to sample cases/participants in a strategic way so that those sampled are relevant to the research questions that are being posed” (Bryman, 2012, p. 418).

With this in mind, I looked for people who worked with or at the municipality, and cultural venues, like museums, theaters, and other popular cultural sites. I also looked for people with disabilities that lived in Amsterdam, and people that did work related to disability and/or accessibility. While I contacted around 30 people, I was only able to schedule interviews with nine people. Four of them took place online, five of them took place in person, two in the participant’s home, and the rest in public places like restaurants or parks. The online ones took place using online video chat software like Zoom and Teams. Seven out of the nine interviews were conducted in English, and two of them were conducted in Dutch and translated. Before scheduling interviews, some people asked me what kind of questions I would be asking them, to which I replied and gave them a general overview of what kind of questions I would ask, but never sent the interview questions directly to them. Despite nine interviews being a small sample, I believe that they are very rich in content and that with them I reached theoretical saturation (Omana, 2013). The interviews were one-on-one semi-

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structured interviews, and they ranged in time from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Semi- structured interviews seemed like the best way to go since it would allow the participants to speak more freely and be able to emphasise what they thought was lacking and important while relevant to the topic and their lives, and this format allowed me to ask the necessary questions as new information would come up.

To guarantee the safety of my participants, I let them choose if they wanted to meet online or in person, and where it was more convenient for them to meet if they did want to chat face to face. It allowed them to make themselves feel more comfortable, as well as guarantee privacy and familiarity with the sites chosen for them. The more comfortable they felt, the better it was for the research and for themselves. Because of COVID, some meeting places that were scheduled to meet at were closed, so a different location had to be improvised, but it was not usually the case. It is important to mention though, that during the interviews, some

interruptions did occur. For those that took place in person, phone calls to my personal phone, which was also my recording device, were often the most common interruptions to my

recordings, but participants would also get messaged or called during our interviews. The online interviews struggled with internet connection. Sometimes, while the participant or I were talking, one of us would either freeze or the connection would make the call choppy.

This was easily solved by simply repeating myself or asking the participants to do the same.

In-person, it was not as easily solved, since I mostly did not notice when these phone calls took place, chopping some seconds of the recording. This was no problem for me though, as I was listening and engaged in the conversation with my participants. All my participants were guaranteed anonymity.

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In regard to measuring the accessibility and the observations made of cultural sites: there were COVID measures that made the latter more complicated, since there was a lockdown for a couple of months, many cultural venues were the last ones to open, and towards the actual scheduled time that I had for visiting these sites, I actually came down sick with COVID. So, my observation period was actually quite limited and I was only able to visit 3 museums.

3.2 Data Collection

As mentioned before, for this study I chose to use purposive sampling. While the initial aim was to interview 20 people, finding participants from these groups of people was difficult (disabled people, municipality workers, museum workers). Many declined, were

unresponsive, or were not available, leaving me with 9 participants, out of the 30 people I reached out to. Despite this, these 9 interviews were rich in content, and I was able to find enough similarities to be able to do some comparisons and draw some conclusions from them. I contacted my participants in multiple different ways. The most common way was via email, but after many unresponsive weeks, I branched out and started reaching out to people via LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. Reaching out through social media gave me some quick responses, but not many. Towards the end, I found some participants due to a snowball sampling, which is when “the researcher makes initial contact with a small group of people who are relevant to the research topic and then uses these to establish contacts with others”

(Bryman, 2012, p. 202). I was able to do this since a participant knew people who also

participated in projects related to accessibility within the city. An overview of the participants can be found below.

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Pseudonym Position Location Gender Access

P1 Senior Municipality Cultural Worker

In Person Female Email

P2 Senior Researcher for Government

Online Female Email

P3 Senior Municipality Cultural Worker

Online Female Referral/Email

P4 Accessibility blogger In Person Female Email

P5 Field Director of Accessibility Organisation

Online Male Instagram

P6 Municipality Architect In Person Male Referral

P7 Program Developer and Researcher

Online Male Email

P8 Leader of Local Pressure Group In Person Female Snowball

P9 Volunteer for Local Pressure Group

In Person Female Snowball

All participants were very willing to answer all the questions, and they were informed that they could withdraw at any time, as well as the fact that they did not have to respond to any questions if they did not want to or were not able to. Every participant had a different

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perspective and take on the research topic, but they were all happy to participate. Each participant had a different background, though some had some similarities, like in the kind of work they did. I never asked any participant if they personally had a disability, and they did not ask me either. It was interesting to note though, that almost all participants had a relation with disability, which was sometimes not disclosed until the very end when more rapport had been built.

After all interviews were done, I ventured to two museums in Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, and Rijksmuseum. For each one of them, I used an accessibility checklist from Interreg Europe, to see if these venues had, at the very minimum, some features of accessibility that were described by the programme. From my interviews, I had gathered that the municipality and museums were working hard on increasing the accessibility of cultural sites, and it was nice to see that these three museums were as accessible as they could be, based on my checklist. I visited each museum on separate dates and kept the checklist on my phone to be able to do markings on it while moving around the museum. I checked what Interreg calls the

“service chain:” Website, shop, toilet, exhibit areas, coatroom, cash desks, entrances, and the arrival (Interreg, 2017, p.11). To do this, I walked around the museums to find these areas and checked according to what Interreg’s report had described. After that, I marked my phone and enjoyed the rest of the museum.

There are some obvious limitations with this research that I must acknowledge, mainly the small sample and time constraints. Nine people are not a lot of people, nor can it be used to be a representative sample of the people that were interviewed and for the City of

Amsterdam. The fact that my participants all agreed to discuss accessibility, preservation, and cultural venues, indicates that they are aware of all these factors and that they care about

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making the venues, alongside their visiting experience, better for everyone. A follow-up with these participants after more developments in accessibility within Amsterdam’s cultural venues in the upcoming years would be insightful.

3.3 Data Analysis

All the interviews were transcribed by the online tool HappyScribe and proofread by me afterward. The recording files as well as the transcripts of these audios were all anonymised and stored on my laptop with double authentication; They will be deleted within a year. After the interviews were transcribed, I used the software Atlas.ti to organise, store, and code my interviews. The coding was done inductively, which means that there is an “inductive view of the relationship between theory and research, whereby the former is generated out of the latter” (Bryman, 2012, p. 380). On my first round of coding, I coded the themes of the responses of all the participants as open coding, which Bryman describes as “the process of breaking down, examining, comparing, conceptualising and categorising data” (Bryman, 2012, p. 569). By doing this, I was able to compare each theme that came up throughout my interviews and find patterns, similarities, and differences throughout all 9 interviews. I interpreted the responses and gave them a corresponding theme based on my own analysis.

On the second round of coding, I checked all the codes I had, and concise them into a coding tree of 4 main themes, with each having around 2-4 sub-themes. By doing this, I was able to group similar or repeated codes, modify or change codes that I thought weren’t accurate anymore, and attach each code to the main themes of my thesis: accessibility, inclusion, preservation, and moves towards accessibility.

I used a checklist by Interreg Europe, a cooperation program co-founded by the European Union, whose aim is to “reduce disparities in the levels of development, growth, and quality

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of life in and across Europe’s regions,” to assess the accessibility of the museums (Interreg Europe, (n.d.)). They had previously used this checklist for assessing the accessibility of Eastern European museums in 2017, while showing good accessibility examples all across the European Union, in a variety of ways. Since I couldn’t find any checklist or measuring tool for accessibility specifically in cultural venues, this checklist was the best way I could use to actually see how accessible these venues were or weren’t, and what might be missing.

While this Interreg checklist was good, I definitely saw that there were some requirements missing, like the availability of large print booklets or in the exhibitions themselves. I chose this checklist because I deemed it reliable and relevant in the context of this research.

However, this checklist was never meant to be used as the sole accessibility checker, but it does check for the very minimum ways that a site can be accessible.

3.4 Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations, as described by Bryman, analyse how “values in the research process becomes a topic of concern” (2012, p.130). To uphold the most ethical research standards, I followed the Ethical Guidelines by the Graduate School of Social Sciences (GSSS) and aimed to partake in the “do no harm” principle throughout my research. There were no methods used throughout this research that could possibly put any of my participants in danger. In the following paragraphs, the ethical principles that I took to avoid any ethical issues are further discussed.

Every participant in this research had the choice to take part in this research or not. While I reached out to more than 30 people for interviews, many said they were not interested, did not have time, or simply did not respond. Those who did respond and did want to participate did so out of their own will and interest in this study. Every person I reached out to received a

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brief summary of what the research was about, and they had the freedom of choosing if they would like to participate or not, based on their availability. For those who did choose to participate, at the start of every interview, all participants were informed that they did not have to respond to any questions they did not feel comfortable answering, could withdraw from this research at any time and were guaranteed anonymity for this research. They were all aware that this was for scientific purposes only and with confidentiality guaranteed, something I repeated at the end of the interview.

To guarantee the safety of my participants, I let them choose if they wanted to meet in person or have an online meeting, and at whatever time worked best for them. This was because of two reasons: one being that COVID cases were rising, and some of the people whom I spoke to were part of risk groups, so I did not want to put either the participants or myself in danger.

The second one being that, by allowing the participants to choose the environment that they were the most comfortable in, they would be able to feel more at ease during the interviews.

In addition to this, I assumed that by giving the participants control of the interview location, trust would be more easily established, since I expected them to pick a place that they would be familiar with, making them feel more at ease during the interviews. This did end up being the case, as some participants invited me to their houses, or public cafés that they had been to before, and these were often places that I had never visited. By the end of many interviews, I felt that trust had been built, since many of the participants shared sensitive information about previous experiences with disability, and I felt comfortable myself, sharing about it too.

3.5 Positionality

I am not physically disabled. With this research being one on accessibility, and indirectly on disability, I have never used mobility aids, struggled with entering or navigating places

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because of a disability, and I have never experienced any negative behavior or comments towards me because of my non-existent disability. However, I have struggled with ongoing pain in both of my wrists for years, to the point that I have had to completely stop doing activities until it is not painful anymore. I don’t see this as a disability, and while it has affected my mobility to an extent, I am unsure as to what extent these wrist issues are able to give me a valid understanding and perspective on what it is to experience good and bad accessibility, in the way that I aimed to analyse for this research. In a way, this research is based on my personal experience of struggles, one of which is typing, a thing that I have to do a lot of to write this thesis, but also to communicate with people. However, it is not the same kind of indirect disability studied here, and my accessibility problems are not very similar to the ones that I researched.

I understand that I do not understand. I do think doing research on accessibility, mobility, and indirectly on disability, is a very important thing for every person that visits and lives in Amsterdam, but also for everyone in The Netherlands, and in the world. While it is

impossible to be completely neutral as a researcher, I must acknowledge my bias, and that is that I believe that being inclusive by guaranteeing accessibility is one of the ways that inclusivity can be guaranteed, and that accessibility should a guarantee for everyone

everywhere. Despite this bias, I attest that I remained as neutral and professional as I possibly could throughout each interview.

3.6 Methodological Reflection

This research took place in the city of Amsterdam from February 2022 to April 2022. During this time, I developed multiple strategies to assess the accessibility of cultural venues for people with disabilities. The methods and design used for this research during the fieldwork

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period were purely qualitative. This included semi-structured participant interviews (9 total, 4 online and 5 in-person all recorded and transcribed), analysis of multiple documents from the Municipality of Amsterdam, and observations of cultural venues, alongside an accessibility assessment checklist. By doing this, my goal was to collect enough data from multiple sources to be able to triangulate all of my data.

The criteria set by Lincoln and Gumba (1985, 1994) was used to assess the quality of this research. This is based on two primary measures: trustworthiness, which includes credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability, and authenticity, which includes fairness, ontological, educative, catalytic, and tactical authenticity (Bryman 2012, pp. 390-393), (Lincoln and Gumba, 1985), (Gumba and Lincoln, 1994). Due to the limited resources and time allocated for this research, authenticity was difficult to fully achieve, but some aspects of it have been partially reached, which will be analysed later on. Due to the time and economical limitations of this research, these findings are preliminary, and its local impact might be limited.

Despite the fact that there is a variety of experiences a person might have in regard to disability, inclusion, and the ease or difficulty of mobility within cultural sites, the goal of this thesis is to display all the layers of these realities truthfully and accurately. With this in mind, to assess the credibility of this research, triangulation was used. As explained by Denzin (1970: 310), “triangulation” is often referred to as an “approach that uses multiple observers, theoretical perspectives, sources of data, and methodologies.” As mentioned above, this research aimed to collect as much data as possible to be able to triangulate it by cross-checking and cross-referencing the data collected from participant interviews,

observations of public cultural spaces alongside an accessibility checklist for museums from

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Interreg Europe, and public relevant documents on initiatives, projects, and rules, regarding accessibility, culture, and inclusion from the Municipality of Amsterdam.

To assess the transferability of this research, the Background chapter of this thesis will be used to display the “thick description” of the research context and participant experiences, as explained by Geertz (1973). This was done by providing a historic and contemporary

contextual review, alongside the descriptions given by the participants interviewed during the research. With this, it was possible to contextualise, understand, and rely on the description of the interviewees and their relation to what is currently happening within this context, as seen in the Context chapter.

Throughout the fieldwork, record-keeping was done digitally. Every edit made on research documents, markings on the checklist, and recordings were all time-stamped and saved on a digital history log. Alongside this, a notebook was also used as well on interview days to annotate any relevant information aside from the interview questions, which were also dated.

This helps with the transparency of this research and its dependability. Throughout the thesis- writing process, the data will be analysed by other peers and professors, which will then minimise any possible bias found, increasing the dependability as well.

While remaining completely unbiased and objective in interviews is simply impossible, as a researcher I acted as neutral and unbiased as I could. There were times during the interviews where remaining objective became more difficult, since they dealt with the mistreatment of the people being interviewed, and the injustices they faced at times. To combat any further biases during the interview, I tried my best to follow the interview questions I had priorly drafted for every interviewee, and I made sure to try and get as many viewpoints on the issues

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as possible, to diminish any participant bias. I remained as objective as possible, to ensure confirmability. Positionality is further discussed in the Ethics section of the research.

In terms of authenticity, due to the limitations on time and resources, it was not fully achieved as trustworthiness was. However, fairness and a bit of educative and catalytic authenticity were somewhat met. As mentioned before, the participants came from diverse backgrounds, opinions, and knowledge, which gave them all different and unique voices, and I tried to find as many as possible that were associated with any aspect of my main research themes. During the interviews, educative and catalytic authenticity did partially occur, as many were not as aware of the issue of accessibility, and towards the end of the interviews, they felt compelled to act on the, often, lack of accessibility around them. Some had already acted on it, and some were just discovering these issues. All in all, most participants that weren’t quite aware of the issue seemed to become more mindful, and the others were already actively participating in tackling accessibility issues. With this, authenticity was somewhat achieved, despite the limitations.

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4 Research Context

There are 873,338 inhabitants in the municipality of Amsterdam as of 2021, with the number of residents with physical disabilities unclear (“Residents per municipality,” 2021). In The Netherlands, “1 in 10 Dutch people have a moderate or severe disability,” with 12% of the entire population experiencing a moderate or severe “impairment” due to a physical disability (“Beperkingen in mobiliteit,” 2020), (“Meer vrouwen dan mannen beperkt in bewegen,”

2019). In Amsterdam, according to a recent survey by the municipality, 66% of residents cannot participate in everything they want to do, with access to leisure activities being one of the most common complaints (Gemeente Amsterdam, n.d.-a). Aside from leisure, public transport and space were the other main complaints by Amsterdammers, with “44% of the problems occurring daily and 44% regularly” (Gemeente Amsterdam, n.d.-a).

Amsterdam is quite an old city, being mentioned for the first time in history in the year 1275 (Gemeente Amsterdam, n.d.-c). So, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of buildings that are centuries old, but that have been seemingly built without the thought of being accessible. This can be seen in the structure of the buildings themselves, like the narrow entrances, steep stairs, and uneven surfaces. In contrast to this, the city of Amsterdam itself is easily walkable and bikeable, with world-renown bicycle infrastructure offering the quickest, and often safest, ways to move around (Rijkswaterstaat, 2020). In comparison with cities in North America, these places often experience the opposite: barely walkable or bikeable sites or infrastructure, but buildings are easily accessible, mostly due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA is a federal civil rights law introduced in 1990 which protects people with disabilities from discrimination, including in accessibility to “everyday activities,” making accessibility mandatory for every building and public space (“Introduction to the Americans

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with Disabilities Act,” n.d). While in The Netherlands there is no overarching mandatory accessibility act, approaches to and guidelines about accessibility are left up to each individual municipality. An example of these guidelines can be seen in the accessibility handbook for Eindhoven, titled “Toegankelijkheid Richtlijnen voor een Toegankelijke Openbare Ruimte” (2009).

The municipality of Amsterdam is currently taking an initiative to be more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities (PWD) with an Inclusion Initiative (2020-2023) in a range of ways, after receiving the feedback mentioned earlier from Amsterdammers and their complaints regarding accessibility issues (Gemeente Amsterdam, n.d.-a). More specifically, these complaints ranged from the inaccessibility of cafés, museums, and shops, to the lack of railings in stairs, crowded sidewalks, and “dangerous shared spaces,” like the areas around Amsterdam Centraal and the Rijksmuseum regularly (Gemeente Amsterdam, n.d.-a). The municipality of Amsterdam has an inclusion agenda with 10 points that align with the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and works with local neighbourhoods in the city to create an inclusion agenda specific to each area in the city (Gemeente Amsterdam, 2021). Some of these goals aim to create more social awareness and inclusivity, others aim to make mobility easier throughout the city, and others aim to enforce earlier policies and regulations within the city. (Gementee Amsterdam, 2021).

This is interesting; while the city aims to be more accessible and inclusive, the UNESCO Heritage designation of the center poses some challenges for making accessibility-related changes. This is important since the center of the city and its adjacent neighbourhoods are all protected by this designation, yet these locations are filled with popular leisure activities and abundant public spaces. These locations were the same areas that received multiple

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accessibility complaints by Amsterdammers (Gementee Amsterdam, n.d.-a). Although the historic preservation of the World Heritage Site is important, it seems like this is challenging the municipality’s goals of an inclusive and accessible Amsterdam. Even though people with physical disabilities (PWPD) can already enjoy significantly more freedom and independence in the city because of the implementation of the municipality’s inclusive initiatives, inclusive biking infrastructure, and disability action groups' involvement, they are still facing

difficulties while entering and navigating most shops, restaurants, museums, and other buildings in the city (Gementee Amsterdam, 2021d). One of the ways that the Gemeente Amsterdam is furthering its inclusivity is with government subsidies for special bikes,

allowing for higher mobility for people with physical disabilities. (Douma, 2020), (Gemeente Amsterdam, 2021). While inclusive infrastructure and government subsidies have managed to increase the mobility of 16% of people with physical disabilities in The Netherlands, this furthers the case on as to why Amsterdam is a unique case study: Although the Municipality of Amsterdam and the government of The Netherlands are able to further outdoor

accessibility and mobility with its bike infrastructure, the indoor accessibility of cultural venues within and around the UNESCO World Heritage area and its buffer zone, and World Heritage Sites in the municipality are still not up to par (Douma, 2020) (Zijlstra, Durand &

Bakker, 2019). Amsterdam’s World Heritage designations and cultural venues highlight the city’s rich history, and while municipal policies are tackling accessibility issues, they still remain an issue for some of the city’s residents and visitors.

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5 Findings

This chapter presents the main findings of the fieldwork, based on all the themes found during the interviews with each participant. With these findings, I aim to find the relationship between them and my research question: how are municipal inclusion policies affecting the accessibility of cultural venues for people with disabilities? All interviewees had different backgrounds, and not all of them had a direct experience with disability, to my knowledge.

Out of those who did have direct experience with disability, all of them spoke about inclusion, independence, and respect multiple times. Those who did not, as far as I was concerned, have any direct experience with disability, did not discuss disability or

accessibility at as much length as those who did. This was all mostly within the context of their jobs and volunteering activities, but also personal lives and experiences. Each theme that arose in our conversations was categorised under the following: accessibility of cultural sites, active action towards more inclusivity, the inclusion of disabled people, and UNESCO- related preservation of the sites. In the following paragraphs, a more detailed breakdown of these themes is explored, as well as a look at the results of the accessibility checklist.

5.1 On Accessibility of Cultural Sites and Spaces

This first main category aimed to look at how accessible cultural sites are, as well as their surrounding spaces, and if accessibility was considered or not when modifying them after the new municipal inclusion initiatives. Here, interviewees discussed their experiences with accessibility in these venues, from personal stories to work responsibilities. Within the coming 5.1.1 section, we look at accessibility criteria, efforts, failed accessibility, and limitations. In 5.1.2, we look at accessibility challenges, lack of consideration, lack of enforcement, and lack of accessibility.

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5.1.1

Accessibility Considered

Many interviewees spoke about their accessibility criteria for a place to be accessible. There are many steps to check if a place is accessible or not, starting before visiting. For “P4”, a prior wheelchair and other mobility aids user, calling ahead would be the first step to ensure that a place is accessible or not. Speaking to restaurant owners, or checking venues online, is necessary to see if they meet the necessary accessibility criteria to enter and experience those sites. In “P4’s” ideal world, a perfectly accessible restaurant would include things like automatic, light and large doors, no steps, a variety of heights for tables and seats, and be a spacious place. It would require an accessible toilet with rails, a functioning alarm cord, an outwards opening door, and a sink, dryer, mirror, and soap at a visible and reachable height for wheelchair users. In terms of payment, a pin or cash machine at reach for wheelchair users, with a long cord or detachable machine. Aside from this, ramps and elevators when necessary, and even an escape mattress for multi-story buildings. These are general accessible criteria that they look for, to make sure that every place they visit is accessible for

themselves, but these accessible features and criteria can be looked for and used by other people with disabilities.

When applying this to cultural venues, and more specifically museums and their

consideration of accessibility criteria, “P4” gave the example of the Rijksmuseum, and how they have been putting a tremendous effort to be more inclusive and accessible, per municipal initiatives. Rijksmuseum has basic criteria described by “P4”: accessible toilets, good

entrances, elevators, and ramps, among other things. The Rijksmuseum also offers special maps for wheelchair and mobility aid users to show the best route around the museum

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