Accessibility December 14, 2020
Jadavpur Univ student launches online museum of collectibles accessible for visually impaired people
Items like theatre posters, ticket stubs or political leaflets are meant for short term use but which over time become valuable as they provide information about a certain period. Jadavpur University student Subhradeep Chatterjee has launched The Ephemeriad Project, an online museum which showcases such items with a special focus on accessibility for visually impaired people.
Jadavpur University (JU) student Subhradeep Chatterjee is not visually impaired. During his MA dissertation on Swedish matchbox labels he realised just how inaccessible objects of art and heritage are for people with vision impairments.
So, when Subhradeep started working on The Ephemeriad Project, an online museum of ephemera, he was clear it would be accessible for people with vision impairments.
What is Ephemra?
For those who are asking what ephemera is, it refers to items that are printed for a specific occasion or purpose. This includes theatre programmes, posters for events, ticket stubs, photographs, political leaflets, and bumper stickers which are items meant for short term duration.
“The Ephemeriad Project, or Ephemeriad, will archive images of ephemera contributed by the site owner and website visitors”, says Subhradeep, who plans to do a Ph.D. in English Literature.
While doing a course on Disability and Literature conducted by Professor Ishan Chakraborty, Assistant Professor, English, Subhradeep became aware about accessibility issues faced by people with disabilities. “My disability studies course is about literature and disability during which I focus on the issues in accessing works of literature”, says Prof Chakraborty, who is visually impaired.
First of its kind in India
The initial phase of The Ephemeriad Project will focus primarily on ephemera. Later this will expand to provide an archiving space for other objects of historical value and cultural heritage.
We welcome images of old ephemera which are interesting, quirky, and meaningful. The image rights will remain with you, while Ephemeriad will only host the image with due credits. We also encourage you to supply textual descriptions to aid the mission of improving accessibility and ensuring inclusion. We would be happy to include backstories of your ephemera and your reflections. – Subhradeep Chaterjee, Founder, The Ephemeriad Project
Easy to understand descriptions
The objects have extensive text descriptions which are rich but easy to understand. “The descriptions are smaller and shorter”, says Prof Chakraborty “We have to understand that disability and poverty re closely linked and there are many disabled students out there who lack access to quality education. It is important that the information is available in a way that it is easy to understand”.
Going ahead there are plans to attach audio clips to the images to make them accessible to people with print disabilities. Subhradeep is also working on the website code to make it more accessible. “As of now the upload ephemera is sourced from my private collection”, he says. “I will be showcasing contributions of people and hope to partner with institutions”.
The Ephemeriad Project can be accessed here.
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