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Enjoying Mumbai's heritage in sign language, a city first on World Disability Day

December 9, 2017

Mumbai city is famous in the world for its unique heritage architecture and fountains. To bring this experience to the deaf, accessibility architect Siddhant Shah organised a Heritage Walk for the Deaf on the occasion of World Disability Day.

NewzHook reporter Shalaka Pol attended the walk as well and do read her report in sign language with this article.

What is Art Deco

The walk started from Oval Maidan in Churchgate, where the famous Art Deco buildings and structures can be seen. There was a sign language interpreter to make sure the relevant information was given correctly. Art Deco is a style of visual arts, architecture and design that first appeared in France just before World War One.

"After Miami in the United States, Mumbai is the second city in the world to have such a stretch of Art Dceo buildings", said Shah, who is passionate about making art and heritage accessible to people with disabilities. He is also the man behind India's first museum braille book for Jaipur's City Palace Museum. The books have written information as well as tactile images.

Shah decided to organise the walk as there was little happening in this space. "I realised that the deaf are not being catered to. They have a visual sense and all that is needed is a sign language interpreter".

"The deaf have a visual sense and all that is needed is a sign language interpreter"- Siddhant Shah

Organising such an event for the first time, though, came with many challenges. For one, no many in the deaf community were unsure of how such an event would work out for them, perhaps because nothing like this has been done before in India. Shah had to reach out extensively to parents' groups and teachers' to spread the word. The final turnout was a decent one with over 30 people attending the walk. Not a bad number given that this was the first such event.

In the future, as more such events are held, such challenges will hopefully not be an issue. The event was kept inclusive so everyone could join in.

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