This is just going to be a short discussion post. Instead of talking a lot, I’d like to leave room for you to join the discussion and express your own opinion in the comments below.
The issue of Accessibility vs. Preservation is one that me and my family discuss every time that we go abroad for the holidays: It’s the issue of whether we should prioritise the preservation of historical sites and attractions, or if we should prioritise changing them to make them accessible (by installing lifts, ramps, etc.)
Just to give you some context, here are some of the oldest places that my family and I have visited that were either fully wheelchair-accessible or mostly wheelchair-accessible:
- The Vatican, the Colosseum, St. Paul’s Cathedral,
- The Megalithic Temple of Malta (the second-oldest free-standing structure on earth), the megalithic Hunebedden in the Netherlands,
- The Louvre, the Notre Dame, the Versailles Palace, the Eiffel Tower (we didn’t get to visit the last two, but we did see that they were wheelchair-accessible),
- Canterbury Cathedral (lots of cathedrals),
- Ancient tunnels, old cave structures, and abandoned underground settlements (I actually visited these while on Disability Scouts Camp),
- I’ve been inside war trenches with my wheelchair, and I once even went inside a deep, underground war tunnel (but only for a little while because I was quite scared XD)
These are just all of the examples that I could think of off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are many other historical sites that my family and I have visited on our travels that were wheelchair-accessible.
However, we’ve also visited plenty of historical sites (or indeed, entire historical towns) that weren’t wheelchair-accessible. I can definitely see arguments for both sides: I do believe in the historical preservation of old sites – But I can also understand how important it is to make these places accessible for everyone to be able to visit. I’d hate to think of part of a historical site being disturbed to make space for a lift – But, as a major history nerd, I also know how disappointing it can feel knowing that there are some incredible places that I’ll never be able to see. I’m so torn!
If it was just me, I’d rather leave these sites like they are instead of disturbing them just so that I can see them. But it’s not just me – it’s one billion people around the world who are also disabled and are only able to visit accessible sites. But isn’t preserving centuries worth of history more important than the enjoyment of our modern generation? Once again: I have no idea. 😊
Personally, I haven’t formulated a completed opinion on the matter – that’s why I’m so interested to hear all of your thoughts. Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer: just different opinions.
I’m extremely curious to hear: Do you think that we should prioritise the preservation of historical sites and attractions, or if we should prioritise changing them to make them accessible? And why?