Spain: Government Report Explores Accessibility of Cultural Spaces in Madrid
Built Environment, Europe, April 21 2021
The Office of Attention to Disability (Oadis), dependent on the Ministry of Social Rights and Agenda 2030, has found in a report the lack of accessibility in theaters and other cultural spaces in Madrid, and that causes many people with disabilities to see their limited access to culture.
“We are talking about a right of access to culture, leisure and recreation. If people are prevented or that right is curtailed, a good part of their human activity is disabled, “the president of the Committee of Representative Entities of People with Disabilities of the Community of Madrid, CERMI Comunidad de Madrid, denounced in statements to Servimedia. Madrid, Óscar Moral.
This report follows a CERMI complaint in which it included possible violations of the Universal Accessibility Law, which, since December 4, 2017, requires that all buildings and spaces be accessible to people with disabilities or reduced mobility in those buildings existing before December 4, 2010.
This includes theaters, cinemas, concert halls and other spaces analyzed in the report, such as the Las Ventas bullring. Such is the lack of commitment to accessibility that many of the letters sent to cultural institutions to gather information were returned, with various theaters and institutions ignoring a response.
The spaces that did not even respond to the request for the report on accessibility were the Alfil Theater, the Fígaro-Adolfo Marsillach Theater, the Nuevo Alcalá Theater, the Nuevo Apolo Theater, the Príncipe Gran Vía Theater, the Reina Victoria Theater, the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas and Sala Riviera.
Among those who did provide information on its accessibility, deficiencies have been detected such as the fact that many lockers do not meet the accessibility conditions established in the Technical Building Code or the absence of an accessible route to enter the building so that people with disabilities can access easily.
In addition, as the Oadis report states, “mobile ramps are used when it may be possible to carry out accessibility works”, while the “absence of handrails on wide stairs” is detected.
Likewise, many toilets are still not accessible and, sometimes, theaters do not have an induction loop so that people with hearing disabilities can receive information and communicate, while the number of seats in the stands for people with disabilities is “insufficient.”
For Óscar Moral, “people with disabilities and their families, because many of us go with other people to concerts or the theater, are being prevented from accessing culture. An important part of the life of a part of the population is being cut off, and that is not trivial”.
According to the information collected by the Ministry’s Office of Attention to Disability, “in general, there is a willingness to solve accessibility problems” between theaters, while there are cases in which they hide behind “the existence of difficulties due to protected buildings or with a very old construction ”that prevents accessibility reforms.
Some cultural spaces such as the cinemas of the Palacio de la Prensa and the Sala Galileo Galilei are processing a reform project that will comply with accessibility regulations, for which the Ministry of Social Rights has committed to “follow up on this file within four months.”
In others, problems of a technical nature arise that will be referred to the Madrid City Council, which has the competence to assess the accessibility conditions of these buildings and to check “if it is necessary to require reasonable measures or adjustments” and even “the start of a procedure of infractions and sanctions”.
For the president of CERMI Comunidad de Madrid, all this “shows that, logically, the situation of these spaces is not adequate enough” and they have “a clear lack of accessibility”, when “there are sufficient means for all people to can attend these shows on equal terms.”