Although the castle and its fortified surroundings welcome an average of two million tourists each year, their access is not always suitable for people with motor, hearing, mental or visual disabilities. Back on the devices deployed and what still remains to be done, within this site labeled “tourism and disability”.
The count’s castle. Its two fortified enclosures, its 52 towers, its two kilometers of ramparts… and its cobblestones. If strolling the alleys of the city of Carcassonne is easy for the majority of the two million visitors who cross its walls each year, the visit is not so easy for people with disabilities.
Motor disability: very restricted access to the castle
Julien Ouddane assures him: “80% of the tour of the City is accessible by electric wheelchair“. Himself with a motor disability, the municipal councilor in charge of accessibility took the test in person. “Even the interactive treasure hunt is doable“, he emphasizes, always on condition that the wheelchair is electric. “By manual it is impossible because of the cobblestones and the slope, or you need someone in support.”
If the shops and restaurants on their side are “quite accessible if we omit the problem of sanitary facilities“, André Gout, member and former president of the Association for adults and young people with disabilities (APAJH) deplores the access “extremely limited” at the castle itself. Indeed, only the barbican, the bridge and the main courtyard are able to accommodate people with reduced mobility (PRM). Impossible for them to walk inside the castle , in particular because of the many stairs and the narrowness of certain corridors.
“We would like to develop this access, but we systematically come up against the architects of French buildings“, explains Nastasia Kaynar, responsible for interactive action and disability at the Center des monuments nationaux. and land use planning. In their eyes, it was difficult to build lifts and access ramps to the four corners of the 12th century building.and century.
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For André Gout like Julien Ouddane, these architects “should change their mentality“. “DThe solutions exist, you just have to put them into practiceunderlines the latter. Personally I had the chance to travel to San Francisco in Tulum (Mexico) or to go to the Great Wall of China and my wheelchair was never a problem. While at home, I can’t even see the castle.”
“At present, people with reduced mobility have privileged access to the main courtyard, which is reserved for guided toursunderlines Nastasia Kaynar. They also have a booklet available.“And to announce that next fall, a virtual visit will also be possible, with drone recordings.
Mental disability: a special visit
In addition to people with reduced mobility, people with mental and psychological disabilities also have privileged access to the main courtyard. “It is a quiet place, protected from free visits and large enough to be able to isolate yourself from guided tours if necessary.“, exposes Nastasia Kaynar. Specialized in welcoming this type of public, the young woman also supervised the creation of a dozen didactic panels.
“They include simple explanations, written in large print, and drawings, which is suitable for this type of visitor“, she specifies. A device hailed by the Afdaim-Adapei 11, which insists on “the importance of using accessible language” for these people. The castle and the ramparts can also boast of offering a stamped visitor’s booklet “Falcon“. Developed using the “Easy to read and understand” method, this free booklet has been “tested and approved by Esat de Limoux“, notes Nastasia Kaynar.
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Visual impairment: braille should develop
Specific media have also been designed by the tourist site for the visually impaired: audioguides in several languages, white signage, warning signs…”Guide dogs are of course welcome.“says Nastasia Kaynar, aware that the law is not applied everywhere. A heat-inflated book, called Meaningroutesis also available for sale in stores. “It also includes an audio CD and a manual with large contrasting print“, indicates the disability manager of the castle.
The temporary exhibition on fashion during the Hundred Years War is also accessible to blind or visually impaired people, by offering a “cloth library”. The fabrics of each of the costumes presented have thus been sampled and made available to the public, who can touch them and thus better represent them.
On the other hand, on the self-guided tour route, the information panels are not transcribed in Braille. Only the plan at the beginning of the course is in relief and includes some explanations in this tactile writing. A weak point that Nastasia Kaynar intends to rectify: “In the future there will be more signage in Braille within the chateau”. Although he welcomes this initiative, Bernard Pages nevertheless indicates that “not all visually impaired people read braille”.
For the president of the association Between views audoises (Eva), it should above all start with “improve signage” especially to enter the city. “We don’t really know where to park, you have to ask the town hall for access to the Places des Lices. And once that’s done, it’s complicated to know where to go, he raises. It would be necessary to set up a breadcrumb, but I know that it is always complicated with the buildings nall the same, he cites the castle of Haut-Kœnigsbourg, in Alsace, as a reference: “There are audiotels to help us find our way, white stripes on each of the steps and all the guides are briefed when we arrive.“.
Audio disability: agents trained in LSF
As for mental handicap, the castle and the ramparts won again this year the label “tourism and handicap”, issued by the eponymous association, for their reception of deaf and hearing-impaired people. At the checkouts, magnetic loops have been put in place, making it possible to amplify the sound in the hearing aids. Visitors with deafness can also request a guided tour in French sign language (LSF).
“Heritage editions have also released a collection of LSF dictionaries by period, with specific vocabulary specific to the Middle Ages, for example.“, notes Nastasia Kaynar. The reception agents are currently being trained in this language.
“The important thing to remember is that we can offer guided tours adapted to all kinds of disabilities on request.“, insists Nastasia Kaynar. It must be said that the tourist windfall is substantial: eight million French people are disabled. “On a European scale, we go to 36 millionnotes Julien Ouddane. However, only seven million of them travel, for lack of accessibility.“