Architectural design accessible for people with disabilities
The entire area of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum has been entered into the register of monuments. In connection with the necessity of conservator’s protection and in order to preserve the authenticity of the space and its premises, the options of adaptation and interference in its historical structure are limited. As the area of the Museum covers nearly 200ha and includes numerous facilities, including 155 immovable objects such as blocks, barracks, former camp premises, ca. 300 ruins and camp remnants, it is very diversified when it comes to the adaptation of architectural design and its availability for people with disabilities. In connection with the character of the space and the conditions of its conservator’s protection connected with preserving authentic post-camp facilities, the amenities are installed wherever possible, in particular in newly constructed facilities.
The premises of former Auschwitz I camp
Main Museum parking (entrance from ul. Stanisławy Leszczyńskiej 11 in Oświęcim) includes parking spaces as well as a toilet adapted to the needs of people with disabilities (the key to be received from staff members the entrance to the Museum). Baggage storage facility is free from any architectural barriers.
Design of the building including the entrance to the Museum, where each visit begins, includes all necessary architectural adjustments. There are levelling ramps and the halls are wide enough for those moving on wheelchairs. Museum Guard staff works there, ready to assist all those who need it. Additional space has been dedicated to people moving on wheelchairs at the entrance and exit gates.
Due to the character of historical paving of roads and sidewalks within former Auschwitz I camp, persons with movement disabilities need someone else’s assistance in the majority of cases.
The access to historical buildings hosting the exhibitions is limited due to the fact that within the blocks, their ground floor level is ca. 70cm above the level of the adjacent area, while historical external stairs limit the possibility to install permanent elements (ramps, lifts) facilitating the access for people with movement disabilities. Persons moving on wheelchairs need someone else’s assistance in order to reach the ground floor. Upper levels of the blocks are not accessible for persons moving on wheelchairs.
Within the visit route there are two toilets with architectural design barriers – in Block 18 and the A-77 building situated behind the remains of the Political Department barrack. Entering these buildings requires someone else’s assistance. Toilet in Block 18 is equipped with necessary amenities.
Camp premises available for people moving on wheelchairs
Blocks 2 and 3 where, thanks to stair-climbers, ground floors are available for people on wheelchairs. It is possible to visit these blocks exclusively as part of a study visit (request for making the stair-climber available should be submitted to e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org and on the visit day, it should be reported at the Visitors’ Service Point within the entrance building to Auschwitz I).
Block 24 including the Archives – wheelchair ramp
New seat of the International Center for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust in the so called Old Theatre building has been equipped with lifts and a stair-climber, the entrance to the building is situated at the ground level (without any stairs or thresholds), the auditorium hall includes the space for wheelchairs, doors leading to halls and lecture rooms are wide enough for wheelchairs and do not have any thresholds. The building is equipped with toilets and parking spaces for people with disabilities. Audio equipment for the blind and visually impaired making it easier to move around the ICEAH seat is available within the facility.
Former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp premises
Community parking in the vicinity of the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp (ul. Męczeństwa Narodów 8 in Brzezinka) includes parking spaces adapted to the needs of people with disabilities.
During the visit of Auschwitz II-Birkenau it is necessary to cover large distances. Road paving is uneven, which results from its historical character, but makes it hard to be used by people on wheelchairs.
Visitors enter the premises through the passage within the historical Death Gate building, the entrance is situated on the ground level. Death Gate tower is not accessible for visitors on wheelchairs.
The Sauna building is accessible thanks to external ramps and elevated floor in the interior.
The majority of premises are timber as well as brick and mortar single-level barracks, where the flooring level is similar to the level of the surrounding area. In addition, in order to facilitate the access to open brick and mortar barracks, wooden levelling platforms have been installed. The space inside brick and mortar barracks is limited, which makes the use of a wheelchair more difficult.
Within the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp it is possible to use movable ramps enabling the access to barracks. It is necessary to submit an appropriate request while booking at email@example.com. On the visit day, it should be reported at the Visitors’ Service Point.
Toilets adjusted to the needs of people with disabilities can be found within the Death Gate building as well as in the vicinity of Crematorium III.
The entrance to the Museum with an assistance dog is possible upon presenting an appropriate training certificate and an up-to-date vaccination record (the dog must be kept on a leash), according to the ordinance of the Minister of Work and Social Policy as of April 1st 2010 on the issuing of certificates confirming the status of an assistance dog.
Reduced fee for the visit at the Memorial Site with educator is granted among others to persons with disabilities upon presentation of a document. The guardian of a person with disabilities has the right to obtain the Entry Pass free of charge – Entrance Cards are to be collected on the visit day at the Visitors’ Service Point in the entrance building to Auschwitz I.
The audio system used by educators at the Memorial Site is equipped with the option of additional reception amplification for people with hearing disabilities (so called induction loop).
Buses transporting individual visitors between both parts of the Memorial Site (between Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau) are equipped with special platforms installed in doors making it possible for people using wheelchairs to get on and off the bus.
Within both parts of the Museum it is possible to rent wheelchairs free of charge. Demand for the wheelchair should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org while booking the visit. On the visit day, it should be reported at the Visitors’ Service Point within the entrance building to Auschwitz I and then to Museum Guard staff members at the entrance to Auschwitz II-Birkenau.
Organized groups using their own transport can receive the consent for transporting visitors with movement disabilities directly to the entrance to the Museum (other visitors use dedicated parking spaces). The request for transport directly to the entrance to the Museum should be submitted in advance by e-mail (email@example.com) or phone and on the visit day, at the Visitors’ Service Point within the entrance building to Auschwitz I.
The Museum is in possession of guides in the Polish language (A3 format) including descriptions in Braille. Visitors can borrow the guide free of charge at the Visitors’ Service Point within the entrance building to Auschwitz I on the visit day.