Work-In-Progress (i.e. #WIP) is an Art Gallery of Greater Victoria podcast that offers some insight from behind the scenes to curatorial projects that could be seen as open-ended or process-based — highlighting some of the experimental and exploratory work that is taking shape both inside and outside of the AGGV’s physical gallery spaces.
In this episode we are joined by several staff and collaborators from Tangled Arts + Disability to reflect on a “mini digital accessibility audit” that their team oversaw, looking closely at some of the AGGV’s virtual spaces. Listen as Marina DiMaio, Digital Assets Coordinator at the AGGV and your host for this episode, sits down with Kayla Besse, Public Education Coordinator at Tangled, Sean Lee, Director of Programming at Tangled, Francis Tomkins, Communications Coordinator at Tangled, and Connor-Yuzwenko Martin, an external consultant at Tangled, to reflect on the digital accessibility work that has happened at the Gallery so far. Our hope is that this podcast episode will offer additional insights, ideas and resources for other arts organizations, on similar digital accessibility journeys. Learn more about the #WIP Podcast at: https://anchor.fm/art-gallery-of-grea…
This podcast series is generously supported by a Canada Council for the Arts Digital Now Grant.
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is located on the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən speaking peoples, today known as the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations. We extend our gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to live and work on this territory.
Video editing by Marina DiMaio.Work-In-Progress (i.e. #WIP) is an Art Gallery of Greater Victoria podcast that offers some insight from behind the scenes to curatorial projects that could be seen as open-ended or process-based — highlighting some of the experimental and exploratory work that is taking shape both inside and outside of the AGGV’s physical gallery spaces. …
Mini Digital Accessibility Audit
Mini Digital Accessibility Audit
Mini Digital Accessibility Audit
What Would Be the Equivalent to Providing Food at a Digital Event
What Would Be the Equivalent to Providing Food at a Digital Event
What Would Be the Equivalent to Providing Food at a Digital Event
Remote Zoom Tour
Remote Zoom Tour
Remote Zoom Tour
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Marina: Hey everybody! This is Work-In-Progress, an Art Gallery of Greater Victoria podcast where you’ll hear from artists,
staff, collaborators and even different hosts
as we go behind the scenes to explore AGGV projects, in progress.
I’m Marina DiMaio, the Digital Assets Coordinator at the AGGV
and your host for this episode.
The AGGV is located on
the Unceded traditional territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən speaking peoples
today known as the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. And that’s where I’m zooming in from today.
But for the purposes of this episode, we’ll also be hearing from folks
who are joining from Dish With One Spoon Territory,
as well as Treaty 6 Territory.
I’d like to begin by welcoming several staff from Tangled Arts and Disability, including Kayla,
who is the public education coordinator,
Sean, who is the director of programing, and Francis, who is the communications coordinator.
And I’d also like to welcome Connor, who is one of the external consultants
who supported tangled with a digital accessibility audit
looking closely at some of the AGGV’s virtual spaces.
Welcome, everyone! Perhaps we could start by having each of you introduce yourselves
and share a little bit about your work at Tangled or Beyond?
Kayla: This is Kayla speaking. Marina, thanks for having us today. My name is Kayla Besse. I am Tangled’s public education coordinator.
So that makes me one half of our communications team, with Francis here. And we do all the digital communications at the gallery as well as
educational resource and sharing. And I also co-host a podcast of our own at Tangled called Crip Times.
Francis: I can go next. I’m Francis Tomkins. I am the communications coordinator at Tangled.
So I’m the other half of our communications team
and I do the things that Kayla described as well.
And something else we do as a comms team is occasionally work
with other galleries or arts institutions
and let them know about some of the ways
that we make our communications more accessible at Tangled
and kind of explore ways with them
that they can make their communications accessible as well.
Sean: My name’s Sean Lee. I’m the director of Programing at Tangled.
So a lot of what I do is kind of around the
programing aspects, you know, organizing our exhibitions
and kind of thinking through the overall long term
goals of the organization. And yeah, that is me, and I’ll pass it over to you, Connor.
Connor: Alright, well thank you everyone. I’m Connor.
I’m here in Edmonton, Alberta, which is on Treaty 6 Territory. I’m a Deaf, Queer artist. I’m a creator, a writer and a performer,
amongst many other things. I also do communications advisory work, public relations and I also look at accessibility audits,
which is something I have just completed here with Tangled Arts and AGGV. So that would be me in a nutshell.
Marina: Amazing, thank you so much, everyone. So I guess what I wanted to do is just start the podcast episode
with a bit of a shout out to the Feminist Art Field School.
For those people who might be listening to this podcast, the Feminist Art Field School was a previous AGGV program
that was co-curated by Michelle Jacques and Chase Joynt,
and that’s where I personally first heard Sean talk about Tangled Arts
and the wonderful work that you’re doing there.
Sean was one of the special guests in the Field School,
so that’s something that you can listen back to at any point in time
on our YouTube channel,
and you’ll hear Sean, Chase and Michelle talk about
things like critical access, accessible curating,
access intimacy – an idea that was talked about in that episode
that was really interesting as well, and kind of a highlight for myself.
But more recently, the AGGV has had the opportunity
to reconnect with Tangled on a digital accessibility project,
and we’ve been calling it a “mini” digital accessibility audit
because, you know, digital tools are always changing. So there’s always a need to kind of reevaluate
to visit digital accessibility.
And because everyone has different access needs, right? So digital accessibility is very expansive and always ongoing.
And so what we were hoping to do today is reflect a little bit on this project, on this mini digital accessibility audit.
And what we were trying to do was create a really… or what we hoped to do was create a really nonhierarchical process.
A project that wasn’t necessarily just directed by AGGV. So we began by inviting Sean, Kayla and Francis
to kind of explore, critique
from an outside perspective,
a variety of the AGGV’s virtual channels.
And we decided to focus on some of our more highly used channels, like the website, the AGGV magazine, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
Then Sean, Kayla and Francis
invited two additional consultants, Danika, who isn’t able to join us
today, shared specific feedback
from a lived Blind/low-vision perspective.
And Connor, who is with us today, shared actionable feedback on AGGV’s digital platforms from a lived Deaf perspective.
So that’s a very kind of basic summary,
I guess, of the project.
And so I was curious to open it up to all of you
and just ask, how you decided to respond to this open ended process?
I’m curious if anybody would be willing to summarize for podcast listeners where you took this original invitation and what unfolded?
Sean: This is Sean, I can maybe start and Francis, Kayla, Connor,
feel free to jump in at any point.
But I think for us this was a really great opportunity to engage with
a platform as consultants from the perspective of
kind of a lateral way of thinking, kind of a horizontal way of thinking.
In particular, we’ve… Tangled is often approached
as almost like the quote unquote experts. And I think we want to move away
from that sort of binary way of thinking of,
you know, there are the experts
and then those who are kind of receiving that knowledge. And we instead wanted to approach this, recognizing
that we all come to it with different lived experiences.
And so an important part of this was bringing, you know, outside
consultants into this fold and recognizing
that we’re not necessarily representing,
you know, our community with a single perspective, but rather approaching it as our own experience of these platforms.
And I think for us, it was really interesting to develop
kind of the different goals
and the different ways that we’re approaching these platforms,
because they can so often be very inherently inaccessible.
And we’ve encountered that a lot. But I think, you know, to give credit to the AGGV,
and in particular to Regan Shrumm
who had done a lot of work before, we were quite,
I think, pleasantly surprised when approaching this.
And so we felt that we were able to bring in outside consultants
to sort of come at it from a very open place, not needing to create a lot of like, okay, here’s
where the problems we think are…
Like we didn’t… I don’t feel like we needed to create too much
of a backstory, in some ways. We were able to just approach it openly. And I think to its credit,
that’s because of the work that was already done by,
you know, disability rights workers and
in particular, you know, I think Regan Shrumm did a lot. Regan, yeah, I think being a past guest,
I want to just give a bit of a shout out to that.
And I don’t know if Francis, Kayla or Connor, you want to add to that?
Francis: Yeah, Sean, I love what you said about not being positioned as the experts
and being able to approach the project from kind of like a peer way.
I think something that we often come up against
when we’re doing this type of consultation work
is being asked for a sort of checklist or a
like a one size fits all approach to accessibility, where we can
sort of just deliver these ten things that you need to do
and then you’ll be accessible.
And accessibility doesn’t usually work that way. So this was a really fun project for me because, you know,
we’re really used to working in the accessible communication realm.
So there are certain things that we kind of suggest every time,
such as image descriptions or captioning videos or things like that.
But it was great to be able to explore this project and see things that
for me at least, I was really inspired by. Like seeing that the #WIP Podcast had ASL interpretation and
that the ASL was split screen with
the podcast was something that was really exciting and that I hadn’t seen before. So that was something that I wouldn’t even necessarily have
thought to suggest, but it was something that I got to learn from and
kind of built on my ideas of what could be done in an accessible communications.
So that was really great.
Connor: I just wanted to add on some of my experiences as well. I basically showed up, did my work and then I left.
There wasn’t a chance to have follow up dialogue, based on what I had found. So it’s nice to have that.
The time I spent looking through the platform , the website and whatever issues I came across,
was great. It really empowered me to give specific feedback.
The AGGV has already done a lot of great things in terms of accessibility, and that was fantastic to see.
It made me realize the organization is on the right path, and they are going to get to where they need to be.
It was just nice to see that and recognize it — you know, basically saying good job, pat on the back for this.
And now there’s other ways we could actually expand upon this and make it better. I think that’s a better approach than, well here’s your report, you’re not doing this, you’re not doing that and you’re missing this. So here you go
have fun for the next 2 years making it more accessible. I didn’t really think that was the best approach.
I just think it’s important to be involved and that’s not the right way to advocate. So, I know I’d be that harsh person and go, hey
here’s what’s the problem. So this was a different experience. This was nice, and really I was impressed.
And I am really excited to see where things are headed to from here.
Kayla: Yeah, I think as you well noted, you weren’t
starting from zero access with AGGV.
There’s so much excellent work that had already been done. And I think something that is important to
remind ourselves of, or remind anybody,
if you are starting to think about access in your digital spaces
for the first time, is that these platforms don’t make access intuitive
and you often have to get creative
and hack-it or crip-it in some way.
For example, Twitter only very recently made it
so that alt text is visible to all users.
If it’s there on an image
rather than just for those using screen readers.
So while we wait for these social media
giants to do the least, honestly,
there are strategies that we can employ when we work together and when, as has been said, we don’t center one approach or one person as an expert,
but rather get creative and kind of playful about how we can work
within these ecosystems that we already have in order to
invite access into those spaces.
Marina: Thank you all for sharing those thoughts. I think, you know, part of the hope for this podcast episode
as well was to be able to share a little bit about this process
so that if there are other museums or galleries
that want to kind of draw some inspiration
or structure from it, that they could maybe
listen back and take something away for themselves.
Because, like you said, digital access is not just about compliance, like it’s not just a checklist.
And I guess what I’m trying to say is that, you know, each
organization is very different.
And so the approach that the AGGV is going to have to take
might look a little bit different,
for the types of programs that we’re doing, But the hope is that we can kind of draw some threads
of continuity with this discussion as well. And so I think that relates to my next question,
a little bit, which is thinking to the future,
I’m curious, how do you imagine that we can further amplify and extend
the work that began
within this preliminary digital accessibility audit?
I’m curious to hear from any of you, or all of you, what you think institutions like the AGGV
can learn from this process
and if you have any tips or suggestions for other galleries
in terms of approaching digital accessibility?
Connor: I know on my end, as I gave it some thought, I think a suggestion did come to mind.
When an organization is trying to become accessible
for their clients or consumers or for the population at large,
I think that’s a step in the right direction. RIght.
We just want to make sure, you know,
because we’re setting up this information and this is for you. And yes,
we want to make sure it is being accessed. We also have to think about
what accessibility looks like and what the priorities would be. Right? When you wake up in the morning,
what’s your first thought about how to make things more accessible?
You know, put your mind in it right from the beginning and really make sure it’s there. And again, the how part of that, right?
So I think you have to start with each organization
on its own internally,
the people of that organization need to think about,
why haven’t we been fully accessible up to this point?
For example, myself as a Deaf artist, if I was working there wow, there would be… we’d have a lot of interpreting services available.
We would have blogs and ASL
to really increase accessibility for the Deaf community. But that’s because I’m working there and I’m kind of spearheading that.
So that’s what I’m talking about.
If you look at your organization, who’s missing? Who’s not at the table
and who can we bring to that table for accessibility?
So I know for me I felt that was a really strong point.
And I think organizations can make that change, when you think about who’s not there. Now,
I don’t mean just start onboarding new staff.
That’s not necessarily the answer.
I think we need to have a conversation first, look at our current team,
who’s here, who’s not here? Right. And think about where things have been up to this point.
You know we really should have this…
We should have that… This system hasn’t always been available… I think it’s stuff that maybe we already know,
but accessibility is waiting, and the community at large will know.
So I think we’ve got to have that internal dialog
first and grow from that. And I think that will make us ready
and be really geared up to make this change happen.
So that’s just one offering I would bring for AGGV,
plus whoever else might be listening to his podcast right now.
If you have the power to do that and get that first meeting going,
I would say, please do.
Kayla: This is Kayla again. A face that I don’t know who exactly
to attribute this to in my experience,
I think it comes out of relaxed performance communities,
which is when thinking and talking about access,
if you build it, they might come. By which
I mean you can’t expect to just for example, okay, we’ve done
ASL blogs now, or we have translations, or we have audio descriptions. But if you don’t adequately share and publicize and advertise
and do outreach to those communities,
they’re not going to know that they’ve been invited in.
And there might be a period of frustration or disappointment
that the disability community is maybe not
engaging or hanging out with you in the ways that you might expect.
So access does not automatically equal access to community.
So I think step one is doing these technical pieces
and learning these practical skills for access.
And a really important ongoing step is that relationship building piece
so that you can be in dialog
and in genuine relationship with disability and deaf communities.
Francis: Yeah, those are both really great points. I think something I would add to that is
patience and commitment
to keeping up with whatever access features you’ve committed to,
even if you’re not seeing like a quote unquote return on investment
in your audience participation right away.
Because like, if I’m a community member and I need a certain access
feature to be able to come to your space and enjoy what you’re offering,
and I’m told that that’s going to be there, if I show up and it’s not there
chances are you’ve lost me. I’m probably not going to want to engage in your space in the future.
So, you know, if you’re promising something to a community,
having that be a really strong commitment is great.
And I think part of that is to have it be an institutional decision.
So not just one department or not just one event, but really have it be a commitment that’s across the board.
Sean: I just want to echo what everyone else is saying and I think access is a part of disability culture, right?
These practices are motivated to really allow disability
to shape culture rather.
And I think we can’t just use accessibility
as this way to slide Disabled folks into normative practices
and so as you build your access, I think it’s… For me,
the sort of next step inherently is to bring the community in
and to allow us to make those choices
and the aesthetic choices around access rather than be dictated
how access is kind of given to us. You know?
Marina: Yeah, thank you all, for all of those thoughts. I really, really appreciate what you said about relationship
building and commitment and consistency.
I just… I also feel like a lot of capacity around
digital accessibility and digital content and digital engagement and digital programing was built
throughout the pandemic.
Right? So many museums were online.
And so I guess part of what we’re asking is
how can we hold on to these new access features in meaningful ways
and not let them fade away?
And also like how we can make them better? And then I guess juggling that with the fact that – at least in the AGGV’s
experience, our capacity has shifted over the years.
And we’ve been able to offer different access features
at different points in time.
So my follow up question then is, in your opinion,
what are some of the best ways for arts organizations
to disseminate and to foreground
and to promote their current access features?
And I guess the related question is how can arts organizations create a warm and welcoming
feel in digital spaces for Disabled audiences?
Connor: Honestly, as someone from the Deaf community,
and this might actually spill over to other Disabled,
but honestly, I would say if you are providing food,
people are going to come. Flat out.
It’s there. So I mean, if you’re having an event, and it’s a social gathering, it’s mingling, interpreters are there for access to sign language.
Almost run it like an open house, you know.
Maybe a small presentation of like, here’s
what we’ve been doing to really improve our accessibility.
And, you know, I think something like that would be
great as well, but make it kind of a social event so that way the space
it has an active feel, and then the Deaf community would want to come, and say, wow, that was a really good night, I can’t believe they did this, you know,
and they’re doing something else again next month. I think I’m going to come back to this
because it had that feeling to it. So, I mean, run it almost like a party, I would say. Right?
I mean, we we party too.
And I mean, if we want to wear masks, wear masks,
but we like to do that too. So I mean, I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel here
sometimes something simple like this to get the community involved,
it really does work. And I think one event might not be enough,
so maybe have a couple of events or have it annually
so we kind of always have that same feeling getting refreshed
as we go along. Francis: I think one thing that I would
really like to see more art spaces start doing is telling us,
being more upfront if you have an event or a program or something, about what kind of access
features are in that program, but also what access features aren’t
in that program, it’s really difficult
when you need a certain access feature to engage with a space
and your online and looking at the event
posting or Facebook post and you just can’t find any information about
whether that feature is present. And this can help open a conversation with communities as well
because you’re you’re showing that you have an awareness that,
you know, you still have work to do or you’re being transparent about the types of resources that you do have
or where you’re at as an institution.
I think sometimes galleries
or institutions are kind of afraid to do this
because they don’t want to look like they don’t care
or they’re doing something wrong. But that type of transparency can actually be really helpful.
Another thing to kind of work off Connor’s point is, yeah, if you have food at your
your opening or your event, people will come.
And I think this is part of accessibility too. Like if we can open up our concept of what access is to
include sort of that element of intersectionality,
like we know that Disabled people are disproportionately affected by poverty, unfortunately.
So having food at your events is access. Having free childcare at your events is access,
you know, having events that don’t have a cover charges access.
So yeah, having a more broad sense
of what accessibility is, as well, is really helpful
and inviting to a lot of folks.
Marina: This is kind of a bit of a follow up question. What would be the equivalent to providing food at a digital event?
Kayla: That’s the great question. Tangled did this once during the pandemic,
I believe it was in December, like over the holiday season in 2020.
So we weren’t gathering in-person at all
and we would have normally had at end of year
some kind of food based event,
but because that didn’t feel safe and accessible to our community,
Tangled provided us all with money to order
whatever takeout we wanted to have together.
And we gathered on Zoom
and we still shared meal time and space and social time.
So I know depending on the size of the event,
that might not always be feasible. But I’ve thought a lot actually about the money
that large institutions have probably not spent on hospitality
over the pandemic, because their idea of hospitality is so narrow. You know, it’s catering in physical space,
and it’s cheese and crackers and alcohol.
If you could give each person even ten dollars
to get themselves a treat, to sit on a digital event with you,
that would be an incredible offering if that was in the budget.
and making that time for like loose engagement
and casual socialization when it can feel like our time is so regimented
when everything’s on Zoom and so
like still leaving that space for a feeling of casual encounter.
And that feeling of when you encounter somebody
when you both grab a snack or whatever.
Sean: Yeah, I was also going to point to
our #CripRitual Exhibition that happened…
It was the last exhibition we had, which opened in January of 2021, and we developed a bit of like a care package for folks
who were visiting because, you know,
we were kind of open in a hybrid model.
Folks were welcome to physically come to the space
to experience our exhibition.
But we could also do a remote Zoom
tour where essentially folks were brought into the gallery through Zoom.
It was very DIY. You know, we did it on like an iPad on a tripod with wheels,
and we just essentially gave folks
an experience of coming into the gallery digitally.
And we were able to, you know, give tours that way. We were able to do audio description that way.
We were able to bring in ASL interpreters
if needed, for these kind of one on one meetings. And
at the end of it, because often in our shows, we have some sort of sensory
experience or some sort of take away
we wanted to expand on what that could look like.
And so we created these relatively humble care packages. It would have a button and a take away with like a little zine
and maybe a packet of tea for folks to just kind of read
through the zine and enjoy a cup of tea and take a button with them.
So I felt like that was sort of an equivalent in some ways,
maybe not equivalent, but
another way of engaging, you know, the senses digitally. And it was really well received, I think, from the community.
And in fact, some folks said that they preferred the remote version of
coming to the show over physically coming in person.
Marina: I love all those ideas, and I kind of love how you answered my question
about what’s the digital equivalent to food, with food.
Right? Like, nothing can replace it.
To be able to create that around the dinner table kind of feel,
I think, yeah, you’re absolutely right.
That, that’s just a part of experience that
we need to not abandon
just because we’re engaging in digital spaces.
So I love all of those thoughts
and I think those ideas about care packages, gifts,
takeout or money for food are all wonderful ideas. And why not, right?
Like, what is the responsibility of larger
institutions to engage in these ways?
Just, I guess, an open ended question. I’m kind of thinking about something that’s switching
gears a little bit, but it’s something that you mentioned, Kayla,
in one of our previous meetings
that I would love to expand on if you’re willing.
And it has to do with this idea of writing and barriers to writing. You know, things relating to image descriptions and alt text.
The question that’s come up at the AGGV is, are there ways to use language that is specific to Blind or low vision experiences?
Like is there a course that we need to take? What if we do it wrong?
But you brought up this idea
when we were talking last time, about alt text as poetry.
And so I’m really interested to hear you expand on that idea for podcast
about how digital access can be practical and creative at the same time.
Kayla: Absolutely. Happy to talk about that, yeah. First of all, all the credit to Shannon Finnegan and Bojana Coklyat — am I saying their names properly —
for creating the Alt Text As Poetry resources
that all of us at Tangled know and love.
So they’re both Disabled artists
who have created this resource that I encourage everyone to look up.
I believe it’s alt-text-as-poetry.net And the ethos of Alt Text As Poetry is that, no,
you can’t really do it wrong.
I mean, you will get better alt text with practice, but
I like to think in the simplest terms, okay,
if I’m looking at an image or imagine I’m standing in a gallery
looking at a painting,
how would I describe it to a blind friend who is with me?
Right beside me. If they ask me to describe it in my words. So I think leaning into subjectivity can be a really beautiful
creative choice and not trying to just be so literal and objective.
Because art, of course, is so subjective. So while you might describe the physical characteristics,
colors, textures of a piece,
you might also be a little more abstract and say,
it gives me a feeling of being warm or whatever
it might be, and draw on other sensory experiences or other metaphors
even, to get across the felt sense of a piece
or the size or the emotion that you feel in your body
when you encounter that artwork.
So yeah, Alt Text As Poetry’s a really beautiful offering
from and for the community. And I would say, just practice.
If you’re nervous about quote unquote getting it right, I would encourage everyone on your personal social accounts.
So if you post something on your personal Instagram,
get in the habit of writing that text every time.
It’s a good move as an ally, as someone who is seeing.
And it’s also just really awesome practice to find your voice as someone who writes alt text,
which I think is a discrete, almost genre
of writing at this point, that I would encourage every artist
and every person who participates online to get in the habit of using.
Marina: Thank you so much, Kayla. I hadn’t heard of that resource before
you all brought it up in your audit materials. So I’m glad to hear that it’s
something that other people can access as well if they’re interested.
Did anyone else want to add anything to that? Before I go on to my last question, that I had prepared?
Awesome. Okay so I guess to kind of bring us closer to the end of this conversation…
The consultation, and some of the things that we’ve talked about today,
you know, really looked at things like closed captions,
ASL interpretations, image descriptions, voiceover software,
video relay services, having strong contrasting visuals in designs,
website navigation – like these are all very
prescriptive things when we’re talking about digital accessibility. But I think, you know, a lot of people listening to this might know,
or I hope they know, that accessibility is so much more than that.
Right? It’s so much more than websites. And you’ve all kind of spoken to that already as well.
So I was curious to just kind of open up
the scope of the conversation at this point in relation to
anything that you want to share really in relation to systemic barriers, access to technology is a big one, the needs of individuals,
of different abilities, genders, circumstances.
I’m curious if anyone would be willing to just expand
on this idea of access in the broadest sense
or to speak to like what else is it that arts organizations
should be paying attention to on their digital accessibility journeys?
And I think maybe all of this relates to a term
that you brought up as well — disability justice.
So I know that’s kind of like a lot of questions all in one, so feel
free to respond to that however you want to, however you’d like.
I thought it would be interesting
to just open up the conversation at this point.
Connor: I have a thought ready to go here. So a lot to take in. But I think in terms of disability justice, yes,
that really does tie into accessibility and it’s political, right?
I mean, providing food, for example, to the community,
that’s a political act right there.
Right. So, I mean, our governments do not provide enough resources for people. So artists are having to take on the onus to feed people, right.
So there’s definitely some politics behind this,
when we consider this. My hope for AGGV and other organizations as well in terms of
making sure accessibility is there, yes, there are certain things you want to do
and yes, you want to implement those,
and then maybe in three months we’ll revisit. And I realize that it can become a list of checkboxes and everything,
but I think the ultimate goal is that it becomes habitual
so that organizations have accessibility
built in there, within their institutions,
and that these institutions are functioning higher now, right.
And the experience to be an ally and a voice for the Disabled
the advocates involved with the politics behind this.
And so really lobbying governments for legal change,
for example, that would really tighten up
what all organizations have to do, that
we have a higher standard of expectation and now everyone has to do it.
To see those kinds of changes would be nice
for the Disabled community, for myself and for Tangled Arts.
And so you kind of get used to,
after a while, always lobbying and you’re always, you show up at meetings, you’re giving presentations.
And so we want that to continue. But I think if other organizations are doing it as well,
you know, they might not have disability part of their name, right?
For example, they’re just part of the Greater Vancouver area, or whatever it might be. But having other people come and show up and talk about this
and say we really believe in this and this is important, this is change
that needs to happen. You know, once word gets out,
I think it’s going to go viral and we need that support there, too.
And we really, being political, it will affect elections. You will see people talk about it. So I just think that’s definitely, part of my thoughts here…
So that’s kind of the first half of my thought process
and I’m working my way through it here…
I’m also thinking about digital and online access,
you know, news articles and whatnot here.
I’m starting to get a feeling of, it’s a little bit there’s some dread for that, for it.
And let me explain why I have that feeling. One of the concepts now that is being spread out there is meta-verse.
The metaverse. Alright? So that concept is out there. So this idea of really networking, looking at a global response
and, you know, being able to see and access that, right.
And we can actually — it’s basically a lens to view our own world with.
And the world might not be what you think, kind of thing.
So everyone’s talking about the metaverse right now, right? And I just think it’s going to grow.
It’s only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger.
And at the same time, I think, you know, those in the Disabled community often get left behind and we’re almost ready for it,
we’re expecting this. We haven’t seen any discussions about
how to bring us on board, right. So, if you’re meeting a Deaf person and you might be a million miles apart or whatever it is,
and you might want to engage online
and talk to each other and share parts of the world,
how are they going to understand each other? One person’s Deaf, the other one speaks. How?
How do I make that communication happen?
Do they sign? Do they know any sign?
No one’s even talking about this. You know, as viral as this is, it’s happening.
But no one’s talking about it. Right.
And I mean, look at captioning, for example. I mean even like 30 years ago, that wasn’t a normal practice. Right?
And there’s no laws for it, even to provide that accessibility,
and that’s in all of North America.
So we’re constantly fighting
just for basic captioning to have online now. And now this new metaverse is taking off
and we can already see where this is going to go.
I think we need more voices out there from our communities
to really push for this now. And as this metaverse grows, accessibility grows with it.
So again, I’m just kind of thinking, unfiltered, laying out here. So I’m just hoping that’s some food for thought for people out
there, is think twice, actually. Right.
So this way we have the right lens as we go forward. Sean: I think that was beautifully put, Connor.
I mean, I think access is political work. And what you’re saying about the metaverse
makes me think about just the idea of critical access,
kind of which was a concept put forward by Amy Hamer,
really helps us to understand that like oftentimes the idea around accessibility is that unless it benefits everyone,
it doesn’t make economic sense.
And I think we need to move away from that. Like that understanding that, oh,
if it only benefits my bottom dollar, then I’m going to implement access,
but we really need to move away
from that way of understanding accessibility and have…
to really be able to trouble this neoliberal concept, that access,
you know, has to always be this this kind of universal good
that benefits everyone.
I think Deaf and Disabled folks need access
and we take it up as this never finished project
that is always evolving, that’s always changing,
and it’s always dependent on our relationships with one another.
You know, it’s a really co-designed process
and it might not be always easy or cost effective,
but I think it is human. And I think it does give us a better
understanding of how we can create care in our community.
That’s really… In a community that’s really shifted away from that, in a community
that’s only ever seen…
Or like in a capitalist society that’s only ever seen us
as our production and as the dollar signs that we can bring in.
I think disability justice is really the antidote
to capitalism in some ways.
And so I think what you’re bringing up, particularly in the metaverse,
which is like this
highly capitalist sort of development without any sort of
or at least it seems there’s
no there’s no consideration for Disabled folks, right. Deaf, Mad, Disabled folks at all.
And so I think we all need to have a better, more critical and political understanding of access,
because the choices we make when we’re creating access,
really goes beyond just the audiences that are being served
and the artists that are being served.
But it’s actually a political statement on how it is that we understand
the systems that make up our world. And it goes kind of “meta” but I feel like the question you asked was very meta.
So, that’s the end of my thought. Francis: Hey, this is Francis speaking.
Yeah, what both of you were saying is really reminding me of…
So in Disability Justice, there are these ten principles
that are set forward and one of them is collective liberation.
And so, in the words of Sins Invalid,
the collective that has put forward these ten principles, it’s
“No body or mind can be left behind and only moving together
can we accomplish the revolution we require.”
So I think a lot of the time, at least I’ve seen sometimes like institutions
or galleries will be accessible in some ways and still wondering why
Disabled folks aren’t showing up. And I think sometimes the reason behind
this can be that that political element is being left behind.
I don’t think that we can truly be spaces
that are committed to Disability Justice if we’re not also
interrogating the ways that we are behaving on stolen land and
thinking about the ways in which we are not being
meaningfully anti-racist and things like that. Those are elements that sometimes don’t enter the conversation
I think, in ways that they really need to, in order for justice
to really be a word that’s being used. As opposed to just like we are a space that uses captions, you know, like
I think those are two really different things
that sometimes get talked about in the same way. Yeah.
Marina: Yeah, I absolutely agree with everything you’ve all said. And that was the reason, for this very meta question as you put it, Sean,
I think there’s a lot of learning and unlearning to do. Like this whole conversation seems to be linked back to
how can we Decolonize our spaces, how can we Queer our spaces,
how can we make our spaces accessible?
And I mean that in the digital sense as well, right? Because digital doesn’t automatically mean accessible.
And those ableist structures, those inaccessible structures,
they definitely exist in digital space too,
and there are just as many access
barriers in digital spaces as in physical ones.
Thank you all so much for your willingness to share and just reflect on this process.
I’m trying to figure out how to say this in a way
that doesn’t make it feel like it’s the end
because this was like a “mini” digital accessibility audit,
but it was just the start, right?
Like this is a journey and I think that’s something
that we’ve tried to emphasize throughout the project,
is that we want to continue to work with all of you
and to continue to build access in different ways.
And so this is not the end.
This is just a bit of a reflection point along the way. So I really, really appreciate
all of you being willing to your thoughts and your time.
Thank you so much, Kayla, Sean, Francis and Connor for sharing your thoughts with us today.
And thank you to all of our listeners
for tuning in to another episode of the #WIP Podcast.
This podcast series is generously supported by a Canada Council
for the Arts Digital Now Grant.
For those who want to learn more about this podcast
or other AGGV projects and programs, head over to aggv.ca
and visit our YouTube channel to check out #WIP Podcast episodes
with ASL interpretations and captions.
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