Drawing on current digital and theatrical accessibility initiatives, panelists discuss the Digital Divide and what we as arts workers can do to serve our communities. The shift online has meant people with disabilities, people with chronic illnesses, and seniors have been engaging in art that was previously made inaccessible to them.
How can this teach us to bring accessibility into our physical spaces? What will accessible art look like in the resurgence of the industry?
Jaclyn is the Senior Coordinator: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility at the Royal Ontario Museum.
She works with over 100 community partners to facilitate inclusive and welcoming experiences at the ROM. She also coordinates accessibility for some of the ROM's exhibitions.
Shawn is the Research & Impact Manager at Toronto Arts Council and Toronto Arts Foundation. In this role, he leads all research, impact, and program evaluation projects for TAC grant programs and Foundation initiatives.
You can learn more about Shawn on our Speakers Page.
Lindsay is the founder and director of Creative Users Projects, a disability-led national arts service organization working on connecting communities, cultivating inclusion and making difference discoverable and vital in a world that’s transforming to digital.
You can learn more about Lindsay on our Speakers Page.
Cyn has over 25 years experience in the non-profit arts sector as a fundraiser, communications specialist, artist, and administrator. Since 2017 she has acted as the Executive Director of Tangled Art + Disability.
You can learn more about Cyn on our Speakers Page.
Heidi is an Event Coordinator for Tangled Art +Disability. Her interests focus on art administration and accessible event planning.
You can learn more about Heidi on our Speakers Page.
>> Welcome back to Culture's Compass, howthe industry keeps beating. I want to remind all of you, we have the officialhashtag of the conference and it's culture'scompassculture'scompass2020. I hopemy colleagues can put it in the chat so anyone can post what they want aboutthis conference in social media, Instagram, Facebook, whatever. We even haveTwitter. So I'm also very very excited to announce that all our sessions arebeing watched closely by an outstanding artist. Michelle bucles. And she leadsthe unseeded territories -- unceded territories in Vancouver, BC.
She's creating a visual recording of the sessionthat will be shared after the conference. Now, we are ready to move to our nextsession.
I'm excited to introduce four awesome speakersfor the next presentation, accessibility online. Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen is theco-ordinator and inclusion, diversity, at the Royal Ontario Museum and workswith over 100 communities, partners to facilitate inclusive and welcomingexperiences at the Royal and also co-ordinates accessibility for some of theRoyal's exhibitions. Shawn Newman is the research and invite manager at TorontoArts Council and Toronto arts foundation. In this role he leads all theresearch, impact and program evaluation products for TAC-run initiatives.
He holds a Ph.D. and has has a career as adancer and choreographer. Cyn Rozenboom and administrator. Since 2017, she'sacted as the executive director of tangle dark facility, a group boldlyrenovating how people see art with deaf and disability arts in Canada andenhancing access to the arts for artists, audiences, and enthusiasts. HeidiPersaud is an event co-ordinator for tangled art. Her interest focuses on artsadministration and accessible event planning.
Heidi holds a BFA in arts administration. She'scurrently a member of the visual and digitaldigital art foundation program andcommittee at Humber College and last but not least, Lynn Fisher is the founderand director of creative users products accident a disability-led national artsservice organization working on connecting communities, cultivating inclusionand make difference discoverable and vital in a world that's transforming todigital. She has a background working in the arts sector as a multidisciplinaryartist and curator. So please welcome Jaclyn, Shawn, Cyn, Heidi and Lindsey.
>> Hi, everyone. Thank you Mikita. I'mShawn Newman. I'm going to be kind of moditating even though you know, there'sa particular power dynamic with that term. So thank you for the introduction.That saves me a lot of time from having to do all that. But I think we willjust go around quickly in a moment. I just wanted to thank everyone forattending today.
And on behalf of my fellow panelists, we're verygrateful to be invited to speak about accessibility and just be part of thisconference. I also feel it's important to really acknowledge that I'maccustomed to being live crowd casts from an Indigenous the unceded territoriesof zoom and also really to recognize that being where I am in Toronto, which ishistorical and contemporary lands of various Indigenous folks, nations andcommunities including wyandotte and the Mississaugas of the credit first nationand Anishnabe. I think it's important not just to give an acknowledgement forthe lands pass a whole and this particular session. One of the things that landacknowledgements do, they really highlight the notion of access to space. Andthe colonial context in which we are situated in many way presumes a right toaccess and a right to space. And so there are so many links and commonalities betweenIndigenous communities and disabled communities, and those two categories andcommunities are not always mutually exclusive.
We really want to think about the ways thataccess to space is often seen as a right of a particular group of people. And ifas a right, it then means that others not afforded that right. So I really wantus to understand that land acknowledgements are not just a performative actbuzz they really prompt us to think specifically about our relations to powerand privilege and marginalization.
So our session today is going to be really justa discussion.
The five of us met last week to have adiscussion about some of the ideas and things we wanted to talk about, and sowe've got some ideas and some questions that, you know, I'm going to putforward to the group. There's a Q&A session as was said in the intro, atthe end. If anything comes up in the moment that needs clarification, we'rehappy to respond to that. And so I'm just going to -- we're also going to tryto give some descriptions of ourselves, some physical descriptions. I am awhite man. I have a beard and glasses and I haven't had a haircut in months soI'm kind of going for the Farrah Fawcett look that I think is working in myfavour. I'm wearing a black v-neck T-shirt that I love and the lighting in myplace is not the best. I gesture a lot when I speak. I was a dancer andchoreographer so physicality is important to my being so I apologise if it'sdistracting to anyone. I pass it to Jaclyn.
>> Thank you, Shawn. I'm JaclynQua-Hiansen. I'm a Chinese Filipino woman with black hair and a bright pink topwith tiger stripes and passing it on to Cyn.
>> Hi. My name is Cyn. I'm a middle-agedwoman with dirty blonde long hair with loss of grey streaks, blue eyes. I'vewearing a blue fancy shirt and sitting in my backyard in front of a very leafyviny fence right now. And I will pass it to Lindsey.
>> Hi, Shawn. My name is Lindsey fromcreative youth works. And I am white female presenting person with long frizzy,curly, black hair and I'm wearing a black tank top.
And I'm sitting in the living room which is amess, and I'll pass it to Heidi.
>> Hello. I'm Heidi Persaud from tangleart disability. I'm south Asian of guy an ease descent. I have medium browncurly wild hair right now. And the bushiest of eyebrows you'll ever see.
[ Laughter ] I'm wearing a beige crocheted topand yeah. I have brown eyes. Yeah.
>> Thank you, everyone. So I'm just goingto give some additional thoughts before we move into the broader discussion.Just to help, I think, frame, not just accessibility and the ways we see it butto also bring the five of us, you know, kind of back to our discussions fromlast week. But also as a way to be audience, how we --
individually and possibly collectively think ofaccessibility. So I sort of gestured to the ways that accessibility really is areflection of who belongs in a space, and in the context of this panel, spaceis also a digital space. Right? We can think about space in terms ofenvironment, but space also brings us to think about certainly in my role atToronto Arts Council in the funding program. Right? Or if in foundation in thecommunity initiative. And we also -- but, conventionally -- and in manyimportant ways, accessibility is thought of in terms of disability. And this iscertainly integral and foundational, and the movement for accessibility inmany, many ways now, right, really had its start in disability justice.
And what we're seeing in this world of thedigital is a move towards finally, in many important ways, starting toincorporate and really understand the importance of that. At the same time, andI think especially now, in stem of not just the pandemic but the test towardsconfronting anti-Black racism and other forms of oppression and what they'realso seeking is accessibility into our social structures, into our politicalspheres into cultural communities. And yet accessibility is frequently thoughtof, particularly on the part of organizations, but even in terms of society asan addendum. Right? The ways that accessibility has been legislated in manyparts of the country and the world, because it comes from a disabilityperspective, but then it's thought of as we create the thing, and then we tryto think about how to make it accessible.
So we're really wanting to push the notion thataccessibility from the ground up means you're working towards supporting everyone,that it's not about thinking -- not about creating a thing and then trying tofigure out how to make it adaptable.
If you build accessibility into the thing, itwill be adaptable.
One of the other things that we've seen in thispandemic, right, is that in terms of thinking about accessibility, is thatsocial distancing, right, has meant Cyn, you said last week, it's causing us tothink about people first. And in quote/unquote new ways and I say new withinquotation marks because it's not new to some of us. It is new to many of us,but again, disability justice and disability, disabled communities have beenpushing for this for a long time. The digital, which is kind of the focus ofthis conference, has in many ways long been an enabling mechanism, but this isnot to say that it just is. It also presents particular barriers and in someways exacerbates already existing barriers. We really want to be attentive tothe nuances of what the digital offers. And not just accepting it as thiswonderful, beautiful utopian accessibility tool.
When with the outside of the pandemic, when wesaw so many educational institutions moving their educational platforms online,there was talk that education is now available to everyone. That's not true.One being there are many communities in Canada that don't have access tointernet or broadband internet and here's a connection between disability,accessibility, and Indigenous communities. Many ever those communities thatlack internet are Indigenous. So what we're seeing now is a sudden centring ofaccessibility in many parts of the arts and cultures sector where previously ithad only been marginalized. The last thing I want to say before moving into thediscussion is thinking through accessibility revealing underlying assumptionsabout who the audience or consumer is. Right? So if we're thinking about theproduct or thing we're creating, and we get feedback that certain people arenot invited or welcomed into it, then it's telling us who we are imagining thisperson to be or this group of people to be.
And that's a really, really important piece thatarts organizations, in particular, I think, you know, need to really startthinking about and be attentive to. So I just want to now turn it over to thegroup.
So with the focus on the digital, and you know,the idea that there are particular barriers or additional concerns, you know,with the sudden shift to the digital in arts and culture, you know, whatchanges the dynamic between accessibility and disability?
Are you seeing? Or is there any? What is thisshift to digital for the arts and culture doing to disabled artists, audiences,consumers? Cyn.
>> I don't have a full answer, but I willmention one of the things about these digital spaces that we're now inhabitingoften, it does remove or lessens a lot of the physical barriers for people whomight have, you know, might be -- the mercy of say wheeled trans or whatever.
That's just one type of barrier, though, and itdoesn't -- I think in the digital space doesn't solve all of them.
That's certainly a big one at tangled art plusdisability we have a number of wheelchair use sores their board. Suddenlythey're able to meet in a way they were unable to before.
>> So when I work at the ROM, one of thethings I always ask myself whenever we put something on is who is unable toaccess this content? And I think the knee jerk reaction, the first thing youthink of is the physical barriers to access. In your introduction, you broughtup some very important other barriers we should be considering like even if it'sall physically accessible, do people feel welcome in the space? Can people like--
people have the financial means to havebroadband internet that won't cut out? Or to have to be in a space where theywon't be strapped by all sorts of other things going on in the house?
So I think digital media does help address someof those things, just from a welcome and inclusion perspective. It removes thebarrier of feeling like -- being in a space and feeling like you don't belong.
If you're in a really fancy place and the onlyone not in a gown or something.
You're like am I supposed to be here? Is itreally for me.
Whereas if you're in your own home and everyoneis in their pyjamas, it's fine. Right? My concern really with this shift todigital and all these conversations about accessibility is that we will look atthis and say, now we're accessible. Bam, everything's fixed. And that's notgoing to be the case. Moving forward, once you start being able to enter thesephysical spaces again, will digital platforms still be a priority? Will itstill be a platform that we're going to be using on an ongoing basis? I'malways cautious about arts organizations and people in general congratulatingthemselves on the progress they make, because I find that that's the limitfurther progress. So yeah, it's a very complicated and complex space we're inright now. There's so much potential to start actually looking at this platformand thinking about all the potential features that will make our content evenmore accessible to a greater variety of folks without taking it for grantedthat we are accessible and inclusive.
>> Sorry. Am I unmuted? Sorry to butt inahead of you there, Heidi. I want to echo what you just said. It's a danger tothink that accessibility is a static space that we can ever reach. That's nevergoing to happen. There is -- I don't believe there's any space that will befully accessible to all people all the time. It's a moving target that we haveto negotiate -- it's more of an attitude, I think and something we have toembrace as something that we negotiate as we move forward, because yeah. Youdon't just get there and it's done. That's just not accessibility. Not to me.
Heidi, did you want to talk?
>> I was going to agree with Jaclyn andwhat she said about in regards to the digital sphere. When I think about it,I'm always thinking about the user experience either in real life or even on adigital platform, and I think one thing that is going to -- that the arts isreally going to have to think about is how the user experience is or how we areportraying the user experience or allowing access to be part of the userexperience, whether it's a good amount of content we put on in regards toimages.
Now that we are online, and it is technicallyaccessible for all, it's not necessarily accessible for a variety of people,and whether or not we're going to have these conversations with communities andto include communities into these conversations is one thing we should bereally thinking about.
>> I am going to jump off what you saidabout the user experience. I completes --
completely agree. Wasn't of my fall backs when Ithink about accessibility for exhibits is being able to engage as many sensesas possible so even if someone can't physically see an exhibition, they cantouch things or if people, you know, people learn best through hearing, maybethat's a feature of the exhibition that will help bring the experience closerto them. And then very conscious about the limits of the digital space, eventhough, you know, we describe ourselves. We're talking, but if we were givingsome kind of visual presentation, you know, how many of these kinds of eventswould take the time to actually describe each and every object as we go up, asit's put on the screen? And you know, I'm just thinking -- and again, I'm thinkabout all these folks who, you know, may be learn best through touch, throughexperiences and it's something the digital space currently doesn't offer. Soyeah.
>> Yeah. That's great.
Actually, Jaclyn, something you said earlierthat I really loved about being in your pajamas and we're all now home, andthere are things that, you know, there's a real sense now, I think, in a lot oforganizations where people are more welcome to be just more comfortable intheir homes and comfortable --
it's challenging notions of professionalism,right, that are so built upon ablist mechanisms and so many other, you know,forms of whiteness and all of those kinds of things. So this shift to digitalis really, I think, in some ways, allowing us to be more -- understand peopleas more holistic beings than, you know, just the sort of --
the work kind of capacity.
Right? I'm interested in how the shift todigital, too, is --
because so much is now building onaccessibility, where are disabled folks in relation to this conversation? Sincelike are they being centred? Are they being left out? What are the dynamicsthere. Lindsay, yeah.
>> I was saying, it's interesting, becauseI think there's a shift already happening in many ways for many differentpeople who -- thinking about people with disabilities as life hackers. Andreally looking at disability, justice movement and disability arts practice,how people with disabilities are already using these technologies or how theyhave been using these technologies for, you know, years. I know the work we doand I'm sure the ROM, that livestreaming has always been a part of our accessbudget. For not always, but for a long time.
And it's always been considered an access entrypoint. And so what's surreal is that -- and what I'm hearing from other peoplein the community is that now it's -- you don't have to convince anybody -- anyorganization how important livestreaming is to access the arts now. And so Ithink there was a concern that that conversation is now mainstream, and yetpeople with disabilities are still not being invited to those conversations.And they're still not -- they're still being left out of the conversations. SoI feel like this was a real opportunity to acknowledge that, that thesepractices and technologies have already been being used in this way, and thatwe could, perhaps, take a pause to learn and be guided by people withdisabilities and the ways that they're doing things so that --
in order to rebuild going forward. Yeah.
>> Yeah. I think that points to a reallyinteresting idea. I had a conversation with a colleague just yesterday atRyerson who -- is a business management person. He doesn't work inaccessibility, but he talked about innovation happens on the margins. Right andhow innovation doesn't happen in the mainstream. And I said to him, I'm so gladto hear that you understand that, because guess what? That's exactly whataccessibility and disabled folks are talking about. Right? And folks who arealready situated on the margins, right, are having to do this work of hackinglife, of adapting to disabling environments. And so what are the things thatare already in place that are already being practised? And yet as Lindsay issaying, why are those folks not centred in terms of leading the mainstreamconversation? Or practice.
There wasn't really a question in that. But...
I guess the kind of building off of that isbecause of now, this mainstream shift towards accessibility and the digital,we've seen, you know, just certainly in the arts and culture industries, justan explosion in the number of events, of projects, of things going online andwhich is at once both really exciting but also kind of can be stressful, right?There's so much to go and see and all happening simultaneously. So I'mwondering, you know, are there issues that arise with this kind of influx ofcontent?
>> Yeah, I think we -- and I think we kindof touched on this in our discussion last week. It can be overwhelming, youknow.
It's just this sensory overload.
And there's like a weird digital [not audible]?Now we have a thousand digital events and can we get to them all? How we don'thave a excuse because it's on our couch.
It's exciting on one hand because we have accessto all sorts of content we didn't have before. Like I got to watch an opera atthe Met because I've never done before because it was New York and expensiveand now it's free on my laptop. It's exciting. At the same time, I don't know,it's overwhelming, but it's also in a way, allowing us to engage with contenton our own time. A lot of these livestream activities are often archived toview later on. So Stratford, for example, its plays are up for an entire monthafter their big livestreaming.
And that increases accessibility for events in away, because if you're not feeling up to joining an event one evening, you havea whole week or a whole month to enjoy it, you know? Or if you're busy, and youcan only attend two out of the ten events, all going one night.
You can kind of space it out.
So you know, it's interesting to see how this, Ithink, will --
this form of accessibility will be carriedforward. When we start returning to physical events. We might still have theselivestream digital events, but once the pandemic is over and we're starting tohave in-person events again, and it's like how do we kind of continue toprovide this kind of access and allow people to experience content andexperience socializationsocialization in their own spaces in their own time.
>> One thing that concerns me about thisproliferation of all this is that it's still relegating most of us to beingconsumers of culture instead of active participants in creating it. And I thinkthat there's an underlying assumption there that I would love to see challengedsomewhat in our society, that we don't always need to be producing stuff forother people to consume. Especially with arts professionals, the idea is youhave to make stuff and that's how you validate stuff.
You make something that's brilliant and theneverybody will applaud you because you're great. We're all creators of thisculture together.
I think that we need time to actually bringourselves to the conversation and change things around us. And that might --
when we're just sort of bombarded with stuffcoming at us, we're not necessarily expressingexpressing, and integratingourselves. Those are bottom up instead of having it all falling on us. Itouched this the last time we had that conversation.
It felt overwhelmed when everything was startingup and people were just hosting a lot of events. Now that we're not doing itphysically. I felt like the content was heavily overloaded and that this wouldhave been a good time to just take a break and to really reevaluate what worksand what doesn't work, and what we can do to maybe accommodate artists ingeneral and how do we just make things be a little bit more easier for us. Orjust like just accommodate us in general.
I felt like I always had to be online andquestioned whether or not my graphics card was strong enough with the sheeramount of things I want to do.
>> Yeah, for sure. And Cyn has justbrought her cat to the meeting everyone. I want to thank you for that, becauseyou can never have too many cats in your life. I have to say. So I think thisis really interesting what you're all speaking to, because with theproliferation of content, Jaclyn, what you were speaking to really and thenotion that we can engage in our own time, right, really disrupts a lot of thesort of pressure that we saw preCOVID and certainly are at risk of trying toreturn to in terms of needing to be productive and fast paced all the time. Andit's allowing us to really think of a time differently and how we spend it andhow we behave in it. And then Cyn, with what you were saying, too, thinkingabout the proliferation of content that is available, you know. Withorganizations and even individuals offering all of this up, right, is itoffered up as a way in term of providing options which from an accessibilityperspective is important, right?
We want to -- accessibility is really aboutallowing the individual to have options and agency. But is the expectation orthe push to deliver content actually about trying to retain discoverability,right, or retain an audience and the need to be quote/unquote relevant.
>> Yeah. Shawn, thank you for saying that.And what has been disappointing for me is with creative usage is BC, beforeCOVID, we were -- our primary activity is researching around what is happeningacross Canada that are accessible to deaf communitycommunities, blindcommunities and neurodivergent communities.
And what we -- so we had to shift when COVIDhappened to keep up with all the new sort of format of activity, but we didn'tfind that things -- even though things are accessible now through online,they're not actually accessible to Deaf communities. They're not accessible toblind communities.
They're not necessarily accessible toneurodivergentneurodivergent.
Not many ways. Not just because there isn't ASLinterpretation or audio description, but who is organizing those events? Whoare being represented in those events are not representative of thosecommunities. So at the beginning, it was hopeful that this was a new day, butI'm feeling like -- it's been frustrating, actually, trying to find thosethings that are happening to connect people to them. And then to find out whatpeople are doing, to remind people that, yeah, there already is communities.They can't, even though they're online, they can't access them. I think thatrelates to this feeling of, yeah, the speed that we're doing things, we're notactually taking the time to think about who you are we prioritizing here. Andwho are we leaving out?
>> And again, Lindsay, that comes back tothe idea that it reveals underlying assumptions the consumer or the audienceis.
>> It's also, I think, kind of speaks towhat best happens often throughout human history where the dominant cultureappropriates. The work has been done by the marginalized folks, and you know,we talk about accessibility and using all of these innovations, these platformsthat disabilitied folks have been use figure air long time because they're lifehackshacks. Platform still centres the abled user. When they talk about let'sput things online, it's no so that disabled folks and deaf folks can access it.
It's so all these able-bodied users who havephysically been coming to our space with access the content. You're right,Shawn and Lindsay that saying that disabled folks are still left in the marginsand that a lot of the moving content online is still about remainingrelevantrelevantrelevant in the currently COVID world. And maybe that's why I'mconcerned that moving forward, once you start moving back to physical spacesand everything, that a lot of these innovations will be tossed aside, becausenow it's like oh, OK. We can go back -- our useful audience can access ourcontent again in the old ways. Yeah. I think -- I'm thinking about what yousaid, about how we're still expected to be consumers of culture rather thanactive participants.
I think there is space for the digital platformto allow for greater participation from various audiences. I don't know if itwill actually be a priority to explore that kind of potential, or if they'll besatisfied with here is the content is available in a digital space while COVIDis going on. That would be awesome. I think about these physical communitymurals, for example, that bring people together and get a whole group of folkstogether for communal art making and if there's a way to do it in the digitalspace and figure something out. I don't know. It would be awesome.
>> Yeah. Lindsay.
>> Has anybody ever heard of the bellycurtain choir?
>> I want to know.
>> Great activity to participate in. Ithappens every year and they're doing it online. It will be interesting.
>> I'm writing that down to look at.
[ Laughter ] so we've got some questions kind ofrolling in.
Before we turn to those, I want to ask one lastquestion, because you know, with this discussion around, you know, sort of themainstreaming and yet continued marginalization of disabled folks. So isaccessibility now sexy in a way that maybe it wasn't before?
And you know, do you have examples of this? Whatdoes this say about our preCOVID BC, before COVID society? And also, I'minterested to know if you think that publics, policy makers and politicians arepicking up on this, or if it's actually something that seems maybe to resonatea bit more deeply than just being this sexy thing?
>> I don't know if it's sexy.
The word -- one thing I really notice, andShawn, I'm referring to a question that you actually haven't asked yet. I'mgoing to go to that. Just seeing everything with disability justice work andarts practice into the sort of arts world, I'm seeing -- what I'm seeingexciting happening on social media is that in the midst of this rapid amount ofinformation related to justice work on anti-Black racism and the pandemic, I'mseeing people online really collaborating and forming volunteer collectives toadvocate for like more captioned content, for example. So there's actuallygroups online that are basically volunteering their time to make all thiscontent accessible. I think that's pretty sexy.
[ Laughter ] and yeah. We could follow thatexample, you know.
Are we doing this because it's for economicreasons or because it's a check box? Or are we doing it because we're actually-- like you said, we're imagining people need this information. They need toaccess it, to be part of that conversation, to be part of that change.
>> Yeah. I want to say, I think ofsexiness as like something that's flashy and kind of, you know, du jour.
There could be something very authentic about itand very real.
>> I think this pandemic is making usrethink what accessibility means for our organizations. And whether thattranslates into lawmakers actually starting to mandate some of these things isa whole different discussion. Because they want to focus now on opening thingsup and rebuilding businesses and everything, it probably won't be for them inthe short term. It's definitely something we need to work through. At the ROM,my goal for accessibility and exhibitions has always been touching things,offer things to feel to touch. That makes it more accessible and fun. Thatwon't work in the post COVID world. So starting to think about, all right, howdo we actually make things accessible in a different way? Right? Or all theconversation's now about how digital content is accessible in some ways but notaccessible in other ways. How do we keep moving these innovations forward andmake it accessibleaccessible? These are more questions of concernedinstitutions because it will be very different for each institution dependingon the kind of content.
>> I think just -- I think accessibilityright now is a bit -- it can be used as a bit of a buzzword in terms ofsomething that we societially agree is desirable, but not always are people --I guess the worry is that it becomes something, again, that feels like it's abunch ever check boxes and you do it and it happens as opposed to an attitudeand a spirit of wanting to open your space and include people, which is a lotharder to share or -- you know, I find sometimes people are all about accessuntil the reality of what that actually means. Someone in the face. They'relike I don't want to do that, you know!
That's inconvenient or that's not how Ienvisioned this to be, which gets in the way. I had another thought but I lostit.
I'm going to stop.
>> Heidi, you look like you're about tosay something.
>> I was really thinking about it. I'mlike do you know what?
Access is kind of sexy. But no, I'm strokingaround with that.
It is being used as a buzzword in regards to --I see it sometimes like or I hear it being thrown around a lot, but if theintention is and sincerity isn't there, there's a lot to be questioned inregards to why, you know, or how or if it's just -- I don't know. I'm justthinking about it really hard. But I don't know. When I think about it, I thinkthe authenticity of access is something that we should be striving for.
>> I'll jump on that too. And also kind ofrelated to one of the questions here about the --
in the chat here about budgeting. I thinkauthenticity is really key. If you actually commit to bringing people into yourspace, that should drive what you spend money on. And you should commit tothat.
It's really about a priority thing f you say wewant to engage deaf and hard of hearing individuals, then you have to thinklong-term and realise that there are so many years of distrust and brokenpromises and people who will do a one off thing and never follow through thatjust increases the sense that you're just tokenized. So yeah. If you start withthe intention and go from there, that's like the most important thing, whichdoesn't help maybe, but it's the truth.
>> Yeah. So sorry. I just want to jump in.The question that Cyn is talking about is from Kyla. Do you have any tips forarts organizers trying to balance their expenses related to programming withoffering accessibility services such as ASL interpreters, live closed captionor Braille printing.
Sometimes the expense can be prohibitive giventhe limited budget some are working with.
One thing I want to add before you -- I'm goingto added it in.
To me, it's a question of values as anorganization. Because it's actually the directive to just be deliveringinformation or content, or say a number of event versus actually making surethat the people -- that it's about the people you are reaching. And yes, in ourcurrent context, there are costs often associated with accessibility, but partof that stems from the fact that often these projects or initiatives are notbuilt up from an accessibility perspective. And frequently, trying to makesomething accessible that wasn't designed accessibly is far more expensive thandoing it at the outset. In terms of nonprofits, especially when it becomes amatter of if you rely on grants and all of that kind of thing, really trying toembed those in the operational costs. Right?
Which is different if you operate on aproject-funding basis. When they become part of your operational costs, thenwithin the context of annual operating funding, right, that is a legitimatebusiness expense from my perspective. I'm not necessarily speaking as a TACemployee here. I'm just make the case. I think it has to do with values and ifthe value really is about reaching people rather than the action of deliveringcontent. And I think that can help to kind of rethink the concerns aroundfinances.
Sorry. Heidi, Jaclyn.
>> Shawn, I absolutely agree with you onthat. It's really when you define your values and work with them, it starts togo into place, and even when you start to inviting people to the conversationin regards to asking for consultation and finding out from various groups ofhow to create more accessible events or how to bring people into or to open upthe space for a wider audience is an important way of thinking about it. Yeah.
>> I was just thinking that Shawn, yourearlier question about lawmakers now finding accessibility sexy could help withthat. Agree with the values and making things with the audiences in mind, but Ialso acknowledge that there are lots of limitations and at the end of the day,it's how do we put things on at the least cost for the most number of folks?
And I think that's where lawmakers can come in.We've seen the things that have changed and that have improved ever since theAODA came onboard.
It's not that things are perfect, but there aresome accessibility accommodations that probably might still be very far back ifit hadn't been -- if it's not a legal issue. Right? And with regard to, Ithink, balancing expenses for those with limited budgets, I find that mypersonal approach at least is to find hacks wherever you can. So having Braillemight be really prohibitive in your budget. But maybe you can record someonereciting the labels outloud or stick it on or something. It's not the best way,but it's --
there's always ways of, I think, skirting aroundthings, and certainly if you start deciding your project from get go withaccessibility in mind, you won't have to worry as much about these things lateron and hopefully make things cheaper for you.
>> It comes back to, again, to thepriority of it. But access can be expensive. But if you prioritize -- anyaccess budget that I work on, our budgets will go from 10% of our budge tote25% of our budget to be spent on access because that's so integrated into thetangled arts mandate, obviously. If you as an organization or an individual sayI'm going to prioritize this, you have to be able to say, OK, I'm going to setthis aside and just -- I'm going to make that a priority.
Budgets are always flexible.
You choose one thing over another.
I think even -- but to be honest about your truevalues as well.
You might not be in a situation where you canaccommodate everybody or all the things that you want to do, which case maybelook at what you can do, and go there first, and then build on that. I thinkit's more important to be committed and look the long term rather than tryingto do a big flashy show and do everything all at once.
That's going to fail.
>> Yeah. And actually, Cyn, that'sspeaking to what I was going to say. And kind of thinking through what Jaclynsaid. And kind of throughout this talk, accessibility is not necessarily oralways just about the perfect fix. Accessibility is about lessening barriers.So like Jaclyn was saying, maybe an audio recording is not the best fix foreveryone, but it's a fix for some people. And so what are the ways that yourorganization or your project can be working towards a quote/unquote fullyaccessible kind of mandate, recognizing there are many steps along --
many different ways we can lessen the barriers.If we try to think about the sort of quote/unquote right answer, right, then wethink in a really binary oppositional way, and there are a whole bunch everoptions in between that still are good moves. Right? So I'm going to return tosome of the questions. Maria is asking, I work with seniors. Some of whom don'thave digital access because they don't want it. Are we obligated to engagethem? I find that they feel worse knowing that others are active and onlineactivities?
>> Short answer yes. I think you areobligated to reach seniors, folks who don't have digital access. I don't thinkthat you need to use digital content to reach them necessarily. And I thinkthis is where, you know, what you were talking about earlier about thinkingabout your audience comes into play. So like, all right. We have all thesewonderful digital content going on, like, you know, what do we do for folks whoaren't on digital platforms, who don't have an iPad or like, you know, don'tknow how to work a laptop.
And it's something that I have been thinkingabout when everything was moving online is that a lot of seniors who don't havedigital access may not always be able to have close contact with people whowould usually be able to help them access this digital content.
It's usually a family member or support worker.Here's your laptoplaptop. Here's how we can look at this digital thingtogether.
But because of COVID, they would be limited inthat. And I think there are other ways to engage with them, and I saw like --was it workman arts who sent these art supplies in little Ziploc bags so theypatients can do art activities even with social distancing. There are alwaysworkarounds and I like using workarounds because that's how we engage as manydifferent audience members as possible.
>> Heidi, again, it looks like you'remaybe going to speak. Am I correct or no? No. OK. So just in interest of time,I'd like -- there are two more questions submitted by Kristen and Keenan. I'mgoing to try to tie them together. Crist cent asking in what ways can weencourage businesses and organizations to continue these online ways to engageand allow people to help co-create those experiences rather than [not audible]of it and what is one concrete step that organizations can take right now toquote/unquote bring disabilitied -- disabled folks to the table?
I see connections to these questions.Co-creating is one way of bringing people to the table. I wonder if we canthink about and talk -- if you could speak to this idea of encouragingbusinesses and organizations to work from a cocreation model instead of aservice model providing something to people in community without actuallyallowing them to be part of the design matrix, I guess.
>> You know, I would say that we takeadvantage of this opportunity where we've had to slow down in many ways. And Ifeel like it's pretty simple to start talking to people and start likeconnecting with people, people who you haven't before COVID, you never had --
either you didn't have the time or you weren'tprioritizing those people. But now it's a different time to reach out and toexpand the people that you're creating with or that you're having conversationswith. I mean, I know myself created users were trying to do that as well. Andit's a really exciting time to be connecting with people, because there are somany stories and experiences that people are really eager to share. And thatwill really help inform what you want to do going forward. So yeah. Have afocus group online and invite people.
[ Chuckles ]
>> One thing that's really helped us atthe ROM at least is our partnerships with a whole bunch of communityorganizationsorganizations, and you know, a lot of these partners are reallygenerous with their time and their lived experiences and expertise, and givingus feedback when we ask for it.
We're like -- I've reached out to some of them,and I'm like here's an exhibition we want to do.
Here's one of the things you want to do with it.I realise this could be a barrier for your audiences. How do we fix this?
And you know, lots of times, it's a quick phonecall that helps us understand better how to make things more accessible.
And you know, there's one concrete step ourconversations can take. If there's capacity and opportunities, it will be greatto hire disabled folks to do things, whether it's sitting in a department thatactually makes decisions in how to create accessible content or whether it'sbringing them in as artists or creators or something to produce this content inan accessible way. If that's, you know, if that's something that is apossibility, it's always great to start breaking down these systemic barriersand really starting to change from the inside out.
>> Uh-huh. We're just about out of time. Ijust wanted to also throw out the idea, too, that it's important, right, inseeking community and seeking folks to co-create with that there be somepreparatory work done in advance, that it's not turning to people to say teachme. We're in a digital age.
There are lots of resources out there you canuse. Approach community with a hey, this is what we have learned on our own andthis is what we're thinking.
So what are your thoughts?
Because when you turn to marginalized folks asthe first point of content, it reproduces the motion that they have to do allthe work. It will actually be so much more beneficial for you and yourorganization if you're able to initiate that work yourself and bring people into then develop things together. I think that that's probably all the time wehave.
So thanks you, everyone. Thank you to my fellowpanelists and Humber. I hope that this has been great and exciting andinteresting and please reach out -- I'm happy to receive any inquiries aboutfrom anyone who is participating or anything on to my colleagues here ifneeded.
>> Thank you so much. Thank all of youguys, Jaclyn, Shawn, Cyn, Heidi, Lindsay. It's a sexy conversation. Now we'regoing to have a short 15 minutes break. So much, thank all of you guys. Jaclyn,Shawn, Lindsay, it was a sexy conversation. Thank you so much. And now we'regoing to have a short 15 minutes break.
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I hope you're all enjoying the conference so far!
Enjoying it very much - thanks!
another gorgeous painting
we can't hear you Mikita! :disappointed:
I can hear him!
I can hear him as well
Nevermind, resolved here!
Well said, Shawn!
thanks for including this session, and raising the point re: indigenous communities and access to lands
Hi Cyn! I miss you!
Even though I can see you all, I'm really enjoying listening to you each describe how you appear.
That comes out like feathers on a cat when it gets added on after
Great point again Shawn!
Agreed Jaclyn, something I've been thinking about a lot lately and trying to caution myself against.
It needs to be living and evolving
Yes! Accessibility is a muscle - you have to continue to do the work for it to grow.
more authentic and less performative!
I work in the arts. The direction is going to be hybrid physical & digital/virtual, according to many organizations I have worked with. Also, artists are particularily great at being resourceful, and interested in trying new things.
I like that more voices can now be heard. There are artists who have brought their work to people in many more ways. Having some mobility issues the last few years made me really understand barriers and solutions. Lots more work needs to be done.
I love that: "Innovation happens on the margins"
We can learn so much from"the margins". Especially since the arts have gone too far in the direction of being perceived as elitist & exclusionary by many.
plus screens cause headaches for some
I can't see you anymore--lost my visual on you all which is bringing up a real time 'Participation and the role of the senses beyond 'gaze'
YES. So true Jaclyn.
Yes, well said Jaclyn
PLease let's NOT do that!
Going back and not learning would be sad
Creating digital content, for the most part, has been all about staying relevant with arts organizations' current audience, rather than expanding their reach and making that content accessible for more people.
i've been reminded to think on providing options re: arts with verbalized narratives. a blind comrade let me know he sometimes prefers using a screen-reader program, as some audio narrators input more 'expressiveness' that can tilt his experience of imagining how to interpret a text.
this relates also to some people preferring more 'neutrally' expressed audio descriptions, and some preferring more 'interpretive' AD as they suggest what interpretations sighted audience might make from combined cues.
a move toward increasing access could be including info up front: 'this piece is narrated in x_ way, or you can select an option for narration in y_ way.'
And A Secret Chord! http://asecretchord.com/en (also in french). <3
Our panel would LOVE to hear some more wonderful questions from our audience - feel free to post in the chat or on our Q&A section!
OOO good point!
A Secret Chord - so cool!
I hear so many say it is so expensive
So money can become a barrier/excuse
Worked with Alex Bulmer at Harbourfront who helped initiate changes in Accessibility
Great point Shawn
Absolutely Shawn! Values!!!
in real time...currently they currently are developing digital transformation. Started this 6 or 7 years ago, including changed our attitudes and language, purchasing AD equipment, rebuilding entryand exits areas, etc.
Thank you for this answer Cyn and Shawn! I've faced this in my experience a few times and it has been challenging to defend the necessity of the expense. But the priority needs to be on the audience and the values of the organization.
Such a great point Shawn. The paramaters
*don't have to limit our ability to work and create in an acessible way.
yes! When organizations say they value inclusion, it involves research, invitations to talk with marginalized communities, getting the feedback and showing the results!
Harbourfront Centre's mandate, is multicultural, diverse, and inclusive. Visitors of all abilities are encouraged to tell us what they'd like to see. They actually bring these needed changes into action. Staff & volunteers are hired with these values, attitudes and expectations as well.
Great to hear, Chris!
Thanks for sharing the experience and efforts at Harbourfront, Chris - especially interesting to know the timeline of those changes
Encouraging to know many arts communities want to engage all when there is still intolerance present in the world. Gives me hope.
These are very important points. We need to push arts funders to shift from expecting organizations to produce a large volume of programming to expecting programming that is fully representative of and accessible to artists and audiences that have been relegated to the margins. We also need to take more responsibility as arts organizations for building access into our programs from the ground up. Thank you to the panel for spotlighting these issues.
It's important to extend the accessibility considerations throughout the entire audience journey. Buzzcut Festival in Glasgow (Scotland) did BSL-signed video trailers for the festival and videos giving accessible tours of the building and an explanation of what attending the festival entailed so people had a sense of what to expect before their arrived and a sense of how the building was laid out.
We're so happy to be connecting with you here
Great point Shawn
This has been great
So interesting! Thanks!
Thanks to Shawn and the panel! Excellent!
Thank you all! this was wonderful!
Thanks everyone!! What a great panel and well done moderating Shawn
Thanks it was great!
I turn them around to go do their research.
thank you for this great important conversation
Thank you, important words
Thanks for joining us everyone! This was an excellent and necessary conversation. We will resume at 2:15 with Adaptability: Finding Value Online
Thanks Mikita! see you all at 2:15