By Ella Taylor

As part of a new model for FMTW in 2021, we are alternating the content of the meetings every other week. This week it was Access, with Kelsie Acton leading the presentation.

5 floating word bubbles coloured orange and blue. Each contains a different, white, minimalist logo of lips, and eye,a finger, a brain, a heart and an ear

I was really excited to attend this meeting, because access is such an important point of society at large, but also small subsections of it, such as theatre, opera, etc. I was also interested to see what my ‘flaws’ were in terms of access within my own life. Kelsie’s presentation was obviously brilliant, and for me really enhanced by the use of memes (after all, I am a millennial).

The meeting was split into two umbrellas:

  • Disability Language and Models
  • Social media accessibility tools

The first was the one that I found the most eye-opening, in a way, because I wasn’t aware of the different language and, as Kelsie said, ‘stories’ used to describe the lives of disabled people. Examples used were: Medical, Social, Rights-based, Disability Justice and Disability as generative. I learned that for each individual, the best thing to do is ask what language they prefer. Why, as a trans person, that hadn’t really occurred to me was… interesting!

For the social media accessibility, I felt I was on ‘safer’ ground, because I follow quite a lot of people who advocate for the things covered, ie: captioning, image description, content and sensory warnings, and plain or simple english. It was particularly fun to have the opportunity to put these things into practice. We split into breakout rooms to caption a meme from twitter, and listed the pros and cons of the captioning from a particular Stranger Things episode. This was really cool because I follow the artist Christine Sun Kim, a deaf artist, on instagram, and she is constantly advocating for expressive captioning, particularly when describing music. Having the word [music] written just isn’t descriptive enough for a D/deaf or hard of hearing person to fully comprehend the emotion of the scene in front of them!

Overall, this showed me how much more proactive I can be in accessibility in my day to day life, as well as teaching me something new about the history of disability and the language surrounding it. I left the session feeling pretty emotional. I’m grateful to Kelsie and Emma Jayne for facilitating a space that allowed such vulnerability from everyone.

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