Thursday, 17 July 2014

Walking Interconnections

Going for a Walk

  an audio-verbatim play by Dee Heddon
Walking Interconnections responds to the fact that environmentalist discourses seem too readily and without awareness to place the unmarked, able body at their centre. And yet, in terms of daily practices of resilience, disabled people have experiences that are useful to our planning for more sustainable futures.  We were keen to discover what those wisdoms are.
Working with co-researchers drawn from the disabled and sustainability communities, we invited each participant to take a partner on a walk of their choice. The conversations they held whilst walking were recorded. This audio material – more than 25 hours in total – was then transcribed and edited into a play by Dee Heddon. The script, Going for a Walk, read by co-researchers and professional performers, has been recorded to create a 30 minute audio-play.

Walking Interconnections is an AHRC Connected Communities research project that recognises and responds to the fact that disabled people’s voices have been largely absent from the sustainability debate. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014


I have long been a fan of Aaron Williamson's work - both in collaboration with Katherine Araniello  as the Disabled Avant-Garde (DAG) - and in his own right. Barrierman is a live art performance in Liverpool that uses a comic ('health and safety') twist so that abled people can feel what it is like to experience everyday barriers to unthinking mobility. 

On DeafSpace

Gallaudet University  is the world's only liberal arts university for deaf and hard of hearing people, operating bilingually through American Sign Language and English. As part of new campus developments, it has been developing the concept of DeafSpace - producing a series of principles and guidelines that aim to capture what is special and different in how deaf people make a place for themselves through signing:

 When deaf people congregate the group customarily works together to rearrange furnishings into a “conversation circle” to allow clear sightlines so everyone can participate in the visual conversation.  Gatherings often begin with participants adjusting window shades, lighting and seating to optimize conditions for visual communication that minimize eyestrain. Deaf homeowners often cut new openings in walls, place mirrors and lights in strategic locations to extend their sensory awareness and maintain visual connection between family members.  
These practical acts of making a DeafSpace are long-held cultural traditions that, while never-before formally recognized, are the basic elements of an architectural expression unique to deaf experiences. The study of DeafSpace offers valuable insights about the interrelationship between the senses, the ways we construct the built environment and cultural identity from which society at large has much to learn.
What I enjoy about this work is that it does not merely deal with the 'functional' needs of deaf people, but sees these as completey intertwined with Deafness as a cultural identity and way of being.

Read Todd Byrd, a student at Gallaudet, on DeafSpace

Monday, 26 May 2014

Doing interdependence

This was the work that made me want to share some of the best stuff about dis/ability on the web. In it feminist philosopher Judith Butler and disability activist Sunaura Taylor go for a walk and have a conversation about disability as not merely a physical status but also about ones 'place' in society (which turns out to also be an issue for so called "able-bodied" persons.)

It is one of a series of videos called The Examined Life combined as a documentary film by Astra Taylor , and made up of interviews with eight philosophers about  their central ideas. 

For the transcript click here