Language and Disability: who cares? (I do)
For a few months now I have been involved with History of Place, a national project looking at different disability-related places around the country. In Bristol, we are looking at the Guild of the Brave Poor Things, and this summer a group of young people made a short film about it. It was launched yesterday at the MShed, and as Disability History Month this year is about disability and language, the event featured some thoughts about the topic.
Another volunteer, as well as a young person who participated in the short film had written their own thoughts, and I was tasked with responding to them in some way. Laura Welti, from Bristol Disability & Equality Forum then talked about the topic as well.
Making conferences more accessible
Now that I have attended several conferences, I feel that I want to share some information I've been thinking about as to how to make conferences/events more accessible to academics who are neurodivergent. I imagine some of my ideas will be useful to others as well, and I think overall any conference/event could benefit from them. I will also add here and there some things I've thought of in terms of general accessibility but this is not my main focus here and there's people much more qualified than me talking about this already.
My friend Naomi Jacobs for example is writing about neuroqueering academia and will touch upon accessibility in several ways.
On Goldsmiths and being vulnerable
Last Friday I made my way to Goldsmiths (in London) for a conference about passing. More specifically, I was to speak about disability. Even more specifically, I was to speak about being autistic yet being able to pass/being viewed as neurotypical.
Doing a talk like this… means having to prepare yourself to be somewhat vulnerable in front of people. Fortunately this is kind of expected at such an event. I was also extremely worried about making myself visible.
This was the second event I have been to that involved that kind of rawness, and I am growing quite fond of it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the times I have received most comments/compliments about my talk have been these two. Not because my style of delivery had changed, or the passion I have for what I was talking about had changed, but rather because I feel people at such events make more of a conscious effort to let you know that what you said touched them in some way.
Travelling to the US for a conference
This week I was at the AAG in Chicago. AAG stands for "Association of American Geographers" (which I totally messed up at customs when I was asked where I was going, but I still managed to get into the US without trouble). The conference was from Tuesday to Saturday.
I was lucky and arrived on Sunday. I also did not get jetlagged thanks to a cunning plan that involved not sleeping the night before (and by "plan", I mean I was packing for 6 weeks since I'm staying over in the US and Canada and frantically running around the house).
I found the conference quite overwhelming: first of all, 8k people (or 7k, or 9k, according to whom I was reading, but you get the idea: that's a lot of people, which is noise-inducing). Second of all: no natural light during the sessions I attended. In that respect, I found the RGS-IBG in London last August (the first conference I ever attended) a lot more "human-sized" - at the AAG, there was so much going on at any given time that I found it difficult to chose where to go (what if something more awesome is happening at the same time?!), whereas at the RGS-IBG there was a lot going on, but at a level that avoided fear of missing out and other culprits.
French Deaf people sparkle discussions by reacting against a full hearing cast playing Children of a Lesser God
I posted a few days ago about the fact that Les Enfants du Silence (Children of a Lesser God) was being produced by the Comédie-Française with a hearing actress in the role of Sarah, which sparkled a protest on the day of the premiere.
I won't talk again about my opinion on hearing actors/actresses playing d/Deaf/HOH roles, because I've done that lots with the movie La Famille Bélier (in a nutshell: I think it's not okay at all). Instead, I am trying to share a little bit about what is happening in France, since something similar is happening in the US with the #DeafTalent movement. I am grateful for Sourds.net which aggregates news all-day long and really helps me in following what is happening.
Children of a Lesser God to be played with hearing actors only at the Comédie-Française
A couple of months ago I talked about hearing actors playing Deaf characters, and the #DeafTalent/#POCDeafTalent movement it sparkled in the United States.
This was particularly interesting to me because just a few weeks before the movement started, the movie La Famille Bélier came out in France and while there were negative opinions about it, I didn't notice any particular protests on social media or elsewhere.
This has just changed!
The issue at hand
The Comédie-Française has decided to showcase Les Enfants du Silence (French title of Children of a Lesser God) from the 15th of April to the 17th of May... and congratulate themselves that it is the first time the play will only have hearing actors!