Accessibility Innovation in Digital Media

FOCUS AREA Three
Accessibility Innovation in the Arts (Part One)

Image: Interior of Tangled Art+Disability Gallery with 2 people experiencing an exhibit

Purpose:

In this section, we will look at accessibility innovation in the arts beginning with an introduction to Tangled Art + Disability (TAD). The Tangled Art Gallery is Canada’s first fully accessible art gallery dedicated to the exhibition of artwork by Mad, Deaf and disability-identified artists. As well, we will look at how American Sign Language (ASL) is being used to interpret live music, performance and poetry.

Developing an Understanding

Tangled Art + Disability (TAD) is redefining how the world experiences art and those who create it. TAD is a not for profit art + disability organization dedicated to connecting professional and emerging artists, the arts community and a diverse public through creative passion and artistic excellence. The mandate is to support Deaf, Mad and disability-identified artists, to cultivate Deaf, Mad and disability arts in Canada, and to enhance access to the arts for artists and audiences of all abilities (Tangled Art + Disability, 2018).

Tangled Art + Disability is committed to cultivating inclusion and accessibility in the Canadian arts ecology, and leads by example in terms of accessible arts programming. Tangled acknowledges the need for both knowledge & resources to support accessible programming (Tangled Art + Disability, 2018).

Tangled is dedicated to exhibiting Deaf, Mad and disability arts and artwork with the highest standard of accessible curatorial practice and strives to operate within an equitable, ethical and inclusive framework ensuring audiences, artists, board, staff and partners have access to services, programming and gallery space (Tangled Art + Disability, 2018).

Deepening Your Understanding

Tangled policies and practices are informed by:

  • a responsive principle that relies on the contributions and voices of our community;
  • a framework that supports the development of disability-identified artists being agents of knowledge, change, leadership and production;
  • a community and disability-led practice that sees accessibility consulting formed by our lived experiences of disability and intersectionality, and
  • a role as a catalyst for cultivating disability art, Deaf and Mad arts and inclusion in the arts as a whole.

Tangled Art + Disability recognizes that accessibility practices are always changing and shifting by the knowledge and experience of how inclusion is modeled in our communities. TAD understands that in order for its goals toward equity and inclusion to be reached, it is necessary to evaluate its policies and practices on an ongoing basis (Tangled Art + Disability, 2018).

Tangled Art + Disability Identifies Barriers
  • People are disabled by both physical and attitudinal barriers. These barriers can exist in buildings, offices, businesses, schools, societal and individual assumptions and perceptions. Where possible, TAD aims to remove the barriers and encourage visitors, staff and partners to help. Some buildings are heritage structures and may impose limitations and it is important to maintain open communication, feedback and conversation about these limitations with gallery visitors.
  • Some events held outside the gallery space may not always be accessible to those who are sensitive to light and/or sound. When possible, relaxed hours for visitation will be provided.
  • Some individuals require more accommodations than others, and TAD asks that visitors are mindful of the potential limitations of the gallery space and resources. There may be needs that cannot be met at the gallery space.
  • Some access needs and requests may compete with others. In this case, our staff will consult with both parties involved to reach a solution that works for everyone.

TAD recognizes that identifying barriers involves a collaborative and responsive process of listening, learning, education and experimentation. Everyone is a valued contributor toward supporting accessibility in the gallery (Tangled Art + Disability, 2018).

Image: Interior of Tangled Art + Disability gallery

illustration of a notebook
 

The Accessibility Toolkit was developed in partnership between Humber College and Tangled Art + Disability. The toolkit informs and educates art galleries about developing practices in accessibility for exhibitions.

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