Here we are, another pandemic-Friday down the hatch! We’re still in our sweats thinking about difference-centered design and visioning an online Deaf and disability arts network.
Still from "Give Me Liberty" with three smiling people inside a large white van
ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto (May 18th - May 31st)
Still from Give Me Liberty

Connector Weekly

In This Edition
Creative Users News
Highlights from the Community
Accessing the Arts Listings

What does it mean to be a difference-centered designer?

I wouldn’t consider myself an expert. Like you, I have one story, one unique perspective and I’m learning.

I’m learning that you don’t have to understand the jargon to be a designer even though I’ve been surprising myself lately plucking words from my vocabulary like user experience, prototype, persona.

The jargon is even in the name of our organization “Creative Users” - not because we were savvy designers but because, as disabled artists, we wanted to challenge the jargon our friends were using in the arena of Inclusive Design Research that refers to disabled people as “extreme users”.

Years before we knew there was such a thing as ‘design thinking’, we knew that Deaf and disabled artists are inherently lifehackers, innovators, tinkerers and design thinkers.

When we’re creating accessible communities, organizations and experiences in the arts, difference-centered design means putting disability at the center of our imaginations not as part of a problem but as a creative guide to building better solutions.

It means throwing away the belief that you have the answer and instead learning how to ask questions.

It means listening closely to stories of interdependence, joy, love, pride as well as to stories of ableism, audism, racism, transphobia and learning how to recognize yourself in those stories.

It means believing that, when we design not for but with disability, we move closer to a vision of an inclusive culture. We believe, with the right tools and with the right framework, anyone - even you - can do it.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this email, please share it with your friends. If you’re seeing this newsletter for the first time, you can read previous issues and subscribe here.


Creative Users News

Feedback is rolling in and we’re listening!
Last week we shared a video of what an online Deaf and disability arts network could look like. Here’s some of the feedback we’ve gotten so far:

“It seems more targeted for visual artists but I’m a performance artist.”  --  “Look forward to seeing where this goes!”  --  "It's amazing!"  --  “I would only use it if I can upload video.”

If you haven’t yet, watch it here and let us know your reaction! There’s no right or wrong answer nor do you have to worry about hurting our feelings. It can be a word or a sentence or a few sentences. Send us your reaction directly by replying to this email or anonymously using this form.
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Accessing the Arts: Towards Difference-Centred Design
We’re at the beginning of a long journey towards building tools and developing a framework that will serve to cultivate difference-centred design thinking in our communities.

We are eager and excited to be working alongside our partners at Re•Vision: Centre for Art and Social Justice, Bodies in Translation: Activist Arts, Technology and Access to Life, the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University, Tangled Art + Disability and Deaf, Mad and disabled artists and community members who have all played a vital role in shaping the direction of this work. You can read more about the Accessing the Arts Initiative here.

Highlights from the Community

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Featured Event: ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto
May 18th - May 31st

ReelAbilities Film Festival (RAFF) is the largest film festival in the world dedicated to telling the stories of people with disabilities through film. ReelAbilities Opening Night on May 26th features Give Me Liberty, followed by a live virtual panel discussion on Care Across Communities, which will explore the work and meaning of allyship and activism across marginalized communities. Check up the full lineup of programming starting on May 18th! Open captions and audio description are available for all films. ASL and live captioning will be provided for all live festival events.
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May 13th through May 16th, Sick + Twisted Theatre presents Cripplepalooza, their fourth annual Crip Cabaret featuring new and daring work by some of Winnipeg's most exciting Deaf, disabled, Mad and sick performers. Tickets are free but pre-registration is required.
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Leonardo CripTech Incubator
Leonardo CripTech Incubator is an art-and-technology fellowship centered on disability innovation. Through 2022-2023, this incubator creates a platform for artists with disabilities to engage and remake creative technologies through the lens of accessibility.  Across five residency sites in California in 2022, artists will have the opportunity to engage with a cohort of other disabled artists and a network of experts in technology and media to develop a project at the intersection of disability, art and technology that innovates new forms of aesthetic access. International artists are welcome to submit proposals. The deadline is May 15th.
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Sex and the Pandemic
The School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University invites you to a monthly speaker series, Sex and the Pandemic, organized by Tanis Doe Postdoctoral fellow Ricky Varghese. The first panel on May 21st will feature Rinaldo Walcott and Ryan Conrad. Rinaldo will present Open to Infection: Two Viruses and Black-Queer-Life, where he will explore the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic for Black queer people alongside the coronavirus pandemic. Ryan will present Distinct and Dissimilar: HIV, COVID-19, and the Desire for Meaning, where he will think through the stark differences between HIV and COVID-19. ASL interpretation and live captioning will be provided.
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Enoch Animated
Check out Enoch Animated on YouTube, a collection of animated shorts retelling the stories of Enoch Cree Nation's Elders, featuring Bob Cardinal, Beatrice Morin and Garry Morin. Each of the 24 videos includes English and Cree closed-captioning.
Call for Expressions of Interest: AccessArt
ArtsPond and AccessArt are looking for Deaf and disabled artists to help map out and explore what shapes art spaces and places! In phase 1, AccessArt will focus on accessibility mapping of permanent public art pieces in Toronto for the 2021 Year of Public Art. Expressions of interest are being accepted now for paid roles for Deaf and disabled artists and arts workers. Roles include exploring public art spaces and participating in a collaborative design process. Support and documentation roles are also available. Submit your expression of interest with Artspond here!
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Virtual Tour: Whose Chinatown?
Join VocalEye on May 19th for an audio described virtual art tour of the Griffin Art Projects exhibit Whose Chinatown? Examining Chinatown Gazes in Art, Archives, and Collections, which brings together an art history of Chinatowns and their communities by historical and contemporary Canadian artists.
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Realwheels Acting Academy: Open House
On May 20th, Realwheels Theatre is hosting a virtual open house to present their upcoming Acting Academy. There will be a Q&A and an opportunity to meet the instructors. ASL interpretation will be provided for the open house. The deadline to apply to the Realwheels Acting Academy is June 30th.
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Ada X is launching TECH TECH TECH: Ethical Alternatives to Tech Giants, from a desire to use feminist digital tools and platforms. Are you a feminist, queer, BIPOC, trans, non-binary, disabled, or otherwise marginalized cultural worker or organizer? Ada X wants to help you work and organize this year on platforms that serve your needs. Join a small cohort doing paid research and consultation sessions. Their first session will take place on May 25th.
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Telling Your Story with Emily Gillespie
Join Kickstart Disability Arts & Culture on May 16th to practice your creative writing skills and re-claim your voice as we explore creative writing as a tool for self-expression. Led by author Emily Gillespie, this workshop will include a brief introduction to memoir writing, creating safety containers for memoir writing and prompts to get you started in telling your story. Prompts will be given to help you recognize emotions and themes emerging in your life that you may wish to explore further. All writing levels and voices welcome. ASL and closed captions will be provided.
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Speaking Vibrations: An Accessible Music Concert
Tonight through May 14th, Speaking Vibrations presents an accessible concert film experience for Deaf and non-Deaf audiences. This concert film is interpreted & captioned, and makes accessible the experience of live art for Deaf and non-Deaf audiences. Speaking Vibrations’ centering of ASL song/poetry, accessibility as aesthetic, and sound as vibration, demonstrates that music is more than acoustic sound, music is a three-dimensional, emotive, embodied and vibrational medium.
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Centre d’art daphne: General Call for Submissions
The Centre d’art daphne is an Indigenous artist-run centre, whose objective for their exhibition and community programming space is to reflect the creative diversity, actions and practices of First Nation, Métis, Inuit curators and artists. They are calling for proposals for exhibitions of contemporary First Nation, Métis, Inuit art for 2022-2023 by artists, curators or groups. Proposals are due May 15th.
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One + One Make Three
On May 11th, ALL ARTS presents One + One Make Three, part of their Past, Present, Future program. This experimental docu-dance film takes viewers into the studio with acclaimed ensemble Kinetic Light, exploring disability as a creative force. ASL, audio description and captions are available.
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Disability on Film
On May 12th, ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto and Miles Nadal JCC present a discussion of Sound of Metal, starring Riz Ahmed as Ruben, a heavy metal drummer in recovery thrown into crisis when he suddenly loses his hearing. The conversation will consider the film as an example of a disability recovery melodrama, as well as touch on Ahmed's and Paul Raci's performances and responses from the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Captions will be provided.
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Make Your Social Media Posts More Accessible
Akimbo has put together a short PDF guide on making your social media posts more accessible! Check out their guide for easy-to-implement tips on colour, alt text, image description, video captioning and hashtags.
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Insufficient Art Project with Roz Maclean and Friends
On May 15th, Kudoz presents an afternoon with artist Roz Maclean and some of the Insufficient Art Project participants. The Insufficient Art Project is a series of portraits and interviews by Roz Maclean, created to explore what it is like for British Columbians with disabilities to rely on disability assistance rates that place them below the poverty line. Participants will discuss was like to share their stories and Roz will talk about how she uses her art as advocacy. Bring your drawing materials to try out some of the techniques Roz uses in her practice! You can download the ebook of the compiled stories and artwork at

Accessing the Arts Listings

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Connector is a newsletter highlighting accessible arts in Canada. In each edition, we connect artists and audiences with different organizations in regions across the country to get the word out about programming that has been curated with different bodies in mind. Our goal is to foreground Canada’s accessible arts culture by getting information out!

Please feel free to share this newsletter with a friend.

If you have an event you'd like to include on our events listing or in a future newsletter, please visit our online submission form!

You can update your subscription preferences at any time. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more information and updates!
We acknowledge that inclusion in the arts relies upon listening, communication, and being responsive. We also acknowledge that lived experiences of exclusion, discrimination and oppression are real and unique to each individual. For these reasons, and because we do not organize the events we list, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of information provided, nor can we guarantee the quality of accessibility at events. Our goal is to make accessibility in the arts easy to find, and to provide you with as much information as possible, so that you, the user, can make informed choices based on your needs. Our hope is that, in doing this, we can put inclusion at the forefront of Canada’s arts sector.
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Logos: Canada Council for the Arts, Toronto Arts Council and Government of Canada
Copyright © 2021 Creative Users Projects, All rights reserved.

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