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Disability and livelihoods

With employment rates among people with disabilities at less than 50 percent, and a resulting reliance on government transfers, we ask: how do people with disabilities in Canada survive, let alone thrive? People with disabilities continue to respond imaginatively by finding alternatives to paid work to sustain themselves and their families. This disjuncture between policy and lived experiences suggests an important and under-explored research area.

The Disability and Livelihoods partnership will 1) examine how livelihoods interact with diverse experiences of disability in Canada and 2) begin to develop a strong, practical, and conceptual livelihoods approach to work and families research. Partnership: This partnership brings together key national and local organizations (DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada, Canadian Council for Rehabilitation and Work, Lakeside Hope House Guelph, People and Information Network, and Accessibility Advisory Committee of Guelph), with the University of Guelph’s Centre for Families, Work and Well-being, Re-Vision: Centre for Arts and Social Justice, the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute, and researchers, to contribute to three pilot projects: volunteering, arts and artistry, young women and pre-employment supports, and a broader livelihoods framework.

The partnership focuses on three areas of livelihoods which build on the strengths of our partners, recognizing that these will help identify important questions and intentionally gather what we learn into a broader framework for understanding and using a livelihoods approach. The governance structure enables partner organizations to contribute to the leadership and intellectual direction of the partnership in addition to contributing to the pilot project most aligned with their work.

Sustainable Livelihoods: Livelihoods describe means to secure the necessities of life — through paid work, caregiving, volunteering, market gardens, fishing, artistry, among others. Livelihoods are not only the capabilities, assets, and activities required to maintain life, but also the ability to sustain these in the context of stress and shocks, over time and for future generations, and contribute benefits at the local and global levels over the short and long term.

A sustainable livelihoods framework has been developed in relation to the global South, and increasingly used in Canada to assist front-line service organizations to understand and address poverty.

Guiding Questions and Goals:

The partnership will answer questions that fill the gap between policy and lived experiences and create a sustainable livelihood framework to inform future social policy and organizational decisions.

These questions include:

How do definitions of disability shape one’s livelihoods?

How do other social locations (e.g. gender, race, immigration status, language) interact with disability to shape experiences of livelihoods?

To what extent does managing impairments affect experiences and livelihoods choices?

What are the relationships between income support and other forms of livelihoods?

Do one’s livelihoods allow them to thrive, not only survive?

How do different forms of livelihood work together to enable getting the necessities of life?

How do they work together to allow for flourishing?

How do livelihoods shape and change our understandings of culture?

How do Canadian society and economy rely on diverse livelihoods in the lives of people with disabilities (e.g. unpaid volunteering to implement accessibility legislation, unpaid caregiving by people with disabilities)?

In what ways does this reliance on unpaid livelihoods reinforce ableism in Canadian society?

How does practicing diverse livelihoods contribute to new ways of thinking about, imagining and living disability.

-PI Deborah Steinstra. 

The Secret Feminist Agenda logo.

Secret Feminist agenda

Episode 4.22 of Secret Feminist Agenda: “Disability Art is the Last Avant-Garde,” with Sean Lee! From host Hannah McGregor: “This week I sat down virtually with Sean Lee, Director of Programming at Tangled Arts + Disability, to talk about radically accessible curation, the transformative possibilities of disability as disruption, and the exciting work of Tangled Arts and Bodies in Translation.”

Available wherever you get your podcasts. Full transcript and links to resources mentioned in the episode here.

art in translation: a digital catalogue series

Art in Translation serves to document and publish projects, exhibitions, artistic projects and research initiatives co-produced by Bodies in Translation and collaborating artists, scholars, and community members.

Using a digital platform, Art in Translation aims to provide artistic content in a range of accessible formats, including giving our readers the option to customize their viewing experience using a user interface tool designed by the Inclusive Design Research Centre at the Ontario College of Art and Design University.

Visit catalogue here: http://artintranslation.ca/

2020 curator in residence

Meet Max Ferguson! Max is Tangled Art + Disability’s 2020 Curator-in-Residence. The Tangled Art + Disability Curator Residency is an opportunity for Mad, Deaf and/or Disability-identified curators to think critically about and develop accessible, crip curatorial practices through a disability cultural lens and crip aesthetics. This residency is co-developed and supported in partnership with Bodies in Translation.

Max (Sarah) Ferguson has been a practicing artist since 1996 and received his BFA from the University of Regina in 2001. He graduated with an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies (Visual Art and Women’s and Gender Studies) in 2017 and is currently pursuing his PhD in Art and Women’s and Gender Studies at York University. His artistic explorations involve disability studies, gender, non-neurotypical and trans-queer sexualities, activism, the body, surrealism, anti-colonial approaches to artmaking, and psychoanalysis. Max has worked with a variety of media, ranging from computer-based works and readymades, to paintstick, graphite, and digital collage. His practice blends high and low art approaches, and draws from a mixture of art and academic theory, pop culture, and other influences. Currently, his work revolves around hybridized notions of photography, sculpture, music, sound, installation and performance, and involves psychoanalysis, the body, activism, queer/trans theory, assumed whiteness, internalized racism and Indigeneity, and issues of madness and non neurotypical ways of being. He is also a published poet and writer, holds a degree in journalism, and has worked as a political, legal, military and arts writer in four different provinces over the past decade.

You can check out some of his work here (take care for sensitive images of bodies), and read about his work at FLOURISHING, here.

A drawing of text and images combined into a large grouping of doodles.

vital practices in the arts

Vital Practices in the Arts is a resource guide for documenting, producing, and sharing arts and knowledge in ways that are accessible, collaborative, and disruptive. 

How to use

The guide is provided as a live google document that reflects the ongoing, evolving and emerging activities we see practiced in communities everyday. The document is tagged and screen reader friendly. You can download the document to use for professional and personal purposes.

How to contribute

The practices in this guide expand on how we can all do this work, individually and collectively. We now hand it over to you, its users, and welcome your contributions in helping to build, improve, and expand this living resource.

We envision Vital Practices as a living resource that moves and shape-shifts as you contribute to it. Our aim is for the list of authors to grow, just as we aim for vital practices to grow in and with arts and culture.  

You can contribute in audio, visual, textual, or other forms that are meaningful to how you communicate in the world. For example, you may document your accessibility processes and practices, or offer feedback on what you learned from this document, or what you feel is missing. We acknowledge that this resource is a work in progress and understand it as we do accessibility, as open to continual changes and additions.   

For any questions or expressions of interest, please contact Lindsay Fisher, Artistic Producer at Bodies in Translation: lindsay.fisher@ryerson.ca

Link to Vital Practices in the Arts here.

Authors

This guide is produced by Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life (BIT) with collaborating partners Tangled Art + Disability and Creative Users Projects. Our understanding of accessibility is iterative, intersectional, and led by the disability community. We seek to move accessibility beyond a logistic concern to a disability justice framework.

The first edition of this publication was written by: Eliza Chandler (Assistant Professor, School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University), Carla Rice (Professor and Director, Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice, University of Guelph), Lindsay Fisher (Artistic Producer, Bodies in Translation and Founder and Director Creative Users Projects), Tracy Tidgwell (Research Project Manager, Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice, University of Guelph), Andrea LaMarre (Lecturer, Critical Health Psychology, School of Psychology, Massey University), Nadine Changfoot (Associate Professor, Political Studies, Trent University), and Susan Dion (Associate Professor, Indigenous Education, Faculty of Education, York University).  

Full citation: Eliza Chandler, Carla Rice, Lindsay Fisher, Tracy Tidgwell, Andrea LaMarre, Nadine Changfoot, and Susan Dion, Vital Practices in the Arts, (Guelph, ON: Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice, University of Guelph, 2020). 

Relaxed performance: exploring accessibility in the canadian theatre landscape

Download handbook

Download full report

Relaxed Performance (RP) is an accessibility practice which “invites bodies to be bodies” in theatre spaces, including in their movement and vocalizations. RP also involves technical modifications, which were introduced in RP training sessions across Canada over the past several years.

The report was written by Andrea LaMarre, Carla Rice, and Kayla Besse.

One of the findings from our research, and the second phase of this project, involves bringing Relaxed Performance teachings to university curriculums. These teachings imagine what RP might look like when expanded beyond traditional theatre environments, into fashion studies, and choral music. Since September 2019, RP facilitators have been working with students in York University’s theatre department, and Ryerson University’s fashion studies department. Beginning in November 2019, RP facilitators will be working with University of Guelph vocal music students and choir members.

Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off

Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off (PPPO) is a digital archive of Fat art and activism in Ontario. BIT has partnered with Dr. Allyson Mitchell, Associate Professor in and Graduate Program Director of the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, as well as Dr. Alison Crosby, Associate Professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, and Director of the Centre for Feminist Research at York University, on the exciting work of digitizing the art and activism of Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off. PPPO was a feminist performance art and activist collective based in Toronto, ON from 1996-2005. Check out our Instagram page for some sneak peaks, and stay tuned for more info!

Two people performing outside in front of a shipping container for small group of people.

kNow Access: A digital collage

Welcome to the Bodies in Translation year-end digital collages, which compiles the art, activisms, and reflections of artists and researchers throughout the project. Using visuals, text, and audio, these collages reveal the interwoven ideas, and admired works explored by our valued collaborators and artists.

Each year, we invite artists and members of our community to respond to the question: How has your idea of access or inclusion changed in the last year?

2019-2020

2018-2019

2017-2018

Disability & fashion

This project develops new activist methodologies and pedagogies in fashion design and education by centring the disabled wearer. In a special topics course on disability and fashion in the School of Fashion at Ryerson University with Dr. Ben Barry, fashion students will co-design an outfit with a disabled wearer by working through a collaborative design process that is grounded in disability justice.

Students will first be introduced to the frameworks of design activism, disability justice, disability aesthetics, design thinking and co-design. Students will use mobile body scanning technology and 3D modeling software to create a 3D digital model of the wearer’s body. They will create, modify and finalize the outfit in exchange with a disabled wearer. The final work will be photographed, and these photographs alongside the final outfits will be exhibited to disrupt serotypes and misrepresentations about disability and fashion, as well as to explore the relationship between fashion and design activism and social and political justice.

To document the project for research analysis and mobilization, both students and wearers will be interviewed before and after the project about their reasons for participating, experiences and co-designed outfit. They will also be asked to keep an audio or written journal of their thoughts and feelings during the process.

Poster advertising the project.

Accessing the Arts

Research Associate: Job Overview
Deadline: September 13, 2020

We are seeking a community-oriented researcher to join our team in a flexible part-time capacity at the Re•Vision Centre for Art and Social Justice in the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences at the University of Guelph. This position is connected to a research project, Accessing the Arts, that is a partnership between Creative Users Projects and Bodies in Translation.

Creative Users Projects is working with communities with lived experiences of disability and difference across Canada to co-create solutions that make difference discoverable and vital in a world that’s transforming to digital. Our research and development initiative (Accessing the Arts) aims to build a business model and service that is created in collaboration with the communities it hopes to serve. 

Under the supervision of Margaret Lam, digital lead at ATA, the Re•Vision Research Associate will conduct qualitative user research on the information and data practices of arts and community organizations, to support the human-centered design process that is being used to inform the creation of the ATA platform, our knowledge mobilization activities, and a data strategy that straddles the arts and accessibility domains. General descriptions of the priority tasks are listed below, but the details of each can be shaped to reflect a candidate’s interests and experiences:

  • Co-create and execute a knowledge mobilization plan to share the ATA team’s research and broaden awareness of the implications, challenges, and opportunities that going digital means to disabled lives. This will include both community and scholarly outputs (e.g. podcasts, tool kits, and other formats to-be-determined with the communities, and research articles).
  • Conduct user needs research activities (interviews, focus groups, etc.) that will inform the creation of a data strategy that bridges arts data and accessibility data and involve arts organizations and festivals across Canada (Luminato, Tangled Art + Disability, Culture Days, Fringe Festival, Accessibility Cloud),

Qualifications

We are interested in hearing from graduate students (master’s or PhD) who are either currently enrolled in, or have graduated from a social science, humanities or interdisciplinary field (with a preference for disciplines that engage critically with issues of digital society, technology, human-centered design, and information studies). The ideal candidate is comfortable working in a community-based, interdisciplinary environment with a demonstrated commitment to critical analysis of disability as it intersects with race/ethnicity, Indigeneity, gender, social class, sexuality, and body size. In particular, we are looking for someone who can analyze information-seeking behaviour with that critical lens, and preferably from the position of lived experience from within the aforementioned communities. Strong written and/or oral communication skills required. Track record of publication in academic journals (or a strong portfolio of community and/or research-based output) or equivalent is highly desirable. Demonstrated ability to collaborate in a community-based research context would be strong assets.  

This position requires an average of 18-24 hours/week at $25-30/hour starting in Fall 2020 until Spring 2021, with the flexibility to accommodate a candidate’s availability, and reflect nature shifts in the project’s demands. Interested applicants should submit a cover letter outlining their interests/suitability for the position, include CVs and/or portfolio if they are available, and contact information for two references by Sunday, September 13, 2020.

If you have any questions about the position, or would like to attend an information session about the position (to-be-scheduled the first week of Sept) please send an email to info@creativeusers.ca.

Re• Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice encourages applications from disabled, Mad, Indigenous, BPOC, and LGBTQI, fat, and aging/ aged people and all people who are marginalized in the workplace.


Accessing the Arts Artist Focus Groups

April 24-May 20, 2020

From April 24 – May 20, 2020, we hosted a series of online co-design thinking workshops facilitated by guest artists to open dialogue about accessing the arts and share stories around what it means to access artistic experiences pre and post COVID-19.

Participants shared their memorable experiences as artists and audience members, as well as the ways the current health crisis is impacting their communities or individual lives.

We are grateful to all of our artist co-researchers, who brought their approaches and insights to this project. Keep tuned for an upcoming report on insights generated!