Live blog: #DisabilityStories

Over on Twitter, a lot of people are engaged in #DisabilityStories, an international conversation about disability art, culture, history, and experiences to which everyone is invited. But if you aren't a tweeter, don't have time to watch the hashtag today, or don't find Twitter accessible, you can tune in here for periodic updates from the discussion. 

Power wheel chair with "yes!" bumper sticker on side

You can learn all the details of the day in this blog post, but here's a quick look at the schedule: 

Woman in "ADA 25" t-shirt stands in front of yellow wall. Objects on table in front of her: ADA bumper sticker, woven purse.


For me, #DisabilityStories kicked off about 19 hours ago, right before I went to bed. Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand's national museum, tweeted a photo of World War I soldiers with amputated limbs and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney, Australia, tweeted about beautifully-designed prosthetics. It's been an awesome journey. 



The day went on to include a lot of Q&A. One of my favorite answers was when Curator Katherine Ott was asked what's challenging about interpreting disability stories.


Katherine also shared objects from her collection throughout the day. See more in EveryBody, an online exhibition. 


The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum answered some really interesting questions, including some about Eleanor's activism. You can read the summary of the Q&A. 



This year, with the recent opening of our new Innovation Wing, the museum is focused on invention and innovation in American history. These three tweets caught my eye. 




I was thrilled that archivists at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum of the National Archives answered questions. Bush made the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a key element of his domestic agenda. Learn more in the Q&A summary.


The 25th anniversary of the ADA is cause for celebration, but also reflection on how much more needs to be done. 




The Kennedy Center's Office of VSA and Accessibility hosted a great chat with artists featured in the 25/40 Celebration Championing the Arts exhibition. Musician Blessing Offor, who is blind, had some great quotes.

Other artists connected with VSA had some pretty amazing things to say about their process, how audiences perceive them, and why they make art. Sean Forbes, a rapper who happens to be deaf, put it well: 




Blogger, educator, and neuroqueer mom Ibby Grace led a meaningful discussion focusing on autism. 






Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project hosted a chat on #DisabilityStories and the Power of Social Media. Because I manage social media accounts for the museum, I had a lot to learn on this topic. One thing I appreciated was the way Alice introduced the chat. It was instructive, affirming, and set a welcoming tone tone:





Other tweets representing a variety of experiences past and present really made me stop and think. As an educator at a history museum, I need to make sure the content we share online reflects a full range of American history. 



I want to end this summary with one of the fun experiences I had during the day. Curator Katherine Ott brought five fantastic collection objects over to my office (where the wifi is stronger) and did an impromptu and somewhat silly video on the social network Periscope. Kristina Gerke, a hard-working intern in my department, spent hours perfecting closed captioning so that we could post an accessible version of the video. Enjoy! 


Erin Blasco is an education specialist in the New Media Department. She'd like to thank everyone who participated as well as the museum's New Media teamCaitlin Kearney, Jordan Grant, Meghan Plate, Kristina Gerke, and Matt MacArthur.