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.
You can learn all the details of the day in this blog post, but here's a quick look at the schedule:
- 10:30-11 a.m.: National Museum of American History Curator Katherine Ott (@amhistcurator) hosts a discussion about disability history and material culture. She'll also answer your questions about her work curating #DisabilityStories. (Check out this Storify summary of her Q&A.)
- 11 a.m. -12 p.m.: The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum (@FDRLibrary) will share stories, facts, and photos from the presidential library dedicated to the nation's only physically disabled prsident. (Check out this Storify summary of the Q&A with FDR Library.)
- 12-1 p.m.: The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum of the National Archives (@Bush41Library) will discuss the process of expanding civil rights through the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Check out this summary of the Q&A.)
- 1-2 p.m.: Part I: The Kennedy Center's Office of VSA and Accessibility (@VSAIntl) will share interviews with artists with disabilities who are featured in the 25/40 Celebration Championing the Arts exhibition at the Kennedy Center. (Summary of the VSA chat.)
- 2-3 p.m.: Professor, blogger, and neuroqueer mom Ibby Grace (@tinygracenotes) leads a #DisabilityStories chat focusing on autism. (Summary of the chat with Ibby.)
- 3-4 p.m.: Part II: Q&A with visual artists with disabilities from the 25/40 Celebration Focus Forward exhibition at the Kennedy Center (@VSAIntl) – Vito Bonnano (@VitoBonnanoArt), Emily Eifler (@EmilyEifler), Sarah Langsam (@SarahLangsam).
- 4-4:30 p.m.: Part III: The Kennedy Center's Office of VSA and Accessibility (@VSAIntl) features a Q&A with 25/40 Celebration performer Sean Forbes (@seanforbes).
- 4:30-5 p.m.: Alice Wong of the Disability Visibility Project (@DisVisibility) moderates a chat on the power of social media in telling #DisabilityStories. Watch this video to learn why Alice works to collect and preserve disability stories. (Summar of Alice's chat here.)
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:
Also: for this chat, I'll use the term 'people w/ disabilities.' All types of language on disability identity are welcomed— Alice Wong (@DisVisibility) July 15, 2015
A11: I'd like more cross-disability interaction in #DisabilityStories. People have multiple disorders and groups can learn from each other— Tuttleturtle (@tuttleturtle42) July 15, 2015
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 team—Caitlin Kearney, Jordan Grant, Meghan Plate, Kristina Gerke, and Matt MacArthur.