Like most since late February we’d been keeping a careful eye on the news and official recommendations, but it wasn’t until we took a moment and started to listen to our community that we truly understood.
We spoke with our artist, partners and creative teams, and by mid-March came to the conclusion that postponing our programmes of work was going to be unavoidable and paused all public facing activity.
We understood that the Disabled community faces heightened risks during any public health crisis when it becomes more difficult to access healthcare, and particularly during this one when many Disabled people identify themselves within the ‘at risk’ category. So our freelance artists had to decide to either protect their health or their income.
Before the official ‘lockdown’ began more and more of our Disabled friends and artists had started to impose their own lockdowns, it was a mater of life or death. To some this may seem an extreme statement but as the country enters its 5th week in lockdown we are now hearing conversations around who should and shouldn’t be ‘resuscitated‘ when unwell and people being asked to sign DNR’s before treatment, so the Disabled community are reminded once again of ‘eugenics movement’ that is intwined within our history.
During this time of crisis, when the visibility of Disabled people is even worse, the voices of Disabled people are even more important.
The CORVID-19 has created a ‘gold rush’ for online engagements, Suddenly people are having to adapt to different way of working, of communicating, of sharing work, thoughts and ideas. People are having to restructure their days, their lives and find new approaches to collaborate.
Yet a lot of these ‘different ways’ of working have been part of the Disabled communities approach for many years, we just call it ‘access and inclusion’.
During this online gold rush to engage it’s becoming more apparent that the voices of Disabled People are getting lost because considerations about access have just been thrown out the window in the rush to claim new ground. The parallels are there, good models of practice exist, lots of our online ‘meeting spaces’ have access features within their settings but they don’t get used.
We are in a position now to all truly adapt, the conversation and rules have changed, there are new norms, new ways of communicating, so let’s take advantage of this moment in time.
With that in mind this week as part of our #ADiffWayToThink series on twitter we’ll be sharing some interesting, political and funny Disabled-led hashtags to look up and take a moment to listen.