May 31, 2017 | By Professor Leslie Gail Roman | Photo Credit: Alexandra Wozny
VPRI Excellence Research Cluster in the Performing and Visual Arts, spanning scholars and artists from many disciplines and two campuses of UBC, Faculty of Education (Educational Studies, Curriculum and Pedagogy), and Faculty of Arts (Law, Theatre and Film, Social Work, Creative and Critical Studies), and Faculty of (Medicine Occupational Sciences)
What are three words used to describe your innovation?
Disability arts, culture and public pedagogy
Who are you and what is your idea?
Honorable Minister Carla Qualtrough, Canada’s first Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, a Paralympic bronze medalist officially designates May 28 – June 3 as Canada’s National Accessibility Week. UBC is proud to recognize its own interdisciplinary research cluster in the visual and performing arts which shines a light on the cultural contributions of Canadians with disabilities through disability arts, culture and public pedagogy. Wingspan is an intellectual ‘studio’ of interdisciplinary scholars in disability studies, arts, culture and public pedagogy across many disciplines led by Professor Leslie G. Roman in the Faculty of Education. The collaboration establishes research excellence on common projects regarding the rights of people with disabilities through the arts, culture and public pedagogy as grounded in the lived experiences of people with disabilities. The research team proactively promotes the idea that while individual disabilities pose impairments, they should not be seen as deficits but instead as differences that enrich collective human experience and the arts.
We identify variously as disabled, non-disabled or as artists who focus on disability aesthetics and linger in the liminal spaces between and among artist/researcher/teacher in the broadest sense of these terms, hence, we are Dis/A/R/Tographers in an unequal global world.
Wingspan comprises the following scholars: Professors: Leslie Roman, Vanessa Andreotti, Rita Irwin, Dónal O’Donoghue, Tim Stainton, Kirsty Johnston, Rachelle Hole, Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry, Matt Rader, Tal Jarus, Gerald Fallon and Steve Cardwell.
What problem are you solving?
Wingspan asks all to imagine a world in which disabled people are leading active equitable lives with voices which are heard and respected—whose access to 1) creative artistic practice is unfettered; 2) whose cultural contributions enter the mainstream to challenge and transform misguided stereotypes, pedagogies, curricula, policies and legislation, as access to the 3) built environment is universal; 4) whose opportunities to achieve equitable education, 5) wage work and, 6) health care is unrivalled.
Wingspan challenges and transforms stereotypes of people with disabilities as pitiful, tragic, unworthy burdens and instead, shows how people with disabilities are making long-standing cultural, artistic and social contributions to the fabric of global society, Canadian heritage and social innovation.
Wingspan asks: What do accessibility and full inclusion mean to youth and adults with disabilities? First, disability communities, youth and adults with disabilities should be in charge of identifying from their own lived experiences the barriers they face. Second, those with disabilities should be active participants in finding solutions to these barriers, most creatively in and through the arts as moments in social invention and innovation.
Wingspan animates these transformative principles in an overall research program through disability arts, culture and public pedagogy. The research cluster through its artistic and cultural events acts as provocateurs of conscience and imagination to create pedagogical, curricular, and policy change.
How does your idea contribute to society?
Disability Arts, Cultural and Public Pedagogical Research at UBC clearly show that artists with disabilities, when performing in the same event along with scholars who draw on evidenced-based disability studies research, creates compelling interactive experiences, which transform audiences and public perceptions. Together, such heart- and head-inspired catalytic performances mobilize citizen and youth action for pedagogical, curricular, policy, legislative and social change.
What do you need now?
At once provoking civic conscience and imagination, Wingspan explores the meaning of accessibility and full inclusion among diverse groups of youth and adults as artists, moving accessibility and inclusion from afterthoughts to forethought and public pedagogical, curricular and policy opportunities that realize both in everyday educational and social practice. Imagine an ASL signer for a deaf student being viewed not as a classroom distraction, but instead as an artistic enhancement—as a performing artist, bringing language and literacy through gesture and a ‘visual ballet’ for all. How about it being routine to see and be taught by dancers with mobility impairments whose inventive ways of navigating the stage of the dance floor and daily life were seen as creatively enriching for all. Our dream is to have dis/artists in residence, across the country, teaching in schools, impacting classrooms, pedagogies, educational leadership practices and social imagination nationally. Our research cluster aims to scale up nationally and transnationally such a creative vision with experienced dis/artists-in-residence mentoring you youth with disabilities to engage youth-led dis/arts-inspired practice as impactful ways of teach about disabilities in classrooms and educational leadership programs across the country.
We invite partners in the project of full inclusion and national accessibility, particularly large philanthropic foundations, government and industry and arts-based NGO’s to join our already successful dynamic project. Together with additional funding, we can take our momentum to the next level. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Leslie Gail Roman
Department of Educational Studies/Faculty of Education
Killam Fellow and Affiliate of the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice
The University of British Columbia
Education Centre at Ponderosa Commons
Office 3063, (604) 822-9186
6445 University Boulevard
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2