As of 2014, Montreal has only 7 metro stations with elevator access with only 4 of these located on the island itself. Rarely do public events or broadcasted programs provide close captioning or sign language services for deaf audiences. Most of the traffic lights in the city lack audible signals, making street-crossing a danger to people with visual impairments. Obstacles like these turn many people's everyday lives into a continuous calculation requiring extra effort, time and energy. Why do these realities so rarely catch the attention of the broader public? Focusing on personal experiences and collective mobilization, this public conversation will discuss the structural and cultural impacts the built environment has on people with visible and invisible disabilities. What would the city be like if it was not limited by a narrow assumption of what bodies and minds should be able to do? What actions, collaborations and solutions can be proposed to raise awareness, change perceptions and improve the lived experiences of thousands of Montrealers?
Arseli Dokumaci is a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University, Social Studies of Medicine Department and a research associate at Concordia University’s Mobile Media Lab. Her work focuses on disability, performance and everyday life practices. Arseli is also a video-maker and uses visual ethnography in her research to explore day-to-day experiences of people with visible and invisible disabilities.
Aimee Louw is a writer, radio journalist, performer and activist based in Montreal. Most recently, she published a 68 page zine entitled Underwater City I: Searching for the Most Accessible City in Canada. (www.underwatercity.ca) A member of the Critical Disability Studies Working Group at Concordia, and Accessibilize Montreal, Aimee facilitates workshops about ableism, sexual empowerment and moving beyond notions of normality.
Salima Punjani is a Montreal based freelance multimedia journalist and social artist with an insatiable wanderlust and sense of curiosity that keeps her roaming across Canada and the world. Though she loves reporting, Salima recently decided to concentrate on fostering social development through blending journalism and the arts. She is currently working as a social artist in residence at a local non-profit organization, B21, and collaborating on a documentary.