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June 23 –  We are proud to announce the launch of the Access and Disability Innovation Working Group at Co-Creation Studio at MIT ODL. We bring together emergent media storytellers, creative technologists, curators, funders and scholars to share and learn through researching, mapping, and showcasing theories, practices and projects that center disability innovation within the framework of disability justice.  The group has been meeting for the last two years to field-build in areas of interactive, immersive non-fiction, documentary and journalism that centers disability as a driver for tech, social, aesthetic, political and epistemological development. 


To publicly launch our work, today we are releasing a new living resource for the field Accessibility Resource List for Interactive and Immersive Media which maps over 40 projects, organizations and resources that support accessibility and disability centred work. We invite users to submit additional resources to the growing list through this form.

Emergent media technology has a long and often overlooked connection to disability driven innovation, simultaneously, there is still a long way to go in terms of making media technologies widely accessible. 


“Our research draws on an ecosystem of incredible work from within and beyond the field,” said Joanna Wright, co-lead of the Group, ODL fellow and documentarian. She added, “Our goal is that this mapping will provide resources for others working in immersive, interactive and co-created documentary to develop, question and build on.”


Some inspiring projects we have collected for the resource list include web and facilitation project Alt Text as Poetry, VR installation Museum of Austerity, and community resource  AXS Map. 

Image of a website screen capture: A white text title on a blue background reads Alt Text as Poetry, under this are the website sections: About, Book, Workshop, Exhibition, Tools, Ecosystem, Blog



The Alt Text as Poetry project frames the creative potential of alt text with the core aim of making the internet more accessible. With a focus on attention to language, word economy and an experimental spirit. “Alt-text is not a neutral topic — what we see and how we name it is political,” 

Image from Museum of Austerity, in a painterly quality, with dark, muted brown tones, this medium shot depicts a white man lying on bench, as a VR user stands beside him, looking down, experiencing this art installation through a VR headse


Image credits: Photography by Ellie Kurttz, digital composition: Will Young

Museum of Austerity is a mixed-reality exhibition that documents the impact of a decade of budget cuts on disabled people in the UK, based on verbatim testimony of those impacted and their families, and the reporting of the Disability News Service. “We had a psychotherapist and a theater wellbeing practitioner on hand for the whole (production) process… There was mental health support for participating families and anybody within the creative team who wanted it and an agreement that at any point that if anybody working on the project wanted to step away from the material, they could, and people did take that up and they were… vocally grateful for that having been said from the start,” said director Sasha Wares in Immerse

a bright, joyful illustration of seven people in a row each representing different mobility needs including the use of wheelchairs, a cane, a walker, a baby carriage, and a person who is visually impaired


Image credits: AXS Map

The AXS MAP project is a trailblazing example from 2011 of turning a personal need into a broadly useful communal resource. Jason DaSilva has beautifully harnessed the collective knowledge of wheelchair users to create a platform for assisting each other with critical day-to-day activities. AXS Map’s success has allowed it to build important related projects in the disability justice space, such as the AXS Fund. AXS Map (access map)  is a crowd-sourced tool for sharing reviews on the wheelchair accessibility of businesses and places. 


“As a working group led by and including artists and researchers who live with disabilities, we are field-building by drawing on our own lived experiences and reaching out to new networks. We hope to map, experiment and critique new forms of documentary media, production and distribution through the framework of disability justice, creativity and above all, co-creation,” said Kat Cizek, who lives with disabilities, and is the group co-lead and artistic director of the Co-Creation Studio.

We are inspired by the work and words of Patty Berne, the Co-Founder, Executive and Artistic Director of Sins Invalid, who writes in 10 Principles of Disability Justice that  “A Disability Justice framework understands that all bodies are unique and essential, that all bodies have strengths and needs that must be met. We know that we are powerful not despite the complexities of our bodies, but because of them.”

We further understand the term Access Needs to mean the pathways required for “someone to fully participate in a space or activity, which can include wheelchair access, scent-free space, ASL interpretation, etc. In a disability justice context, access needs are seen as universal – every bodymind has needs, not just disabled people,” — and in our context, specifically pathways for fuller participation, as well as aesthetic and artistic innovation in emergent tech and media works — as described in Sins Invalid’s Disability Justice Primer.

The working group is pursuing several streams of activity:

  • Gather and organize examples of how accessibility is developed in creative uses of technology;
  • Develop partnerships with organizations that center disability-led initiatives;
  • Research into the history of emergent media technologies and their relationship to the history of disability;
  • Mapping a network of relevant disability and access orgs for the field;
  • Developing resource / toolkit for the field, including trauma-informed practice;
  • Supporting fellow’s works which are centered in disability justice and disability aesthetics;
  • Developing new project ideas and workshops for public events;
  • integrating and infusing this inquiry into the lab and studio.

Active members of the working group include Vivek BaldHalsey Burgund, Rashin Fahandej, Jason Ryle, Lori Landay, Jasmine Heyward, Max Musau, Andrea Walls and Sarah Wolozin and the co-conveners are Joanna Wright and Kat Cizek.


““This new initiative is of particular interest to me as a late-assessed Autistic filmmaker,” said Vivek Bald, Principal Investigator of ODL and Co-Creation Studio. He continued “I have a relationship to the built and sensory environment that is both creatively and intellectually generative as well as challenging to the point of being debilitating. The equation between those two dynamics is different and unique for every disabled person. So, how do we learn from, and design, documentary narratives and experiences that make use of the rapidly developing technologies of the current media landscape in ways that account for this – both the generative and the harmful, the expansive and the inaccessible?”

Rectangular computer graphic of a white and black Oculus quest 2 VR headset over a blue background with crystalline star objects scattered in the frame. Superimposed over the graphic is a white curb cut diagram. The whole image is treated with artificial grain.

As we launch, we are also thrilled to announce our participation in the IDA’s Non-Fiction Access Initiative. Working Group co-lead Joanna Wright will rep on a panel on July 29 12 noon ET, to support activation for the IDA’s research survey that will inform a grant fund for non-fiction medial makers who identify as disabled. Information about the panel and joining link are  here 

ASL and CART Captioning will be provided

Alt Text ID: Rectangular computer graphic of a white and black Oculus quest 2 VR headset over a blue background with crystalline star objects scattered in the frame. Superimposed over the graphic is a white curb cut diagram. The whole image is treated with artificial grain.


We are committed to providing web content that is accessible and easy to use for everyone. 

This is a work in progress as we trial new accessibility options on the Co-Creation Studio site, and address some known issues on the Open Documentary Lab website. 

We are consistently seeking to improve and will share updates on progress in our newsletter and always welcome any feedback at

blue image with the words Access and Disability in Immersive Media Working Group
Kat Cizek

Author Kat Cizek

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