UK Disability History Month is, you guessed it, a month-long series of events to spread awareness and learnings about our struggle for equality and human rights. It falls between 22 November and 22 December, following on directly from Anti Bullying Week (70-80% of young disabled people say they have been bullied in school and college), and covers World AIDS Day (1 December), International Day of People with Disabilities (3 December), and International Human Rights Day (10 December).
At AUBSU we’ve decided to shake up Disability History Month a little bit. Working closely with our new Students with Disabilities Officer, Sam, we’ve come up with an AUB-specific month of activities and awareness events, and named it disAbility Celebration Month – because we want to not only communicate the history of human rights struggles, but also celebrate our unique and diverse community of #AUBMAKERS and their work.
Our disAbility Celebration Month aims to celebrate all that those with disabilities bring to the art world, whilst also raising awareness of the issues those with disabilities have with accessing arts education and arts communities. It’s no big secret that a significant percentage of ‘outsider artists’ (artists who are self-taught and who have no formal arts training or education) are disabled, disenfranchised from the artistic culture and opportunities of a society largely designed to exclude them. As a specialist arts institution, we are in the unique position to challenge this.
Our disAbility Celebration Month has been put together with the ultimate goal of getting you to think about disabilities and art. Our workshops and events will address the ideas of expression through creativity, unseen disabilities, physical accessibility and spaces, and empowerment, and will give you the building blocks to rethink how you approach and interact with disabilities and art, as well as give you the tools to create work and hold events that are accessible.
Here's just a few of the things we have going on this month:
British Sign Language Workshop
According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are 70 million people in the world who use sign language to communicate, and BSL is the most common form of signing language here in the UK.
We’ve arranged for Wiltshire and Dorset Deaf Association (WDDA) to come in and lead a workshop to introduce you to the language and teach you some of the basics of signing. By the end of the workshop you will be able to communicate your name, where you live, forms of transport, time, days, months, and dates of birth, all in BSL.
The session will be a great way to understand the importance of signing, and we’re hoping it’ll be an ideal opportunity for those who do not know, or have never met, a deaf or hard of hearing person to think about the ways their work can be made more accessible to the deaf community. You’ll also be able to chat to the lovely WDDA folks about the further courses they offer in BSL.
Click here for event info.
Demystifying Disability Workshop
Our elected Students with Disabilities Officer, Sam, is keen to demystify some of the thoughts and ideas surrounding disabilities, and what better way to do so than to hold an open workshop and discussion where individuals are free to bring up turbulent topics surrounding unseen disabilities and how to make your environment more accessible?
The workshop-slash-discussion is about creating an open and honest place for discourse surrounding disabilities. We want to give you the opportunity to see how socially constructed narratives and biases affect our ideas about art and disabilities and how it is talked about, so we’re opening the floor up to any and all questions surrounding the topic. We’ll be out and about in the courtyard during that week to collect your questions and queries, so if you have a thing to raise you can write it down anonymously so it can be included in the discussion. No question is too awkward, however please do be mindful to be polite.
Click here for event info.
Stressed > dessertS
We don’t think it’s just a coincidence that ‘stressed’ is ‘desserts’ spelled backwards. We’re turning the Arts Bar into a quiet zone/calm room on the evening of the 4th December to help you to take some time out, enjoy some relaxed solo or group activities (we’ll be supplying some Play-Doh, board games, and drawing utensils), and eat some desserts. We want to create a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere where you can escape from the stresses of hand-in season and focus on a healthy dosage of self-care.
Looking after ourselves and understanding the importance of self-care is an incredibly important skill, whether you consider yourself disabled or not. Calm rooms are becoming a common occurrence at many events across the globe, and while they may not all feature cake, they do all highlight the growing understanding that self-care is important for success.
Click here for event info.
Rethinking Designing for Disabilities – digital information pack
We’re putting together a handy-dandy little digital information pack to help you to create artwork, events, exhibitions, and performance pieces that are accessible. Accessibility should be involved in as many stages of the designing process as possible, not just as an afterthought, and our guide will hopefully help you to develop pieces that are not only more inclusive, but are more innovative too. Bonus!