What is an Access Doula?
Calling up Justice integrates the role of The Access Doula as a design and facilitation role for live performance in digital and physically shared spaces. It is more empowered and centered than an access coordinator. This role is for folks who want to help monitor the gathering, looking for ways to help enhance access. They negotiate access with all cross-disability participants. This role is flexible by necessity and political inclination. The Access Doula serves to legitimize support-giving by naming it while reframing ideas around access in this hybrid virtual moment.
This concept was developed in Remote Access, an ongoing project developed by The Critical Design Lab (a multi-disciplinary and multi-institution arts and design collaborative rooted in disability culture). Remote Access reimagines accessible nightlife through collaborative online environments and access practices and completely re-constructs the online portal as a space that is both liberatory and celebratory, and most importantly—accessible to all. A doula is a trained professional who provides expert guidance for the service of others and who supports another person through a significant life-related experience, such as childbirth, miscarriage, induced abortion or stillbirth, or dying. The Access Doula is core to the results of aesthetic equity for all participants.
Kevin Gotkin on what is involved in the Access Doula performance
“I think for me, Access Doulas are folks who can be present in the space and aware of needs as they arise. I think that is the trickiest part, where folks can tell us their needs ahead of time, but no one really KNOWS how they would feel in a space until they are actually in the space. And circumstances change all the time, with our bodyminds, with other folks in the space, with certain environmental factors. I think the Access Doula is someone who understands this fluidity of access-making and is dedicated to ensuring that when needs arise, they are available to listen and be present to try and meet them.” I would love to imagine a future where such a role becomes more the norm in arts spaces.”
Links to read and learn more about Access Doula
Radical Accessibility: What might this mean? by Ruth Garde
Access Magicians in Cyberspace: Care as a Festive Practice
This conversation emerges from the 2020 Allied Media Conference event, Remote Access: Witches N Glitches, organized by Kevin Gotkin, Aimi Hamraie, Yo-Yo Lin, Jerron Herman, and Ezra Benus.
CARE LAB PART II: ACCESS IN NEW TIME
DISCOVERING ACCESSIBILITY 🌳 : A JOURNEY INTO DISABILITY CULTURE ACTIVISM WITH MOIRA WILLIAMS.
REMOTE ACCESS: crip nightlife participation guide
This guide is designed to help share knowledge about disability-centric organizing and facilitation, modeled here as a participation guide for remote nightlife. We conceptualize this as part of crip technoscience, the shared production of technical and political life through the radical commitments to disability as a desirable part of the world. For more about crip technoscience, see a special issue of Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience: https://doi.org/10.28968/cftt.v5i1
This participation guide for remote disability culture + nightlife gatherings was developed by Kevin Gotkin, Louise Hickman, Aimi Hamraie, with support from the Critical Design Lab. Please use and share this guide. We ask that you cite this guide to acknowledge the disability knowledge that shaped it and to connect us with others who are doing similar work.
Kevin Gotkin, Louise Hickman, Aimi Hamraie, with the Critical Design Lab, “Remote Access: Crip Nightlife Participation Guide,” March 2020, bit.ly/RemoteAccessPartyGuide