Friday, December 5, 2014

Accessibilty for Pagan Activists, Part 1

Over the weekend of November 21st-23rd, the Pantheon Foundation held an online conference in which they asked me to discuss issues of disability and accessibility on the Care & Feeding of Pagan Activists panel. Presenting on the panel with me were John Beckett, Soli Zat Johnson, and Rion Roberts.

Though we'd done a practice run with the conference software, I found that the more people who were logged in, the slower my connection was. So the chat window was severely lagging, sometimes even stopping, and the video had a slowly increasing lag as well. What really threw me off, though, was the audio. I figured out that I could use my phone to call in since my laptop's mic wasn't working, but the lag in the software meant I couldn't unmute myself when it was time to speak. But restarting my computer finally fixed the problem...

Watching the video of the presentation later, I realized that all my public speaking training in college had flown out the window and I "um"ed a lot. I also did some unintentional name dropping. I think I got very thrown off by the technical difficulties and using my notes and outline just didn't happen. I was nervous. I learned what I need to work on, though, by watching it and I think I will be better prepared next time. Hopefully my computer will be too.

It became clear during the panel that we could easily do a 90 minute panel JUST about accessibility in Pagan/activist spaces. That makes me happy. It means that people really are interested in making ritual and political action spaces more accessible, which means people like me, as well as people with more restrictive limitations, will be more able to participate. It also showed me how much more society needs to be inclusive, not just accessible.

In Part 2 I will go over some basic ways that public groups can be inclusive and accessible...

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