Inviting Movements: Emerging Critical Disability & Deaf Perspectives and Practices

Concordia University Montreal
Black Box (EV building)
 May 4 & 5 2016

This symposium is an invitation for members of our communities to share differing perspectives and practices in the hopes of enabling our communities to move together. It is an invitation to come watch a screening of Simi Linton and Christian von Tippelskirch’s documentary “Invitation to Dance”. It is an invitation to those working from critical perspectives within disability, Deaf, neurodiversity, mad, illness, crip, and other social justice movements, to discuss ideas of disability, art, and movement that emerge from the screening. It is an invitation, especially for those working within Quebec, coming from Quebec, or wanting to connect better to Quebec communities, to engage publicly with the specificity of our experiences and movements. It is an invitation to share differing perspectives and practices within and between our movements, languages, and disciplines, in hopes of creating new ways of understanding our pasts, of cooperating in the present, and of imagining our futures.

We come to this symposium because of a (re)emergence and incredible growth of the Critical Disability Studies Working Group in Montreal, over the last two years. Although Quebec has a long history of activism, art, and of some individual academics working on disability, these two years there has been a major increase in disability and Deaf research and activism, and an unprecedented movement towards connecting activists, artists, and academics, who have worked in isolation, together. Through this symposium, we hope to invite many more to this movement, and deepen our understandings of, engagements with, accountability to, and generative learning from each other’s perspectives and practices.

Twitter_Logo_Hd_Png_01Live Transmission


This event will be live and posted on Periscope and Twitter @ CDMC_Concordia!

Please feel free to follow us on the live video stream with your handheld device. Check the program to see the talks that will be transmitted.

Live Notetaking

Live notetaking will be available during the sessions and the keynote.


Disability/Arts: Map and Manifesto


11:00 to 13:00

Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology.
Concordia University,
EV building.
1515 Ste Catherine street west.
It is on the north-east corner of Ste Catherine and Guy streets.

Simi Linton

Simi Linton

Disability/Arts is on the verge of a shift – a reshaping of disability in the cultural imagination; an increase in the cultural authority of disabled people; an elevation of our art.  What can we do to promote such a shift? What stands in our way?

Simi Linton is a writer, teacher, and performer currently residing in New York City. She is the author of Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity, the memoir My Body Politic, and numerous articles on disability. Linton was on the faculty at City University of New York (CUNY) for 14 years, leaving in 1998 to write and develop her consultancy work. Linton has worked with filmmakers, artists and cultural institutions (such as The Smithsonian, The Margaret Mead Film Festival and The Public Theater) to shape the presentation of disability in the arts and to increase the representation of works by disabled artists. She holds an undergraduate degree from Columbia University, and a PhD in Counselling Psychology from New York University. She is one of the foremost experts on disability and the arts in the United States.


Quiet space

The location where we will share meals will be open during conference sessions for those who may need a break, or who would like to have a quiet place with.

We respect people's diverse ways of participating in events such as these and we invite you to do what you need to do to feel as comfortable as possible (stretch, take breaks, use softwares…). We, the organizers will follow and respond to our own accessibility needs as well.

If there is any accessibility information that we haven't provided, please get in touch ( and we will be happy to search it out.


ASL and LSQ interpreters will be available throughout the conference, in sessions, film screening (for the opening and Q&A), and during meals.

Please note that registration is required for the workshop and final pizza dinner event in order to ensure access to necessary accommodations and food. Please finalize such registrations by April 25th. (Registration is now closed).


All locations, including bathrooms, are accessible for people using wheelchairs and other mobility aids.


The film, “Invitation to Dance”, will be subtitled in English, there will also be video description in English.

Film Screening



19:00 to 22:00

Concordia’s Hall building
Room H-110
1455 De Maissonneuve west.
The building is located between McKay and Bishop streets.


Invitation to Dance is a poignant and politically engaging portrayal of Linton’s entry into the world of disability. Linton was brutally introduced to this world in 1972 after a car accident where she lost her husband, and friends, but also her ability to carry out her passion - dancing. Linton quickly discovered that she was excluded from social gatherings, classrooms, restaurants, and public transportation due to the inaccessibility of those gatherings. She found her sexuality framed differently by society and the medical profession following her accident. Linton’s initial experience in New York City as a young disabled woman led her to internalize an inaccessible world and believe that the problem of disability was in her body- not in society. After travelling to Berkeley in the mid-70s Linton’s life changed. She got involved with the emerging disability rights movement- and started dancing again. She slowly learned to make disability political and at the center of her life and her work. Invitation to Dance chronicles this shift and her life of activism and passion for inclusive arts. The documentary showcases important moments in the history of disability rights in the United States from the 70s to today.


Wednesday May 4

9:30RegistrationOutside Black Box RM EV S3.845
10:00 to 10:45Coffee and snacksOutside Black Box RM EV S3.845
10:45 to 11:00Opening and welcome!Black Box RM EV S3.845
11:00 to 12:30Discussion #1 - Emerging critical movements: Kelsie Acton*, Arseli Dokumaci*, Sarah Heusaff Twitter_Logo_Hd_Png_01 Periscope-IconBlack Box RM S3.845
12:30 to 14:00LunchEv 11th floor EV 11.725
14:00 to 16:00Discussion #2 - Rights and justice: Melissa Graham and Kevin Jackson, Melanie Benard, Kristin Snoddon*, Susanne Commend Twitter_Logo_Hd_Png_01 Periscope-IconBlack Box RM S3.845
16:00 to 16:20Break
16:20 to 18:20Workshop on making Invitation to Dance from a disability perspective with Simi Linton and Christian Von Tippelskirch. (Registration is now closed).Resource room 11th floor EV 11. 705
19:00 to 22:00Film screening (INVITATION TO DANCE, 86 minutes) and Q&A with film directors with ASL and LSQ interpretation + audio description in EnglishHall building H-110

Thursday May 5

10:00RegistrationOutside Black Box RM EV S3.845 
11:00 to 11:30CoffeeOutside Black Box RM EV S3.845 
11:30 to 13:00Keynote speaker Simi Linton Twitter_Logo_Hd_Png_01 Periscope-IconBlack Box RM EV S3.845 
13:00 to 14:30LunchEv 11th floor EV 11.725
14:30 to 17:00Discussion #3 - creating crip: mad/ crip/ Deaf art practices: Lindsay Eales*, David Bobier, Ashley McAskill* and Véro Leduc* Twitter_Logo_Hd_Png_01 Periscope-IconBlack Box RM EV S3.845 
17:00 to 17:15Wrap-upBlack Box RM EV S3.845  
17:15 - 19:00Optional: informal $5 pizza dinner/ hangout. Sign up in advance required. (Registration is now closed).11th floor EV 11.65

* performance, film, or provocation

** ASL and LSQ interpreter available (upon request).

Location: Black Box (EV building, SS3 floor)
Meals on the 11th floor (EV 11.705)

Concordia University
1515 Ste Catherine street west.
It is on the north-east corner of Ste Catherine and Guy streets.


Session 1: Wednesday May 4 | 11:00-12:30

Wednesday May 4
Session #1

Emerging critical movement

Kelsie Acton

University of Alberta, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation/ CRIPSiE

What is Access to a Career in the Performing Arts?

This presentation questions what constitutes access for disabled artists, with a particular consideration of the issues in the performing arts. Given the project-to-project nature of arts work in Canada, a full artistic career is often dependent on a number of skills secondary to one’s artistic skills. These can include marketing, grant writing, festival application writing, documentation of one’s work, project management and networking. With limited access to formal training and the informal networks of mentorship that allow emerging artists to acquire these skills, can disabled artists achieve full participation in the performing arts? How can the conditions for disabled artists to acquire these skills be created?

Through this conference I hope to expand my thinking and awareness of the artistic and critical work on disability and Deaf arts and activism being done in Quebec and across Canada. I desire to connect with other artists and academics to hear their solutions, questions and critiques of the problem and questions I struggle with in my own artistic practice.

Arseli Dokumaci

FQRSC Post-doctoral Fellow, McGill University, Department of Social Studies of Medicine

Disability as Method: Critical Inquiries into Mundane Micro-practices and Performative ways of Media Making (video, English, close-captioned, audio description available)

“You have to think about all these things that seem to be small details but are [in fact] not,” says Jérôme. In this research-creation project, I move, think and theorize alongside with Jérôme and Anna, two differently disabled individuals living the woefully inaccessible city of Montreal. Drawing on their situated insights into the micro-practices of everyday life, I document how ‘misperformances’ of disability become a place from which to rethink the material entanglements of the body with the world at the most miniscule level. Adopting what I term “disability as method” and as critical methodology, I argue that ‘misperformances’ of disability do not point to a ‘failure’ of what should have been performed but to the arbitrariness of what is thought to have just failed.

In the project, I adopt disability as my method of media creation as well and propose a new technique that blends audio-description with freeze-framing both as a performative intervention into the medium of film and as a creative experimentation with its affordances.

Sarah Heussaff

Travailleuse culturelle dans les arts visuels, France

Pratiques en art visuel: étude des stratégies artistiques dans la transmission des enjeux du modèle social anglais du handicap.

En tant qu’historienne de l’art je m’intéresse à comment le champ des arts visuels peut être un média auto-maitrisé pour transmettre les enjeux du modèle social anglais du handicap, repris, plus tard dans les Disability Studies. Tout en me basant sur des écrits majeurs des Disability Studies, j’étudie comment les revendications du modèle social du handicap prennent corps aussi plastiquement. En me concentrant sur des pratiques, majoritairement anglophones (anglaises, canadiennes, états-uniennes), pour la plupart revendiquées comme relevant des Disability Arts, je tente de démontrer que ces pratiques jouent un rôle fondamental dans l’autoreprésentation et dans la dénonciation, de façon auto-définie, des discriminations relatives aux handicaps. Qu’elles sont les stratégies artistiques et militantes employées par certain-e-s artistes. En constatant que toute une partie de cette littérature relative au modèle social anglais du handicap ne nous est jamais vraiment parvenue en France, il me semble que les arts peuvent être un média privilégié pour étendre ces questionnements, encore trop méconnus ici.

Diplômée d’un Master en commissariat d’exposition (Univ. Rennes, dir. Elvan Zabunyan), je me suis formée dans les arts visuels par les études féministes, postcoloniales et les études de genre. Me retrouvant peu dans ce champ de recherches de l’accessibilité à la française, mon séjour à Montréal en 2014, pour un stage post-études (à la Centrale, galerie Powerhouse) a été l’occasion de me familiariser aux études critiques du handicap. En 2015 j’ai lancé : http://versune(re)pré 

Session 2: Wednesday May 4 | 14:00-16:00

Wednesday May 4
Session #2

Rights and justice

Melanie Benard

Human rights lawyer, co-founder of Québec accessible

Promoting Accessibility Through the Law: A Call for Reform in Quebec

This presentation will trace the evolution of Quebec's disability legislation over the past thirty-five years. Once a front-runner in promoting inclusion and equality for people with disabilities, Quebec has now fallen far behind other jurisdictions such as Ontario, the United States and France. Quebecers with disabilities continue to face countless barriers in accessing basic services such as public transportation. This presentation will highlight the need for a much stronger provincial accessibility law to give meaning to the equality rights guaranteed in our Charters of Rights and Freedoms.

I am a lawyer devoted to advancing the field of disability law in Quebec. I look forward to learning from and engaging with diverse perspectives of disability scholars and community members at this symposium.

Susanne Commend

Université de Montréal

Les enfants de la polio à Montréal, 1930-1960 : familles, philanthropes face à une crise sanitaire et humanitaire

Cette présentation propose une analyse de la réponse étatique et associative aux épidémies de poliomyélite au Québec entre 1931 et 1960. Centrée sur la ville de Montréal, véritable microcosme où s’entrecroisent les cultures anglophone et francophone, cette étude propose également des éléments de comparaison entre les services offerts aux enfants atteints de polio par un organisme «bilingue» et une association francophone. Quelles sont les relations des philanthropes avec les familles? Nous examinerons enfin comment les médias anglophones et francophones montréalais appréhendent les épidémies de polio et dans quelle mesure le discours social sur le handicap est teinté par la culture. Au total, la présentation vise à tenter de dégager quelle conception des enfants handicapés se reflète dans la société québécoise des années 1930 à 1960.

J’effectue un doctorat en histoire sur les enfants handicapés au Québec, de 1930 à 1980. Je souhaite élargir mes perspectives en rencontrant d’autres chercheurs et activistes montréalais et québécois et échanger sur leurs réflexions et leurs pratiques. Un symposium comme celui-ci offre une occasion vraiment unique d’échanges puisqu’au Québec il n’existe pas encore de programme universitaire en études critiques du handicap.

Melissa Graham and Kevin Jackson

Toronto Disability Pride March

From the Ground up: a conversation on building movements and meaningful legislation

The federal government has promised us a National Disabilities Act, but what does this really mean? Where I come from in Ontario, we have the AODA, but it was developed with little input from the grassroots. There was no discussion of the specific barriers faced by indigenous communities, or what women face, and there certainly was no mention of poverty or ableism. Grassroots activism is where these conversations are taking place. In Toronto, the Toronto Disability Pride March takes up these conversations, RAPLIQ in Montreal is another important example. There are organizations in place to represent disabled people at a national level, but they are not taking up the grassroots message. This is the beginning of a conversation exploring the ways we can unite in an anti-oppressive way to ensure all voices are heard in this important legislation, and why this is so important.

I’m the founder and one of the co-organizers of the Toronto Disability Pride March, an annual event that began in October 2011, recognizing that there were many missing voices in the mainstream disability movement. Our march was built to raise attention to the issues face by disabled people in a visible and meaningful way. Since the march began I’ve followed and supported disability activists and their actions, such as RAPLIQ, and have been looking for ways to unite around shared struggle without overpowering each other. 

Kristin Snoddon

School of Linguistics and Language Studies, Carleton University

Can a Human Rights Framework Support the Social Relational Model of Deaf Childhood?

This presentation problematizes the application of a human rights framework to the social relational model of Deaf childhood, which positions Deaf children within Deaf cultural discourses. The inclusion movement is based in a rights discourse that promotes the right of all children to high quality education and full participation in society as a whole, as well as in one’s own cultural communities. However, there is a gap between rhetoric and practice since early childhood special education has been a site of disablement for Deaf children and their families. The presentation will discuss points of departure for the Deaf community and examine Deaf cultural childhoods in relation to disability rights, sign language rights, and the rights of children outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. This presentation is based on a paper co-written with Kathryn Underwood.

I am a Deaf Studies scholar who also teaches and is interested in Disability Studies. I wish to expand my networks and engage in dialogue with my colleagues in Quebec. I am presently working with the Franco-Ontarian Deaf community in Ottawa to secure funding for developing a parent LSQ curriculum (thereby extending the work I have done related to ASL and possibly holding implications for the Quebec LSQ community).


Session 3: Thursday May 5 | 14:30-17:00

Thursday May 5
Session #3

Creating, crip: mad/ crip/ Deaf art practices

David Bobier

VibraFusionLab and Inclusive Media and Design Centre, Ryerson University

Inclusionary Art Practices Through Adaptive Technologies

I am Director/Curator of VibraFusionLab in London, Ontario. VibraFusionLab is an innovative London, Ontario media arts centre that provides opportunities for the creation and presentation of multi-sensory artistic practice and partners with other arts and technology-related organizations in achieving this. As an interactive creative media studio VibraFusionLab promotes and encourages the creation of new accessible art forms, including the vibrotactile, and focuses on inclusive technologies that have the potential of expanding access to art making practices for the deaf, disabled and abled arts communities and for creating more inclusive experiences for deaf, disabled and abled audiences. Emerging inclusive technologies, in particular the vibrotactile, represents considerable potential in generating artistic development and innovative research around using vibration as an artistic modality. It furthers our desire of combining alternative language, communication and emotional strategies and experiences into artistic practice. In addition, the use of this type of interactive multimedia, multisensory approach provides those with different abilities to enjoy equal participation. VibraFusionLab (VFL) operates in partnership with Dr. Deb Fels, Inclusive Media and Design, Ryerson University; Dr Maria Karam, Director of Tactile Audio Displays Inc (TAD), Toronto; Dr. Frank Russo, Director, SMART Lab (Science of Music, Auditory Research and Technology Lab), Ryerson University; and Graham Smith, Inventor and Chief Science Officer, WebChair BV, Amsterdam.

I am hard of hearing and have two deaf children. As a media artist I have explored issues around deafness and disability and have been very actively involved in making my own art production more accessible, exploring means of providing more accessibility to art making for deaf and disabled artists and to increasing opportunities for more accessible art enjoyment and experience.   

Lindsay Eales

Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta

Mad Dance: A work-in progress autoethnographic performance exploring mad politics, aesthetics and mad-accessible movement communities

This work-in-progress autoethnography will use dance/performance to explore the following questions: How might Mad politics/activism be enacted through movement? How does one perform Mad dance aesthetics? How do I develop more Mad-accessible dance/movement communities? This project is informed by mad performance scholars such as Harpin (2014), Kuppers (2004; 2005; 2010), and Wallin (2013), who chart some considerations about what might contribute to a political engagement with madness in performance. These considerations include creating art that: multiplies subjectivities; undermines the necessity to visibilize a Mad symptomatology; avoids realism and questions reality; demonstrates the hard and the beautiful aspects of madness while forefronting collective engagement. Derby (2013) argues that arts-based autoethnography can bring complexity and nuance to representations of madness. In this dance, I will explore mad politics, aesthetics, and community, including: how I have experienced and participated in sanist and oppressive movement practices; how I imagine mad aesthetics in/through dance; and how I might create anti-sanist, anti-oppressive and accessible dance/movement practices communities.

I am a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta.  I am also the co-founder and co-artistic director of CRIPSiE, the Collaborative Radically Integrated Performers Society in Edmonton.  I study, choreograph, and perform integrated dance and mad art.

My work has been made possible by the Vanier Graduate Scholarship (SSHRC).

Véro Leduc

Docteure en communication, Université de Montréal

C’est tombé dans l’oreille d’une Sourde : une BD numérique en LSQ et en français

« C’est tombé dans l’oreille d’une Sourde » est une bande dessignée* numérique bilingue en LSQ et en français composée à partir d'extraits de rencontres avec des Sourd-es et des membres de ma famille entendante réalisées dans le cadre de mon doctorat de recherche-création en communication. Tout d’abord, je présenterai brièvement ma thèse qui vise à documenter et à réfléchir à la ce que cela fait de vivre comme personne sourde, à la sourditude comme devenir, à l'entendance comme concept pour réfléchir à certains rapports de pouvoirs ainsi qu’à certains enjeux soulevés par les perspectives épistémologiques sourdiennes. Suite à la projection d’extraits de la BD, j’animerai une discussion en proposant notamment une réflexion sur le fait que le langage de la reconnaissance sociale repose largement sur des métaphores audiocentristes. Les expressions mobilisant des termes comme la voix et l’audition, (prêter une oreille attentive, faire entendre les voix, prendre parole) visent moins à mettre l’accent sur leur dimensions sonores et auditives qu’à suggérer des perspectives sur le monde qui méritent d’être considérées. Or, lorsque des demandes de reconnaissance sociale ne sont pas prises en compte, cela fait parfois place à des expressions mobilisant des préjugés négatifs généralement associés à la surdité (faire la sourde oreille, avoir un dialogue de sourds). La discussion permettra de s’interroger sur les réflexions critiques émergeant des témoignages des protagonistes de la BD. * L’expression « bande dessignée » désigne une bande dessinée en langue des signes.

Titulaire d'une maîtrise en travail social et récipiendaire d’une bourse Vanier, je suis docteure en communication. Depuis plus de 15 ans, je m’implique dans diverses communautés (queer, féministe, travailleuses du sexe, sourde). J’ai co-organisé en 2015 le premier colloque sur les études sourdes dans la francophonie dans le cadre de l’Acfas. J'ai envie de participer au symposium afin de pouvoir échanger avec d'autres personnes au sujet du thème fort prometteur de l'évènement.

Ashley McAskill

 Concordia University

The Atypique Critique avec Les Muses de Montréal: Aesthetic (Re)Values of Disabled Actors in Québec

Les Muses, located in Montréal, Québec, is one of Canada's only professional performance training programs for developmentally disabled artists. Over the course of the last 6-8 months, I have worked with Les Muses to explore the complexities of this creative training, in particular how different cognitive styles and physicalities are supported and valued in the classroom. My interest in this process is two fold: a) in what ways disability is being presented as aesthetically productive, and b) the kind of artistic legacies students from Les Muses are leaving. Using parts of my fieldwork, I will discuss in what ways Les Muses uses disability as a creatively meaningful tool in the classroom-- something of which I will deem the "atypique critique." I choose the word "atypique" to reflect the current movement in Québec that is calling forth the important artistic value of cognitively and physically unconventional artists.

As a current PhD candidate in Communication Studies and member of the Critical Disability Studies Working Group at Concordia University, I look forward to the opportunity to participate in an event that supports researchers in our field both working inside and outside of Montréal. As an Anglophone researcher that is studying Francophone performance groups working with disabled artists, this gathering will allow me to receive feedback from both communities. I also feel there will be conversations around language on disability-- both in French, English, and sign usages-- this is something of great interest to me.

Getting to the Conference

The conference will be held at Concordia's, Sir George Williams campus in downtown Montreal.

Location of Symposium

Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology.
Black Box (EV building, SS3 floor)
Meals on the 11th floor (EV 11.705)

Concordia University
1515 Ste Catherine street west.
It is on the north-east corner of Ste Catherine and Guy streets.

Location of film screening

Invitation to Dance screening at
1455 De Maissonneuve west
Concordia’s Hall building
Room H-110.
The building is located between McKay and Bishop streets.


Concordia is located near a few major bus routes:
From west of Guy street: Route # 15 along Sainte-Catherine street
From east of rue Bishop: Route # 15 along De Maisonneuve blvd
From east or west: Route # 24 along Sherbrooke Street, Bishop stop
From Cote-des-Neiges: Route #165

All city buses have ramps, however, there are often problems with how well they work. The buses with front ramps work better than those at the back. If you require a ramp to board the bus we suggest verifying if the bus has a ‘front ramp’ on the STM bus schedule (See image below). Bus schedules available here:

Bus 15 West


If you use the metro: Guy-Concordia Station.

***Please note that this station is not wheelchair-accessible. There are no elevators and no escalators from the train platform to the main-level of the station.

Transport Adapté (paratransit)

Symposium activities: Drop-off location is at 1515 Sainte-Catherine west.

Film screening: Drop-off location is at 1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest.

***If you would like someone to meet you at that stop and accompany you to the location of the conference, please let us know and we will arrange this. We will update this site with a telephone number closer to the date of the conference.

Visitors from elsewhere in Quebec

If you are already registered for a paratransit service in Quebec, you are eligible for the STM's paratransit program. If not, you can still use paratransit services if you use a wheelchair at all times.

Visitors from outside Quebec

Visitors from outside Quebec can use paratransit services if they use a wheelchair at all times. For more info, call 514-280-8211 or visit STM’s website:


Below is a list of taxis with adapted minivans. Please note that it can be difficult to access these rides because there is a shortage of accessible taxi vehicles in Montreal. Some companies may request a cost higher than the metre. In Quebec it is illegal to charge more for an accessible taxi. You have the right to pay the fee that is signified on the metre.

Taxi Hochelaga (514-322-2121)

Taxi Boisjoly, Rosemont, Villeray (514-255-1313)

Taxi Para adapté (514-254-8885)

Taxi Van Médic (514-739-9933)


Milieux - Institute for Arts Culture and Technology - Concordia University