Guest Blog Post by Winston Denerley
Over the past few months Winston has been working with the Stove team, and particularly the Creative Spaces and Soap Box projects to help us explore how to make our programming more accessible for the D/deaf community. We’ve learned a lot and really enjoyed having Winston as part of the team, and are looking forward to the conversations going forward!
“It was a really interesting start to my time with the Stove Network. I was proposing a project consisting of a Deaf Hub/Festival within the Kirkcudbright Arts and Crafts Festival. Due to complications with COVID-19, this had to be delayed and put on the back burner. While speaking with Katharine Wheeler about this project idea, she mentioned the Stove’s need to be more accessible, aware and inclusive of people with disabilities. Because of my lived-in experience of the deaf community, current studies of British Sign Language and passion for inclusivity, we felt as though I would be able to fulfil the organisation’s need to be more inclusive.
Over my short time working (remotely) for the Stove Network, I have really enjoyed being the voice for people that need it and invoking necessary change. To do this I have created British Sign Language interpretations of the website, contributed to meetings, been involved in a successful panel on Inclusive Communication and held an ‘Accessibility in the Arts’ conversation on the 28th of May. Both the panel and the conversation had a diverse mix of organisation representatives and disabled people allowing for important discussions to be had about access in the arts industry. In the panel discussion, I was a part of the team answering questions about my own experiences, however with the conversation I was a host asking questions and prompting responses from the speakers. I really enjoyed playing both roles as speaker as well as host and look forward to hosting/being involved in future conversations and discussions about important issues!
It has been really interesting to see a somewhat closed off industry learning to be more inclusive and accepting of different types of people. Through this, I have begun to wonder the significant changes that could be made to the world if all businesses, organisations, and corporations understood their lack of awareness and inclusivity and took large strides to change this. By doing this, some groups may no longer feel as though it is society that disables them because they are given the vital support they need.
My mind is brimming with new ideas and projects, so I am excited to see what the future holds working with an exciting and constantly developing organisation that has all the right intentions. Conversations discussing important issues, content aimed at different audiences with different needs, project development support and so much more – the future looks bright!”