Photo: Devin Jones

Rye speaker series discusses creating accessible communities

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By Sidney Drmay

On March 7 activist Maayan Ziv spoke as part of the Studio for Activism and Critical Thought Winter speaker’s series. Ziv is a Ryerson alumna with a Bachelor’s degree in radio and television arts and a master’s degree in digital media. Her talk focused on the role that media plays in creating accessible communities, by sharing thoughts on how such a cultural shift can happen.

Ziv is the creator of a website and now app called Access Now that maps accessible spaces, using crowdsourced information to keep up-to-date on what businesses are barrier-free. Through this Ziv and community members will tag businesses and let them know their accessibility rating.  “It is not enough for one person to say [something is inaccessible], we need a lot,” Ziv said.

Moderator Dr. Eliza Chandler, who teaches at Ryerson’s school of disability, contributed to the conversation with lived experience and academic knowledge. She noted that the next step in disability activism is “shifting the idea of the problem of disability from the individual to the space.”

Ziv was also the producer of the one hour CBC special Shifting Space where she interviewed people with a spectrum of disabilities to talk about accessibility. “We brought together a lot of different people who could bring different perspectives,” Ziv said. In the special Ziv goes out with the subjects and experiences the spaces with them, allowing for a live experience of what it means to navigate a space with a disability.

“We didn’t just want to show that it [mobility] can be difficult, we wanted to show the joy of experiencing access when you expect not to have it,” Ziv said.

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