‘The sign for women’, Talk Real Fine, Just Like a Lady, Amanda Coogan in collaboration with Dublin Theatre of the Deaf (Peacock Theatre, 2017). Photo: Ros Kavanagh.
“All I want is equality
For my sister, my brother, my people, and me
Yes, you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady”
This quote is from Nina Simone’s ‘Mississippi Goddam’, which inspired the title for Amanda Coogan’s and Dublin Theatre of the Deaf’s appropriation of Deevy’s The King of Spain’s Daughter. Released in 1964, during the American Civil Rights movement, ‘Mississippi Goddam’ protests against racial discrimination, segregation and violence and calls for urgent racial and gender equality. You can listen to Nina Simone’s performance of ‘Mississippi Goddam’ via the link below.
Rationale for creating an accessible conference
As teachers and researchers, we are committed to the principles of access, equality, diversity, and inclusion. Acknowledging the move to an online space as one of opportunity, we wanted to pursue an inclusive conference design accessible to all interested delegates. We were inspired to pursue this avenue as a result of our experience at Talk Real Fine, Just Like A Lady, which was staged in the Peacock Theatre as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival (produced by Live Collision) during Irish Sign Language (ISL) Awareness Week in 2017. The production coincided with a campaign by the Irish Deaf community that called for the recognition of ISL as an official language of the State. The Recognition of Irish Sign Language (ISL) for the Deaf Community Bill was signed into law in December 2017.
This conference takes place online and this format offered the organisers an opportunity to rethink the conference structure in collaboration with Hugh Murphy, Head of Special Collections at Maynooth University. In rethinking the traditional conference design, Kate & Úna were inspired by the way the International Federation for Theatre Research Feminist Research Working Group organised a series of seminars in July and August 2020, a format which invited members to consider asynchronous material in advance of a synchronous address followed by discussion.
Our experience of teaching and learning in the online space also suggested that the blend of asynchronous and synchronous material would recognise: the different kinds of responsibilities people have, particularly if they are working from home; that people experience and navigate the online space in diverse ways; and, the need for time and space to process information so that people can respond in a meaningful way. The decisions undertaken by the conference team are also informed by their pedagogical knowledge and commitment to Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles (you can read more about these principles here). To offer multiple means of representation and engagement, we have included different kinds of material on this site, from recorded papers to theatre productions to photographs. We hope that the conference design will provide a greater number of delegates with the opportunity to participate in their own time and at their own pace.
With this ethos in mind, we have endeavoured to make the conference as accessible as possible, engaging with members of the Deaf community and Irish Sign Language (ISL) translators to support and advise us on this journey. Additionally, we have ensured that the panels and presentations are available with captions or with ISL translation. We are especially grateful to all of the presenters and panellists who have assisted us in this endeavour, as well as our colleagues at the Centre for Technology-Enhanced Learning (CTEL) at WIT, and technical support at other universities, and Isabella Walsh, Michael Feeney and Vanessa O’Connell for interpreting material.
The conference team is also committed to sharing resources that promote culture and creativity, and the accessibility of these resources for students, teachers, researchers, practitioners and the public in the future formed an important part of our planning. We are grateful to the National Library of Ireland which will archive the website, recorded conference papers, practitioner panels, and keynote presentations and to the Special Collections and Archives team at Maynooth University Library which is responsible for conserving Teresa Deevy’s archive.