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Our Politics

The Transgender Media Lab is committed to disability justice. As the Sins Invalid art collective writes, “No body or mind can be left behind–only moving together can we accomplish the revolution we require.”

One aspect of this commitment is creating accessible design in our website, social media practices, and virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. We continually work to improve this design by building relationships with disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, Mad, and chronically ill scholars and artists, partnering with disability organizations, and learning about and sharing documents that describe what we understand to be best practices.

Accessibility needs to be built in from the beginning and at every step that follows. It is not an afterthought or modification. We want disabled+ community members to have an engaging, fun, and satisfying experience of the Transgender Media Portal. This page reflects our beliefs that barriers are structural and that we are responsible for confronting them on each level.

At the same time, we are conscious of our limitations as a lab. We have limitations in our awareness, our relationships, and the tools we depend on. As inspired by Ottawa’s Kind Space, we want to make clear where we have identified barriers that we have not been able to eliminate. We welcome suggestions on how we can do better.

Uses and types of access technologies can vary and overlap. As a result, we’ve organized the page around the types of spaces we’re creating rather than naming specific disabilities, technologies, or barriers.

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The Portal and Social Media

This section covers accessibility on the Transgender Media Portal, all other Transgender Media Lab websites, newsletters, and social media accounts. For more specific details, see our Social Media Protocols and Image Accessibility Guidelines.

For the most part, the Transgender Media Portal is created with plain HTML and CSS, which is easy for screen readers to read.

All images will include image descriptions.

  • Image descriptions will appear in the body of the webpage and through alt-text code used by screen readers. We do this because not everyone has access to screen readers, uses the same kind of screen reader, or uses them the same ways.
  • The content of image descriptions and alt text will be the same. They’ll just appear in two different places on the page.
  • All team members working with images will be trained to write image descriptions.
  • Writing image descriptions is a creative process that involves interpretation. Writers aren’t just giving objective descriptions of what is happening, they’re adding context and creating meaning. We have created guidelines to create a sense of consistency. That said, we encourage lab members to be creative, subjective, and personal in their descriptions.

The Transgender Media Portal’s search function has some features to make the site and its content more accessible. These include:

  • If there are topics you know you don’t want to see represented in media works, you can hide those media works with the “content to exclude” filter. That said, our team doesn't watch all the films in the Portal. This means we can't guarantee the trigger notes are complete for any given film.
  • Users can use filters to find content with subtitles, closed captions, and/or audio descriptions. They can filter based on their preferred language. That said, many independently-made films don’t include closed captions or audio descriptions. Also, the lab is currently focused on English-language media works from Canada and the United States. There might not be films available in every language. Most of the films in the Portal will be made in English.
  • Users can filter their searches in the Portal to exclude content that is not available online.

The films in the database vary in their availability. Some are completely unavailable and others are free to stream. We also carve out space for online content creators who use free platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and TikTok.

We aim to make all graphics created by our lab as visually accessible as possible. We will use colour contrast and colour blindness checking tools before sharing graphics. Some of our priorities include:

  • High contrast between background and text
  • Large text in easy-to-read fonts

We try to avoid unnecessary jargon in our web pages, policies, and protocols. When academic or industry-specific terms must be used, we will explain what they mean.

We are available to respond to questions, feedback, and suggestions across various media, including text and audio messages. For more information about how to reach us, see our Contact Us page.

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Events and Public Engagements

This section addresses virtual, hybrid, and in-person events.

We prioritize events that are publicly available and free to attend. Occasionally, we speak at academic conferences and classes. These engagements have financial and institutional barriers that cannot be fully avoided. When possible, we will try to also make this information available through public events, policies, and writings on the website.

When we use slideshows or other visual aids at events, we will share the slides with organizers and/or viewers beforehand or allow audience members to access the slides on their own machines using a QR code. We will give descriptions of major information conveyed visually.

At events, speakers from the Transgender Media Lab will give brief descriptions of our appearances.

We do not have a physical space where we consistently hold events. As a result, we’re unable to fully control lighting, scents, and other sensory barriers. That being said, we will take steps to mitigate these barriers whenever possible. We will make relevant information available in event announcements.

When we host our own events, we will:

  • Prioritize spaces that are accessible by public transit, that are physically accessible, and that have all-gender washrooms for in-person gatherings;
  • Include live transcription (CART) and/or ASL interpretation (when possible);
  • When possible, we will hire BIPOC ASL interpreters and promote the use of relevant dialects and varieties of ASL. For example, we will look for interpreters who know Black American Sign Language at Black-led and -centred events;
  • When possible, we will hire queer and trans ASL interpreters and/or interpreters familiar with queer and trans communities;
  • At film screenings, we will turn on use subtitles/captions and make transcripts available.

Before promoting, sponsoring, or partnering on an event led by another organization, we will ask organizers about their event’s accessibility. Because accessibility isn’t a box to check andvaries by context and organizer, we will evaluate their responses on a case-by-case basis. We aim to hold larger organizations and companies accountable to excellent accessibility measure while being sensitive to the limited resources of small, grassroots organizers.

Questions we ask may include:

  • Do you have accessible all-gender bathrooms? If not, can you temporarily change your signs to make a bathroom all-gender for the event?
  • Is your building accessible to people with mobility aids like wheelchairs and canes?
  • Do you have accessible seating?
  • Is your space accessible to people with service animals?
  • Do you have accessible parking?
  • Is your venue accessible by public transit?
  • If it’s a paid event, do you have sliding scale or reduced cost tickets?
  • Do you have ASL interpretation, captioning, or live transcription available for this event?
  • Are you able to respond to requests for accommodation?
  • Are there any additional barriers to accessibility that we should consider and/or make clear when sharing the event?

When working with small-budget community organizations, we will do what we can to support their accessibility efforts. This could look like connecting them to relevant organizations, spaces, and organizers.

We will check posters and other promotional materials for colour contrast and color blindness accessibility.

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