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Disability Arts Online

Colin Hambrook with an update on DAOs programme to cover Unlimited / 18 September 2012

Crippen's O'Crypes title frame cartoon introducing all the characters in the cartoon blog

Crippen's O'Crypes title frame cartoon introducing all the characters in the cartoon blog

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It's been an eventful year for DAO so far, gathering responses to the Unlimited commissions by disabled and deaf artists that have been wending their way across the country, culminating in the Festival at the Southbank Centre which ended just over a week ago.

Since then I've been at a Disability Studies conference in Lancaster University in which the ideas that originally spawned the Disability Arts movement are still celebrated - even though those ideas have perhaps become fragmented in the movements struggle to validate the agenda for inclusion and inclusive practice.

I wonder if we are at a cross roads where Disability Arts has had possibly the biggest profile ever - in terms of Unlimited - but is equally in danger of sinking? What will the legacy of Unlimited be? We hope to investigate this further in the coming weeks with comment and interviews with some of the key artists and movers' n' shakers.

One of the themes of discussions at the Southbank Centre ranged around the question of whether or not to identify as a disabled artist and whether companies should market their work as Disability Arts? Clearly the divergent views on the limitations of identification, versus supporting the cultural values of interrogation and subversiveness implicit within Disability Arts are arguments which will carry on. Personally I think what is exciting is the challenge of using a disability lens through which to analyse arts practice deeper.

For DAO over the coming months there are still several more Diverse Perspectives commissions to catch up on. We've published three of the eight commissions so far with Crippen and John O'Donoghue's collaboration on producing the O'Crypes cartoon and text. Aaron Williamson's The Eavesdropper - delving into the stories behind the stories of the paintings in The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, is under way. Coming up are further commissions from Liz Crow, Dolly Sen, Gini, Ivan Riches and Aidan Moesby. 

DAO is also going through a redesign. This move has been inspired by several things. Firstly that since the current format was launched in 2006 we've realised that people have never quite got their heads around the left-hand navigation. Although when we user-tested our design disabled people felt there were advantages access-wise, the feedback we've had subsequently is that because left-hand menu for navigation isn't standard, generally internet-users find it confusing.

We are also going to redesign the navigation around artform rather than content-type, which seems to have been a sticking point with DAO readers because framing everything around the feature categories of review, discussion etc. makes it harder to find old copy. Because DAO is dedicated to citizen journalism there are also often difficulties in that sometimes the copy we publish could fit into several of the categories.

Meanwhile, in the run up to a redesign of DAO, which will happen later this year, we have introduced a mobile phone app which you can now download by going to www.disabilityartsonline.org/events-mobile

That's all for now. I look forward to updating you, dear reader…

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