The workshop facilitated by Thomas Diafas, in collaboration with the University of Leeds and Liminal, conducted in Athens in December 2023, provided insights into the realm of digital exclusion, with a focus on individuals with disabilities. This initiative engaged participants in addressing essential issues related to accessibility, representation, and inclusion within the digital environment and mass media. This IN+ART workshop was informed by our IN+Principle which focuses on a holistic approach to digital equity.

1: “Let’s talk about comprehensive approaches to accessibility and representation”

The workshop emphasised the importance of prioritising digital accessibility, underlining the need for strategies that ensure all users – irrespective of their disabilities, have equitable access to digital content.

Issues regarding the misrepresentation of individuals with disabilities raised by participants underscore the need for media content that accurately reflects the diversity and experiences of all community members. A holistic approach to digital equity seeks to promote media practices that contribute to a more inclusive digital culture.

2: “Our [digital] needs are dynamic and highly individualistic” – a standardised approach to digital equity won’t address them.

The workshop highlighted the evolving needs of individuals with disabilities, pointing to the necessity for digital strategies to be adaptable and responsive. This recognition is crucial in ensuring that digital inclusion efforts remain relevant and effective.

The discussions revealed shortcomings in current organisational strategies for inclusion, particularly the lack of engagement with individuals directly affected by disabilities. Adopting a holistic approach requires the involvement of diverse groups in the creation and implementation of digital inclusion strategies, ensuring solutions are truly reflective of the community’s needs.

TRUTHS – an IN+ART project by Tomas Diafas and Liminal

written by Thomas Diafas and the Liminal Team

Identity [the concept]

In the multimedia, universally accessible show Truths, the art of live performance, documentary theatre and the art of cinema (live filming) meet to explore the conflict between dipoles.

Conflicts in dipoles, such as human body – technology, disabled – non-disabled body, identity – otherness, exclusion – inclusion, invite viewers to reflect on Manichean dualisms. Through an original performance form with a multi-sensory language, viewers watch a TV panel consisting of the presenter and the guests. At the same time, there is a live connection with interventions from invited cyborgs, robots and people, experts and non-experts on the subject.

The mixed, inter-artistic group utilises tools and forms of different arts (live performance, documentary theatre and cinema), and integrates sensory accessibility methodologies into the dramaturgy and aesthetics of the work (Audio Description for blind and visually impaired people, Interpretation in Greek Sign Language) Language and Surtitling for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people) and draws data from multiple research fields (feminist studies, disability studies, anthropology, etc.).

Our goal is for viewers to enjoy a multimedia, universally accessible show, which raises questions about the concepts of human – transhuman – cyborg, but also about critical concepts such as accessibility, inclusion and exclusion, while at the same time, it is an intersection of the Greek reality in matters of representation, representation and adoption of identities in mass media and art.

Participatory Video and the cinematic Dogme 95 (“Dogme 95 Manifesto”) by Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg

  1. The filming takes place in the space as it is. We do not add extra items.
  2. The sound is recorded as it is at that moment.
  3. Camera in hand.
  4. Color image.
  5. Extra lighting and filters are prohibited.
  6. We don’t pretend seasons. We film in the here and now.
  7. The film does not contain any superficial action scenes (murders, weapons, etc.)
  8. The director’s name is not mentioned.

Participatory Filmmaking [the process]

During the workshop, issues such as accessibility, visibility and the approach of people with disabilities in the digital world, in the Mass Media and by extension in the arts were highlighted. Participants with disabilities raised the issue of distorting the image and representation of disabled people in the media, generalising individual situations and presenting them as the norm, clinging to past patterns as individual needs evolve, and projecting a homogenous identity of people with disabilities and the non-inclusion of the needs and perspectives of those directly concerned, which leads to problematic and incomplete planning of organizations when devising inclusion strategies. The group focused on a specific example, which is the subject of the film created as part of the workshop: the absence of people with disabilities’ sexuality in the public sphere.

In the short film made by the team, the audience watches the filming process of a TV show about the passage of the same-sex marriage bill. In the shot, we spot both the presenter and the guests, and through a mirror, the cinematographer as well as the backstage.

The film begins as an inaccessible broadcast and evolves to initially include a rudimentary audio description for blind viewers and then interpretation in Greek sign language for Deaf viewers. Also, the studio is accessible for the director, who uses a wheelchair.

Ya sou kalinotses” [the film] with English subtitles

Credits: Maria Kapogianni, Marilena Koukouli, Mariliana Lygeri, Andreas Plemmenos, Maria Tountasaki, Giannis Vitsos

“Ya sou kalinotses”, [the film] with Greek subtitles.

Credits: Maria Kapogianni, Marilena Koukouli, Mariliana Lygeri, Andreas Plemmenos, Maria Tountasaki, Giannis Vitsos

It was great to experience this workshop with such a diverse group of participants. Having the opportunity to co-create in a safe environment, with all voices being heard and valued is not common. I enjoyed the unique simplicity and universality of the methodology that Mr. Diafas employed for our session.