Documenting everyday experiences can be an effective way of examinaing a social issue. We focused on travel as an enjoyable personal activity, which allowed us to highlight the need for wheelchair accesibility while avoiding tropes of "inspiration" that often come with representations of disability in mainstream media.
- We Care Film Fest, official selection, 2017
- Travel FilmFest, Best Travel Web Series nomination, 2017
Implications for Future Work:
- Accessibility does not have to be treated as a niche interest.
- Seeing a space from the perspective of a wheelchair user can help shed light on accessibility features for those who do not use wheelchairs.
- It's not a wheelchair that limits people, but the world built up around them; it's possible to document this in live-action video.
- It's possible to make a non-traditional travel series that focuses on the voices of local residents.
This project grew out of a conversation with Kunho Kim, cofounder of [Muui]. His group's goal is to "make disability sexier" by creating projects that address wheelchair users' needs while creating a more well-rounded depiction disability than is typically seen in mass media. A major goal of this work was to create a method of incorporating accessibility info into a general interest series. Our background research revealed a lack of models to follow, so we set out to discover what this could like ourselves.
We decided to make a travel series showing a wheelchair user hanging out in an exciting city with his friends. We avoided unnecessarily exoticizing the city by giving the microphone to local residents. We avoid "otherizing" disability by highlighting first-person footage from a wheelchair user's point of view.
We scheduled days of travel with Kunho's friends in the city where he spent his teen years: Saigon, Vietnam. Everywhere we went, Kunho wore a GoPro and documented wheelchair accessibility while I recorded observational footage on a DSLR. We then recorded interviews with Kunho's local friends, and we edited the audio down to web-friendy snippets. From there, I edited the videos and trained remote interns to make Korean, English, + Vietnamese subtitle files.