The Access Series

An illustration of two dark-skinned people, one in a wheelchair, pushing against a wall, and two others in a garden background

Illustration by Ananya Rao-Middleton

In 2018, we realized there was a void in coverage specifically focused on the impact of chronic illnesses on people from marginalized communities. That led to the creation of In Sickness, a digital series written and illustrated by people with various invisible illnesses. At the time, we promised that we’d continue to publish stories about disability and continue to build a relationship with the disability community—and we’ve done that. Now, we’re taking that commitment to the next level by partnering with the Disability Visibility Project and Alice Wong for this digital series all about access, an issue that disabled and chronically ill people are navigating every day.

Though the pandemic has forced U.S. society to grapple with gaping inequalities and everyday “inconveniences,” access is still treated as if it’s a privilege, a burden, or a form of special treatment. This digital series explores access through a disabled lens by asking: What does an accessible future look like? How can we build that world right now and trust people with lived experience to guide the process? How does systemic ableism perpetuate inequality and inaccessibility?

We’re not giving answers. We’re inviting our readers to reflect, learn more, and take action, and our beloved contributors are here to usher in that experience. We have Vilissa Thompson and Keah Brown in conversation about disabled Black girl magic. Anna Hamilton and s.e. smith examine the nuances of anti-ableism and language in online spaces, Diana Cejas shares her story about increasing access during the pandemic as a Black doctor, Julia Métraux investigates the future of remote work, Jaipreet Virdi and Liz Jackson imagine the potential of accessible design, choreographer and dancer India Harville demonstrates the beauty of access-centered movement and dance, community organizer Teighlor McGee recounts their work providing mutual aid and access in Minneapolis after the summer 2020 uprisings, and podcaster Thomas Reid delves into the importance of culturally accurate audio descriptions in entertainment.

This exploration of access is just the beginning. Access isn’t a scarce commodity or something to beg from people in power. It is an ethos, a whole mood, a vibe. In a 2018 keynote address for the Disability & Intersectionality Summit, Mia Mingus said,

“I don’t just want technical and logistical access. I don’t just want inclusion, I want liberatory access and access intimacy. I want us to not only be able to be part of spaces, but for us to be able to fully engage in spaces. I don’t just want us to get a seat at someone else’s table, I want us to be able to build something more magnificent than a table, together with our accomplices. I want us to be able to be understood and to be able to take part in principled struggle together—to be able to be human together. Not just placated or politely listened to.”

Any movement working toward liberation and justice must be accessible—and that’s the conversation we hope this series continues.

Download the pdf for the Access Series.

Explore this Series

Go to Part 1: Minneapolis Uses Mutual Aid to Fight for Collective Liberation

Part 1Minneapolis Uses Mutual Aid to Fight for Collective Liberation

Go to Part 2: Let Freedom Reign

Part 2Let Freedom Reign: A Roundtable About Disabled Black Girl Magic

Go to Part 3: Move Your Body

Part 3Move Your Body: Access-Centered Movement Is Changing Dance from the Inside Out

Go to Part 4: Beyond Functional

Part 4Beyond Functional: Unraveling the Long Line of Disability Fashion

Go to Part 5: Shot Chaser

Part 5Shot Chaser: What Does It Take to Achieve Vaccine Equity?

Go to Part 6: The Complex Future of Post-Pandemic Work

Part 6The Complex Future of Post-Pandemic Work

Go to Part 7: In Living Color

Part 7In Living Color: Audio Description Looks Past People of Color

Go to Part 8: Language Wars

Part 8Language Wars: Callouts Obscure Vital Truths About Disabilities