New literary magazine provides digital access for those with a disability

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Monday, 8 August 2016 14:49pm

The Deaf Poets Society is a digital journal for writers with disabilities that was launched in August 2016. It was created to offer people of all abilities an accessible way to access writers with a variety of disabilities, from the USA and around the world.

Photo of poet Sarah Katz taken by Valerie Wallace

The Deaf Poets Society is a new digital literary magazine with a message for writers with disabilities – we see you, we want you to be here, and this is your space. The magazine’s founder, writer Sarah Katz, grew up in Maryland USA and attended a school with a program for students who were deaf or hard of hearing.

“I had grown up around other deaf and hard of hearing people and took for granted that I had easy access to other people like me,” she said. That wasn’t the case at the University of Maryland, College Park, where Ms Katz said she was the “only deaf student I knew.”

She decided to start up an online literature and art magazine, naming it in a nod to the 1989 movie ‘Dead Poets Society.’ The manifesto for the new society, calls disability justice “the civil rights movement you’ve never heard of” and is dedicated to making daily life more accessible, both physically and in the digital space.

When it comes to literature, people with disabilities are rarely represented. “Writers and artists with any kind of disability can contribute to the magazine, which will release new issues on a bimonthly basis,” said Katz.

And when creating the first issue, the editors of the Deaf Poets Society considered how to make the magazine accessible for all people, including people who are deaf, blind, or with other disabilities. The result is that most pieces are presented in both text and audio, and pictures are accompanied by descriptions for people who cannot see the images.

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