by Sage Lovell and Carrie Hartwick

As part of a new TWC initiative for people with disabilities, Deaf Spectrum and the Toronto Writers Collective partnered up for a pilot accessible writing series for the Deaf Community.

Two sessions offered American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation services and all four of the sessions included closed captioning. During this interactive workshop, writing prompts were given through a phrase or an image as an inspiration.

As Carrie, who cofacilitated the workshops, shared, “I first joined TWC during a facilitator training workshop and then joined as a writer as well. I love the format of TWC workshops with poems, quotes and prompts. The challenge of reading what I wrote was scary, but the feedback is always positive.

Reading what I wrote became easier and healing actually occurred with some of my writings. Hearing other’s stories and feedback was hard as I have hearing loss and read lips. My hope is that the pilot project enables more participants to join. It is not as stressful now that I can use the captions!”

Sage Lovell added, “As a Deaf person experiencing systematic barriers, it is rare to find an
opportunity for a workshop that offers ASL interpretation and closed captioning. I was fortunate to engage in this space where we were able to witness each other’s writing. In these sessions, you are not expected to write a certain way. You could write a song, rant, mantra, poem, memoir, or a story – whatever style that suits you.  It was really wonderful to share space with other Deaf writers who can relate to lived experiences of being Deaf.
The beauty of writing – is that it is not limited to spoken language or text language – you can “write” pieces through sign language or through art. Here’s a piece in English that I wrote during one of the writing workshops:”

Memories
By Sage Lovell
Memories stay
Memories fade
Memories
Tells us about
Once upon a time
Memories
Memories linger
Memories float
Memories
Tells us stories
That we only
Remember
Memories
Memories

Memories
Are reminders
Of the lessons
That we learned
Memories
Memories

A special thank you to Toronto Writers Collective for sponsoring the writing workshop series to cover ASL interpretation and closed captioning.

We hope to continue working with Deaf Spectrum and other organizations to develop funding opportunities to establish and expand upon this initiative.