About Wingspan

The Wingspan Collaborative is a VPRI Research Excellence Cluster and an intellectual ‘studio’ of interdisciplinary scholars in disability studies, arts, culture and public pedagogy across many disciplines at UBC who collaborate on common projects regarding the rights of people with disabilities and who proactively promote the idea that while individual disabilities pose impairments, they should not be seen as deficits but instead as differences that enrich collective human experience and the arts. We identify variously as disabled, non-disabled or as artists who focus on disability aesthetics and linger in the liminal spaces between and among artist/researcher/teacher in the broadest sense of these terms, hence, we are Dis/A/R/Tographers in an unequal global world.

Research Priorities and Themes

The Honorable Carla Qualtrough, recent former Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, and Paralympic medalist swimmer with a visual impairment, put the urgency of eliminating barriers for youth and all Canadians with disabilities on the national and global stage in 2016. She announced the first Canadian federal call for all disabled people to answer the question, “What does accessibility and full inclusion mean to you?”

Two key principles underlie our research program:

  • First, disability communities, and youth with disabilities should be in charge of identifying from their lived experiences what new barriers they face;
  • Second, they should be active participants in the solutions to them.

Our research cluster animates these transformative principles in an overall research program through disability arts, culture and public pedagogy as provocateurs of conscience and imagination to create educational and policy change. Together, we create heart- and head-inspired catalytic artistic performances to mobilize citizen and youth action for pedagogical, curricular, policy, legislative and social change.

Our Wingspan grand opening, Studio Live Series and research cluster asks all to imagine a world in which disabled people are leading active equitable lives with voices which are heard and respected– whose access to the 1) creative artistic practice is unfettered; 2) whose cultural contributions enter the mainstream to challenge and transform misguided stereotypes, pedagogies, curricula, policies and legislation, as well as who has access to the 3) built environment; 4) education; 5) wage work, and, 6) health care.