What Access–Centered Means

Access–Centered Movement (ACM) cofounder, JDS, created the Access-Centered Framework, which combines trauma-informed language , a Disability Justice framework (a movement founded and led by queer, disabled People of Color), and her lived experience as a person with disabilities. The term, “Access-Centered,” was given to her by a Disability Justice activist to title her movement classes and means that accessibility is a verb versus a state of being.   Because access is a constant process that changes in each space and with each individual; describing something generally as “accessible” seems inherently flawed as meeting every single person’s access needs is a goal that is rarely (if ever) achieved. The term is also being used because, in the Bay Area, CA it has become popular for abled teachers to claim that a movement class is for “all bodies” or “accessible” without doing the work necessary to be available for people with disabilities. As we produce more Access-Centered teachers, people with disabilities will know that these classes are not empty promises–that most of the teachers are and will be multiply-marginalized people with disabilities offering trauma-informed movement that centers access at all times.

Access-Centered is radical, holistic (we taking to account the well-being of our bodies and minds as a whole, understanding that each person’s experience is relative and that we cannot define things such as speed, strength, skill, advancement, or effort objectively without being oppressive), intersectional (meaning that we do not just think about access in relationship to disability. We think about access in relationship to all aspects of identity: race, gender, sexuality, immigration status, language, class, and rural environments to name a few), and based in Disability Justice. It prioritizes access for all bodyminds (bodies and minds, we use this phrase as our bodies and minds are connected), offers cultural humility when needs are not met, and provides concrete steps to take to repair harm if it is caused. In ACM, we center accessibility through physical space, variations offered, finding shared access needs, language, and intersectionality and attempt to value all bodyminds and difference of movement equally.

There are two methods in the Access-Centered framework: offering multiple variations for the different needs in the room and finding the access needs shared by everyone in the space. Both of these methods ensure that everyone in the space can participate and can be applied to almost any teaching (we focus on body movement such as dance, yoga, personal training, etc. AND this framework can be applied to any teaching such as art, hard sciences, etc.). With multiple options in the framework, each teacher has the agency to choose which tract will work better for their and their students’ needs.

Most mainstream organizations that offer “accessible movement” or integrated options (meaning having disabled people and abled people in one space) do not prioritize accessible training. What this means is that people with disabilities are permanently students, clients, and patients and rarely have the resources or ability to become teachers. Many organizations feel that this is inevitable, that there is no way to close the gap between the fast-paced needs of making money for training and meeting many different access needs. Access-Centered Movement is dedicated to offering Access-Centered Teacher Training and is currently in the process of creating this reality. We are dedicated to creating teachers with disabilities! Access-Centered Movement and our Framework is trademarked and we will be launching our six-month certification program by 2020, prioritizing access for multiply marginalized people with disabilities.