About the Project

The purpose of the Transformative Access Project is to re-imagine “access” as a collective process that centers race, ethnicity, disability, class, gender, and sexuality.

Instead of imagining access as a goal to achieve, we imagine it as a constantly unfolding collaborative endeavor.

Painting by Leo Lionni of fish working together

An image from Leo Lionni’s book _Swimmy_. In this image, a group of small red fish are coming together to form the shape of one large fish. One small black fish, Swimmy, directs the formation from the middle. SWIMMY copyright © 1963 by Leo Lionni, © renewed 1991 by Leo Lionni. Image used by permission of Annie Lionni.

Drawing upon community-based and interdisciplinary points of view, the Transformative Access Project explores innovative methods of gathering, researching, and making. Our team—including project leaders, students, and community partners—deliberately centers the knowledge and leadership of those most impacted by systemic inequities.

In higher education and many other domains, access is often treated as a singular problem in need of a one-time “fix.” But access must be approached as a question of equity, not “fixing.” In the words of Mia Mingus:

I don’t want us to just make things “accessible,” I want us to build a political container that access can take place in and be grounded in. Access for the sake of access is not necessarily liberatory, but access for the sake of connection, justice, community, love and liberation is. We can use access as a tool to transform the broader conditions we live in, to transform the conditions that created that inaccessibility in the first place.

Applying such critical insights requires listening and responding to minoritized people and organizations when they (we) say what “access” and “equity” mean to them (us), and to use those moments as opportunities to imagine the more that is possible in our own organizations, classrooms, and systems of relation.

The Transformative Access Project is funded by the Global Arts and Humanities Discovery Theme.