Commitment to Accessibility as a Process
At Critical Distance, we prioritize accessibility in the gallery: at all levels of our exhibitions, events, and ongoing programs. We understand accessibility as an adaptive and conversational process. Beginning with basic access measures (audio/image description, captioning, ASL) as a starting point, we work with our artists, staff, and communities to build these measures as meaningful entry points into each artwork, exhibition, and program. We work creatively with artists and access workers and we often work experimentally because our goal is not just to make the best possible experience for this particular exhibition or event but to build our knowledge and the knowledge of our communities. That being said we work hard to make sure that our experiments do not get in the way of real
We commit to being explicit about the access measures that we have in place and when we are unable to meet them. We are not perfect: sometimes we fall short of our intentions but we will make every effort to be transparent when we do. We are always open to discussing how we have approached and developed our access strategies. We are also committed to hiring paid consultants from disability communities that support the improvement of these measures—for us and our publics—and to create an opportunity for collective learning and improvement.
You can read more about our ongoing access measures below. We also understand that your access needs may not be accommodated by our ongoing measures—we are committed to working with you to support your specific access needs. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Our physical location
Critical Distance is located at Artscape Youngplace, a wheelchair accessible building with a ramp at the 180 Shaw Street doors, and an accessible washroom on every level. Gendered multi-stall washrooms are also on every level, and single stall family washrooms are available on levels 2 and 3. All levels are accessible via elevator and stairs. The TTC’s 63 Ossington bus stops at Queen and Shaw and is wheelchair accessible.
Audio Description for Exhibitions
We are committed to providing audio description tracks on all video and moving-image work displayed during our major exhibitions. (Please note: we cannot offer the same commitment for shorter-term exhibiting partnerships in the gallery.) We recognize that audio description should never be understood as universal or neutral access to an artwork, so where possible, we endeavour to offer multiple descriptions (varying from the more standardized to the more poetic or experimental) to encourage a range of experiences. We also offer captions on all video and moving-image work displayed during our major exhibitions. If you would like to access an audio-described track or captioned video during your gallery visit, please ask a staff member.
During our major exhibitions, we also provide an audio-described tour of the full exhibition available on-demand through headphones.
Our events and workshops
We make every effort to have ASL interpretation available at all public, in-person events. For events that require advance registration, we do request that you identify your access needs when you register, so that we can have the correct access workers available. This information is kept strictly private. Often access workers are in high demand, so we want to ensure that they are where they are needed most.
Please contact us as far in advance as possible so that we can make arrangements to meet your needs. Late-breaking requests will also be accepted—we will always do our best to meet them—but these will be subject to availability at the time of the request.
Our digital programs
As we increasingly participate in events online, Critical Distance recognizes that engaging in the digital sphere requires specific access measures as well. When we host live events online—through platforms such as Zoom—we work to have ASL interpretation and live captioning available. Where possible we hire live captioners—instead of relying on AI-based captioning services—to ensure that clarity is prioritized for our audiences.
We also recognize that making our website and social media accessible is an ongoing commitment. All new image content published on our website and social media includes embedded alt-text for screen readers, and we are working to include alt-text on our backlog of website pages as well.
Scent free environment
CDCC seeks to facilitate a scent-free environment in order to reduce barriers to access for people with chemical sensitivities, and we ask all visitors to kindly refrain from using or wearing scented products or materials in advance of and during visits to the gallery and participation in in-person events.
More on going scent free and the benefits to others.
The following is based on a text by mia susan amir, https://www.miasusanamir.com.
We are making every effort to make this CDCC gallery and CDCC events an accessible space for participants and presenters. One of the ways in which we are centering access is by providing a Scent Reduced environment to ensure that those who live with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), do not face injury or harm. We ask for your participation and vigilance in supporting this.
What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is a serious medical condition that is triggered by exposure to chemically and naturally scented products. Exposure to natural and chemical scents and fragrances can cause the following symptoms in individuals with MCS: headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, congestion, itching, sneezing, sore throat, chest pain, changes in heart rhythm, breathing problems including asthma-like conditions, muscle pain or stiffness, skin rashes, diarrhea, bloating, seizures, migraines, nosebleeds, vomiting, confusion, trouble concentrating, memory problems, and mood changes. These symptoms can last for hours, days, even weeks after exposure.
People with other chronic health conditions such as asthma, migraine, epilepsy and autoimmune disorders or who are undergoing chemotherapy can also be negatively impacted by exposure to chemicals and fragrances.
Please help us to create a scent- and fragrance-reduced space to ensure that those who live with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) are not exposed to pain and injury by taking the following steps:
1) Please do not use colognes, perfumes, essential oils, scented body or hair care products including: deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hair gel or mousse, creams, or lotions.
2) If you have used such products in the days or weeks before this event, please be sure to bathe with unscented products before attending. Please note that residue may remain on hairbrushes and other implements, so these should also be cleaned with unscented product before use.
3) If you regularly use scented laundry products (detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets), perfumes, colognes, essential oils, you will need to wash your clothes in unscented detergent with vinegar and baking soda a number of times. Please also air your clothes out as sometimes even multiple washes may not remove all of the scent; manufacturers have made some scents that are designed to cling to fabrics and those can be hard to remove. If you need a sample unscented detergent we have some in the gallery. If you bring a container we are happy to give you some.
4) Please note that products labelled “natural” are NOT necessarily scent-, fragrance-, or chemical-free. Only products that are labelled unscented or scent- / fragrance-free, are scent- and fragrance-free. If “fragrance,” “parfum,” or “essential oil” is in the ingredients list, the product is scented and unsafe for those with MCS or chemical injury.
5) Please understand that using even a small amount of scented product, or product with fragrance will generate injurious impact for individuals with MCS.
We recognize that transitioning to scent- and fragrance-free practices can take time, and that the transition can be confusing and prohibitive for cost, and other reasons. We also recognize that some individuals in our communities use scented products as part of their access needs. If either of these cases are true for you, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org directly.
You can find more information about scent reduction here:
Please contact us at email@example.com with these and any other requests or questions. Supporting your access is our priority.