Spring 2017 Community Event: Talk With Your Hands Film Screening

by Lana Ruvolo Grasser

The discourse surrounding the topics of disability and accessibility has become more and more resounding as our society is further driven towards inclusivity. Yet, this discourse is normally overwhelmed by the voices of the abled. Talk With Your Hands works to break this trend in a short, yet powerful ten minutes. Through a series of personal accounts, informative dialogue, and captivating poetry, the film explores the idea of communication, making sense of both the individual and the global unit.

During their interviews, the individuals in the film who have visual and auditory disabilities mention this dimension of themselves last, using language such as “and I also happen to be blind.” Often, when abled persons describe someone with blindness or deafness, they use the person’s loss of sensory ability as his/her defining characteristic, as opposed to all of the other unique perspectives and abilities of the person. One young man in the film reflects that being unclouded by the initial visualization of a new acquaintance, having to rely on other components of the person—their voice, choice of words, etc.—help one to develop “a more general impression of a person.” Conversely, sign language relies entirely on what is seen, and a lot can be said about an individual based on their movements—one woman signs that “how a person uses their body can be incredibly eloquent.” Each of the individuals shared about the most important way they can build a full picture of an individual–the importance of seeing the full usage of the speaker’s body or, oppositely, the importance of hearing the speaker’s voice. The film also includes a poem that intermixes through the film and effectively conveys these differences in elements of perception. Sometimes the poem is verbalized through English or Mandarin, and sometimes it is displayed with text on screen, or it is shared through sign language.

Editor in Chief Emily Claus welcomes the audience to our film screening

Editor in Chief Emily Claus welcomes the audience to our film screening

The power of the voice and the body is essential to communication. Even with language barriers, we may understand the emotions and ideas of each other via tone of voice or facial/body expression. This is likely why one woman in the film who is deaf remarks that eye contact is incredibly important and special. Also significant is the uniqueness of human language—other animals do use different ways to communicate, however, within our single species, language is remarkably diverse. Not only do we speak in different tongues, dialects, and accents, but we also use different modalities to speak. Speech itself is spread throughout the human brain instead of localized, reflecting how important this skill is to us. Being able to use different modalities to speak opens up more non-linear, expanded communication, and thus adds a more dynamic three dimensionality to life.

Through the film we, the viewers, float down a river in Cambridge where we experience a poem in many forms and are provoked to think about disability in different ways. The line that resonated most with me was a redefinition of how we think about disability: “Having a sensory disability is not having a lack of ability, its having a lack of access to information.” With this in mind, we must make full use of all of the forms of communication we humans are afforded in order to break down barriers of dialogue.

The editors of Exceptions Journal at the film screening

The editors of Exceptions Journal at the film screening

Talk With Your Hands leaves viewers with new insights and a drive to find out more about expanding one’s own communicative abilities. It intertwines the musings of individuals who are very different, yet similar as humans yearning for engagement. Let us reflect on these beautiful stories and scenes to further our dynamic interactions with one another.

Find out more about the film here


Exceptions’ Spring 2016 Publications

This spring, Exceptions received some amazing pieces of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. After reviewing all of the submissions, we are delighted to announce the publication of the following pieces:

Genie in a Bottle, Nancy Scott

Visual Brain Evolution, Ann Bliss

Reading Bodies, Emily Michaels


Girl on a Bench Sees Visions of Butterflies, Lynda McKinney Lambert

Life Is To Live, Ernest Jones

Muddy Hands, Lynda McKinney Lambert

VOID, Roselyn Perez

What the Tornado Brings, Roselyn Perez

These written works, in addition to being featured on this website, will be published in the next print issue of Exceptions. Thank you to everyone who submitted!


Stories of Sound & Movement, an Accessible Art Event

On December 7, 2015, Exceptions hosted its second “Accessible Art” event, “Stories of Sound and Movement,” in the RCAH Theater in Snyder Hall. With over 10 different music and dance performances, each section in the program focused on creating sensory based performance. Music performances, played on instruments ranging from violin to harp to tuba, all contained elements of sharp staccato notes, as well as long, drawn out cords, helping the audience feel the vibrations of the notes from each instrument. The three dance performances all contained aspects of noise. While dance is often perceived as more of a visual experience, each dancer was able to demonstrate how sound can be part of the experience as well. Also included in the program were the winners of our New Perspectives contest. An original composition titled “The Death of a Toad” by John Russell Beaumont was played before and after the showcase, as well as a reading of the poem “Elegy for Lost Time” by Robert Young, inspired by the song “Time” by Pink Floyd.

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The program included the following performances:

“La Folia”
Composed by Arcangelo Corelli / Performed by Allison Holden on violin

Poetry reading of “Elegy for Lost Time”
Written by Robert Young and inspired by the song “Time” by Pink Floyd
Read by Vanessa Gonzalez

“Space Tuba”
Composed by Ryan Martini / Performed by Ryan Martini on tuba

Tapping in Contrast
Movement One: Circle of You
Choreographed by Chris Kargul / Dancers: Chris Kargul and Lana Grasser
Movement Two: Noisy
Choreographed by Chris Kargul / Dancer: Chris Kargul

Composed by Carlos Salzedo / Performed by Emily Henley on harp

Choreographed by Geneva Swanson / Dancers: Lana Grasser, Chris Kargul, and Nicole Mascorro
Guests are invited to sit on stage to experience the piece up close

Composed by Paul Jeanjean / Performed by Carly Jakrzewski on clarinet

“Blowin’ in the Wind”
Composed by Bob Dylan / Performed by Jacob Fortman on ukulele and Elizabeth Karneye on vocals

“A Touch of Conversation”
Choreographed by Lana Grasser / Performed by Liz Karneye (drums) and Lana Grasser (dancer)

Dancers and Musicians set up on stage to interact with audience members.