The Power of Inclusive Design: How the History, Myths, and Ideas about Blindness Have Shaped Art, Culture, and Our World

As part of our ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning regularly invites leaders, experts, and practitioners to share knowledge and insights as part of the ACT Equity Speakers Series. In collaboration with ACT’s Accessibility Office, the Center has invited Dr. M. Leona Godin, a celebrated writer of “There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness”, performer, educator, and editor to join us.

This inspiring conversation with Dr. Godin will focus on her unique experience of blindness and offer insights for those who seek to become a more supportive ally, advocate, and champion for inclusive design. This webinar promises to be a rich conversation about how art, accessibility, technology, and disability intersect to create spaces that unravel and challenge our notions of visually impaired and blind people. Dr. Godin will unpack the history, myths, and ideas about blindness and challenge many presumptions embedded in our “ocularcentric”* culture.

*Learn more about “ocularcentric” culture here.


Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., CT
Duration: 60 minutes

About the Speaker

In the photo by Alabaster Rhumb, Leona Godin stands facing a six-foot canvas on which is painted a hyper-realistic close-up of her face by artist Roy Nachum. She’s wearing a black wrap dress, black Dr Martens, and holding Moses, her white cane, which bisects the lower half of the painting, and her black sunglasses perch on the top of her head. In the painting she’s smiling and wearing purple and gold sunglasses, which sit slightly askew and reflect the lighting umbrellas.Dr. M. Leona Godin (pronounced like French sculptor Rodin) is a writer, performer, educator, and editor. She is the author of “There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness,” which The New Yorker called a “thought-provoking mixture of criticism, memoir, and advocacy.” Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, O Magazine, Electric Literature, Catapult, and others. She has produced two plays including her solo show, “The Star of Happiness,” based on Helen Keller’s time performing in vaudeville. Dr. Godin holds a Ph.D. from New York University. In addition to her many years teaching literature and humanities courses, Dr. Godin speaks on art, accessibility, technology, and disability at institutions and organizations, including: Baylor College of Medicine; NYU Tandon School of Engineering; American Printing House for the Blind; and the New York Public Library. Her online magazine exploring the arts and sciences of smell and taste, Aromatica Poetica, publishes writing and art from around the world.