Kathleen-Sitter Headshot-jpg

Kathleen Sitter – 2024 Dorothy Killam Fellow

Disability Histories, Soundscapes, and Smellwalks: Putting our Stories on the Map

University of Calgary

Kathleen Sitter is currently the Canada Research Chair in Multisensory Storytelling in Research and Knowledge Translation and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary.

One in five Canadians over the age of 15 are disabled, yet histories highlighting disability experiences and key events rarely exist in dominant discourse. Historically, disabled voices have been excluded from decision-making that impacts their lives. With the goal of finding solutions to create inclusive societies, Sitter’s work aims to identify histories and events as experienced and understood by the disability community in Canada.

Sitter’s proposed research addresses this through the development and implementation of a participatory sound and smell story mapping project, Disability Histories, Soundscapes, and Smellwalks: Putting our Stories on the Map. This project involves collaborating with disabled adults in Calgary, Vancouver, and Montreal to identify critical socio-political-cultural intersections in Canadian history.

Sitter’s contributions to the field have significantly impacted human rights for disabled individuals by successfully influencing legislative changes and enhancing public education. Using an intersectional approach, this work aims to amplify the voices of individuals facing multiple overlapping oppressions, supporting empowerment through self-advocacy, and highlighting lived experiences.

Sounds and smells will be discovered, recorded, and narrated by disability communities. The sensory maps will be made accessible in person and through an app for people to experience the stories as they move within the three cities and throughout the Canadian landscape. An accessible and creative platform that uncovers and amplifies disabled experiences will ensure the preservation of important Canadian histories that centers disabled voices in Canadian culture.

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