Feminist Hack Meetings #6 - How about access?

Àmbits de Treball

This FHM session is for us to reconsider the accessibility of online realms. We will learn about this in two parts, first through a guest talk called 'Shapeshifting Dreams: Practicing Towards Accessible Institutions' from artist-design duo MELT, who will share their research and practice around accessibility. After this presentation, we will continue with a hands-on workshop to experiment with tools and approaches that move us towards more inclusive ways of being together in online and hybrid spaces.

Our guests will join online. As participants, you are very welcome to join in person - in Varia - or we can connect online too. The exercises planned for the workshop are possible to do inside Varia and/or through the screen.

More details on what we will do and learn below.

Shapeshifting Dreams: Practicing Towards Accessible Institutions

A round pool of liquids holds multiple intertwined threads floating over and tangling with one another. Floating in the mess are the words “Collective Body”, “Server”, “Institution”, “Access”, “Email”, “Archive” each written in an illuminated script.

In their talk MELT will discuss their ongoing project Access Server reflecting on their recent engagement with a fellowship at Het New Instituut. Access Server is an email server that anonymizes, collects and financially compensates access requests that disabled people send towards institutions. They will discuss disability justice and other theoretical frameworks that Access Server works with and builds upon, the engagement with the institution MELT was fellows with and the difficulties and possibilities this unveiled and their emerging practice of dreaming about accessible institutions. Structural ableism makes it difficult to do so many things. Dreaming up and planning for accessible institutions is one way that we practice towards an otherwise, where joyful and pleasurable accessibility is centered.


MELT (Ren Loren Britton & Isabel Paehr) study and experiment with shape-shifting processes as they meet technologies, sensory media and pedagogies in a warming world. Meltionary (derived from "dictionary"), is a growing collection of arts-design-research engagements that cooks up questions around material transformations alongside impulses from trans* feminism and Disability Justice. Melting as a kaleidoscope like phenomena touches upon multiple topics at once: climate change, the potential for political reformulations, change over time and material transformation. MELT shares work in the forms of videos, installations, websites, lectures, workshops and courses.

For the second part of the session, we will work through exercises from the project Alt Text as Poetry, https://alt-text-as-poetry.net/ by Shannon and Bojana, that includes editing images for different ways of seeing, adding alt text to images (a text caption to describe the scene in an image), and making different types of textual and audio recordings of pieces of text that can be used for screen readers or listened to in different contexts.

Participants are welcome to work with their own materials - maybe from your own website or online presence - while we can also experiment with the zine library inside Varia, that we can use as sources whose access can be improved. Experimenting with our DIY Varia sound booth, we will try out sound recordings to make sonic editions of the feminist zines in the space, translate them into different languages, or work with other printed materials that you would like to speak out loud.

We hope that this workshop can be for people working in the digital realm, who want to learn more about how their working (and living) environment can be more accessible and inclusive. It is an FHM for learning together, and thinking deeply on a topic that needs attention.


This meeting would be held in English.

First part: The online talk from MELT will be recorded so asyncronous engagement will be possible. The talk will include automatic closed captions.

Second part: The session will be hybrid, in Varia and online in a link that we will provide through email to the participants. It will not be recorded.

FHM will share text, image (with alt text) and audio documentation for all participants after the workshop.

For folks joining in Varia, there is a gender neutral toilet on the ground floor of the space and free tap water is available. The sound levels may be high at times as we are connecting with the online crowd and doing audio recordings. For more information please check the accessibility description of the space at https://varia.zone/en/pages/accessibility.html and feel free to contact fhmatvaria [ punto ] zone (fhm[at]varia[dot]zone) for specifications if you would like to know more.

To register, please send an email to fhmatvaria [ punto ] zone (fhm[at]varia[dot]zone) mentioning the name of the event in the subject line.

Date: Saturday 4 June 2022

Time: 11:00 to 14:00 CEST

Location: Varia (Gouwstraat 3, Rotterdam) & Online (link soon)

Note: This session will be held in English.

This event is made possible with the kind support of the Creative Industries Fund NL.



varia (Gouwstraat 3, Rotterdam) is a space for developing collective approaches to everyday technology. As varia members, we maintain and facilitate a collective infrastructure from which we generate questions, opinions, modifications, help and action. We work with free software, organise events and collaborate in different constellations. varia figures things out as they go, tries to keep notes, is multilingual, has open hours and can be contacted at infoatvaria [ punto ] zone (info[@]varia.zone).