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Advocating Accessibility: Madison Goodall-Monk and her work with Spectrum

Image Courtesy of Wix

It’s safe to say that movies and TV have taken a large part of our lives, especially because we have spent a lot more time inside over the last two years.

Beaconsfield resident Madison Goodall-Monk studied in John Abbot’s ALC program, which focuses on media and art-related electives and where Madison found her love for film. After graduation, she began her studies at Concordia in Film Studies. She is now pursuing her Master's in the same field, focussing her studies on the topic of accessibility in the industry.

The media industry is currently worth around 2.1 Trillion USD (SOURCE) and tends to be associated with the idea that to create your own content and succeed, you have to have a large budget. Madison also noticed the lack of representation of neurodiverse communities, such as individuals with Down syndrome or those who are on the autism spectrum to mention a few.

“One of the aspects of my thesis that I am focussing on is he de-stigmatization of the idea that these projects have to have a large budget or a massive film crew”
- Madison Goodall-Monk

Much like other industries, people from these groups are often pushed to the sidelines and very few have the opportunity to pursue projects or careers in the film and media industry due to many of the negative stereotypes still associated with being neurodiverse.

Madison explains that a lot of people from these groups now have the opportunity to represent themselves because of available technology today. With a lot of free programs and videos explaining how to use them available online, anyone with an iPhone can begin creating their own content.

“I feel that in the last couple of years especially, technology is so advanced that it allows more opportunity for self-expression, and allows the possibility to make films on your own. If individuals from these groups have something like an iPhone or anything that has a camera, they can advocate for themselves and that’s really important.”

Madison worked with Spectrum Productions, a charity based in Montreal that is committed to advancing the social, cultural, and economic inclusion of individuals on the autism spectrum by supporting and promoting autistic creative talent in film and media production and the arts.

She was a production manager for their summer program. Where she was only responsible for data management and the approval of projects throughout. Those who join these camps have full creative liberty. This means storyboarding, costume, script, location, and editing. Spectrum aids with the equipment and facilitation for neurodiverse individuals to be able to experience the creative process of creating a film that they otherwise may not have had the opportunity to do.

“The participants of the program taught me so much about accessibility… there’s things you don’t even think about; the air conditioning, not having scents in the air, even the process as well. I learnt from the participants to take it slow and be sure to take a break. They were very communicative and it was important that we fostered an environment where they are able to communicate.”
- Madison Goodall-Monk

People like Madison and those who work with Spectrum are constantly striving to change the standards put out by the film and media industry. Although she is in film school, Madison strongly believes that film should not be regarded as high art, but instead more related to the craft without the association with large budgets and productivity culture.

Spectrum fosters an environment for neurodiverse people that allows them to work at their own pace and workflow, so they can put out their best work.

“I just want to advocate for the need to create more accessible environments like Spectrum, like these non-profits.”
- Madison Goodall-Monk

To learn more about the work Spectrum and advocates like Madison do to facilitate accessible film and media spaces, you can check out Spectrum’s website.

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