Arts, Africa and Accessibility

Authors: Jece Shunmugam, Kate Savin, Jack Maycock
  • Posted on: October 19, 2020

Read on for a handpicked selection of the good, the bad and the one to watch in the world of social impact communications. This week, we’re highlighting Black Art Matters, how Africa is represented, and the first accessible pregnancy test. 

Credit: @bolanle_tajudeen

| NAILED IT: Black Art Matters

A collective of creatives are campaigning to improve representation of Black and people of colour (POC) artists in the UK’s national art collections.  

Led by the artist and educator, Annis Harrison, a Black Art Matters protest outside the National Portrait Gallery last month highlighted that although POC have been making art in the UK since at least the early 20th century, there are less than 2000 pieces of art by black artists held in permanent collections, out of the millions in total. Many of these 2000 aren’t even on display.  

This month, Harrison and others from the collective are holding an exhibition at Lyric Square Hammersmith to celebrate POC art and continue their campaign. Catch it before it ends! 

| ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Let’s represent Africa accurately

The prevailing narrative of Africa depicts the vast, diverse continent as one homogenous piece of land, dominated by corruption, conflict, poverty, and disease. Even when a representation of Africa is optimistic, it’s often fictional, failing to portray the cultures, ethnicities and people that call Africa home. 

To redress this, Africa No Filter has evaluated 56 documents exploring how Africa is represented. One finding shows the ‘Africa is a country’ framing telling a single story of the continent, despite Africa being home to nearly a quarter of the world’s countries. They argue that by simply differentiating between African countries, the media and academia alike would be telling a much more honest story. 

“The success of all development work on the continent is underpinned by our ability as Africans to believe in ourselves and not in the stereotypical harmful narratives that bring us down.”

Africa No Filter

| THE ONE TO WATCH: First accessible pregnancy test unveiled 

For the first time, women who cannot see will be able to discover if they’re pregnant themselves, thanks to a prototype tactile pregnancy test developed by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Standard pregnancy tests use visual cues, meaning that blind and partially sighted women have to ask someone else to tell them the result. This constitutes a serious breach of privacy for news that is intensely personal and sometimes problematic. The RNIB test uses raised nodes that can be felt to reveal results instead of relying on a digital screen. 

RNIB has published the research and data for the prototype, and are calling on businesses to develop their own versions.