Transability: A Transmedia Story

Transability explores the life of David Shaw, a fictional character with an unusual desire: he wants an above-knee amputation of his right leg.  This desire is often described as transableism or, in certain cases, as Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID).  BIID/transableism are conditions in which a person voluntarily seeks a physical impairment (be it loss of a limb, vision, hearing, etc.) even though they are currently viewed as able-bodied.  Some people argue that it is a neurological issue while others state that it is a mental illness or even an aesthetic preference.

This project aims to bring awareness to transableism and to the issues people face on a daily basis.  BIID/transableism is a little-known and misunderstood condition, and Transability seeks to educate readers about people living with it.  By following David and his interaction with his family, medical providers, therapists, and other people with BIID/transableism, project participants will experience first-hand David’s struggles and journey to emotional and personal well-being.

Transmedia Storytelling

Transability is an exercise in transmedia storytelling.  Transmedia storytelling is most commonly defined as a story that is spread across several different media platforms, with each channel contributing its own unique flavour to the overall story.  Many people with access to the web engage with transmedia narratives in one form or another – whether they realize it or not – as part of their favourite entertainment franchises, advertising campaigns, or fictional universes.

Transmedia offers vibrant learning opportunities for education.  It immerses the audience in stories that make use of everyday media forms and encourages them to directly participate in the stories themselves.  Transmedia storytelling also recognizes that people learn and engage in a variety of ways and strives to incorporate text, images, sound, video, and more. It creates a sensorium of human experience that makes learning intriguing and enjoyable.

Transmedia storytelling can thus be used to promote awareness of social issues, educate about particular causes and conditions, and encourage empathy, compassion, and awareness.  It involves participants in a particular story in a radically different way than that of an academic article or textbook