Thus far, my project has partly addressed the alternate access made possible by the ramp: wheeled mobility for politics and for leisure, as a social object and as a means of cultural participation. For Cripping Cyberspace, I’m engaging new possibilities for the “alt text” to accompany the images in my growing collection of the inclined plane. The collection has until now been exclusively designed for viewing—for taking an ordinary object and seeing it in new forms, new contexts, making affinities between ramps in unlikely places. But what about other experiences of the ramp? What does it feel like to engage in that acceleration and resistance, the steady glissando movement across a surface instead of the chop-chop-chop of stairs? Who uses that experience, and for what ends?
In its typical form, “alt-text” is a prose description that usually provides text-to-speech or screen reader access to digital spaces online for non-sighted users. So this sound file is, in a way, modeled on that kind of description. But I want this sound piece to push the sensory estrangement that is the heart of the project overall: an invitation to experience this ubiquitous material structure again, but without only “visioning” it by the material design and its juxtaposition in images online. Here a set of aural sources, woven together, invokes the somatic experience of the ramp. Describing both its phenomenology as a physical force and the bodied experiences of ramp users, this sound file is an experiment in a truly alternate text: not a literal translation, but something else altogether.