Sandra Alland

Notes on “Writing From the Groin”: A Multimedia Manifesto of Manifestos (with guest footnotes)

Listen to this contribution with a short introduction read by the author

In “Writing from the Groin, or / and: How Non-Disabled CisHet Monied White People Lock Themselves into Mediocrity,” I argue that mainstream literature needs to urgently examine its lack of access and disability justice. And I celebrate how some disabled, neurodivergent and Deaf literature is leading the way on ethical and digital (experimentation with) access.

In late 2021, Scotland’s Birds of Paradise Theatre commissioned me for their new Locked World website. The brief was to create an artwork rooted in creatively-embedded access. Over the next few months I wrote an essay that was also a script of sorts. I imagined audio description and sign language from the get-go, which led to big changes in my thinking about how essays work (and some funny moments when I realized my corny jokes are particularly hard to translate). I scripted disabled and Deaf writers so they became embodied in the work, as opposed to being quoted in the traditional sense. Guest writers would appear as filmed “footnotes” that popped up onscreen as people read. In the British Sign Language version, a deaf person would become the character of Footnote.

In order to cite folk, I needed to be in contact with them, get the permission we writers so often take for granted. To this end, I collaborated with 30+ writers, artists, and access workers. My co-conspirators sent me short videos and artworks that we audio-described and alt-texted together. I wanted to showcase the amazing and mutiply-accessible works being created outside of traditional books and publishing – with an emphasis on shorter and free online pieces.

Many of the contributions sprang from essays, poems and artworks that felt like manifestos to me, and in some ways the piece began to feel like a collective manifesto. What if a bunch of the most brilliant thinkers from our communities dropped in to personally deliver their ideas? Here’s a list of some of the folk who so kindly appear in the essay:

Alex Haagaard; Brooklyn Melvin; Bojana Coklyat and Finnegan Shannon; Maria Palacios (Sins Invalid); Meg Day; Raymond Antrobus and Vilma Jackson; DL Williams; Talia Randall; Leroy F. Moore Jr; Jordan Scott; Sarah Katz (The Deaf Poets Society); Kay Ulanday Barrett; Leah Clements, Susanna Davies-Crook, Alice Hattrick and Sophie Hoyle; John Lee Clark; Kyra Pollitt, Paul Scott, Victoria Punch and David Ellington; Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha; Dani Donovan; The Cyborg Jillian Weise; and Mia Mingus.

I finished writing in 2022, and recorded the piece as audio. A captioned video was made of Scottish interpreter Yvonne Strain translating my words to British Sign Language, and deaf Scottish performer Ciaran Stewart translating and introducing the footnotes. To make the essay readable to more people, Kelsie Acton created plain language summaries to go in clickable boxes at the top of each section of the written essay. Then I passed everything to the Locked World team to make my idea/s real online.

“Writing from the Groin” was finally published in November 2023. I hope its many radical artists spark conversations about generous and creative access, interdependence, and disability justice. These crip ideas inform and expand our art-making – and our survival in a world of eugenics and hyper-individualization. We need such conversations now more than ever.

If you’d like guidance on navigating the essay, I created a 12-minute video (captioned and audio-described) that demonstrates the different elements. Otherwise check out ways to access “Writing From the Groin” in the list of links below.

FORMATS for accessing Sandra Alland’s “Writing from the Groin”:

Option 1: Multimedia Text

This is “Writing From the Groin” as an online text, with multimedia “footnotes” or asides that you click to play or enlarge them. The footnotes automatically appear to the right of the main text on desktop, and directly beneath it on other devices.

The multimedia text also has clickable boxes with plain language summaries. These summaries were written by Kelsie Acton, and can be clicked open at the beginning of each section of the essay.

There are descriptions of all footnote images as alt-text below the image or video, and further alt-text programmed into images. The footnote videos have open captions and voiced-over audio descriptions.

Under “Access Panel” in the top menu, you can change the font and screen contrast.

Option 2: BSL/AD Video (British Sign Language/Audio-Described)

The BSL/AD video features an audio recording of me (San Alland) reading the essay. Onscreen, deaf actor Ciaran Stewart introduces all the footnotes and Yvonne Strain interprets the main essay into British Sign Language. I also read the audio description. The video is closed-captioned.

The BSL/AD video has all the info from the multimedia text version, except for the plain language summaries. It has the same guest video footnotes as the multimedia text, with captions and AD.

The info section under the YouTube video has time-stamped listings of the essay sections, with details of what each section is about.

Option 3: Transcript

The transcript is of the BSL/AD video, so it contains everything except the plain language summaries. It has time-stamps and names of who is speaking (like a script), which may affect some people’s experience of its readability as a piece of literature.

Option 4: PDF/Word Docs and Audio File

If none of the methods above are accessible for you, please contact me (San Alland) for a Word doc or PDF, or a downloadable audio recording of the essay. The doc and PDF texts include written descriptions of footnote images and videos, and the audio file has audio description. I can also supply documents of the plain language summaries and Read/Watch List. Email cachin [at]

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About the Author

Sandra Alland is a writer and artist shielding in Glasgow. If you did three things to make San happy, they would be: 1. Engage with “Writing From the Groin” and its featured writers and artists; 2. Wear a mask and fight for our rights to clean air and wellness; 3. Call for a ceasefire, a free Palestine, and an end to all occupations. Visit their website at, and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @san_alland and Bluesky @san-alland.