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Richard Giang, Creative Content & PR Intern
Feb 01, 2022
Justus Dominguez is a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying Communication with a minor in Theatre Arts. He is an Accessibility Intern in the Wex’s Art & Resilience Department under the supervision of Helyn Marshall. Below are the highlights of a conversation with Justus about his time here this past fall semester interning remotely for the Wex.
Could you tell us a little bit about how the internship is going, how you've been liking it, and what you have been up to?
Well I've actually really enjoyed it so far. I've been working on research projects about what museums and certain performing arts centers or theaters around the US—or around the world even—have been implementing for accessibility and how they’re marketing what accessibility options they’re offering. And I’ve also been working on creating transcripts for videos as well for conversations hosted by the Film/Video department. So far, the progress on both of them has been very beneficial for everyone and it's been—really, yeah it's been a lot of fun.
I'm curious about how you imagine your experience here at the Wex filtering into what you want to do post-grad.
Well that's a great question. Honestly, Helyn and all the other staff—digital accessibility staff, Learning & Public Practice, Film/Video—has been so welcoming and so supportive, and a lot of the advice or the projects that I’m working on myself are actually giving me a lot of inspiration to kind of find a way to pursue a career within accessibility and theater post-graduation, or have any kind of career where communication is a very major tool within theaters. Everything has been very helpful for me as I try to find a career where accessibility might play a role in theater, trying to communicate its different aspects.
Following up with that, it seems you’d like to keep your work central to theater. Could you expand upon that?
The thing with theater is that it's one of my biggest passions in life and I've been doing it ever since I was a lot younger, and it's helped me connect with people. It's a creative outlet that’s helped me to express my feelings and to build collaboration. That's why I [made a promise to] myself, whatever career I go into post-graduation: just make sure it revolves around theater.
You mentioned a lot about how people in your department have been helping to guide and mentor you. What's that relationship been like for you?
The internship coordinator and the accessibility department, they've been great tutors, very friendly and helpful. Like, every now and again, we will have meetings to check up on each other, how we're doing, how our projects are going, if we need any support on those projects. And every now and again, we'll give each other advice if there's anything outside of work that's kind of been putting us down. So the advice from the meetings and messaging we do, and coordinating with all these different projects, that's how our support really, really works. It's been incredibly beneficial for me and all the other interns within the accessibility department as well.
What's your biggest takeaway for your future career from your position as an accessibility intern?
I'm definitely going to take away a lot of the advice that Helyn and the Learning & Public Practice staff have given me, especially a really great quote Helyn told me: For careers in the arts, it's not a sprint; it's a marathon. That's given me a lot of inspiration, and working on all these different projects, and learning in my research and different events I’ve been going to, especially regarding audio description and different kinds of accessibility outlets. I decided what I'm going to take away from this internship is the fact that the research [I’ve been] doing is beneficial for everyone.
How has your identity impacted the work that you've been doing for the Wex and how do you see it filtering into your career? And in the same vein, what is the part of your work at the Wex that you're most proud to put out in the world?
With my identity and how it's benefited me, as an individual on the autism spectrum, I can understand the perspective of why art needs to be beneficial and accessible to everyone. I can see myself being really creative and trying to notice, both with digital and in-person [events], what these types of art forms need to do in order to be more accessible, what we have to do, and what should be implemented to make this whole space more sensory-friendly, to make sure that it doesn't cause a huge sensory overload.
The work that I've been doing here that I've had so much fun with is the research project because I've learned so much about what different theaters are doing and different museums are doing in order to make themselves accessible in the US, and internationally as well. And I think the video transcriptions as well, because that really means a lot because personally—this is really important— when I watch TV shows or movies, I always need closed captions because there are many moments where I feel like the characters on TV show are muttering under their breath. When I use closed captions, not only do I understand what they're saying but I have a better understanding of what the story is.
The best way to sum up [the impact] I think, as an individual on the spectrum with this internship, is learning from my experience what might help others. Like, what helped me have a better sense of the atmosphere of the museum space, the fine art space, and the performing arts space as well; [what can] make it, you know, comfortable, connective, supportive, and make it fun, most importantly, for everyone. This has really been beneficial for me as I worked in this internship and like I said, all the projects I've worked on, I've learned so much from everyone and everything in my research. I definitely will take this home post-graduation.
Top of page: photo courtesy of Justus Dominguez
[Image description: Young man of Latino heritage from the shoulders up, with close-cropped hair and a short mustache and beard, wearing black framed glasses, a light purple collared shirt with darker purple striped tie, and a navy blue windbreaker. He's smiling as he stands in front of a closed doorway.]