Touch the Future: A manifesto in Essays is the latest book by St. Paul author and poet John Lee Clark. Clark is a deafblind poet, essayist, historian and actor in the Protactile movement.
In a series of paradigm-shifting essays, Clark reports on seismic developments within the deafblind community and challenges the limitations of sighted and hearing norms.
In “Against Access,” he interrogates the prevailing advocacy for “accessibility” that re-creates a shadow of a hearing-sighted experience. In “Tactile Art,” he describes his relationship to visual art and breathtaking encounters with tactile sculpture. He offers a brief history of the term deafblind, distills societal discrimination against deafblind people into “distantism,” sheds light on the riches of online community, and advocates for “Co-Navigation,” a new way of exploring the world together without a traditional guide.
Clark is currently Bush Leadership Fellow, a core member of Protactile Language Interpreting National Education Center, and a research consultant with the Reciprocity Lab at the University of Chicago. He is a member of the inaugural class of Disability Futures Fellows and the recipient of a National Magazine Award for the essay “Tactile Art” as well as the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry magazine.