It is not often that the disability world gets a chance to band together and make media history. Right now, across the United States, individuals of all abilities can record their story and experience with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) or an experience with disabilities.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ADA in July 2015, StoryCorps and the Disability Visibility Project have come together to help individuals record their stories. VR Horizons had the chance to talk to the Disability Visibility Project Coordinator, Alice Wong, on the importance of the project and what it means for the disability community.
If you visit the Disability Visibility Project web page you can see considerate growth of participants, media partners and guest bloggers, Alice runs the website and project and is incredibly receptive to increasing awareness to the project. After attending a StoryCorps event in San Francisco in 2013, Wong thought of creating a community partnership with Bay Area disability to highlight history in the area.
“After several discussions, StoryCorps was incredibly receptive to partnering with the Disability Visibility Project in an effort to reach out to people with disabilities and record their stories,” Wong stated.
While the StoryCorps mobile tour stops in limited locations around the United States, individuals can participate in a number of ways. Wong recently wrote a recent blog post addressing the issue of limitations of the project.
Wong realizes that it is a commitment of time and energy to record the stories but urges all individuals to take the time and record their story. “I think there are lots of potential benefits for a person to record their story. Someone can go in depth about something meaningful in their lives whether it’s a turning point or an individual person. Someone can talk about their passions or express some of their fears and hopes for the future. Also, another benefit to recording a story with another person is a chance to acknowledge that person and what they share in common.”
By compiling the disability stories across the country, the project seeks to create a in-depth maker for the generations today to leave a footprint. “I think things for people with disabilities may seem to progress at a glacial pace and yet in many areas, such as technology and accessibility, things are changing quickly. Having these stories for future generations will give them a sense of how similar and how different things are. Hopefully, people will say, “I can’t believe people used the R-word.” People may also say, “Wow, things haven’t changed much in the employment rates of people with disabilities. We need to keep on fighting,” Wong shared.
When asked what her desired outcome would be at the end of the project in July 2015, Wong said at the top of her list would be for the Project to make it onto the morning broadcast of National Public Radio’s (NPR) Morning Edition. While less than one percent of the thousands of story’s recorded with StoryCorps get selected, she is positive that the disability community will be heard one way or another.
If you are unable to record your story with the mobile tour, Wong suggests writing a guest blog for the website, posting videos of a YouTube interview of you and a family member or a friend conducting an interview. Contact Alice by email if you are interested in sharing your story or contributing.