photo by Salvör Aradóttir
Whether it was Juste who brightly told about her laughter and made us all laugh with her, Katrín who proudly described the feeling of swimming for a trophy, Andrej who vividly explained the importance for him of being a firefighter, or any of the other more than 20 small digital stories created by participants with intellectual disabilities, we were all moved by the strength and abilities of the storytellers. The participants, too often defined by their disabilities, got the chance to take their story back and remind us that they are so much more. Now we are able to give the same opportunity to people all over Europe, through the experiences and output that we have created in the Erasmus+ project DigiStorID.
Flexible solution for individual needs
We’re at the end of the project, and it’s time to look back and think about what we have accomplished. The aim was to take an existing method, Digital Storytelling (read more about it here), and adapt it to the needs of people with intellectual disabilities. This was not a simple task, as our target group is so diverse, and we quickly realized that “the needs” were not easily defined. People with intellectual disabilities of course have individual needs and abilities like everyone else. We therefore decided to make a more flexible solution, so that the individual facilitator (Digital Storytelling is always a facilitated process) can decide on what fits best to the storyteller they are supporting. So instead of a program with clear delineated program points, we decided on creating a set of building bricks (based on the programme of the original method), that can be put together in different ways, to form an individual program for the individual storyteller. The different options of building bricks are fitted to different abilities, modes of expression and concentration span, and are aimed to support the highest level of agency and self-determination of the participant.
Trying it out
The building bricks were developed by Upstream Stories, being the experts on Digital Storytelling, and the other partners of the project, mainly experts on our target group. But we of course wanted to test if the bricks were fit for use, and we needed to hear the opinion of our participants and the facilitators. This was done in two international workshops as well as a row of local workshops in the partner countries. The bricks were tried out, evaluated and adjusted continuously, and we got invaluable feedback from the people involved and important observations through shadowing of the workshops. We ended up with our final set of building bricks, ready to be used by everyone who would like to try out a powerful and engaging method.
Apart from the building bricks, we have developed a set of intellectual outputs, that very soon will be published on the website of DigiStorID in 7 different languages:
- Needs analysis of people with intellectual disabilities and their caretakers (only available in English)
- Digital Storytelling detailed program adjusted to the needs of people with intellectual disabilities
- Easy to read manual – Digital Storytelling for people with intellectual disabilities
- Digital Storytelling manual for professionals working with people with intellectual disabilities – Facilitators manual including the building bricks
- Policy recommendations
We hope to see more people with disabilities reclaiming their stories using the method we are promoting. Anyone with questions about the project, Digital Storytelling or the outputs are very welcome to follow or contact us.
The partners of the project are:
Upstream Stories – Denmark
The Trebnje Centre for Education and Culture – Slovenia
KPEDU – Finland
The Reykjavik Academy (RA) – Iceland
Anffas Onlus Pordenone – Italy
The International Labour Contact Net – Lithuania
by Signe Sander, Upstream Stories