Disability Visibility Project partnership with StoryCorps

Listen to this post: 

A lot of people have asked about my business name. It’s StoryMinders. I like the play on words with minding a story and having a story about the mind.

But, honestly, I get antsy around the word “story.” In the brain injury community it seems to refer to the date, time, location, and circumstances of your injury. Story sometimes also includes gruesome details of your rehab, recovery, and personal journey to overcome or compensate for your impairments. These are valuable stories to share, no doubt. My personal and professional aim is to expand people’s expectations of what story after brain injury can be because it is so wildly much more than injury and recovery. And that’s why I put the word in my business name even though I tend to shudder at it a lot. I believe your stories include any and all parts of your identity and experiences. They include the people around you and your interactions with society whether they are good news or are about social injustices, civil rights violations, feeling stigmatized, or anything else that’s important to you.

So we’ve got this cool thing called StoryCorps, which has nothing to do with my business even though the names are kind of shaped the same. StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. StoryCorps partners with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and with National Public Radio with whom they have a weekly broadcast every Friday on Morning Edition. They’ve been around for years.

Along came longtime disability researcher, activist, and all-around social justice badass Alice Wong. You can read a lovely personal essay Alice wrote at www.disabilityintersections.com/author/alicewong if you want to know more about her. What she has done now is create a grassroots project called the Disability Visibility Project, which you can find at www.disabilityvisibilityproject.com.

Flyer for Disability Visibility Project is all orange and black text on a white background. Text says: "Disability Visibility Project A community Partnership with StoryCorps #DisVisibility"[Image description: Flyer for Disability Visibility Project is all orange and black text on a white background. Text says: “Disability Visibility Project A community Partnership with StoryCorps #DisVisibility”]

From July 2014 to July 2015, anyone going to one of StoryCorps’ three locations (and their mobile tour) can contribute their oral history in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2015. Having these stories recorded and available to the public will preserve disability history, making them accessible to all.

Founded by Alice Wong as a community partnership with StoryCorps San Francisco, the Disability Visibility Project aims to collect the diverse voices of people in the disability community and preserve their history.

Alice is careful to mention that the use of the word ‘Visibility’ in the project name is metaphorical. It is not meant to privilege one sensory experience over others.

To my Portland, OR neighbors, it seems that the StoryCorps mobile recording booth isn’t coming anywhere near us anytime soon. Boo! Check out where they will be online though. If you’re reading this from San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta or any locations found on www.storycorps.org/mobile-tour, sign up and be part of recording disability history.

We record ourselves and each other a lot within our communities. This is a chance to have our stories integrated into a larger body of stories, showing how disabled people really and truly are people with stories to tell.