A disabled people’s organisation is hoping that its community journalism project will help amplify the voices of disabled people and empower them to tell their own stories.
The Camden Disabled People’s Voices project is training disabled people as community journalists, who can then use their mobile phones to post reports on a website in audio, video and written formats.
The scheme is run by Camden Disability Action (CDA), and eight disabled people have so far completed the course.
CDA hopes the “raw and real reports” will provide a public record of the challenges and barriers faced by disabled people in the borough, as well as the solutions they want to see.
And it hopes the reports will “start conversations with service providers, celebrate successes and push for positive changes”.
Both the trained community journalists and – eventually – disabled members of the public will be able to file reports.
CDA staff review all the reports and post the best ones on the project’s website.
Most of the initial reports have focused on the impact of the “streetscape” changes brought in as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including new cycle lanes, traffic-calming measures and wider pavements.
One of the reporters, Mary (pictured), said: “As a registered blind woman I am unable to go out alone without support if the streets are not accessible; but with the community journalism project I can help foster change in Camden’s streets which means I will be able to go out independently.
“It’s also given me a chance to air my anger about my local area where shopping is made difficult with inaccessible crossings and signage for motorists that aren’t clear.”
Another reporter, Jill, said: “It’s taught me a lot of things I didn’t know before. It gives you knowledge and it gives you confidence to speak up.
“Also, because I have a learning disability, I’m not good at writing so being able to send in reports via a phone is really great.”
The training is delivered by CDA and community journalism organisation On Our Radar, and offers three classes and mentoring support.
Colin Brummage, CDA’s chief executive, said: “Our stories largely go untold and even when we do speak, there is no guarantee the person listening has the empathy or life experience to understand where we’re coming from.
“Disabled people’s real-time everyday experiences must be known so we can lift the lid on the thousands of social injustices taking place, every single day.”
He added: “We wanted to cast the net wider than just the trained reporters because we want disabled people across the borough to use this as a vehicle to get their voices heard.
“We’re replacing the old ways of engaging, which we did through forums and questionnaires. This is a more direct and powerful way to have your say.”
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