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Digital storytelling empowers lives of people with disability

Victoria University students have collaborated with people with disabilities to capture their evolving life stories in a series of digital autobiographies that provide unique insights into their lives.

Entitled 'Picture This', the pilot project saw 25 second-year public relations and advertising TAFE students  interviewing and filming six participants from annecto, an organisation supporting people with disability and the aged.

The groups collaborated to create a five-minute movie about each participant's life, using  photos, film, voice-overs, music and captions to convey ambitions, likes, dislikes, and family life.

The resulting digital stories are engaging personal snapshots that can replace the tedious documents used to brief case workers, carers and agencies.

VU school program manager Jan Stephenson said the project was a way for students to engage directly with a client in a real-world scenario, interpret a brief, develop a strategy, and deliver a very personal story.

Storytelling participants included Cameron, an entertainer and actor with the Rollercoaster Theatre Company; Wayne, a Bulldogs fan who sings with a choir; and Glen, who plays guitar and keeps fit riding his bike.

The VU students were assessed on the project as part of their course, and developed a range of skills over its eight-month duration.

Besides improving their writing, designing and computer movie-making abilities, the students had opportunities to engage empathically with people from different backgrounds.

Many students formed strong bonds with the people who shared their stories, and are planning to continue these relationships.

Annecto Partnerships Strategy Manager Joan Cooney said the project demonstrated mutual trust and respect.

"It was new for us to move outside the disability sector for a project like this. We knew we wanted to find a better way of showing people's stories, and the ideas the students came up with were very exciting. The project also enabled storytelling participants to engage with people from the wider community," she said.

The digital storytelling project could be used by VU students in future to share life stories of other people, including the aged and migrants.

VU Media Contact:

Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer, Marketing and Communications Department,  Victoria University. Ph: (03) 9919 5487

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