Camden Disabled People’s Voices
Building a community reporter network with Disabled residents in Camden
How do we make our neighbourhoods a better place for everyone? How do we make sure that Disabled people can share their ideas for change?
The Disabled community has long led the call for ‘nothing about us, without us’, and still, urban spaces and service responses continue to be designed without the insight and ideas of Disabled people.
In partnership with Camden Disability Action, we developed an accessible training programme to develop and support a community reporter network of Disabled residents in the borough. Through their mobile phones, they document their own stories – both good and bad – and share solutions for change.
Before the training could start, we worked closely with Camden Disability Action to prepare a learning curriculum that was inclusive and reflected all needs. This included converting our citizen journalism training into an Easy Read format, which is more simple to understand and supported by explanatory symbols and images. It also meant providing all training materials in visual and audio formats.
Co-delivered with the Camden team, the training cohort involved a mix of participants who were introduced to principles of journalism – including interviewing and staying safe – and supported to use their mobile phones to capture their experiences as well as those of other Disabled people.
Their reports range from more formal journalistic pieces drawing on interviews to simply being someone’s thoughts and feelings on the things that matter most to them. Together, the network uses their stories to raise issues with the local council, including the impacts of Coivid-19 and the sudden changes to the streetscapes, employment and health.
Alongside this, we co-created an accessible platform that would be the home of these reports – ensuring it was user-friendly for everyone. The website hosts their raw and real reports, highlighting the challenges and barriers faced by Disabled people as well as the solutions they want to see.
This new project has provided a wonderful opportunity for us to introduce our first reporters who have learning disabilities. Our first cohort included two reporters with Down syndrome. This pushed us as a training team to rethink the way we were sharing our learning curriculum and the way we paced workshops.
Also, taking those learners online and onto Zoom, into a group environment, we had to make sure that everyone was given a fair level playing field to engage. We were excited to see the quality of journalism, the level of proactive engagement, and the richness of that peer support.
Following this, we ran Community Leadership training with a group of community reporters from the original training so that they could cascade this learning and support others in their community to tell their own stories.
The website has become a platform for authentic reports and highlights the challenges faced by Disabled people as well as their ideas for change.
Camden Disability Action
Read the reports and meet the reporters of Camden Disabled People’s Voices
This learning helped shape Talk Kit – a digital suite of tools for Deaf and Disabled People led Organisations to get their communities talking about the issues that matter to them.