On January 27th 2020, 10 learners with intellectual disabilities along with their care takers came to Dienos centras "Šviesa" in Vilnius to participate in a 5 day workshop on digital storytelling. The meeting is part of a long-term Erasmus+ project DigiStorID that aims at developing innovative educational methods for people with special needs.
Digital Storytelling (Berkeley Method) is a way of empowering people by supporting them to share their personal life stories with the help of digital means of expression. Joe Lambert, founder of Center for Digital Storytelling and one of the main promoters of the method, defines digital story as a short, first person video narrative created by combining recorded voice, still and moving images, and music and other sounds.
The philosophy behind the method is that everyone has a story to tell and everyone should be given a chance to voice it. In reality, however, there are many groups who do not have a voice in popular media or are only represented by statistics. This is still the case for many people with intellectual disabilities who are often believed not to be capable to speak for themselves and sharing their stories. The truth is that many of them are facing obstacles when they want to express themselves clearly and often struggle to find a way to do it effectively, but with the modern technologies available it is possible to enable them to speak about their lives, dreams, and aspirations. This is exactly what this project is about – experimenting and finding ways in which classical Berkley method digital storytelling can be adjusted to the specific needs of learners with intellectual disabilities.
The meeting in Lithuania is already the third activity within the framework of DigiStorID. The initial stage of the project was a facilitators’ training course in Denmark during which the care takers learned the method. Digital storytelling was then tested during international workshop in Italy where learners with intellectual disabilities created their short films. The workshop in Lithuania provides a space for further adjusting the method based on the evaluation conducted after the event in Italy.
Participants who are gathered in Vilnius are right now going through an individual process of developing their short personal stories, reflecting a lot on what is important for them and, with the personalized assistance from their care takers, looking for creative ways to illustrate it. In result we expect to have 10 digital stories presenting a variety of topics and perspectives from learners with intellectual disabilities.
In the long term, this project is to result in a development of a series of intellectual outputs as follows:
- Needs analysis of people with intellectual disabilities and their care takers
- Digital storytelling detailed program adjusted to the needs of people with intellectual disabilities
- Easy to read digital storytelling for learners
- Digital storytelling manual for professionals working with people with intellectual disabilities
- Policy recommendations
As all these outputs will be publicly available online, they will contribute to popularizing digital storytelling as a way for empowering people with disabilities, raising professional capacities of the organizations and individuals working with this specific target group.
The partners of the project are:
The Trebnje Centre for Education and Culture - Slovenia
KPEDU - Finland
Upstream Stories - Denmark
The Reykjavik Academy (RA) - Iceland
Anffas Onlus Pordenone - Italy
The International Labour Contact Net - Lithuania
Varstveno delovni center (VDC) Novo mesto - Slovenia
ÁS styrktarfélag - Iceland
Dienos centras "Šviesa" - Lithuania
by Katarzyna Kowalska, Upstream Stories