Here at Scope, stories are central to everything we do. For National Storytelling Week we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate authentic stories and calling on publishers and authors to improve the representation of disability in literature. Read on to find out about all our activities so far and what we plan to do next.
Why tell stories?
Great stories have the power to connect us, to raise awareness, to make people feel and act. They’re at the heart of everything we do at Scope and they have a huge role to play in achieving social change. Few people are moved by statistics or facts, but when you hear someone’s personal story it can have a powerful impact.
Stories tell us things we didn’t know before; they show us other ways of living, other experiences, other views on the world. They can also make us feel less alone by showing us people like us and stories like ours – happy ending or not.
Telling authentic stories
At Scope, every story is told by the storyteller themselves – we’re just the ‘caretakers’, if you like. Although we interview people about their experiences, the stories we share are always in first person and completely in the storyteller’s own words. And they always have the final say – we never interview and run! We hope this builds trust and shows just how much we value them.
We work with storytellers to share their stories in lots of different ways. This could be anything from a policy report – using real experiences to bring our influencing to life, at events, in fundraising materials, in films and, very often, on Scope’s blog.
We’re really proud of the way we tell stories at Scope. Putting storytellers in charge means we only ever tell authentic stories. We give people a platform to share their diverse experiences and show a more accurate picture of disability. Often, opportunities for people to share their stories are lacking – disability isn’t a huge focus in the media and when it is, it’s often the negative side that you see. We want to make sure that people can tell the story that they want to tell.
Which brings us on to National Storytelling Week.
People want to see better representation of disability in literature
In the stories team we’re privileged to hear about a range of experiences in our day to day work. Unfortunately, for most people, their chance to read stories about disability are limited. If you think back to the books you enjoyed as a child, or even as an adult, you’d be hard pushed to find many featuring a disabled person. As a result, lots of people either don’t know much about disability or they only know the limited (sometimes misleading) view that they’re presented with.
This contributes to poor attitudes and stereotypes which can affect disabled people’s lives in number of ways. Another downside is that disabled people don’t get to read about stories and characters they can relate to.
We ran a Twitter poll which showed that 3 in 4 people want to see more inclusion of disability in literature
So, for National Storytelling Week, we ran lots of activities to campaign for better representation of disability in literature, and celebrated some great work that we want to see more of.
We ran a comic book workshop with Dan White, creator of Department of Ability. Dan was inspired to create the comic book when his 11-year-old daughter Emily wondered why there were no wheelchair users like her on TV. Dan then set out to create a comic book where Emily would lead a group of superheroes whose impairments, far from holding them back, are actually their superpowers. To watch a film about the comic book workshop, head to our YouTube channel.
Following the workshop, we posted each superhero creation on Facebook and ran a competition – with the winner getting to see their superhero turned into a guest in the next Department of Ability comic book. Here’s a short film of the winner, Daisy, explaining her superhero design.
We also partnered with the Huffington Post to share a blog each day from different storytellers. Incase you missed some of the content you can catch up here:
“It’s Immensely Important For Disabled People To See Positive Portrayals Of Themselves In Literature” – Asim’s blog
Following that, we partnered with Books on the Underground to do a ‘book drop’ where we hid 30 copies of Quentin Blake’s ‘The Five of Us’ around accessible tube stations. We had lots of engagement on our social media channels and our campaign was featured on Books on the Underground and on Quentin Blake’s website which was an amazing way to share our message with new audiences.
Our next step is to reach out to publishers and authors to ask them to improve their representation of disability in future books. We will keep you updated once we hear more. – so stay tuned!
To find out more about stories at Scope, head to our Stories Hub and please get involved.