Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The "Voices of our Region" project

Found the press release for the "Voices of our Region" project interesting--an oral history project documenting disability history in southwestern Pennsylvania, timed to be part of Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary celebrations. Cool.

But the website for the project is really cool--they're putting up transcripts of the oral histories, and photographs of the interviewees, and video clips, and audio files, and... well, I could spend a long time there, and if you're interested in public history and everyday lives and human stories, you might want to join me. Some excerpts....
Now, I often wished that my parents could sign. But my dad he couldn’t do that very well. It was tough understanding with his speech. What? What? Well same with my mom. I wish that we could have had good meaningful conversations but it was just limited. How are you? How was work? But never asked deeper questions, deeper communication. But I still loved both of them, of course. But I really wish that they knew sign language. We didn’t really have the best communication, but I know my mom she loved me so much. She was so proud of me. She’d always talk about that. But just conversations with me, ahh, that was kind of shaky.(Chris Noschese)

I wrote about seven graduate schools with social work. I did tell them I was blind, wondered what their experience had been with blind people in the past, and requested information about scholarships. Some schools never replied. The University of Chicago sent me a classic letter that basically said to the effect that “The degree of your success will depend on the degree of your visual handicap. We have not had favorable experience with blind people in the past.” That was back in 63. (Joyce Driben)

The county had started a fledgling rehab there with makeshift equipment and I spent a year and a half there and it was a rather depressing place. First of all it was segregated. It was a county operated facility that was totally racially segregated. I was a teenager. However the year and a half went by. You learn to survive and live in an environment that wasn’t very healthy. I don’t think there was any discrimination in the quality of care. I think it was just bad that’s all. (William Coleman)

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Great project, great idea. Anyone know if these kinds of projects are going on elsewhere in the country?

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