How tablets and YouTube can empower people with intellectual disabilities

About two per cent of Canadians have an intellectual disability (ID). These individuals face substantial challenges—some related to the stigma of their condition, others because of their difficulty with living autonomously.

New research from Concordia University in Montreal shows that mobile technologies like tablets and smartphones can go a long way in helping people with ID face these challenges. By using these tools to create videos that explain their life experiences and successes, they can become more self-empowered while demonstrating and teaching their skills to peers.

For a study recently published in Social Inclusion, Ann-Louise Davidson, an associate professor in Concordia’s Department of Education, worked with eight individuals with ID to co-create moving personal video testimonials.

Using iPads, participants wrote and directed short videos that highlight important aspects of their lives. They then shared rough cuts of the videos with a focus group, receiving feedback as well as praise, prior to uploading the videos to a shared YouTube channel, accessible to the public.

“The collective message we see in these videos is clearly one of people with ID being able to lead satisfying lives and feel good about living, working and playing on a daily basis,” says Davidson. “And when people with ID see their peers succeed, it inspires them.”

Davidson says video production can be extremely empowering, but videos for people with ID are almost never made by them or with them in collaboration.

“People with ID have very few positive models of people with ID who are successful in society, and most of these models can be criticized as tokenizations—people with ID who are misleadingly high functioning.”

She turned that model on its head by conducting her study with the eight participants as co-researchers, having them produce and edit their own videos.

“The distinction between doing research ‘with,’ and doing research ‘on’ is really important,” she says, noting that, according to a study, her research is among only 17 existing projects worldwide that have adopted a collaborative approach with this population, and is the only one of its kind in Canada.

Davidson used what’s called the capability approach to help participants make decisions about what aspects to highlight in their videos.

To read the rest of this article, published in Phys.org, please click here.