1000 Voices Public Awareness and Research Program


  • Griffith University's Research Centre for Clincial and Community Practice

  • 2007


To capture the life narratives of disabled people on a public interactive website, where 1000 life narratives from disabled people are catalogued and displayed.

With this collection of narratives, their aim was to build awareness of the lived experiences of people with disability; to provide opportunities for people with disability to have their own voice in determining how their lives are seen and heard; and to make sure that these voices become part of ongoing research, service, and policy development activity in Australia and beyond.

Results Achieved

As at January 2013, there were 124 user accounts and 75 completed stories. The ages of website users ranged from 10 to 77 years of age.

"The power of stories is central to 1000 Voices," says Prof Lesley Chenoweth of Griffith University.

"The actual idea excites people - it is a great way to engage around disability issues. 1000 Voices has the capacity to transcend geographical and political borders."

Griffith University has formed partnerships with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and Handicap International to expand their reach to people with disabilities from all over the world.

Through their initial work with UNESCAP, they saw a need for a mobile app to enable people without computer access to access 1000Voices via mobile devices. Two Griffith University students undertook this work as a course project and have won the approval of the United Nations by creating a mobile phone application which is connecting disabled people around the world.

Access to computers is often challenging for people living in developing countries, but mobile devices such as smart phones can also provide a connection to the internet.

The app was developed with some people with disability in Pakistan, who are part of the UN wider project on disability poverty and livelihoods. For more information on the app and the developers, go to: http://app.griffith.edu.au/news/2012/12/13/1000-voices-reaching-out-to-the-world/

What worked well and why?

The move to a "membership" model, where participants can add to their stories and upload additional stories, has created more of an online community.

The open nature of the website and participant control over stories e.g. coming back to add to or revise their story, herald some exciting innovations in research methodologies for narrative research.

The project now has an online capacity to upload stories in multiple ways, through text, image, audio and moving image files. This has facilitated people with differing abilities to share their story in ways that suit their needs.

How were obstacles overcome?

They did not anticipate the level of support many people need to tell their stories. This included technical help - e.g. how to upload, changing and editing after upload etc. and narrating help - e.g. how do I begin a story, what if the person does not speak or write, my life is not that exciting so what can I tell? etc.

The data export functions did not produce clean data and caused problems for analysis

They had limited ability to display different content types as one multimodal "story" in pilot site.  Changes they made were:

-   To try to secure funding to support more people face to face. This works locally but is difficult to ramp up to a national or global level. This would require more resources.

-  From their experience with the initial site and the roll out of the project they secured funding to revamp the site so that it is more user friendly, can deal with bulk uploads and has better interface features.

In order for the app to work on any mobile device, they had to develop it for quite old technology and they found that a bit of a challenge.

This photo is of one of the 1000 Voices narrators, Phongsavath, who is from Laos and lost his hands and sight in a landmine incident.





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