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The big picture

Exhibit on transportation and quality of life for persons with disabilities


By Kristine Power

An exhibit by a group of individuals who have disabilities and who explored the social impact of transportation on their lives through photos and personal narratives will open on Friday, Oct. 21.

Making the Journey is the culmination of a year-long photovoice research project that uses visual storytelling, which was led by Dr. Kathleen Sitter, a professor with the School of Social Work. The exhibit will take place in the Queen Elizabeth II Library’s First Space Gallery from 6-7:30 p.m.

‘Different ways of knowing’

“For this study, people directly impacted by the topic used a visual medium to share their perspective,” said Dr. Sitter. “I think it is a wonderful way to value the different ways of knowing and lived experiences.”

The photos and accompanying text are personal and range from the practical to the profound.

“I am very much affected by transportation or the lack there of,” described Kim, a participant of the photovoice research who wishes to remain anonymous.

“I would like for a light bulb to come on for the viewer and then they will say, ‘Oh, that is what it is like for someone using a walker or wheelchair or someone who is deaf or blind . . . I never knew there had to be so much planning involved in order to go to such everyday events like seeing a doctor, going out to vote, spending time with your children or going to the movies.’”

Access to the outside world can be limited for a person with a disability.
Photo: Kim, an exhibitor in Making the Journey.

Engaging policy-makers

Dr. Sitter hopes the exhibit will encourage a discussion about transportation issues for persons with disabilities and engage policy- and decision-makers. There are plans for the exhibit to travel to various venues and communities throughout the province.

“When we talk about authentic inclusion and participating in society, unfortunately there are a lot of people’s voices that are not often heard,” said Dr. Sitter. “Transportation in a larger context plays an important part in our quality of life. St. John’s has an opportunity to make sure this great city is accessible to everybody, and the best way to do that is to hear the lived experiences of those who have faced challenged in these areas.”

Diverse stories

The photos featured in Making the Journey tell diverse stories such as experiences about parenting and the importance of connecting with community. There is an image of a toy fighter jet with a caption that describes how transportation is not only about getting from place-to-place, but also feeling safe in the process.

“What I would like people to think and feel after experiencing the exhibit is a sense of enlightenment, to have their eyes opened.” — Eugene

Another photo depicts a woman in her doorway on a grey, rainy day looking down a wheelchair ramp waiting for a bus that is late. Some photos are symbolic, like a set of car keys and tickets to a concert.

“What I would like people to think and feel after experiencing the exhibit is a sense of enlightenment, to have their eyes opened so that they, too, can take their own journey and experience the wonders that are out there,” said Eugene, a research participant who also wished to remain anonymous.

Making the Journey runs until Dec. 16. Accessible parking is available in lot 17. The event is free and refreshments will be served. For gallery hours, please see the QEII Library hours here.

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