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  4. Telling it like it is - the experience of storytellers with disabilities

Telling it like it is - the experience of storytellers with disabilities

Zoe Hughes

There have been lots of projects around the world where people with disabilities have told their stories. These stories are interesting and important. But what is it actually like to tell your story? What are the feelings you get when you are asked to tell your story to someone who might be a stranger? What if it is a story that you don’t think they will like?

In this presentation I am going to try and answer these questions. I worked with people in Ireland to tell their story. After they did, I went back to them and talked to them about what it felt like, and what they liked and didn't like about it.

  • Most people liked telling their story.
  • Some people found it difficult.
  • Some people felt that telling their story helped them be happy about sad things that had happened a long time ago.
  • Most people said they would do it again.
  • Some people said that they wanted their staff to help them keep telling their story.
  • Some people thought that there might be better ways to tell your story.
  • Some people did not like telling their story and would not do it again.

I will talk about these topics in my presentation. I will show what the storytellers said, in their own words. The focus of my presentation will be the experience of the storytellers with learning disabilities. When it is over, people will know what storytellers said it was like to tell their story.


Zoe Hughes - I am a researcher and policy officer working in Ireland. I have been interested in life stories for many years. My great-aunt would tell me stories of her childhood in Ireland in the 1920s and I was fascinated. I have worked as a care worker, a lecturer, a researcher, and policy worker in disabilities since 2000. I currently work as research and policy officer for a charity working with families and family carers. In my spare time I am chairperson of the Connect People Network, I research my family history and I write a lot. My biggest life stories project to date has been a national project collecting the stories of people with intellectual disabilities.

Contact us

About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

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