Project Summary

    It's Our Story
    A National Media and History Initiative

    `  • Promoting and protecting the personal experiences, lived histories and shared             knowledge of disability in America

        • Advocating for inclusion of disability history in high school curricula to engage             new generations

        • Developing local, regional and national partnerships for the preservation and             promotion of the digital disability history archives

        • Developing local, regional and national digital disability history resources,                 workshops, and trainings

    Description and Scope of “It’s Our Story”

        It’s Our Story (“IOS”) is a mix media digital history archive. The IOS archive holds the         most comprehensive collection of video, photos and documents uncovering the                    power, pride, and personal struggle of living with a disability in America.  The archive         and its contents are a testament to America’s most fundamental values of freedom,            autonomy, and independence.  The national initiative that has developed from                    developing the archive has united hundreds of grassroots advocates, scholars,                    educators and civic leaders and from every state of the Union to celebrate the                    personal and collective struggles for justice and civil rights.

        The initiative started as a father (Scott Cooper) and a son (Eric Clow) media project on Ed            Roberts, often referred to as “The Father of Disability Rights.”  The project allowed both to         come to terms with their own disabilities and transformed their view on the world in the            process. 

        The humble history project eventually developed into the most ambitious and                            comprehensive video oral history project in the United States.  During the past five years,            Scott Cooper has driven over 100,000 miles collecting the personal testimonies of over                1,100 individuals with disabilities. Since its inception in 2005, more than 2,000 people                across 110 cities have contributed over 43,000 volunteer hours to this national venture. 

        Since October of 2007, these efforts have been supported through the technical assistance         and fiscal management of The Victor Pineda Foundation from about 50 small donations.             The initiative now invites national organizations to help strengthen institutional support to         preserve and disseminate this national resource.

     Mission and Value Proposition

        “It’s Our Story” empowers young people with disabilities with knowledge. Sets of                        workshops have been developed to provide them with the additional tools, skills and                    opportunities to change their lives.

        Today, 54 million people in the United States live with a disability. Many face                 stigma, discrimination, and social exclusion on a daily basis. However, the advent         of social networks (such as Facebook and Twitter) and social media (YouTube) has         stimulated new action and inspired disability rights and advocacy campaigns                around the country and across the world.

        It’s Our Story has successfully recruited over 1,000 leaders, scholars and                        grassroots advocates to save their personal testimonies for posterity. These voices         will help shape better understanding of American history and in the process share         the lessons of community organizing, advocacy and leadership with a new                    generation. The project has been affectionately dubbed “Independent Living 2.0

        The IOS initiative is a tribute to and an extension of the seminal work of late                Justin Dart, Jr. who collected over 5,000 written testimonies from persons with            disabilities from every state between 1988 to 1990. As a result of his efforts, and         the help of thousands of disability advocates and volunteers, Dart paved the way         for the enactment of landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) granting            people with disabilities the rights and privileges enjoyed by all Americans.

    Goals for National Engagement Initiative

           IOS was developed to raise public awareness and change public attitudes towards people             with disabilities and increase:

        a. capacity of persons with disabilities to live meaningful and independent lives;

        b. digital literacy skills of persons with disabilities to be successful self-advocates,         employees, and business leaders in the 21st century; and

        c. leadership opportunities for persons with disabilities in their communities and         contribution to all aspects of society.