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Smartphones may help people with intellectual disability

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Toronto: Smartphones and tablets may help people with intellectual disability face several challenges related to the stigma of their condition and their difficulty with living autonomously, a new study has found.

By using 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, according to Ann-Louise Davidson from Concordia University in Canada.

Smartphones Smartphones Davidson worked with eight individuals with intellectual disability (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. And when people with ID see their peers succeed, it inspires them,” said Ann-Louise Davidson.

Video production can be extremely empowering, but videos for people with ID are almost never made by them or with them in collaboration, said Davidson. “People with ID have very few positive models of people with ID who are successful in society, and most of these models can be criticised as tokenisations – people with ID who are misleadingly high functioning,” said Davidson.

She conducted the 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 said. Davidson used what is called the ‘capability approach’ to help participants make decisions about what aspects to highlight in their videos.

“Using that approach meant having the possibility to choose what one can do as opposed to doing only what one can do,” she said. “That is a fundamental freedom that researchers should focus on in future studies on disability,” she added. The study found that all participants provided enough information about their capabilities and no one was intimidated by the technology.

“With powerful mobile technologies so readily available and accessible, people with ID can and should produce their own educational resources,” said Davidson. The findings were published in the journal Social Inclusion.

PTI

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