For many people, the term “disability” conjures up images of inability and dependency, and the need to find “fixes” to return people with disabilities to “normalcy.” This kind of thinking often produces a charity approach to disability, where non-disabled service providers impose programs based on ableist ideas of how people should function in societies. In many cases, these programs are implemented without the input of the people who receive them, silencing the voices of people with disabilities and ignoring their ideas about the meaning of ability.
Following the work of Devlieger et al (2016), this website challenges ableist notions of ability by recognizing the existence of differing abilities as expressed by Ghanaians with disabilities. Participants were asked to take photos of the most significant aspects of their lives – challenges, livelihoods, social activities, et cetera. We then sat down with them and collected first-person narratives explaining why they took the pictures.
The resulting photo essays offer a lens on differing abilities and a glimpse into the lived experience of Ghanaian with disabilities. We hope that the stories will provide food for thought about the meaning of dis/ability and a source of empowerment for the participants.
The project has been funded by a grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). It is part of a larger research initiative on disability in Ghana. The first set of stories comes from disabled persons in the town of Tafo.