Making The Journey: A Photovoice Study about Transportation and Quality of Life for Persons with Disabilities launched its online gallery last week. The study asked persons with disabilities in St. John’s to share their experiences of transportation through photographs.
You can see the photographs with the artist participants’ captions on Instagram and Twitter @thejourney_nl.
Dr. Kathy Sitter, the researcher behind Making the Journey, explained that she hopes the study will raise awareness about how transportation impacts the quality of life of people living with disabilities.
“When choosing what to photograph, I thought about my many challenges with transportation in the past, and how easy things are now since having my own personal vehicle. I focused on photos that portrayed freedom and independence which goes hand in hand with having easy access to transportation,” wrote Laura, one the study’s artist participants (artist participants asked to be referred to by first names only).
In Laura’s photograph, “In Control of My Own Journey” two tickets to a Journey concert at Mile One Stadium are propped up and a bedazzled keychain with car key lies on the counter between them. The caption explains that prior to having access to her own vehicle it was difficult for Laura to really enjoy a concert because of the stress of organizing transportation through the para-transit system.
“It could take upwards of an hour to book a run with the para-transit system, the booking times might not have been ideal, I would have anxiety waiting for the bus to show up on the day of, I could show up super early and may have had to leave the concert before the encore,” the caption reads.
Artist participant Eugene’s work looks at how para-transit allows him to have a relationship with his daughter that he might not otherwise have, demonstrating how drastically people’s lives are shaped by access to transportation.
Eugene’s photo “Frozen in time” shows his young daughter smiling into the camera with her face painted like a tiger, the sky behind her is bright blue and in the background people are gathering around an outdoor table.
“Transportation allows me to go out and socialize with my daughter. If I did not have access to para-transit, I would not be able to see my daughter or take her out to different places, explore or try new things,” reads the caption.
Making the Journey highlights the need to prioritize the voices of persons with disabilities in conversations about improving our public transit systems.
“I find that when cameras are turned over to people in the community, it is a very powerful form of first-person storytelling…These visual stories can be a way to make connections, raise awareness, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for change…” Wrote Sitter.