PhotoVoice is a participatory action approach that empowers students to use their cameras to document access and barriers, to reflect on the meaning found in the photos, and to engage in critical dialogue with others to ignite the spark of social change.
The Office of Disability Services at Winthrop University provides access to bright college students who happen to have disabilities. 2015 marked the 25th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To celebrate, we asked Winthrop students to participate in a PhotoVoice project as a way to raise awareness of the issues they face each day. We are using photographs to educate the public, as well as those who have the political power to make change on our campus and in our communities. If a picture is worth a thousand words, these photographs provide visual evidence to help identify and address issues of accessibility. We are asked students to consider their barriers, take a photo, and submit to us along with where and when the photo was taken and a short summary the obstacle represented. As an example, in a prior exhibit, a student with severe allergies took a photo of her epi pen sitting inside her running shoes. Her summary explained how she can’t just throw on her shoes and go. She has to be very careful of what she comes in contact with and she must read all food labels before she can grab a snack or lunch. One misstep could lead to anaphylactic shock and possibly death.