The Project

Seen but Seldom Heard – Challenging perceptions of disability through poetry and performance.

Seen but Seldom Heard is a collaboration between Bournemouth University and Victoria Education Centre and Sports College, Poole. Dorset. The project employs a novel participatory arts-based approach using performance poetry to challenge dominant perceptions and stereotypes of disability.

Young people can often experience barriers to participation in community life and voicing their opinions on issues that affect them; these challenges become compounded when a young person also has direct experience of disability. Media representations of disability are largely negative due to the limited number of stereotypes used and these stereotypes contribute to the ‘invisibility’ of disabled people within society.

Seen but Seldom Heard aims to empower a group of young disabled people with a ‘voice’ and the necessary creative skills to challenge stereotypes and engage in conversation about issues, practices and policies which affect them in their daily lives and their future aspirations.

The specific objectives of the project are to:

• To develop a participative methodology using performance poetry and spoken word to enable seldom heard groups to share their lived experiences and have their voices heard.

• To empower young disabled people to participate in conversations regarding policies and practices which affect them.

• To provide a space for young disabled people to tell their own story in response to negative media representations.

• To offer the young people the opportunity to gain new skills and build aspiration for further learning.

• Using a variety of media, raise awareness of what it is like to be a young person living with disability.

Live public performances to date include 2012 Cultural Olympiad (Weymouth), Bridport Literary Festival (2012) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) annual Festival of Social Science 2013, House of Commons 2014.