It's Our Story - Answers from America's Disability Activists


A National Media and History Initiative

  • Promoting and protecting the personal experiences, lived histories and shared knowledge of disability in America
  • Advocating for inclusion of disability history in high school curricula to engage new generations
  • Developing local, regional and national partnerships for the preservation and promotion of the digital disability history archives
  • Developing local, regional and national digital disability history resources, workshops, and trainings

Description and Scope of “It's Our Story”

It's Our Story (“IOS”) is a mix media digital history archive. The IOS archive holds the most comprehensive collection of video, photos and documents uncovering the power, pride, and personal struggle of living with a disability in America. The archive and its contents are a testament to America's most fundamental values of freedom, autonomy, and independence. The national initiative that has developed from developing the archive has united hundreds of grassroots advocates, scholars, educators and civic leaders and from every state of the Union to celebrate the personal and collective struggles for justice and civil rights.

The initiative started as a father (Scott Cooper) and a son (Eric Clow) media project on Ed Roberts, often referred to as “The Father of Disability Rights.” The project allowed both to come to terms with their own disabilities and transformed their view on the world in the process.

The humble history project eventually developed into the most ambitious and comprehensive video oral history project in the United States. During the past five years, Scott Cooper has driven over 100,000 miles collecting the personal testimonies of over 1,100 individuals with disabilities. Since its inception in 2005, more than 2,000 people across 110 cities have contributed over 43,000 volunteer hours to this national venture.

Since October of 2007, these efforts have been supported through the technical assistance and fiscal management of The Victor Pineda Foundation from about 50 small donations. The initiative now invites national organizations to help strengthen institutional support to preserve and disseminate this national resource.

Mission and Value Proposition

“It's Our Story” empowers young people with disabilities with knowledge. Sets of workshops have been developed to provide them with the additional tools, skills and opportunities to change their lives.

Today, 54 million people in the United States live with a disability. Many face stigma, discrimination, and social exclusion on a daily basis. However, the advent of social networks (such as Facebook and Twitter) and social media (YouTube) has stimulated new action and inspired disability rights and advocacy campaigns around the country and across the world.

It's Our Story has successfully recruited over 1,000 leaders, scholars and grassroots advocates to save their personal testimonies for posterity. These voices will help shape better understanding of American history and in the process share the lessons of community organizing, advocacy and leadership with a new generation. The project has been affectionately dubbed “Independent Living 2.0\

The IOS initiative is a tribute to and an extension of the seminal work of late Justin Dart, Jr. who collected over 5,000 written testimonies from persons with disabilities from every state between 1988 to 1990. As a result of his efforts, and the help of thousands of disability advocates and volunteers, Dart paved the way for the enactment of landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) granting people with disabilities the rights and privileges enjoyed by all Americans.

[Goals for National Engagement Initiative]

IOS was developed to raise public awareness and change public attitudes towards people with disabilities and increase:

a. capacity of persons with disabilities to live meaningful and independent lives;

b. digital literacy skills of persons with disabilities to be successful self-advocates, employees, and business leaders in the 21st century; and

c. leadership opportunities for persons with disabilities in their communities and contribution to all aspects of society.

It's Our Story website

It's Our Story YouTube Channel