YouTalk 2: Create, Participate.
Well, hi! It's been such a great journey over the past several months, getting out there in the community and meeting the people that I was so excited to speak to in the making of the YouTalk series. Thanks to the grant I was so graciously given by the FundAbility team, I was able to prioritise many, many hours and kilometres on the road to bring you the next videos that you're about to see over the next week. I also met some wonderful people; not just the main interviewees of my videos, but the network of professionals who surround them.
Something I would really like to draw your attention to is the quiet dedication and subtle presence of the support workers in my videos. They're always there, somewhere in the background. I've been a disability support worker myself, both paid and unpaid. Something you hear a lot is that it takes someone really special to do this job. But what you don't often hear is how truly rewarding it is, and how much you learn from your clients. If you've never considered it before but want to find a career direction that fulfils your deep motivation to help someone each day to reach their goals, do consider taking up some training - you can even do it online with TAFE in the comfort of your own home. If you need to get amongst it and get a more hands-on experience to know if you've got what it takes, there are plenty of local disability services who would love to meet you and offer you a chance to volunteer for a while. All it takes to start is one thing: the right attitude.
One other thing I'd really like to impress upon the community is the nature of the conversations I've had with my interviewees. Being a student of biological psychology, sensation and perception has taught me a lot about what's happening on a biological level when someone with a different cognitive setup is communicating. Without writing an entire thesis on this, I just have a tip for you: allow time. Ask simple questions one at a time, and wait for the answer, because it's a bit like dropping a handful of sand through one of those plastic wheels you might find in a child's sandpit. You've got to wait for every last grain of sand to go through the wheel and hit the ground below. Your answer will come. The main thing is patience. Allow for your question to be "soaked in" and then for their brain to formulate an answer and then wrestle with speech to throw you back a reply. Even in the supermarket as we filmed with Pat, we saw someone treating him with great impatience and rudeness as he walked through the entrance, because he was walking too slowly for them and they felt he was "holding them up". This brought me great distress. I wondered how often all my clients experience that level of impatience from others while out participating in normal life in the community, as is their right.
There's an ethical conundrum faced by the videographer when editing videos with people who live with disability and communicate differently. Do I edit all the "ums" out? Do I cut all the long pauses and silences? Does this compromise the characteristic nature of my conversations with my clients?
I have spent days, nights, snatched moments between uni assignments, stolen dawn editing sessions before breakfast and even time in cafes to carefully deliberate over the ethics of how to present these videos. The twelve and a half minutes of video you see below is a compromise; I did not wish to release a forty-minute video for fear of my community disengaging from the video only moments in, and missing this precious opportunity to sit and spend time with my clients.
But this is something I take very seriously on an ethical level, and something I hope that engages my beloved Hawkesbury community while also staying true to the main aim of my work: putting a community in touch with itself. Introducing people to one another, when maybe they don't otherwise come into contact in everyday life. I'd love for you to meet my new friends. Do stay for the duration of the video, and watch in full screen.
I hope you enjoy this second instalment of YouTalk.
Stay tuned for the third episode, out in a few days.