What is Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability?
Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability is a Website, a series of print booklets for legislators, and a service-learning
project for students at Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities. Kindred Stories gives individuals with disabilities and their
friends and families opportunities to share their voices and stories. The stories give legislators, who are making important policy
decisions, a chance to be educated about the experiences of constituents with disabilities in their districts. They also give students an
opportunity to learn more about the challenges and successes that people with disabilities and families have in Tennessee.
How can we learn from a story?
Stories can be powerful tools that educate and encourage systems change. Think about the last time you heard a story that
touched you. Perhaps it educated you by giving you insight into a particular topic. Perhaps it gave you a new perspective or
explained a topic in a way that you had not thought of before. Perhaps it connected with you on a personal level or put a
human face on a subject. Maybe you even were inspired to share that story with another person. Whether it taught you something new or
whether it made you want to teach others, that story provided a way for you to connect with the experience of another. This art of
connection can be a highly effective tool.
About the stories on this Website
Each story is categorized by the Website administrator with discussion topics, so that you can see what common or unique subjects are
being shared. If you are interested in stories about people living with a specific disability, you can search for stories by disability. If you
are interested in stories of people in a specific county in Tennessee, in a particular age-group, or on a specific topic, you can search that way too.
Examples of categories that are currently included in the database of stories may be found on the home page. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you
do not see a category listed it means the database does not currently have a story on that topic. Do you have a story on that missing topic?
Please consider submitting it.
Where are the stories being told?
In addition to being shared through this Website, we also develop a print booklet each year that we share with legislators at
Tennessee Disability Days on the Hill and at the Federal Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. The booklets often highlight specific
themes that are relevant for the upcoming legislative sessions. For example, one year we might include stories from families on the waiting
list for home and community-based waiver services. Another year, we might highlight families from diverse cultural backgrounds. To view
these booklets, see: Tennessee Kindred Stories booklets
Who is telling the story?
Stories come from self-advocates, family members, friends, and service providers. We also have stories written by students who have
interviewed families. The stories are searchable by storyteller perspective. If you do not see a perspective listed it means the database
does not currently have a story submitted from that perspective.
Replicating the Kindred Stories of Disability Project
Kindred Stories of Disability: Sharing Personal Experiences to Impact Public Policy
A Project Replication Manual. This manual outlines the Kindred Stories of Disability project's process as it has been developed and is currently being coordinated at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Implementation of this program may vary for different organizations and classrooms, and all or part of the manual may be used in classroom application.