Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability

A collection of stories from individuals with disabilities, families, friends, and disability service providers in Tennessee

About Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability

Tennesseans with disabilities, families, friends, and disability service providers are sharing their stories to:

  • Help others with similar stories cope and learn
  • Create awareness of disability issues in the state of Tennessee
  • Educate service providers, state policymakers, and the general public on issues of disability
  • Engage in the disability community to create positive change

Do you have a story to tell?

Share your story with us!

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.

Download the Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability flier

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.