Since the beginning of Visions and Voices, an important part of our presentations have been the speaker’s life story videos. There are times when we don’t play them for a variety of reasons, but in general, the videos serve as introduction for the speakers and allow time for speakers to feel comfortable in the environment before speaking. With our remaining budget from 2015, we were able to partner with JustTV to create videos for our two new speakers. This was an incredible process to be a part of, from working with JustTV to interviewing the speakers on camera.
Something that really stood out to me though was the process of interviewing the speakers. Recently I was with one of the speakers as they were interviewed by a journalist for a news story and at times felt uncomfortable with the way the journalists’ attempt to “get the story” lead the individual to say something they wouldn’t normally have said. Understanding that many individuals living with FASD can struggle with language and communication, leading questions or unclear, abstract questions by unfamiliar people can be problematic. After having prepared significantly with the new speakers and having done numerous presentations alongside them in the past year, when it came to interviewing I realized I too was asking leading questions. However, unlike the journalist who at best had a brief pre-interview, I was able to structure my questions in a way that moved speakers towards reflecting on ideas and stories they had shared before, in their own words. For me it was a powerful reminder of a lesson that I learn over and over doing this work. Supporting individuals living with FASD, specifically as they tell their story, requires that I consistently make an effort to understand their world so that I can use language and ideas that create space for them to tell their stories in a way that is genuine and empowering.