Research project, art exhibition from UAE university seeks to remove stigma of young people with disabilities in Jordan


Research project, art exhibition from UAE university seeks to remove stigma of young people with disabilities in Jordan

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Amman, Jordan: A research project from the University of Birmingham Dubai has culminated in a high-profile art exhibition in the Jordanian National Gallery of Art.

The ‘Though Our Eyes’ project, which is part of the wider Disability Under Siege Network programme, saw six disabled young people in Jordan provided with cameras to photograph and document their everyday lived experiences. These photos will now be made available for the public to view, getting a glimpse into lives and experiences which are normally hidden from public discourse.

Dr Sarah Benson, lecturer in inclusive and special needs education at the University of Birmingham Dubai, who led the project said: “The goal of this project, and the photography exhibition is to bring disabled and non-disabled youth together through conversation and art.

“Role models and advocates with disabilities are not readily available or represented in public forums in Jordan and so it is important to create platforms that create these opportunities to develop a discussion of disability that is not centred around negative stigma and a lack of understandings.”

Dr. Mayada Al-Natour, co-investigator and researcher from the University of Jordan added: “This project will help to initiate a dialogue between young people with and without disabilities. Through the lens of the camera our participants have been able to shed light on aspects of their daily lives and interests, removing misconceptions and improve understanding between disabled and non-disabled young people in Jordan.”

Jordan’s government has been heavily investing in projects to promote inclusivity for students with disabilities in schools, however research has shown that there are still misconceptions about disabled people and negatives attitudes and beliefs which can make life incredibly isolating.

By sharing the photos with the larger Amman community, the young people who have taken part in the project hope that those in government, schools and the wider public will better understand the reality they live every day.

One of the young participants on the project has subsequently been asked to help his school with social media management because of his success with the photography project.

Dr Benson concluded: “We are thrilled that we have been able to collaborate with the National Gallery in Jordan on this project. Hosting the exhibition at such a prestigious location really exemplifies the importance to remove stigma and open the up the public conversation around disability and inclusion in Jordan.

The photographs that our six young participants have taken communicate a simple and strong message: “We exist, we matter, and we are just like you.”

Through Our Eyes is on at the Jordanian National Gallery of Art from 13th – 19th March.