Treacherous TerrainLegendary

Storytelling & Disability 2:
Helping People to Share their Own Stories

Dr. Nicola Grove (UK)

Mon, 4 June 2018

10:00am – 5:00pm (1-hr lunch break; lunch not provided)

Blue Room, The Arts House (Map)


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Recommended for:

  • Special Needs
  • Teachers & Educators
  • Counselling & Therapy
  • Parents & Caregivers
  • Community Facilitators
  • Storytellers

All over the world there are children and adults with disabilities who have stories to tell about their lives - but too often they cannot be heard. This workshop will introduce an innovative, simple conversational strategy - Storysharing® - for enabling individuals to narrate their own experiences - whether grand life stories, or the tiny anecdotes of everyday that contribute to the webs of friendship that sustain us and build resilience. The approach was developed through 10 years watching and listening to how stories are shared in real life - the playground, the dinner table, the residential home, the school. Evidence shows that it is effective with a wide range of special educational needs - from profound intellectual impairment, to autism, to selective mutism and extreme shyness.

Storysharing has been used for building communication and listening skills, developing relationships and empathy, and in citizen advocacy in community and school settings. The workshop is Introductory Level.

Areas addressed:

  • Reflect on how and why personal stories are important
  • Discuss cultural influences on styles of anecdotal telling
  • Analyse the factors that inhibit successful narration by children and adults with communication difficulties
  • Learn and practice some of the key techniques used in the approach
  • Plan ways of using what they have learned in their own workplace or at home


  • Come prepared to have fun, to listen and learn from each other
  • Use will be made of role play, film observation and small group work in a safe and supportive space. No-one needs to feel pressurised to perform
  • We will also create resources for recording and sharing stories, including theatres, puppets and patchworks


  • Understand the role of personal stories in building identity, empathy and friendship
  • Identify the barriers that prevent individuals with communication difficulties from being able to tell and share stories about their lives
  • Know what makes a good story for a child or adult to share

Links will be made with the first master class Storytelling & Disability 1 (Friday 1st June), dealing with traditional storytelling, but each workshop can be attended independently.



  • Unauthorized video and audio recording is not permitted for this event.
  • Photography without flash and without disrupting the artists/event is permitted within reason.


  • All patrons are required to purchase tickets for admission.
  • Admission is subject to proof of tickets purchased.
  • Latecomers advisory: All latecomers must wait for suitable cue for seating.
  • No refunds, no exchange of tickets.

Dr. Nicola Grove

Helping People to Share their Own Stories

Nicola Grove trained as a teacher and speech therapist, specialising in intellectual disability, special educational needs, and sign language. Her doctoral research explored the linguistic and creative status of the manual signing of children with disabilities. She pioneered the use of literature and story in special schools, winning an award for her book on the topic. She has worked as a consultant on curriculum, narrative and communication, most recently for the Story Museum in Oxford. Currently she holds an honorary lectureship at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent.

She left her university post in London to set up Openstorytellers, an award winning charity which promotes voice and community empowerment for people with intellectual and communication difficulties.Working in partnership, the members tell legends, historical and personal stories, in schools and day services, at conferences and festivals and at training courses. Story is also used to support self-advocacy and citizenship, using an innovative collaborative approach which has transformed the ability of young people to speak up for themselves.

Nicola has given presentations and workshops all over the world. She has researched the representation of people with disabilities in myth and legend, collecting stories in South Africa, Canada, Australia and Japan, where she developed a project to challenge stigma through celebrating ‘Heroes with a Difference’.  Her books include: Odyssey Now (1996); Ways into Literature (2005); Learning to Tell (2009), Using Storytelling to Support Children and Adults with Special Needs (2013) and The Big Book of Storysharing (2014).

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