(photo courtesy: Alice Hudson)

People open up a window in to their lives for their story to be told.  With video, that’s even more intimate. Instead of reading that they shed a tear, you watch that person cry.  Video allows us to connect with one another on a much deeper level.

While video can make a story so intimate, it puts so much narrative power in a journalist’s hands.

That’s what Maddie taught me.

A non-verbal fourth grader with cerebral palsy.  She can’t do anything on her own. Her family helps her all day, every day with basic tasks.  After she battled a major sickness, the family is back to square one with helping her communicate, too.

When you take video of someone that can’t speak for themselves, that doesn’t give you free reign.  Shooting video of someone with a disability is a delicate balance. If it’s essential to the story, you want to make sure you highlight the things that are challenging about their lives.

Get shots of the wheelchair, and the equipment that makes life normal, but don’t forget this is still a person in front of you.  Even though they might not be able to verbalize it, they have thoughts, feelings, and anxieties about someone bringing a camera in to their home.

As I moved around Maddie’s house, and got shots of her and her family, I talked to her while I was doing it.  That’s what I would do if my subject had full range of motion and normal communication skills, so why would that change with Maddie?

It might not have meant a lot to their family, but it reminded me that in every story there are other humans on the other side of my lens. As a journalist, I have a responsibility to treat them that way.

See my full video below about Maddie and her family’s mission for inclusion.

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