Creating a Living Electronic Archive With and About People With Learning Disabilities: Methodological Considerations

  • Peter Williams University College London
Keywords: learning disabilities, electronic archive, methodological considerations, technology


This article examines the issues inherent in the construction and population of a ‘living electronic archive’ of the testimonies of people with learning disabilities (PWLD) on their experiences of ‘smartphone’ technology. It enabled a somewhat neglected cohort both to have a voice and to see their contributions displayed on a personal archive page, rather than be mere research data for an academic researcher.    

Project findings, in terms of smartphone uses or benefits etc., are reported elsewhere. This paper considers instead issues related to archive design and methods to facilitate the creation of testimonies by a learning-disabled cohort.

Prior work has been extremely limited. Autobiographical books and a small amount of material online recounting the lives of PWLD exist. However, there appears to be no resource that includes links between contributors, is directly searchable, or ‘living’ (including a facility to update, delete or add to individual entries).

Intensive meetings with various stakeholders, including PWLD, led to the adoption of various site features to ensure safety and anonymity whilst permitting easy access to other people’s testimonials. Moderation was also judged necessary to prevent inappropriate material. An innovative method was developed to create content. Participants were interviewed, but after every question they were invited to review, add to or modify their answer, as the archive testimony was gradually built-up. The common practice of including ‘non-verbal’ utterances was eschewed, so participants were not exposed to any shortcomings in their language or expression on reviewing content. 

[Unfinished - full abstract in the article]


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How to Cite
Williams, P. (2022). Creating a Living Electronic Archive With and About People With Learning Disabilities: Methodological Considerations. International Journal of Pedagogical Advances in Technology-Mediated Education, 2(3), 39 - 48. Retrieved from