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'We are not disposable': KU student collects disabled people's COVID-19 stories

hannah soyer

KU graduate student Hannah Soyer decided to create a website to compile disabled folks’ experiences during the pandemic through oral storytelling.

To complete her graduate certificate in women and gender studies, University of Kansas graduate student Hannah Soyer decided to create a website to compile disabled individuals’ experiences during the pandemic through oral storytelling.

“As the pandemic has gone on, I personally have felt that the voices of disabled individuals have continued to largely be dismissed and our fears have largely been dismissed," Soyer said.

The creative writing major from Des Moines, Iowa, said she came up with the oral history archive idea herself, but ended up coming into contact with others working on a similar project.

“I want to be very clear, I did have this idea on my own, but the project … this isn’t just my project, you know, this is something we are all working on together,” Soyer said.

After tweeting out the launch of this project, Soyer met Asher Wolf and Daisy Holder; both of who had been compiling stories of disabled, chronically ill and at-risk people from across the world. The trio then decided to collaborate and help one another on each of their projects.

“This project of oral history and working with Daisy and Asher is an act of saying, ‘Here are these stories. Here are these voices of disabled and chronically ill individuals who have been, and are being, impacted by the pandemic in ways that the mainstream society and culture are continuing to dismiss,'" Soyer said.

“It’s a way of saying that these stories and voices are valid and these bodies are not disposable," Soyer continued. "We are not disposable.”

hannah soyer art

The archive will accept written articles, pieces of art, videos, songs or anything else a person would like to contribute.

The oral histories will be housed on Soyer’s website and distributed to both Holder’s Covid Disability Archive and the website Wolf and their team are currently building. In addition to oral histories, Soyer says the archive will accept written articles, pieces of art, videos, songs or anything else a person would like to contribute.

“I would hope people who see it, who are disabled or chronically ill or at risk themselves and have felt their voices and fears have been dismissed or invalidated throughout all of this, my hope would be that they see this project as validation of their experiences and fears,” Soyer said. “I would hope that they see it as a community, a very strong community that is fighting back and saying ‘No, we are important and your experience is valid and we are here and we aren’t going away.’”

hannah soyer 2

For those who would like to be involved with the project, Soyer is recruiting individuals to help with the oral histories.

For people outside of the at-risk demographic, Soyer hopes for a shift in perspective on the pandemic and at-risk individuals.

“I would hope people who do not fit into that group see it and at least start to think about all these different and diverse voices of people who have been affected, are being affected so much by the pandemic and who perhaps are being ignored,” Soyer said.

Prior to this project, Soyer teamed up with photographer Mary Mathis to create the This Body is Worthy website. The project aims to showcase bodies outside of societal ideals through a collection of photos.

Contributions to the archive can be emailed to coviddisabilityarchive@gmail.com to be included on the website. There is no deadline for submitting content to the archive.

If individuals would prefer to conduct a short Zoom interview with Soyer, they can contact her at soyerhannah@gmail.com and set up a time. The audio and transcription from the Zoom call will be housed on the website. The release date of the website has yet to be determined.

For those who would like to be involved with the project, Soyer is recruiting individuals to help with the oral histories and can be contacted at soyerhannah@gmail.com.

Person 1: This song slaps.

Person 2: Your mom slaps.

Person 1: Thank you, my mom is a kind and wonderful lady.


 Person 1: I’m so sick of alcohol.

Person 2: I don’t know, I’m getting stronger every day. I love it.


Person 1: Do you do the vegan wrap here?

Person 2: We can do the chicken wrap with no cheese?

Person 1: I’ll take the Beyond Burger please. 


Person 1: Oh my God! I feel like I know you somehow…

Person 2: Yeah, we went to high school together. 

Person 1: Oh! *walks off*


Guy 1: Is the black market even real? Has anyone ever been on it?

Guy 2: I tried once but I couldn’t figure out how to get on.


Guy 1: I stayed up until 2 am watching Disney plus

Guy 2: I told my girlfriend I fell asleep but I was actually watching the Mandalorian.


Girl 1: How long have you guys been dating?

Girl 2: Since the summer, well actually for like two years but it’s a long story.


Girl 1: Who are you looking for?

Girl 2: This guy, wait I found him. Fanny pack boy. He flipped off my professor after a test and ran out of the classroom.


Girl 1: How did you choose KU? 

Girl 2: Honestly, I flipped a coin. 


Boy 1: Did I tell you? I think I had a threesome this weekend.

Boy 2: Woah, hold up. You think?


Boy 1: I was born a Phi Delt.

Boy 2: Please don’t ever say that again.


Girl 1: How do you get your boobs to look like that?

Girl 2: I don’t ever wear a bra? I don’t know. 


Girl 1: I just really want a guy to bend me over you know?

Girl 2: How do you know? You’re a virgin!


Guy: Sometimes I wish I could just be a dog and sleep all day. 

Girl: You wake up at like three every day. 

Guy: I know.

Girl: So…

Guy: So does that make me a dog or something?


Girl 1: I wish I was a little bit taller.

Girl 2: I wish I was balder.

Girl 1: I wish I had a...wait, wait, wait balder?


Guy 1: Let’s slap dicks

Guy 2: You ever pee and it feels like throwing up?


Woman 1: *holding baby* He would have been safer at the Hawk

Woman 2: Oh absolutely.


Girl 1: I would never date that guy.

Girl 2: Well, it depends how much money he has.


Girl 1: I’m going to the doctor to see if I have bronchitis before I hook up with him again.

Girl 2: Yeah that’s smart so you don’t give it to anyone else. 

Girl 1: No I mean I want to make sure I infect him.


Guy 1: I'm cutting some of my unnecessary costs, starting with Juuling.

Guy 2: Ight man, good luck.

Guy 1: Actually I might just start chewing


Guy 1: How was work?

Guy 2: My manager was chastising me for not dressing up in a Halloween costume, she doesn’t understand I’m strictly here to get paid.


Guy 1: I am so tired of this week, man

Guy 2: Dude it’s Monday

Guy 1: I know


Person#1: I want to be on the first ship to mars

Person#2: Not me, I doubt they have Wi-Fi

Perons#1: Yeah but at least they’re evolving up there. We’re all just devolving.


Girl 1: Um, I don’t eat pig.

Girl 2: You eat bacon all the time, bitch.


Guy 1: You better get going. 

Guy 2: Yeah, see ya. I’m off to get some Adderall.


Girl 1: Are you home right now?

Girl 2: Yeah, why?

Girl 1: I bought a cat


Girl 1: I just don't understand what fishing is for.

Girl 2: I don't know. Food, maybe?


Guy: I’m just gonna have to like carry an entire box of spiders up the hill tomorrow.

Girl: What?

Guy: Yeah, just like a hundred spiders in a box.


Guy 1: Sometimes ya just gotta give yourself a haircut.

Guy 2: Dude, you shaved half your head. That’s not a haircut, that’s a mess.


Girl 1: Can you eat fruit raw?

Girl 2: How else are you supposed to eat it?


Girl: That class is killing us. ​But they say rest is for the dead.

Guy: Well, at least we'll be rested.


Girl: She's not in class this semester

Guy: Maybe she's dead

Girl: Or studying abroad