Nothing About Us Without Us_Nicki Pombier Berger

Nothing About Us Without Us:
Stories from Self-Advocates with Down Syndrome

By Nicki Pombier Berger, 2010
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Read more about this project on the OHMA blog

From 2012 to 2013, I conducted twelve life history interviews with self-advocates who have Down syndrome for my thesis in the Oral History Master of Arts program at Columbia University. The purpose of the interviews was to provide these individuals with an opportunity to share their life experiences and reflect on their role in advocating for themselves and others with disabilities. The aim of this Cowbird collection is therefore to share those experiences and reflections with an audience that may not otherwise hear the voices of individuals with Down syndrome. I hope to present these voices in such a way that combats stigma with dignity, challenges the myth of dependence with stories of agency, and showcases their diversity.

Images at the Selinsgrove Center for the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University's A Fierce Kind of Love - Connecting Through Story: Lives Lived Apart photo © Jacques-Jean Tiziou / For more info:

Nicki Pombier Berger is an oral historian, educator and interdisciplinary artist. As a freelance oral historian, she works primarily at the intersection of disability and social change, through projects such as the TILL Living Legacy Project, Here: Stories from Selinsgrove and KenCrest, and Nothing About Us Without Us. Nicki currently teaches at the New School for Drama, and has taught oral history workshops at, among other venues, Columbia University, Bethel University’s New York Center for Art and Media Studies, and Oral History Summer School, where she taught sessions on Mixed Ability interviewing in 2015. She is the Founding Editor of Underwater New York, a digital arts journal of writing, art, and music inspired by the waterways of New York City and the objects submerged within them, for which she has curated events and excursions in all five boroughs. Since spring 2015, Nicki has been a Research Fellow on the Robert Rauschenberg Oral History Project. From 2010-2013, she worked at StoryCorps, where she led the National Teachers Initiative and worked on the youth development program StoryCorpsU. She has a Bachelor of Science in the Foreign Service from Georgetown University (2001), a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College (2009), and a Master of Arts in Oral History from Columbia University (2013). She invites you to join her in Risk Listening, an oral history experiment. More at

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