‘I am’ Digital Story (method 2): using ‘I…’ statements approach to help participants prepare for filmmaking

Presenter(s): Sarah Parsons and Samantha Holt

decorative image to accompany text

The method uses simple ‘I…’ statements template to help participants in describing themselves and their experiences. The ‘I…’ statements encourage an authentic, first-person perspective delivered by participants, which is beneficial in explaining the significance of an image or film clip to the viewer.

An ‘I am’ Digital Story project places the participant at the heart of the story. It is their voice and perspective that needs to be prioritised and shared; they are the storyteller. So, the first step in planning is to think carefully about who the storyteller is and how much autonomy they want and need at each step of the creation process.

The process is intended to be a co-construction with the storyteller in a way that is best tailored to their specific needs and preferences. Therefore, while the creation of the Story proceeds in stages, what each stage looks like in practice may vary depending on the level of support required for someone to create their Story.


The step of ‘describing’ is a step when ‘I…’ statements are created to accompany the planned visuals such as, I am, I like, I enjoy, I’m good at, etc. Descriptions explain the significance of an image or film clip and tell the viewer what the storyteller wants them to know about themselves. Not every statement needs to start with ‘I…’ as storytellers may want to say something else, and this is fine. The purpose of focusing on ‘I…’ statements is to encourage an authentic, first-person account of the storyteller such that their ‘best self’ is represented.

> Download ‘I…’ statements template.

Some storytellers may not be able to plan, vocalise, or write down their own ‘I…’ statements and so may need more support from others to advocate, construct and complete their Story.

The ‘I am’ Digital Stories method is a good way to explore the experiences of children and young people who may communicate differently since they depict the person in the places they like to be, with the people they like to be with, doing the things they enjoy and are interested in, and are good at. Using ‘I…’ statements can help an advocate to ‘be in the shoes’ of the person they are supporting and focus on what the child or young person may wish others to know about them.

Once statements have been described, you will have a clearer idea of what visuals need to be captured. The ‘I am’ Digital Story can be a mix of film clips and still images. In some situations a selection of still images may be a more appropriate way for someone to illustrate a situation or place in which filming may be trickier e.g. a swimming pool or other crowded space.

Footage can be taken using many types of video recording devices, including tablets, smartphones and video cameras. Wearable cameras can offer exceptional insights as the footage enables the viewer to see what the participant is seeing from their perspective, and are also useful for recording the participant’s voice when they are spending time by themselves.

The editing process combines the visual media with ‘I…’ statements. There are many editing applications available for you. It is useful that researchers/editors create their own ‘I am…’ Digital Story [see resource 4].

Consent and participation

There are two main groups of people to consider:

  1.  The principal participants i.e., the storyteller and anyone supporting them. If the storyteller is a child or young person, then a parent / carer’s consent is needed along with the child’s assent. If the person / people supporting the storyteller will also appear in the Story and / or be asked for feedback, then their consent for participation is also needed.
  2. You will need to find out who else may appear in the ‘I am’ Digital Story and gather their consent before filming.

Please note, film clips of children and young people having ‘meltdowns’ or in distress must not be used in an ‘I am’ Digital Story.


- Our thanks to Dr. Gil Dekel for his support in preparing this resource.

More on this topic

About the author

Sarah Parsons is Professor of Autism and Inclusion at the University of Southampton. She is a member of the Centre for Research in Inclusion, and Autism Community Research Network @ Southampton (ACoRNS).

Dr Samantha Holt is a Visiting Research Fellow (Psychology) at the University of Sussex. She is a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology’s Children and Technology Lab.

Primary author profile page