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Summer 2017 Fellows standing or seated in wheelchairs, smiling and posing for the camera

Zein Al Maha Oweis, Communications Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Fall 2017

Respectability fellow Zein Al Maha smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Zein Al Maha

Zein Al Maha Oweis (Zee) was a Jordanian Communications Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. She joined the team in the fall of 2017 to use and build her skills to help serve people with disabilities through her knowledge of communications and journalism.

Oweis is visually impaired and always has been intrigued by how powerful one’s voice can be used when telling a story and raising awareness. During her teenage years, she would listen to the daily news and was captivated by the vocal techniques used when broadcasting the news. She uses her oral and aural skills to help her navigate the world around her. Maha also is a competitive Ballroom and Latin dancer for eight years and has competed in Italy and Monte Carlo.

In 2016, Oweis graduated as valedictorian from Regent’s University London where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Media Communications. She recently graduated with a Master’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism from American University. She is passionate about topics related to persons with disabilities which is evident in her journalism work. Maha voiced over New Technology Rolls Out For Persons With Disabilities, a news package assignment highlighting new technology for persons with disabilities used during the 2016 election season.

Prior to joining RespectAbility, Oweis held an internship position at the Library of Congress as part of its Communications Office in the summer. She wrote articles such as ‘Wonder Woman’ Visits ‘Library of Awesome’ and Homegrown Concerts Bring Unique Cultures to Library for the Gazette and A Different Sense to Thomas Jefferson’s Library for the Library of Congress’ blog.


RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact [email protected] for more information.



Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so all people with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry. Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. To reach her, email [email protected]

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