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Talented Innovators with Disabilities To Explore Disability Representation in Media

Images of Ali Stroker, Jonathan Murray, Nasreen Alkhateeb, Candace Cable, the capitol building, award statues, and Judith HeumannWashington, D.C., July 11 – A panel of diverse leaders with disabilities and their allies are gathering on Monday, July 22 to discuss the changing landscape of disability in media. This panel, composed of disability advocates and entertainment professionals, will be presenting between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. as part of a day-long summit sponsored by RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities.

Judy Heumann will discuss a year-long project she conducted as a Senior Fellow for the Ford Foundation, the “Road Map for Inclusion: Changing the Face of Disability in Media.” The report not only outlines the problems in representation but also offers a set of clear, practical recommendations for change.

Heumann also will discuss a Drunk History episode detailing her involvement and leadership with the Section 504 sit-in, paving the way for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Ali Stroker, Tony Award-Winning Actress, who portrayed Heumann in the Drunk History episode, will address the audience via a video message.

Rounding out the panel are Nasreen Alkhateeb, an award-winning director whose original content illuminating unrepresented voices has broadcast internationally for more than a decade, and Candace Cable, 12-time Paralympic Medalist. Jonathan Murray, reality TV pioneer and founder/executive consultant of Bunim/Murray Productions, is moderating the panel. Murray is a multi-Emmy-winning creator of Born This WayAutism: The Musical and Deaf Out Loud.

“As a gay teen, I saw few positive representations of gay people in TV and film,” Murray said. “What I did see was usually negative. This is very harmful to someone’s self-esteem growing up. For people with disabilities, it is the same. They need to see positive representations of themselves, both as people with satisfying personal lives and as people who can perform successfully in the workplace. Seeing those positive images will open up a world to them that they may have thought was not for them. Also, those positive images will change for the better the way the greater society sees people with disabilities, opening up more opportunities for them.”

The event will be taking place in Rooms 2043 & 2044 at the Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. Breakfast starts at 8:00 a.m. with formal remarks beginning at 9:00 a.m. The full conference agenda (all open to the press) is available on RespectAbility’s website here: www.respectability.org/2019/07/2019-dc-summit. Space is extremely limited and RSVPs are required.

Media Contact:

Lauren Appelbaum
Vice President, Communications
RespectAbility
LaurenA@RespectAbility.org

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum
Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the Vice President, Communications, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities, and managing editor of The RespectAbility Report, a publication at the intersection of disability and politics. Previously she was a digital researcher with the NBC News political unit. As an individual with an acquired invisible disability - Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy - she writes about the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. From entertainment professionals to presidential campaigns, journalists to philanthropists, she conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible. Behind the scenes in the entertainment industry, Appelbaum engages decision makers and creatives to improve the quality and number of authentic, diverse and inclusive presentations of people with disabilities on TV and film so audiences can see people with disabilities as vital contributors in America and around the world. She and her team have consulted on projects with Amazon, Disney/ABC Television, NBCUniversal, Netflix, and The Walt Disney Studios, among others. Appelbaum also enriches the pool of disabled talent in Hollywood by nurturing and connecting them to those who can assist with their careers, both on the creative and business sides of the industry. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit, which was created to help entertainment professionals to be as inclusive of people with disabilities as possible, and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working behind the camera. To reach her, email LaurenA@RespectAbility.org.

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