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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
[email protected]

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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