With one-in-five people having a disability in the U.S. today, the lack of representation – less than one percent in children’s television – means that millions of children are unable to see themselves in media today. Furthermore, when representation exists, almost all representation of autism on screen is of white males. By introducing a new character who is both autistic and Black, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is ensuring that a population, which is often overlooked, is represented. The show authentically cast Israel Thomas-Bruce, who was diagnosed with autism when he was four years old, as Max. “It was exciting to play Max because it gave me the opportunity to help shed light on children living with autism,” Thomas-Bruce said. “I am excited to know that another child can see Max on TV and see himself being represented. I felt at ease playing Max because it didn’t feel like I was pretending. I also like that Max looks like me.” Learn how the character of Max offers an authentic representation of Autism for children and adult audiences alike. [continue reading…]
Presented by RespectAbility in Partnership with Helen Keller Services & Doug Roland Films
RespectAbility Board Member Delbert Whetter sat down with the team behind “Feeling Through” which is currently on the Academy Awards’ shortlist for Best Live Action Short. In “Feeling Through,” a late-night encounter on a New York City street leads to a profound connection between a teen-in-need and a DeafBlind man. Authentically cast in that role is actor Robert Tarango, who is the first deafblind lead in a film ever.
Watch a conversation with writer/director/producer Doug Roland, producer and CEO of Helen Keller Services, Sue Ruzenski, and co-lead actor Robert Tarango. ASL interpreters and Live captioning will be provided.
The film can be viewed below: [continue reading…]
Hosted by Bay Area Friendship Circle and RespectAbility
Friendship Circle and RespectAbility hosted a fireside chat about mental fitness with motivational speaker Jennifer Fink. Ms. Fink is an accomplished social entrepreneur and management consultant whose passion lies in promoting behavioral and community health. Due to an accident and illness in her mid-20s, Ms. Fink lives with nonvisible disabilities, anxiety, and depression. A captivating and relatable storyteller, Ms. Fink weaves humor and grace as she embraces and shares her story, wisdom, and lessons learned from her life post-illness, trauma, and accident.
Presented by the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit’s Opening the Doors Program and RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau
Moderated by Mitchell S. Parker, PhD, psychologist
Jennifer Fink is a social entrepreneur and management consultant whose passion lies in promoting behavioral and community health to empower individuals learning to cope with mental health challenges. Due to an accident and illness in her mid-20s, Ms. Fink lives with nonvisible disabilities, anxiety, and depression. Fink had founded a nonprofit and co-authored a children’s book supporting military children. She collaborated with the Obama White House’s Joining Forces Initiative, and due to Fink’s finesse, former First Lady Michelle Obama filmed a video for a USO Asia-Pacific Tour that Fink co-led. A captivating and relatable storyteller, she weaves humor and grace as she embraces and shares her story, wisdom, and lessons learned from her journey.
Dr. Arielle Silverman has been both Jewish and blind since birth. She has worked with Jewish camps, congregations, and other organizations to help build a culture of inclusion. Dr. Silverman has also studied and conducted research on the psychology of disability. She speaks on the tensions between her intersecting disabled and Jewish identities; simple principles for fostering inclusion across ability lines; and learning to correct our own biases toward people who are different.
For Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month 2021, Lauren Appelbaum, Vice President of Communications at RespectAbility, spoke about her work.