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Past Events

Celebrating Disabled LGBTQ+ Voices in Media

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As we enter National LGBTQ+ Pride Month (June) every year, we are reminded that disability cuts across all other underrepresented groups and communities. According to a recent study from, an estimated 3-5 million people in the LGBTQ+ community identify as having a disability, accounting for roughly one third of the entire LGBTQ+ community in the US. To celebrate these intersectional voices, RespectAbility highlighted a few of our friends and colleagues, including Nasreen Alkhateeb (Cinematographer & Senior Production Advisor at RespectAbility), Kiah Amara (NYC-based consultant, production coordinator and producer) Eric Ascher (Communications Associate at RespectAbility), Shea Mirzai (writer/producer) and Lenny Larsen (producer/director). The conversation was moderated by RespectAbility’s very own Entertainment Media Fellow, Kelley Cape.
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Celebrating Representation and Inclusion of Disabled AAPI in Media

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It is vital to ensure authentic disability representation, considering that disability intersects with all other underrepresented populations. While AAPI representation in film and television has seen an increase in the past few years, there is still work to be done for AAPI disability representation. Watch a discussion with AAPI creatives working in front of and behind the camera to ensure inclusive representation moving forward. [continue reading…]

Mental Health Action Day: Raising Awareness and Promoting Change Through Authentic Mental Health Representation in Media

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RespectAbility was proud to be a founding partner in the first-ever Mental Health Action Day on Thursday, May 20, spearheaded by MTV Entertainment Group alongside nearly 200 additional brands, nonprofits and cultural leaders. Though more people than ever are comfortable discussing mental health, suicide rates over the last two decades have still risen, particularly among young adults, and finding effective resources and knowing how to get help remains a challenge. We discussed the importance of portraying mental health accurately and authentically in TV, film, and other forms of media, especially as a means to create awareness and serve as a first step to systemic change. Panelists included Nikki Bailey (comedian, actress, author, and producer), Ali MacLean (playwright and TV writer), Diego Kusnir (writer and psychologist) and Amanda Burdine (screenwriter). [continue reading…]

Explore the World of International Exchange

A Conversation with the Leaders of Mobility International USA

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Links from Chat Box:

Have you ever thought about studying, volunteering, or interning abroad? What’s stopping you?

The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE) is your passport to the world! The NCDE is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Mobility International USA (MIUSA) with the mission to see more people with disabilities accessing the same international exchange programs and scholarships available to everyone.

The NCDE is a free resource which educates international exchange professionals on best practices for supporting participants with disabilities and spreads knowledge of international exchange opportunities in the disability community. NCDE offers a rich collection of online resources including articles, podcasts, webinars and publications including the A World Awaits You (AWAY) journal.

Start your exploration of the world of opportunities through this webinar where we learned more about the work of Mobility International USA (MIUSA) and learned about the National Clearinghouse on Disability Exchange (NCDE), your free resource to access the world!

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Learning The Lessons of 2020: Voting, Accessibility, and Voters with Disabilities

Lessons from the 2020 Election for approximately 38 million Voters with Disabilities.

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Amid a global pandemic, fierce civil strife and a major economic crisis, millions of Americans safely and securely cast their ballots in 2020. More than in any previous election, the disability community was engaged, active, and made their voices heard. What lessons need to be learned from this election? How did expanded mail and absentee voting options help people with disabilities? What barriers still keep members of America’s largest minority community from casting their ballots? How did COVID-19 change the electoral landscape?

These are some of the critical questions answered by the groundbreaking work of Professors Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse of the Rutgers Program for Disability Research. Professors Schur and Kruse joined RespectAbility for a special webinar reflecting on what their research shows and how future elections can be more inclusive. This webinar reflected on research recently published by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and identified key topics for future disability advocacy. [continue reading…]

Example of Best Practice: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

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A scene from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood with Max playing with toy carsWith 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…]

FYC: A Conversation with the “Feeling Through” Team

Presented by RespectAbility in Partnership with Helen Keller Services & Doug Roland Films

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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…]

From Mental Illness to Mental Fitness: Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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.

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