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Press Releases

NEW MAJOR STUDY: People with Disabilities More Likely to be Arrested

Rockville, Md., Nov. 30 – A brand new and very important study from Cornell University focuses on intersectionality around youth of color and English-as-a-Second-Language learners with disabilities. The fact is that often people see only race and ethnicity when they think about marginalized communities, and forget that disability impacts every ethnic group, gender identity/orientation and race.

On Friday, December 8, beginning at 9:00 am ET, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a public briefing: The Intersection of Students of Color and Students with Disabilities, and School Discipline Policies. Current data suggests that school discipline practices have had a profoundly negative impact on students of color and students with disabilities, and that students of color with disabilities face even higher disproportionate impact from discipline practices than white students with disabilities. This causes a lot of students to either be expelled or drop out, which links to the data you see below, which is a result of the school-to-prison pipeline. This public session will live-stream and there will be call-in line (listen-only): 800-479-9001, conference ID 8362937. If attending in person, you should RSVP to

RespectAbility’s own white paper, Disability & Criminal Justice Reform: Keys to Success, showed that more than 750,000 people with disabilities are behind bars in America today. Find a special report on it from the PBS NewsHour.

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Jewish Leaders Stand Up Against #ABLEISM

Grassroots Leaders Asked to Join in Fight Against Prejudice 

Washington, Nov. 27 –  Key national Jewish leaders are helping spread the word that “Ableism”, discrimination against people with disabilities, is unacceptable.

Grassroots advocates – people with disabilities and the people who love and respect them – are invited to join this social media effort to educate and advocate in support of equality and respect!

Activists can download their own copy of the sheet in the photos on our website. Then they can either put their Twitter address, or if they are not on Twitter, then put their name in the space.

Activists are invited to post the photo of themselves with the sign on Facebook and Twitter and tag RespectAbility on Facebook at and on Twitter using @Respect_Ability and @JewishInclusion. Photos below are just some of the terrific Jewish leaders who have joined this cause!
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Mickey Rowe Awarded for Becoming First Actor with Autism to Perform in The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time

Winner of the 2017 Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship, Media Access Awards

Mickey Rowe accepting his Media Access scholarship award

Mickey Rowe accepting his Media Access scholarship award

Beverly Hills, Nov. 18 – If you see a man walking down the streets of Seattle with a blue V-neck t-shirt with no coat or jack and with headphones in his ears, then you may have spotted actor Mickey Rowe.

He is the first actor with autism to play the leading role in the Indiana Repertory Theatre and Syracuse Stage production of the Tony-winning Best Play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and received the 2017 Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship at the Media Access Awards this year. The ceremony honors individuals who are showcasing the disability narrative.

“This has been such an amazing year for disability all over in the media and I am so honored to get to be here today,” Rowe said while accepting the award. “I cannot wait to see what the next year and the next decade has for people with disabilities and inclusion of people with disabilities.”

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Actress and Paralympic Katy Sullivan Presents Award to Mickey Rowe the Media Access Awards

Katy Sullivan presenting the award - prosthetic legs are visible

Katy Sullivan presenting the award

Beverly Hills, Nov. 18 – Actress and track and field Paralympic Katy Sullivan presented the 2017 Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship to Mickey Rowe at the Media Access Awards, which honors individuals who are showcasing the disability narrative.

Sullivan is known for being a writer, producer, athlete and a bilateral above knee amputee. She was born and raised in Alabama and received her BFA in Acting from Webster University’s Conservatory in St. Louis.

As an actress she is known for her performances around the nation including The Long Red Road at The Goodman Theatre directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. She also has made appearances on television shows, independent films and documentaries such as the award-winning documentary WALK ON.

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Robia Rashid—Writer and Producer, Creator of Atypical, Calls for More Stories of Inclusion and Diversity

Winner of the 2017 Writers Guild of America, West, Evan Somers Memorial Award, Media Access Awards

Atypical's Robia Rashid standing at a podium with the sign Media Access Awards

Atypical‘s Robia Rashid

Beverly Hills, Nov. 18 – Robia Rashid has spent her career working on shows such as Will & Grace, How I Met Your Mother and The Goldbergs. However, Rashid spends her free time reading books full of “edgy and odd” stories that would not typically be shown on network television. Recently, Rashid wrote a pilot script, of which Netflix ordered the full season, and the show premiered this August.

Atypical is a coming-of-age comedy about a teenager with autism, Sam, who is navigating his love life as well as his relationships with his family and friends, while he strives for independence. Rashid said she wanted to write a show for herself after working in network television for so long. She told Vulture that she had been aware, when writing Atypical, that more people were being diagnosed with autism, and a whole generation would be growing up on the autism spectrum and would desire independence. Rashid thought it would be an interesting perspective from which to tell a dating story.

“I just feel so lucky and honored to tell this story that feels so personal and real and like nothing that I’ve ever written before or really seen before,” Rashid said while accepting her award. “It’s exciting to see Sam’s story resonate.”

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Amy Okuda Presents Award to Atypical Creator for Portraying Disability Narrative

Atypical's Amy Okuda standing at a podium with the sign Media Access Awards

Atypical‘s Amy Okuda

Beverly Hills, Nov. 18 – “Sam is a teenage boy that is looking for love and acceptance but that is what makes the show so great. Sam in every way is a normal testosterone exploding teenager; he is just one that sees life in a unique prism,” said Amy Okuda as she presented the 2017 Writers Guild of America West Evan Somers Memorial Award to Robia Rashid at the 2017 Media Access Awards.

Sam is the main character or the Netflix original series written by Rashid called Atypical. The series follows a teenage boy with autism as he navigates life and love.

The Media Access Awards honors individuals who are showcasing the disability narrative and are doing diversity right. Okuda said she was honored to be able to present an award to Atypical’s creator Rashid.

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Nic Novicki: Creating Change from Within

Winner of the 2017 SAG-AFTRA Harold Russell Award, Media Access Awards

Nic Novicki standing at a podium with the sign Media Access Awards

Nic Novicki

Beverly Hills, Nov. 18 – When actor, comedian and producer Nic Novicki stepped up to the stage to accept his honor at the 2017 Media Access Awards, he clearly was humbled.

“It feels like an Oscar to me,” he said, after mentioning how happy he was to be surrounded by his wife and his parents that morning at the only Hollywood award ceremony that recognizes individuals who are inclusively showcasing the disability narrative. He explained the awards as “like the Oscars, but with more wheelchairs and sign language.”

Novicki was just one of just nine individuals honored Friday morning at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. He received the 2017 SAG-AFTRA Harold Russell Award in recognition of his talent and his work as an advocate for the disability community.

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Jamie Brewer, Actress and Advocate, Shines as Media Access Awards Presenter

Nic Novicki and Jamie Brewer standing at a podium with the sign Media Access Awards

Nic Novicki and Jamie Brewer

Beverly Hills Nov. 18 — Standing in a lace gown with curled hair behind a podium, actress Jamie Brewer presented Nic Novicki with an award at the Media Access Awards (MAA), the only Hollywood award ceremony highlighting truly diverse media.

The MAAs shines the spotlight on actors, producers and directors who are showcasing the disability narrative in a positive, accurate way.

“His name is a known name in this industry,” Brewer said as she teed up to tell the audience who the recipient of the 2017 SAG-AFTRA Harold Russell Award was.

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Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, Pushing the Envelope on Diversity and Inclusion in Hollywood

Winner of the 2017 Writers Guild of America, West, Excellence in Writing Award, Media Access Awards

Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang posed smiling

Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari

Beverly Hills, Nov. 18 – At the 2017 Media Access Awards, which honor individuals who are showcasing the disability narrative, Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang received the 2017 Writers Guild of America, West, Excellence in Writing Award.

While they were not present to accept their awards, attendees witnessed their efforts to push the envelope on diversity and inclusion.

Yang and Ansari are the co-writers and co-creators of the hit Netflix series, Master of None. The series speaks to the true experiences of people like Yang and Ansari, who are first generation Asian-Americans, whose parents dealt with hardship both before and after coming to the United States. Master of None stars Ansari as a 30 year-old Indian-American actor who struggles to find parts in an industry that still lacks cultural diversity, despite its recent improvements.

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Grey’s Anatomy Star Jason George Fighting for Equal Rights of All People in Entertainment

Jason George standing at a podium with the sign Media Access Awards

Grey’s Anatomy Jason George

Beverly Hills Nov. 18 — Grey’s Anatomy actor, producer and father of three Jason George is taking off his scrub cap to put on a new hat. The actor turned activist has joined the fight for integration and equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.

Born in Virginia, George has been nominated for both a Daytime Emmy Award as well as a Writers Guild of America Award. Prior to his leading role as Dr. Ben Warren on Grey’s Anatomy, George’s career kicked off in 1997 when he played Michael Bourne on the television soap opera Sunset Beach.

He has led a highly successful two-decade career in Hollywood and it is nowhere near over. He has been using his stunning brown eyes and white smile to captivate the attention of audiences both on and off the screen to spread messages of tolerance and acceptance. George currently is the active diversity chair of the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), a union of television and radio artists. It is through this position that he is taking steps to ensure that Hollywood is including all people.

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