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Press Releases

Mom Encourages Women to Give Themselves Permission to Fly: by Norma Stanley

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Norma Stanley

When I think of Women’s History Month, I can’t help but think of all the amazing women with and without disabilities — some famous and many not so famous — who have fought and continue to fight for the right of individuals with disabilities to just be their unapologetically authentic selves and to have the opportunity to live their best lives. These women are mothers, wives, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, friends, teachers, caregivers and advocates who refuse to let their friends and loved ones with disabilities be overlooked and underappreciated. They want their individuality, uniqueness, resourcefulness, creativity and power to shine brightly. They bring to bear these vital qualities to their families, communities, the workplace, businesses, the arts and in so many other ways and areas of life! All they need and are asking for is acceptance, accessibility and opportunity to bring their myriad abilities to the table so everyone can benefit from their often underused talents. [continue reading…]

The Good Doctor Delivers a Win for Disability Representation Featuring Caley Versfelt & Kurt Yaeger

Los Angeles, March 4 – The Good Doctor is not unfamiliar with handling issues of diversity and inclusion especially when it comes to people with disabilities. In the most recent episode, “Decrypt,” that aired on February 22, The Good Doctor once again showed audiences that telling stories about disability with authentic casting creates dynamic stories.

While the hospital is dealing with a cyber attack from hackers looking to extort the hospital for their data, the doctors have two patients they must save before it’s too late. [continue reading…]

NBC’s New Amsterdam: Disability Inclusion is “Essential to Art and Society”

Washington, D.C., March 2 – After a long hiatus due to production delays relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, NBC’s New Amsterdam returns to the screen Tuesday evening. Since Season 1, New Amsterdam overwhelmingly has been an example of best practices through the hiring of actors with disabilities, working with consultants to ensure accurate storylines and including conversations about diverse topics within the disability community.

During summer 2021, Executive Producer David Schulner and Casting Director David Caparelliotis spoke to a group of 30 disabled individuals working behind the camera who were taking part in the 2020 Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities by the disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility. Caparelliotis and Schulner joined RespectAbility’s VP, Communications Lauren Appelbaum for a conversation on how New Amsterdam is a case study in best practice of on-camera representation. [continue reading…]

Celebrate Women’s History Month 2021 by Hosting Speakers with Disabilities!

Fabulous women and nonbinary people are available to speak virtually (for the time being) at any or all conferences, corporations, and organizations.

Speakers in our National Disability Speakers Bureau hold expertise in topics ranging from disability inclusion, arts and entertainment, entrepreneurship, education, finance, law, psychology, religion and every vocation in between.

On our website, you can either request one of the Speakers from our roster, or indicate a topic of interest, so that we can best match you with a Speaker to meet your goals. Please know that we have associated talent not publicly listed who may be able to match your interest on subjects not featured here. If you have any questions, please email speakers@respectability.org.

Learn More About Our Speakers

Headshots of 31 speakers in RespectAbility's Women and Nonbinary Persons Division Speakers Bureau. Text: National Disability Speakers Bureau: Women and Nonbinary Persons Division

Black History Representation Matters in Arts Activism and Civic Leadership: by Andrea Jennings

Andrea Jennings headshot smiling

Andrea Jennings

As a child, my beloved mom, who worked in entertainment law for major law firms, encouraged me to use my voice, and she told me that my voice was powerful. My mom made sure that I was aware of Black history and the contributions that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) individuals contributed to the U.S. She demonstrated the different ways Black people have used their voices. We would speak about entertainment, the arts and law often at the dinner table. We talked about what I know today as artistic activism and artists who used their artistic platforms to advocate, such as Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Sidney Poitier, Billie Holliday, Marvin Gaye, John Coltrane,  Eartha Kitt, Stevie Wonder and The Staple Singers. The list goes on. These subjects became second nature to me. However, as my mother encouraged me to use my voice, I noticed that my voice and the voices of people who looked like me were not being heard or respected. Remembering what my mother had instilled in me, I knew I had to continue to go around the hurdles before me, especially after adding disability to my identity. I was proud to be a disabled, Black woman, however, the biases were more limiting than my disability itself. [continue reading…]

The Potential of the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act for People with Disabilities

This new bill will invest $15 billion to help restore the nation’s public workforce system in response to the economic collapse following the COVID 19 pandemic

Washington, D.C., Feb. 23 – In the response to the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) has introduced a new bill to kickstart the economy and get millions of people back to work. This new legislation is called the “Relaunching America’s Workforce Act” and it contains significant provisions that would specifically help workers with disabilities.

Impact on Individuals with Disabilities

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a much larger impact on the unemployment rates of individuals with disabilities compared to people without disabilities. Specifically, since March 2020, more than 1 in 5 workers with disabilities have lost their jobs at the hands of the coronavirus, compared to 1 in 7 individuals without disabilities. To put it another way, more than 1 million workers with disabilities have lost their job since the start of the pandemic. The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act could play an important role in helping workers with disabilities get back into the labor force. Thankfully, this legislation explicitly mentions individuals with disabilities more than 10 times, and it provides numerous recommendations to help the disability community reenter the workforce. [continue reading…]

A Short Review of “Feeling Through”

Los Angeles, Feb 18 – On this year’s Oscar Short List for Best Live Action Short Film is Feeling Through. Written and directed by Doug Roland, Feeling Through made history as the first film to star an actor, Robert Tarango, who is both deaf and legally blind.

Taking place over the course of a single night, Feeling Through centers around an unhoused teenager named Tereek, played by Steven Prescod, as he struggles to find shelter. Through his hazardous sojourn on the streets of New York City, Tereek finds a deaf-blind man who needs assistance finding his bus stop. Although he is initially reluctant, Tereek decides to help the man and embarks on a journey that will mark him indelibly. [continue reading…]

“Best Friend” Short Showcases Best Practices in Disability Representation

Los Angeles, Feb 18 – The short film, Best Friend, currently playing at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival, is a heartwarming story about a girl named Deidre and her family moving to a new city. Deidre is nervous that she will not make any friends, so her family takes her to a dog shelter to adopt a furry friend. While there, she not only finds a dog but another unexpected friend as well. [continue reading…]

Don’t Make Low-Vision Viewers Choose Between Vibrant 4K Picture and Audio Description

4K + Audio Description iconLos Angeles, CA, Feb. 17 – A few months ago, I went to Best Buy to pick-up The Invisible Man 4K Steelbook. The Invisible Man was one of my favorite films of 2020, and I knew I wanted to have the 4K version. To my surprise, when I tried the film out at home, I discovered there was no audio description on the 4K disc. I found this strange since I remember enjoying the movie in the theater with an outstanding audio description track. I discovered that only the regular Blu-ray had an audio description track, but the 4K disc did not. Upon further investigation, many popular titles, like Us, 1917, and even Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, had the audio description track only available on Blu-ray and not the 4K disc. [continue reading…]

Highlighting African Americans with Disabilities in Honor of Black History Month

Headshots of 8 black people with disabilities.Washington, D.C., Feb. 16 – As we celebrate Black History Month, which takes place every February, RespectAbility recognizes the contributions made and the important presence of African Americans in the United States. It is important to note this includes more than 5.5 million African Americans living with a disability.

Some celebrities and business leaders are using their voice to share their stories, educating people about both visible and nonvisible disabilities. They are defying the statistics and have remained highly successful with their disabilities. These role models make a big difference in setting high expectations for youth with disabilities. People with disabilities of all backgrounds can be amongst the highest achievers on earth. Harriet Tubman had Epilepsy, actress Halle Berry lives with diabetes, business leader and Shark Tank superstar Daymond John is dyslexic and Stevie Wonder is blind. Poet laureate Amanda Gorman, who had a speech impediment, recently shared her genius both at the inauguration and at the Super Bowl. Each of them is a positive role model for success. They are perfect candidates for RespectAbility’s #RespectTheAbility campaign, which is shining a light on individuals with disabilities who are succeeding in their chosen careers. [continue reading…]

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