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Press Releases

Hulu’s New Disability Representation Collection Puts the Spotlight on Actors with Disabilities

Los Angeles, Dec. 3 – In celebration of International Day of People with Disabilities, Hulu has launched a new content collection celebrating disability representation with 34 television series and films including new Hulu Originals thriller Run, film I am Greta and TV series Ramy, as well as shows like Freeform’s Everything’s Gonna Be Okay and NBC’s Speechless.

The featured content is representative of both visible disabilities including those who use wheelchairs and are Deaf as well as nonvisible disabilities including mental health conditions. [continue reading…]

Film Independent Fast Track Financing Market Prioritizes Inclusion of Films with Disability Representation

Los Angeles, Dec. 2 – Several filmmakers with disabilities recently completed the Film Independent Fast Track program, an intensive, three-day film-financing market in which participants are connected with established financiers, production companies, agents, managers and other film industry professionals who can move their current projects forward.

Andrew Reid headshot in front of a tall building

Andrew Reid

“In 2020, Film Independent provided me with tremendous support through the artist mentorship programs Project Involve and Fast Track,” said Director Andrew Reid, who completed the disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility’s Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities this summer. “These opportunities gave me the chance to direct a short film, collaborate with diverse filmmakers and network with film industry professionals who can help move my current projects forward.” [continue reading…]

Disability Group Urges People to Stay Home for Holidays

Risky Thanksgiving behavior could lead to funerals by Christmas

Washington, D.C., Nov. 24 – As new COVID-19 cases are spiraling out of control across the United States, the disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility is urging people to stay home for the holiday season.

“The news of three potential COVID-19 vaccines with over 90% effectiveness is a great sign for 2021,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility. “However, COVID-19 cases are surging right now, and we need people to be cautious. Stay at home if at all possible, and if you do go out, wear a mask and practice social distancing. Risky behavior this Thanksgiving could lead to funerals by Christmas.” [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Elects New Officers and Board Members

New members include cross section of national leaders from Hollywood, public policy and the private sector

30 individual headshots of RespectAbility's Board of Directors and Advisors. RespectAbility yellow background.Rockville, Md., Nov. 22 – As RespectAbility enters its eighth year of fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community, five new individuals are joining RespectAbility’s 30-member board as new officers are elected. Rich in diversity and expertise, these new board members include a cross section of national leaders from public policy, the private sector and Hollywood, including entertainment executives from Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Walt Disney Company. Moreover, the board of advisors added respected leaders in nonprofit management with deep roots in disability issues and lived experiences.

“We are thrilled to bring such a talented group of leaders with fresh perspective to our board,” stated Rep. Steve Bartlett, Chair of RespectAbility. “People with disabilities have long been denied entry into the workforce, ultimately depriving 70 percent of working-age Americans a chance to impact our evolving economy. The diverse and bipartisan board we assembled is dedicated to this fight.” [continue reading…]

Danny Gomez: Fighting for Authentic Casting in Hollywood

Gomez to Receive Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship at Media Access Awards on November 19

Danny Gomez smiling headshot wearing a black shirt in front of a black backdropLos Angeles, California, Nov. 18 – Danny J. Gomez, an actor, model and advocate for authentic casting in Hollywood, will be awarded the Christopher Reeve Acting Scholarship at the 2020 Media Access Awards. In partnership with Easterseals Southern California, the Media Access Awards is an annual ceremony that honors media and entertainment trailblazers advancing disability awareness and inclusion. Previous recipients of the Christopher Reeve Scholarship include Lauren “Lolo” Spencer and RespectAbility’s Hollywood Inclusion Associate Tatiana Lee.

Gomez receiving this scholarship will be a full circle moment, as he credits the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge for helping to kick-start his acting career, starring in Check Mate in 2018 and in I/O in 2019. [continue reading…]

Georgia Senate Candidates Deny Access to Voters with Disabilities

None of four Senate candidates even mention the word disability on their campaign websites, and none of their websites are fully accessible to voters who are blind or deaf

Photos of four candidates in Georgia Senate runoff elections. Georgia state flag in middleWashington, D.C., Nov. 12 – Despite there being more than 1.2 million Georgians with some form of disability, all four Senate candidates in the most hotly contested Senate races in America have thus far failed to reach out to voters with disabilities. Indeed, none of the four candidates even mention the word disability on their campaign websites, and none of their websites are fully accessible to voters who are blind or deaf.

The failure of Georgia Senate campaigns to reach out to voters with disabilities is in stark contrast to President-elect Joe Biden who made outreach to the disability community a key part of his winning strategy. A poll conducted by Democracy Corps on behalf of RespectAbility in the major battleground states in the days leading up to Election Day found that 60 percent of voters with disabilities say they have or were planning to vote for Joe Biden, compared to 35 percent of voters with disabilities supporting President Trump. This showed a shift from 2016, when a poll conducted by Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group found that voters with disabilities split their votes between President Trump (46 percent) and Secretary Hillary Clinton (49 percent). [continue reading…]

Award-Winning Cinematographer Nasreen Alkhateeb Channels Progress on the Campaign Trail

Nasreen Alkhateeb smiling headshot

Nasreen Alkhateeb

New York City, Nov. 12 – Nasreen Alkhateeb is an award-winning director and cinematographer who has dedicated the last decade to creating content that amplifies underrepresented voices. She is a leader on diverse storytelling projects that include broadcast, digital, and film. Most recently, she has spent the last two months as the cinematographer for Kamala Harris’ campaign as she was seeking the Vice Presidency. I sat down with her after the monumental win to discuss her creative trajectory, life on the campaign trail, and what the future of American filmmaking looks like.

When did you start developing your voice?

I started to develop my voice at a young age… It didn’t feel like a good thing then, because I was ostracized for being different and othered. People didn’t really know how to relate to me, because of my ethnicity, culture, my parents’ religion; because of my skin color. I was raised by a women’s rights activist who taught me at a young age to ask for what I want – and to use my voice not just on behalf of myself, but the people around me as well. At Pratt Institute, I found a community that was like me in that it used its artistic gifts to create work that can potentially influence the world. That was there I started to envision how I can take my weird film, sculpture, and monster make-up, and turn it into social justice work. [continue reading…]

Your Support Is Needed Now to Ensure People with Disabilities Can Participate in Democracy!

The focus is now on Georgia where the competition in two Senate races is fierce. The outcome of these two races will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. It is vital that the lives, livelihoods and learning opportunities for the 1.2 million Georgians with disabilities get the attention they deserve!

RespectAbility is working with local Georgia disability groups and activists in a crucial civic engagement role. But we need your donation now so we can:

  • Host nonpartisan Senate candidate forums online where campaigns offer their vision of how to serve people with disabilities.
  • Show candidates how to make their campaigns accessible to voters with disabilities. This includes accessible websites so those who are blind or have low vision can use screen readers to view content. It also means ensuring there are captions on videos and virtual events so people who are deaf or hard of hearing can make informed decisions.
  • Organize and host online focus groups and town halls where Georgia voters with disabilities can express their views on key issues that impact their lives, livelihoods and living.
  • Conduct a Georgia poll to see where voters with disabilities prioritize key issues.
  • Do key outreach to the press so disability issues get the attention they deserve.

Please, donate today. Your contribution will help foster a political climate that values the needs and priorities of people with disabilities in Georgia and throughout the country.

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Limb Differences Are Not Something to Be Afraid Of

Anne Hathaway in The WitchesA new Warner Bros. film “The Witches” is coming under fire for its depiction of a villain who has “split hands,” perpetuating harmful stereotypes against people with limb differences. Unfortunately, this is a stereotype that has existed in films for decades and leads to people being afraid of those who look different from them.

“The decision to make this witch look scarier by having a limb difference – which was not an original part of the plot – has real life consequences,” said RespectAbility’s Vice President, Communications, Lauren Appelbaum, who regularly advocates for more authentic portrayals of disability on screen as well as hiring of people with disabilities behind the camera to ensure mistakes like these do not occur. “Unfortunately, this representation in ‘The Witches’ teaches kids that limb differences are hideous or something to be afraid of. What type of message does this send to children with limb differences?” [continue reading…]

Disability Allies Win Races for Senate & Governor

Updated Nov. 10

Washington, D.C., Nov. 4 – It is the morning after Election Day 2020 and many results are still being counted. RespectAbility stresses the importance of counting every vote, particularly as many people with disabilities chose to vote early – both in-person and via mail – in this election due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several states have not counted all of their early voting ballots yet.

Although many results are still not finalized, several candidates who support opportunities for people with disabilities already have been declared as winners. These individuals completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire for presidential, Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to ending stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. [continue reading…]

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