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Hollywood Webinars

Conversations Through the Lens: A 360 View of Disability on Set

Presented in collaboration with Film Independent

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Having proper disability representation behind the camera is vital to ensure equity in Hollywood. Award-winning directors Nasreen Alkhateeb and Andrew Reid, who both acquired disabilities as young adults, and director Shaina Ghuraya who has two films at Slamdance 2021, all have first-hand experience in navigating on-set life with a disability and will share their experiences on and off set. Learn from Alice Austen (Producer, Give Me Liberty) and Hikari (Writer/Producer/Director, 37 Seconds) about what it takes to run a set that welcomes and ensures universal design for crew members and actors with disabilities. Moderated by David Radcliff, this panel provided a 360 view into what is like to be a filmmaker with a disability and what it takes to improve the Hollywood environment and culture to make everything more accessible.

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The Accessibility of Filmmaking

Presented in collaboration with Film Independent

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This panel informed and ensured that not only films are accessible, but that accessibility is kept in mind throughout the entire process. Having people with disabilities behind and in front of the camera makes for better and more inclusive stories, even if the project is not disability related. Introduced by Film Independent’s Josh Welsh and moderated by RespectAbility’s Tatiana Lee, this panel covered accessibility touch points throughout the entire filmmaking process, from hiring and casting disabled talent, making film sets accessible, and ensuring that the film itself is accessible. Attendees heard first-hand from other filmmakers on the festival circuit on how they were able to implement best practices. [continue reading…]

Webinar: Ensuring Authentic Representation of Hispanic and Latinx Disabled People in the Entertainment Industry


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Authentic representation of marginalized populations on screen is vitally important as what people view on screen influences how they act in real-life. This Hispanic Heritage Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we were proud to spotlight Hispanic and Latinx individuals with disabilities who are changing the landscape in the entertainment industry. [continue reading…]

Webinar: Example of Best Practice: DreamWorks’ Madagascar: A Little Wild

Presented in Partnership with DreamWorks Animation


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Pickles and Dave in a scene from Madagascar A Little Wild communicating via ASLHave you seen DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar: A Little Wild on Hulu or Peacock TV yet? RespectAbility board member Delbert Whetter, along with Jevon Whetter and Justin Maurer, consulted on this series, which includes a deaf character who uses sign language; the character’s sister also signs. Chimpanzee siblings Dave and Pickles are breaking barriers and are part of a movement changing the landscape of disability representation in children’s television and streaming content. Dave and Pickles have a meaningful story arc throughout the entire series and Dave is not defined by his deafness. Learn from the team’s ASL consultants as well as Executive Producer Johanna Stein, Co-Executive Producer and Story Editor Dana Starfield and Supervising Director TJ Sullivan on how these teams worked together to bring about dynamic deaf characters.

“When it comes to animation, there’s no excuse not to create a show filled with diverse characters. As animators we are world builders, we are literally creating all of the elements from scratch,” said EP Johanna Stein. Learn More: “Madagascar: A Little Wild” Takes Deaf Representation to the Next Level. [continue reading…]

Webinar: Example of Best Practice: Disney Channel’s Big City Greens

Presented in Partnership with The Walt Disney Company


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Disney Channel’s Emmy Award-nominated series Big City Greens is breaking barriers when it comes to ensuring authentic deaf representation. In the “Quiet Please” episode, the Green family visits the city library hoping to find a book that will spark Cricket’s interest in reading, but they quickly run afoul of a strict, eerie librarian. Determined to keep the library a quiet place, she threatens to throw them out if they make any sound, so they must communicate through gestures and sign language. RespectAbility’s board member Delbert Whetter, along with Jevon Whetter and Justin Maurer, consulted on this episode, which premiered on Saturday, September 19 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on Disney Channel. Learn from these ASL consultants as well as Big City Greens Creators/Executive Producers Chris and Shane Houghton on how these teams worked together to bring about authentic representation of ASL. [continue reading…]

Inclusion in Children and Family Content: Representation of Women and Girls with Disabilities

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With one-in-five people having a disability in the U.S. today, the lack of representation – just 3.1 percent on screen and even less in children’s television (less than one percent) – means that millions of people are unable to see themselves in media today. RespectAbility has been honored to play a part in changing this, including consulting on an array of films and TV shows, including the Netflix series The Healing Powers of Dude and The Disney Channel’s Bunk’D.

We discussed the importance of inclusion in children and family media with:

  • Sophie Kim, Actress, The Healing Powers of Dude
  • Shaylee Mansfield, Actress, Disney+ film Noelle, The Disney Channel TV show Bunk’D and upcoming Netflix feature film Feel the Beat
  • Erica Spates, Executive Producer and Writer, The Healing Powers of Dude
  • Lachi, Award-Nominated Recording Artist and Voice-Over Actress
  • Moderated by Debbie Fink, Director of Community Outreach and Impact, RespectAbility
  • Q&A facilitated by Lauren Appelbaum, Vice President, Communications, RespectAbility

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Inclusion in Preschool Media: Importance of Disability Representation

Examples of Best Practice in Disability Inclusion in Preschool Content


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With one-in-five people having a disability in the U.S. today, the lack of representation – just 3.1 percent on screen and even less in children’s television (less than one percent) – means that millions of people are unable to see themselves in media today. In the first part of a two-part series examining representation in children’s media, we take a look at preschool content – and examples of best practice.

How are studios and production companies are taking concrete steps to further inclusion? We discussed the importance of disability inclusion in preschool media with:

  • Rachel Kalban, Vice President, Research and Curriculum at 9 Story Media Group
  • Diana Romero, Award-Winning Filmmaker and RespectAbility L.A. Lab 2020 Participant
  • Nava R. Silton, Ph.D., Developmental Psychologist who has worked at Nickelodeon, Sesame Workshop and Mediakidz
  • Krista Tucker, Series Developer, Co-Producer and Story Editor, Disney Junior’s Fancy Nancy
  • Moderated by Lauren Appelbaum, Vice President, Communications, RespectAbility

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Ensuring Authentic Representation of Black Disabled People in the Entertainment Industry

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Watch webinar recording on YouTube with open captions and ASL interpreter

The protests taking place across America have illuminated the impact of racism on society. We must use this moment to recognize the pain of Black Americans and work together on fostering an environment of empathy and understanding. RespectAbility is committed to supporting our partners who are working tirelessly to dismantle systematic and structural racism to ensure that every citizen has an opportunity to move the country forward and live out their true potential.

Authentic representation of marginalized populations on screen is vitally important as what people view on screen influences how they act in real-life. Therefore we invite you to learn from Black individuals with disabilities who are working to change this perception in the entertainment industry. [continue reading…]

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