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Best Practices for Ensuring Accessibility in Film Schools

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For many folks who are looking to start a career in the Entertainment industry, whether in development, writing, production, marketing, and everything else in between, the starting point is film school. Since the best way to improve on-screen representation of people with disabilities is to hire more disabled people in all aspects of the storytelling and filmmaking process, how can film schools ensure full accessibility for disabled students and faculty? This event was a conversation with RespectAbility Summer Lab alumni and current working Entertainment professionals, Laura Alsum, Michael Dougherty, Tyler Hoog, Andrew Reid, and Faith Strongheart. We discussed their lived experiences as disabled individuals who have navigated film school, and shared some best practices for schools to ensure accessibility for all.
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Jewish Funders Network – Unprecedented New Findings on Jews with Disabilities: What Does It Mean for the Future?


Jewish Funders Network hosted an exclusive presentation and facilitated discussion that covered the results of three major new studies on Jewish disability inclusion in the workforce. They discussed:

  • Successful models from Jewish human service agencies for increasing employment for people with disabilities;
  • What Leading Edge has learned about Jews and others with disabilities who work at Jewish organizations and where progress has been made;
  • Findings from RespectAbility’s major study on the inclusion of Jews with disabilities inside Jewish groups;
  • Big picture takeaways on where we go from here so that Jews and others with disabilities can thrive both inside and out of Jewish institutions.

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2021 NDEAM Entertainment Media Summit

Throughout the month of October 2021, RespectAbility hosted a series of virtual celebrations, panel conversations and networking opportunities to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Through a combination of forward-facing panels and breakout networking rooms, participants learned about writing, directing, producing, self-advocacy and more.

NDEAM Entertainment Media Summit: Personal Finance and Budgeting for Disabled Creatives

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Liz Amelia Green

Liz Amelia Green, an alumna of the RespectAbility cohort of the WarnerMedia Access Early Career Bootcamp who also is a filmmaker as well as a volunteer financial counselor, hosted a session on personal finance and budgeting. The session was geared toward disabled creatives and filmmakers. Liz discussed budgeting, saving, the basics of investing and compound interest, insurance, and building a secure financial future so you can live and give. For all attendees, Liz offered up to two free additional 15-minute one-on-one sessions to dive deeper into individual situations.

NDEAM Entertainment Media Summit: A Focus on the Future

This event is part of a larger series of events. Learn more:

With an Introduction by Wynne Lum, Environmental, Social and Governance, Bank of America Charitable Foundation

Throughout the month of October 2021, join RespectAbility for a series of virtual celebrations, panel conversations and networking opportunities as we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Through a combination of forward-facing panels and breakout networking rooms, participants will learn about writing, directing, producing, self-advocacy and more. Please note that some sessions are open only to entertainment industry creatives who identify as deaf or disabled, as we seek to continue to build community. Learn more:

NDEAM Entertainment Media Summit: Unlearning Internalized Ableism and Self-Advocacy with Sheridan O’Donnell, Little Brother

Sheridan O'Donnell headshot on the beach

Sheridan O’Donnell

In January 2020, writer and director Sheridan O’Donnell was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. In October 2021 he was completing his feature debut, Little Brother, starring J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), Philip Ettinger (HBO’s I Know This Much Is True) and Daniel Diemer (Netflix’s The Half Of It), which is currently in post production. In this session, O’Donnell shared his personal experiences navigating production with his vision loss, accepting his disability, and finding ways to advocate for himself and other filmmakers with disabilities. Creatives who identify as blind/low vision were encouraged to attend. [continue reading…]

RespectAbility x Roadmap Writers: Disabled Writers in the Writers Room and Beyond

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NDEAM Entertainment Media Summit: A Focus on the Future

This event is part of a larger series of events. Learn more:

This was a discussion in partnership with Roadmap Writers surrounding the experience of disabled writers currently working in the writers room and beyond.

Roadmap Writers is a talent training and discovery platform for screenwriters ready for a guided path to success. Their programs are hosted by working industry executives and are designed to empower writers with actionable tools and insights to elevate your craft and cultivate relationships with industry professionals. Since 2016, they have helped more than 185 writers sign to representation and countless others get staffed, optioned, or sell their script.

Just as no disabled person has the same life experience as another, there is no singular path to the writers room. For many people in the disability community, that path can often feel even more difficult to navigate given the historical lack of inclusion and accessibility in the Entertainment industry. That said, the industry seems to be at a turning point as more and more disabled writers are making their way into the writers room, and more decision-makers are beginning to understand the importance of improving the representation of disabled people both in front of and behind the camera. This event was a conversation with Diana Romero (4400), Marc Muszynski (Dexter), and Shea Mirzai (Space Coyote Productions). They discussed their journeys and experiences as disabled writers currently working in the industry.

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NDEAM Entertainment Media Summit: The Birth of Unstoppable: How an Idea is Leading to Inclusive Programming and Advancing Film Festival Accessibility with Juliet Romeo

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Juliet Romeo

Film festivals can be a great place for filmmakers to share their work with live audiences and network with other industry members; however, many film festivals are not fully accessible. This session was led by Juliet Romeo, filmmaker and founder of the UNSTOPPABLE Films program promoting disability and diversity inclusion in film. The program made its debut for Slamdance Film Festival 2021 with record-breaking numbers, and many companies including Hulu, Google, YouTube and ARRAY showing their support. During this session, Juliet shared more about the process of creating UNSTOPPABLE Films, and how she hopes it will become a blueprint program for all festivals going forward to include, showcase and celebrate the brilliant works and stories of the disabled community. [continue reading…]

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