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Poster for Star Wars The Mandalorian on Disney+Los Angeles, CA, Dec. 16 – “Our view remains back by the crash site, watching as they venture out across the permafrost in the gloomy ice tunnel. With the child tucked in his arm, Mando follows the labyrinthian path as it winds around frosty kraggs, lit softly in a blush tint by sunlight that finds its way in through intermittent gaps above. The infant’s wide, curious eyes take in the sublime, arctic environment.” – Audio Description (AD) from Episode 2, Season 2 of The Mandalorian

That is just a small taste of the fantastic audio description for Season 2 of The Mandalorian. Season 1 of the show received an award from the American Council for the Blind for their outstanding audio description in July of 2020. Season 2 kept up the quality of the audio description and is genuinely vivid and beautiful. [continue reading…]

With the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine starting, RespectAbility reminds elected and healthcare officials that medical rationing that harms people with disabilities is illegal and wrong.

A black woman wearing a mask working on a computerWashington, D.C., Dec. 16 – Hospitals across the country are being overwhelmed by new coronavirus cases, with data showing more than 200,000 new cases daily. A new report from NPR’s All Things Considered highlights how the lives of people with disabilities are in the balance and medical professionals are denying equal access to care. The disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility reminds elected and healthcare officials that not only does medical rationing harm people with disabilities, it is also illegal and wrong. [continue reading…]

A group of diverse people with and without disabilities smiling together outside

L-R Back Row: Sharon Pierre-Louis (ASL interpreter), Lauren Appelbaum (RespectAbility Vice President, Communications and Lab Program Director), Delbert Whetter (RespectAbility Board of Directors), Jonathan Murray (RespectAbility Board of Directors), Stephen Simon (City of Los Angeles Department on Disability), Diana Elizabeth Jordan (Actress and RespectAbility Volunteer), Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi (RespectAbility President), Harvey Reese / Front Row: Matan Koch (RespectAbility Director of California Office), Tatiana Lee (RespectAbility Hollywood Inclusionist and Lab Program Associate), Josh Steinberg (RespectAbility Program Associate). Credit: Nasreen Alkhateeb, 2019 Lab Alumna

While growing up I rarely saw people with disabilities on television or in movies. When they did make an appearance, it was usually as a character that needed saving or someone that the audience was meant to pity. This lack of authenticity in disability representation and portrayal in media leads to unfortunate caricatures or whitewashing of stories that demean, stigmatize and diminish our existence in society.

We believe that the world is ready for a more uplifting and aspirational narrative—one that authentically depicts people with disabilities as they deserve to be portrayed, as multi-dimensional characters with hopes, flaws, and dreams who are capable of being fighters, heroes, villains and champions in the stories that Hollywood puts on our screens.

Thankfully, the tide is beginning to turn, and we are beginning to tell our own stories. [continue reading…]

Janet Labreck smiling in front of the New England Eye Mobile Care Clinic

Janet LaBreck

I have spent my career advocating for people who are blind or have low-vision or other disabilities, and my work with RespectAbility continues along this path. Over the years, I have learned the value of listening to people with disabilities and key stakeholders to drive change. Leveraging partnerships and innovative strategies to transform systems to reflect the authentic voice of the disability community has led to more inclusive approaches to identifying and implementing potential solutions that we in the disability community can create. [continue reading…]

Riz Ahmed shirtless at a drum set in the poster for Amazon Original Sound of MetalLos Angeles, CA, Nov. 10 – The Sound of Metal is a film that will hit home for anyone with a disability of any kind. The film is about a drummer named Ruben in a punk rock group who suddenly loses most of his hearing. Ruben, portrayed beautifully by Riz Ahmed (The Night Of, Venom), is forced to confront the loss of hearing head-on and struggles to deal with the fallout. He despairs at the involuntary cancellation of his group’s music tour and desperately tries to find ways to get his hearing back. He soon begins to live in a Deaf community led by Joe, a Vietnam veteran who, like Ruben, experienced the sudden loss of his hearing as an adult. Joe is played by Paul Raci, a hearing actor who grew up with Deaf parents (sometimes affectionately referred to in the Deaf community as a “CODA,” meaning a Child of Deaf Adults) and who remains active within the Deaf community both in his professional and personal life. [continue reading…]

Poster for Christmas Ever After on Lifetime with Ali Stroker and Daniel di TomassoLos Angeles, CA, Dec. 10 – It’s that time of the year again – the holiday season, and that means Christmas Movies. But there is one in particular that stands out from most.

Lifetime Networks’ “Christmas Ever After” tells the story of romance novelist Izzi struggling to write her popular book series’ newest installment. A Christmas vacation to her favorite bed and breakfast turns into a getaway to spark inspiration to clear her writer’s block.

Tony award-winning actress Ali Stroker makes history again as the first woman in a wheelchair to play the female protagonist in this Christmas romance film. The best part of the movie is her disability. Her disability wasn’t the film’s focus or even mentioned; everything was accessible and seamless for the starlet. They even showed her driving a car with her chair in the passenger seat; as a fellow wheelchair user, that was so relatable. No one asked her if she needed help. Others never questioned her competence and ability to accomplish her goals. She was quite supportive and helpful to everyone around her as well. [continue reading…]

Logos for the Harnisch Foundation and RespectAbilityLos Angeles, December 10 – It’s a match made in intersectional heaven as The Harnisch Foundation says “we do” support the disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility with a new grant.

Both organizations work to create equitable and accessible opportunities to advance equity and accessibility in Hollywood. RespectAbility fights stigmas and works to ensure that people with disabilities can participate in every aspect of community.

That includes authentic representation in media, especially in the movies and television shows that tell us what society looks like. So many cultural and physical barriers have limited the number of people with lived disability experience in positions of authority throughout the overall story-telling process. [continue reading…]

A scene from Alive with a caretaker speaking to another woman with a disability. Subtitle reads "Let's create a Tinder profile for you."Los Angeles, CA, Dec. 9 – In recent years there has been a bevy of films exploring the idiosyncrasies of dating while disabled. Rarely do these films accurately capture the nuances involved with sex and disability. Alive, written and directed by Jimmy Olsson, is a refreshing short that captures essential yet unseen aspects of interabled relationships, both romantic and platonic.

Victoria, played by Eva Johansson (who herself does not have a traumatic brain injury or use a wheelchair), is a former boxer living with a brain injury, which has affected her mobility and speech. Victoria’s caregiver Ida, played by Madeleine Martin, helps Victoria complete her daily routines. Ida quickly discovers that Victoria requires help with more than just quotidian errands; she needs an ally who can facilitate her desires for romantic fulfillment. [continue reading…]

National organization RespectAbility calls for leaders with disabilities and their proven allies to be included in the incoming Biden-Harris administration.

Biden transition logo with a bald eagle and the number 46.Washington, D.C., December 7 – With only weeks to go until Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, the Office of the President-Elect is rolling out names and nominees for critical cabinet positions throughout the federal government. However, despite repeated promises to build a cabinet that will “look like the country,” the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility is expressing concern about the critical need for more leaders with disabilities among those announcements.

“If the President-Elect wants to build the best team that he can, then he needs to ensure more leaders with disabilities and our proven allies are represented across the total scope of government,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President and CEO of RespectAbility. “The decisions made in the months ahead by the Biden-Harris administration are going to significantly impact the one-in-five Americans living with disabilities. Out of the more than 500 people named as part of the transition process, we only know of four individuals who have public disabilities or disability experience.” [continue reading…]

If you are a fan of thrillers, you undoubtedly have run across different takes on the “hostage” theme. Aneesh Chaganty’s latest film, “Run,” revisits this theme but does so with a twist that will undoubtedly draw deserved attention from the disabled community.

“Run” is the story of Chloe Sherman, a teen who uses a wheelchair, played by real-life wheelchair user Kiera Allen. The film explores the dynamic between Chloe and her helicopter mom Diane Sherman, played by Sarah Paulson.

[continue reading…]

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