Skip Navigation
Skip to Footer

Image of two people smiling and looking at a computer.


Ten headshots of panelists featured in article arranged in a grid.

Top Row (L-R): Kiah Amara, Asha Chai-Chang, Michele Spitz, Chris Snyder, Alex Howard
Bottom Row (L-R): Amanda Upson, Amber Espinosa-Jones, Isaac Zablocki, Juliet Romeo, Danielle Pretsfelder-Demchick

Los Angeles, Oct. 4 – Throughout the RespectAbility Entertainment Lab, Fellows participated in a variety of panels and workshops focused on accessibility, a topic of major importance to both the Lab and the disability community as a whole. The conversations were run by industry professionals, many of whom are disabled themselves. The panelists covered topics including accessibility as a creative asset, audio description, accessible film festivals, and authentic and accessible casting. [continue reading…]

Language Matters

“Your employees are the experts on their own needs. It’s time to listen.”

Block letters spelling out the word "Disability"Disability is a set of barriers that society places on people whose bodies work differently. While disability is an extension of the human experience and spectrum of human abilities, the stigma and negative expectations of the disabled body contribute to othering. Inclusive employer policies are an important aspect of the rehabilitation of disabled people into the workforce. Many disabled people are able and willing to work but face unsurmountable stigma and non-inclusive policies from employers.

In the English language, disability represents a set of impairments that are associated with a loss of social status – a perceived deviance of the body and its functions. The social model of disability describes the stigma faced by disabled individuals as profoundly linked to society’s expectations of the body. Alongside expectations of the body, stigma is associated with the inability to fulfill social norms. In individualist cultures, this can result in greater concern over an individual’s ability to contribute. Therefore, individualist cultures are going to place a larger emphasis on productivity expectations for the disabled body. [continue reading…]

Logos for Collaborative on Faith & Disabilities and Interfaith Network on Mental IllnessThroughout my research of faith-based organizations that provide services for disability and mental health, a lot of organizations impressed me. I am going to focus on two in particular below.

The first organization that stood out to me was the Collaborative on Faith and Disability. Their homepage shares some fascinating statistics, including that 84% of people with disabilities say their faith is important to them, and that 45% of people with disabilities attend a place of worship at least monthly. [continue reading…]

This Is Our Fast

“I’ve been working hard to integrate accessibility into St. Luke’s idea of what a Beloved Community looks like—what is a community, after all, without disabled people in its midst?”

The sanctuary at St. Luke's Church in California decorated with pride flagsTen years ago this fall, on what my therapist at the time pointed out was also Yom Kippur, I stepped foot into St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Long Beach, California for the first time. It was my home from that moment on.

At the age of 21, I’d realized I no longer felt at home in the tradition in which I’d grown up. It no longer served me as I and my worldview changed.

Joining the Episcopal Church gave me room to be who I was. When I joined St. Luke’s, I identified as straight. Spending time amongst my Christian LGBTQIA+ elders allowed me the space to realize I myself was queer, and to come out to myself and those around me. In a church that welcomes and affirms LGBTQIA+ people with open arms, I was no longer the abomination I’d feared I was since teenagehood. Needless to say, growing up queer in the denomination of my youth wasn’t especially easy. [continue reading…]

Emily Flores and Director Ashley Eakin smile together at the premiere for Growing UpLos Angeles, Sept 22 – Growing Up episode four follows Emily Flores, a woman born with muscular dystrophy, navigating adolescence and young adulthood with a disability. The episode, which is a part of a Disney+ series that highlights stories about notable young people from underrepresented backgrounds, tells the story of how a young Flores founded Cripple Media, an online publication for disabled writers to tell their own stories.

The episode starts by showing a group of young people sitting in a circle – group therapy-style – with Flores discussing her story, saying she “let people have assumptions about [her]” regarding her disability. These assumptions, according to Flores, include that disability is a tragedy and disabled people are a monolith. Bombarded by these assumptions, Flores often felt alienated and powerless while growing up. [continue reading…]

Los Angeles, Sept 21 – The process of making a creative project requires many steps from writing and editing drafts, to finding the right creative partner and securing funding. To help guide them in this layered and arduous process, RespectAbility’s Entertainment Lab provides disabled creatives with mentorship, industry insight, and networking opportunities in all facets of the entertainment industry. Recently, Lab Fellows learned the ropes of the vital yet intimidating step: pitching.

In the session, “The Art of Pitching,” Fanshen Cox stressed the importance of sharing one’s own journey in a pitch. As a storyteller, Cox advised participants to think about experiences that they want to share and tell a story. “When you’re going into a pitch, you want to do everything to make sure you feel confident.” [continue reading…]

Joy St. Juste smiling headshot

Joy St. Juste

“The reason I have such an intimate knowledge of Mexican history and culture is because of my having ADHD.”

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month, and for my fellow Mexicanos, “Feliz Día de la Independencia y Viva México.” Contrary to what you might have been led to believe, when it comes to Mexican holidays, Cinco de Mayo doesn’t even come close to bringing the level of exuberance and jubilation that Día de la Independencia or 16 de Septiembre does for the Mexican public.

For me, this holiday is usually a time of reflection on my identity as a Mexican-American, and how my relationship with my ancestors has led me to where I am today. Since this is my first year in my position at RespectAbility, I’m taking the opportunity to think about what it means to hold the layered identities of being Mexican-American and disabled. In fact, I recently came to the realization that the reason I have such an intimate knowledge of Mexican history and culture is because of my having ADHD. [continue reading…]

Logo for Tzedek DC. Tagline: Legal Help for People in Debt.Tzedek DC is an independent public interest center headquartered at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law that helps people with problems stemming from debt.

Tzedek DC’s official mission is “to safeguard the legal rights and financial health of DC residents with low incomes dealing with the often-devastating consequences of abusive debt collection practices and other consumer related issues.” The nonprofit seeks to “carry out that mission with the goal of addressing racial gaps in wealth and equality.” [continue reading…]

New Year

Erika Abbott smiling headshot seated on a couch

Erika Abbott

What page are we on? How much longer does the service last? Just as my body signaled for urgent rest, the Shofar blasted. “Truah!”

Those first notes remind me that I want to be heard by my Jewish community. Not just as someone who’s disabled, but as a Holy Fool who has the knowledge you seek.

What better way to command attention than to play the Shofar? Thus, I decided to learn to play the ritual musical instrument and set out to play in Rosh Hashana services. I wanted to be the female version of Itzak Perlman. As I fell asleep that night, I could hear the T’kiah calling my name. [continue reading…]

25 diverse people with disabilities on a RespectAbility Lab zoom meetingLos Angeles, Sept. 2 – RespectAbility’s Virtual Entertainment Lab continued this past week featuring a panel of television writers — Marc Muszynski (Abby’s, Dexter: New Blood), Xavier Stiles (Black Belts, Hemlock Grove), Diana Romero (4400, Good Trouble), Keisha Zollar (Busy Tonight, Agent King), and Katherine Beattie (NCIS: New Orleans, Californication). Panelists shared lessons learned from working in the writers’ room and on set, their career paths to writing for television, and their experiences as disabled creatives working in the entertainment industry.

Not all paths to writing for television are linear, but some writers find the best path is through education. “I tried to take the traditional route,” shared Stiles, who studied film at Arizona State University. While studying, a professor recommended him to a showrunner for Netflix’s Hemlock Grove. Since then, Stiles has worked on array of shows ranging from ABC’s Stumptown to Disney Launchpad’s Black Belts. When asked about what material writers should have in their portfolio, Stiles explained that having a variety of script types and genres is important, but “the strong POV (point of view) is still what everyone is looking for at the end of the day.” [continue reading…]

1 2 3 4 5 130 131
Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.


Mailing Address:
43 Town & Country Drive
Suite 119-181
Fredericksburg, VA 22405

Office Number: 202-517-6272

Email: [email protected]


RespectAbility and The RespectAbility Report is a GuideStar Platinum Participant. GuideStar Platinum Participant Logo

Back to Top

Translate »