A community theater group in Phoenix called Detour Company Theater features actors with disabilities performing blockbuster broadway musicals. Arizona State University student Allison Bailey profiled the theatre troupe and its founder for a story on Cronkite News.
Every week The New York Times features an opinion column written by a person with a disability. This week’s essay by Rachel Kolb describes her mixed reactions to music after receiving a cochlear implant. Kolb’s column also includes a virtual reality video and animations to illustrate her sensations of seeing music and feeling vibrations. Click here to enjoy the full column.
Several recent films produced by Hollywood studios and starring celebrity actors are frustrating disability advocates for their lack of diversity and authenticity. Examples include Todd Haynes’s film Wonderstruck starring Julianne Moore as a deaf woman, David Gordon Green’s Stronger starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a double-amputee, and Andy Serkis’s Breathe starring Andrew Garfield as a polio patient who becomes a quadriplegic. A recent article in USA Today explains why disability advocates are raising awareness about the lack of casting diversity and how filmmakers are responding.
Article excerpt: So what can Hollywood do to give more visibility? Lauren Appelbaum, communications director for RespectAbility, a non-profit organization working to fight stigmas and create opportunities for people with disabilities, urges studios to look to TV, where actors such as Stranger Things‘ Gaten Matarazzo (who has cleidocranial dysplasia, a rare growth disorder) and NCIS: New Orleans‘ Daryl Mitchell (who is paralyzed from the chest down) play roles that don’t hinge on them being disabled.
“Actors with disabilities could easily play roles that neither hide nor emphasize their disability,” Appelbaum says. “For example: a doctor who uses a wheelchair or a scientist with cerebral palsy. By including characters with obvious and hidden disabilities in scripts and story lines, films can create more authenticity within entertainment.”
Today, October 31st, is the last day of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The goal of NDEAM is to promote resources for employees with disabilities and their employers. Ted Simmons of Arizona PBS recently interviewed Pv Jantz about resources offered by the Arizona Commission of the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing. Jantz, who is deaf, says employers shouldn’t assume what type of accommodation a new co-worker needs. The best approach is to ask the employee what they prefer as an individual. Workers with disabilities tend to be experts on which accommodations best fit their individual needs. Jantz also recommends the website www.AskJAN.org (the Job Accommodation Network) as a resource for employers and employees with disabilities.
The hip-hop community wants to make their products accessible to the Deaf community. Superstar singer and songwriter Chance the Rapper partnered with DEAFinitely Dope’s Matt Maxey and Kelly Kurdi to interpret the first verse of Chance’s song “Blessings” into American Sign Language. Learn more about their partnership by reading this Billboard Magazine article, and by watching the full video here on Pigeon and Planes‘ YouTube channel.
David Uzzell is a deaf chef at Marcel’s, a high-end restaurant in Washington D.C. Uzzell and his colleagues use laser pointers, hand signals and a notepad to communicate meal orders and discuss kitchen operations. NPR reporter Kristin Hartke interviewed Uzzell and his boss Robert Wiedmaier about Uzzell’s work and creativity. “I couldn’t have hired David if he had no taste or sense of smell. Being deaf hasn’t stopped him from being a damn good chef,” Wiedmaier said.
Responding to the allegation that Donald Trump reportedly called her “retarded”, deaf actress Marlee Matlin said, “the term is abhorrent and should never be used.” Read more
Deaf culture is unique in that it is not usually inherited– it is shared and passed down. Though implants have been lauded for their technological achievements, by helping deaf children hear, parents are essentially cutting them off from experiencing this vibrant culture. Read more on Medium.
A young blind and deaf Harvard Law School graduate gave a TEDx talk on disability rights and is pushing to make future TEDx talks more accessible through the use of captioning. Read more.