Above: Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, is interviewed during the organization’s protest on April 2nd in midtown Manhattan. (Video: SCOOTERCASTER / YouTube)
Members of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) gathered in midtown Manhattan on April 2nd to protest “In The Dark,” a new television series on the CW network. The purpose of the protest #LetUsPlayUs was to highlight the lack of authentic representation of blind people in the entertainment industry; “In the Dark” features a lead actor who isn’t blind in real life, but who plays the role of a blind person on the show.
In the weeks leading up to the protest, the National Federation of the Blind issued a statement condemning the show and calling for its cancellation. The organization also wrote to the show’s producers and to CW/CBS executives requesting an urgent meeting. The NFB received a response from the show’s executives stating that they are interested in meeting with the NFB after the first season has aired.
A group of students from the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia recently treated audiences to a tap dance alongside members of the Pennsylvania Ballet’s youth troupe. The performance was part of the ceremony for Art-Reach’s 2018 Cultural Access Awards which aim to promote participation in the arts amongst people with disabilities. Journalist Monica Marie Zorrilla documented the emotional performance for local outlet ‘BillyPenn.‘
Steven Loch doesn’t know why his obsessive-compulsive disorder subsides while he’s dancing, but he’s grateful for the relief it provides from the “torture” of his symptoms. In a compelling interview with Brendan Kiley of The Seattle Times, Loch gives a candid description of the disturbing thoughts that cause his unpleasant behavior and prompted him to find treatment at psychiatric hospitals.
Kiley’s excellent article also features an explanation by Dr. Sam Zinner, a specialist in neurological development, of OCD’s medical origins.
“The human brain has a cluster of neurons called the basal ganglia. Put together, he explained, they’re the size of a walnut, and take in the deluge of cognitive, motor, memory, emotional and sensory information that floods through our brains when we, say, kick a soccer ball or watch out for poisonous snakes while walking through a swamp. The basal ganglia are supposed to filter out all the extraneous noise so we can focus on the task at hand. “In every picosecond of time,” Zinner said, “the basal ganglia have to decide what is relevant, what not to block out so you can survive.”
But the basal ganglia in brains with OCD — and related conditions, including Tourette syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — are, in his words, “leaky filters.” Those leaks lead to information overload and behavior that, to the casual observer, might seem odd — like compulsively touching a magazine three times before picking it up, or hiding on a bathroom floor in costume during a ballet performance to avoid horrifying, intrusive thoughts.”
Hear Steve Loch describing his OCD symptoms in his own words and watch him dance in this captivating video by Seattle Times’ video editor Corinne Chin.
A short film about a 4-year-old deaf girl called “The Silent Child” won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action). The film’s title character is played by Maisie Sly who is deaf in real life. The film was written by UK actress Rachel Shenton and directed by her fiancé Chris Overton. During the awards ceremony Shenton used American Sign Language to translate her acceptance speech, which doubled as a passionate description of communication challenges faced by children with disabilities.
“Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence,” said Shenton. “It’s not exaggerated or sensationalized for the movie. This is happening, millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers, and particularly access to education. Deafness is a silent disability. You can’t see it and it’s not life-threatening, so I want to say the biggest of ‘Thank yous’ to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience. ”
CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for “The Silent Child”. CLICK BELOW to watch Shenton and Overton’s acceptance speech.
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.
Former British journalist, Patrick Cockburn, and his son Henry Cockburn, co-wrote an op-ed for The Independent candidly describing Henry’s experience with schizophrenia. The article is the first in a 3-part series focusing on how Henry’s mental illness has shaped his career as a professional painter. Click here to read about this father-son story in The Independent.
A photographer from North Wales is using their work to change the world’s perspective on disability. The unique photos show people with disabilities sharing something about their own dreams or ambitions. Read more
Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin told reporters, “There have been only a handful of people talking about the lack of inclusion of people with disabilities” in the film industry and Hollywood. Read more