Archive for the 'Disabled' Category


Reelabilities: Film Festival

reelability logoInitiated by The JCC in Manhattan in 2007, ReelAbilities presents award-winning films made by and about people with different disabilities—from autism to bipolar disorder, from cerebral palsy to blindness. Through film, ReelAbilities also reaches beyond the disability community and manages to bridge gaps by engaging film lovers and audiences from all walks of life.

The festival is part of a movement to bring awareness and enlightenment about people living and thriving with disabilities—building on the cultural shift that is no longer keeps disability behind Hollywood’s glittering lights. Michael J. Fox, a beloved actor with Parkinson’s disease, is acting in his own primetime network show; Showtime’s critically acclaimed hit show “Homeland” features Carrie, a CIA agent played brilliantly by Claire Danes, whose bipolar disorder offers her gifts and struggles; and more feature films than ever before, like those featured in ReelAbilities, explore how our differences make us strong.

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 Slate of Films

A WHOLE LOTT MORE / Victor Buhler, Documentary, 83 min, USA, 2013

BIPOLARIZED / Rita Kotzia, Documentary, 76 min, USA, 2013

CINEMABILITY / Jenni Gold, Documentary, 98 min, USA, 2013

DO YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE? / Dani Wasserman, Documentary, 50 min, Israel, 2013

FIXED: THE SCIENCE/FICTION OF HUMAN ENHANCEMENT / Regan Brashear, Documentary, 60 mins, USA, 2013

GABRIELLE / Louise Archambault, Narrative, 104 min, Canada, 2013

HERE ONE DAY / Kathy Leichter, Documentary, 76 min, USA, 2013

INVITATION TO DANCE / Simi Linton & Christian Von Tippelskirch, Documentary, 75 min,

IT’S ALL ABOUT FRIENDS / Lena Koppel, Narrative, 91 min, Sweden, 2013reel

LITTLE WORLD / Marcel Barrena, Documentary, 83 min, Spain, 2013

LOST AND SOUND / Lindsey Dryden, Documentary, 76 min, UK, 2012

RUN & JUMP / Steph Green, Narrative, 105 mins, USA/Ireland, 2013

STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS / Sam Fleischner, Narrative, 107 min, USA, 2013

TOUCH OF THE LIGHT / Rong-ji Chang, Narrative, 110 min, Taiwan, 2013

Note: ReelAbilities Traveling Program is presented with the support of The Saul Schottenstein Foundation B


Disability News Today — 3 items

1.  Disney reforms disability access policybarred

Disneyland and Disney World have been having abuses to their disability policy, and now they have made a change.  Read more>>>>

2.  Disability Film Festival
From November 17-20, the 3rd International Disability Film Festival “Breaking Down Barriers” was held in Moscow at the movie theater Salyut, still one of the most accessible movie theaters in town. More than 1,500 people attended the four day event.  Viewers included teachers, social protection officials, students of film and social work, special educators, disability activists and other members of the community.

The festival showcased nearly 100 films from Canada, France, South Africa, Georgia, Russia, the U.S., Italy, Mexico, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, the UK, Austria, Mexico, Germany, and India.  Films were short and long features, documentaries, animation, films for children, about children, public service announcements, and more.  The films from 20 countries competed for 11 awards.  The awards were selected by a distinguished jury of Russian film-makers, chaired by the famous Russian director, writer, producer and actor, Aleksander Mitta, who graduated from the well-known All-Russian Cinema Institute in 1960.  He is also a recipient of the distinguished Russian Film Award, 2001, TEFI. In 2004 he was awarded the title “Most Popular Artist of Russia.” At the start of the festival, Mr. Mitta was interviewed by national Russian TV.  On National TV Mr Mitta remarked: “These are films about disabled people, but they are not for them, they’re for us.  You get such a sense of fullness from them …And it’s all true.”Read more about the Moscow Film Festival…

  1. Scholarships for Folks with Disabilities

Detail: The MassMutual Scholars program is a national scholarship program for eligible students interested in careers in the insurance and financial services industry.

This year, MassMutual awarded $2,500 and $5,000 scholarships to 31 high achieving college students to help them pursue their higher education dreams. Student applicants were evaluated on their academic performance, commitment to education, and financial need, as well as a personal essay in which many shared poignant stories about their desires to achieve a degree and their need for assistance.

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Sick Sick World — the facts

One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability.  The results are staggering.  The facts are saddening.  The pain is maddening.  This piece is really only to introduce you all to the world as a whole and how disability affects everyone everywhere.

Facts on Disability World Wide    mad mad world

  • According to UNICEF, 30 per cent of street youths are disabled.disabilities
  • In most OECD countries, women report higher incidents of disability than men.
  • Around 10 per cent of the world’s population, or 650 million people, live with a disability. They are the world’s largest minority.
  • Eighty per cent of persons with disabilities live in developing countries, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
  • Comparative studies on disability legislation shows that only 45 countries have anti-discrimination and other disability-specific laws.
  • mad world smokingWomen with disabilities are recognized to be multiply disadvantaged, experiencing exclusion on account of their gender and their disability.
  • This figure is increasing through population growth, medical advances and the ageing process, says the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • In countries with life expectancies over 70 years, individuals spend on average about 8 years, or 11.5 per cent of their life span, living with disabilities.
  • The World Bank estimates that 20 per cent of the world’s poorest people are disabled, and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged.
  • In the United Kingdom, 75 per cent of the companies of the FTSE 100 Index on the London Stock Exchange do not meet basic levels of web accessibility, thus missing out on more than $147 million in revenue.
  • Mortality for children with disabilities may be as high as 80 per cent in countries where under-five mortality as a whole has decreased below 20 per cent, says the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, adding that in some cases it seems as if children are being “weeded out”.
  • Women and girls with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse. A small 2004 survey inmad world Orissa, India, found that virtually all of the women and girls with disabilities were beaten at home, 25 per cent of women with intellectual disabilities had been raped and 6 per cent of disabled women had been forcibly sterilized.
  • Disability rates are significantly higher among groups with lower educational attainment in the countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), says the OECD Secretariat. On average, 19 per cent of less educated people have disabilities, compared to 11 per cent among the better educated.
  • Disabled child of warFor every child killed in warfare, three are injured and permanently disabled.
  • In some countries, up to a quarter of disabilities result from injuries and violence, says WHO.
  • Research indicates that violence against children with disabilities occurs at annual rates at least 1.7 times greater than for their non-disabled peers.
  • Persons with disabilities are more likely to be victims of violence or rape, according to a 2004 British study, and less likely to obtain police intervention, legal protection or preventive care.

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Violence against the disabled raises its ugly head again

photo of snake head

Raising its ugly head

The topic of violence against persons with disabilities unfortunately popped up on the news again.  Seems that CNN caught hold of this British video clip of a disturbing attack on a wheelchair user. This topic seems to be hot and actually barely touches the surface of a level of hatred in humanity – the dark side.  The psychological idea that persons who are disabled are to be hidden away, removed from society, or placed in nursing homes seems prevalent in the world we live it.  Shame on humanity!

This brings us back to our earlier piece, Crimes Against Those who are Disabled.

What is further disgusting to me is the sexual violence perpetrated on women who have intellectual disabilities.  I remember years ago watching some film which feature a young woman with a developmental disability who was basically raped at home, and kept for that purpose.  Does that sicken you as well?

Related links:

Sexuality and Disability

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Journal of Contemporary Justice:  Article on abuse against the elderly


The Good from Evil

Painting featuring adam and eve

"Adam & Eve & Eve and Adam," 1999, acrylic and mixed media on wood, 24 x 24", $8400

This concept is often discussed in religious and atheistic circles.  The idea that God allows evil.  The one side argues that a good all knowing and omnipotent God would not allow evil, and therefore there is no God.  The other side argues that God allows the free will of man and nature. (See links at bottom) The point here is that the challenges of life, the trials and tribulations we all experience in live generate responses from us, and define our character.

If we all lived in the Garden of Eden, where we have abundant supply and resources, where we have eternity to live, and where we walk with God, then we would have little to challenge us to become better people, for everything would e perfect.  Can you picture that?  A place without struggle.

I realize, as millions before me, that, when dealing with the trials and tribulations of life, we must embrace them, wrestle with them, and learn from them for then we pave the way for healthy living.  You may not have a disability, but you have your challenges.  Everyone, including the rich with all the supply and resources available to them, have challenges too.  So look at your challenge – yes the one right in front of you – and you know what you have to do.  The target is sitting right in front of your nose.

That’s the first step in the living of life, grasping that the challenge is your destiny.  Every good story has an antagonist and a protagonist.  Where it gets hairy is when they both reside in your own soul.  You see when we allow the demons of the soul to enter and dominate, we then begin to see why Christians say everyone needs the savior.  I think the Batman film series and Star Wars draws upon this thematic archtype.  Can you see that Luke Skywalker and Darth are the same.  One gone to the dark side, the other nearly overcome by the insanity of his own hate.  But the love overcomes evil in the end, and Darth lets go of his hate, as the spark of love for Luke extinguishes his evil ways.

So why is there disability and illness?  What good is there in having limitation?  See it’s the challenge, the challenge to overcome evil with good.  That good can come from so many places.  So many great things are encapsulated in the process of standing again when you’ve lost your legs; when you see without sight, when you hear a world who no longer can be heard, or when you speak devoid of voice.  These are truly miraculous and amaze us all.

We may not be Jesus and can bring sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and purity to the lepers, but we are challenged to improve their lot and end their suffering.  When society has chosen to pick up these challenges and address them, society has reaped the benefit of their efforts.  So embrace your limitation.  It is your mountain to climb; and the difficulty, the pain, and the anguish are the grit, dirt and soil for the flowering beauty of Eden in our midst.

Selected Links:

Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen

Bane of Monothesism

Tall, Dark and Ruthless:  The Romantic Allure of Darth Vader

Jung’s Archetypes

How to understand that trials and tribulations are a part of our Christian faith


Just Tell Us “NO! You Can’t Do That”

picture of disabled=In 7th grade my PE teacher made me mad.  He said before my class, “You don’t need to climb the rope as you won’t be able to do it.”  That statement made me want to punch him; but instead, I climbed the rope in the allotted 3 minutes times, touching the ceiling and “shoving his words back into his mouth.”  Often well meaning able-bodied people  tell someone with a limitation what they can and cannot do.  Maybe the reason God let us have disabilities is to help the able bodied to know that they too can do more than they have realized they could do. My story is insignificant, but I thought you should be aware of the plight of Brian McKeever, a Canadian skier with a disability who had made the Olympic ski team and then never got the opportunity to compete.  According to an article in the Dailygleaner, online paper, there was quit the public out lash against the coaching staff for not giving him a chance to show his stuff.  In reality he probably was just too sick to complete on his event’s day.  I expect to see his name in the news again; at least he brought positive attention to the paralympics.   Do you think anyone told him he couldn’t compete?  Maybe he was driven by the fact that he was disabled.  He certainly made an impression on those who listened to his story. It is within each of us to take negative or condemning comments and turn them around for our good.  Sometimes anger and negative reactions to the limitations others place on us can actually fire us up. In our blog we mention Eric Weilhemayer’s Touch the Top of the World describes the world class mountain climber’s adventure and his tackling of Mt. Everest.

Linked Stories

Brian McKeever, first winter Olympic athlete, sees his dream come true


New Job for the disabled: suicide bomber?

Picture of suicide bomber

I recently read a story that prompted me to think about the health of American society.  It seems that 80% of suicide bombers in Afghanistan are disabled.  Now why would the life of someone who is disabled be so tragically deficient as to feel that suicide is an improvement?  Could it be that that since they are disabled that (1) the disabled have no social status, (2) they can’t get jobs, (3) that they are perceived as pariah, and (4) they earn money for their families which they can’t earn any other way since no one hires the disabled (worth more dead syndrome)?

Suicide is painless, it brings on sudden changes,” this is a line from that famous introduction to Mash.  I never really understood the theme music for the show.  I suppose it could be that war is hell and for the mash unit, it was a hell to endure.   I recently met a vet from the Korean War, and he had suffered a spinal cord injury from his stint in Korea.  Certain bitterness was etched on his brow, but he wasn’t strapping bombs on himself.  Yet, if we were at war within our own borders, would he too strap on a bomb to take out his societies enemies?

Mankind marks itself with how it handles its disabled.  Horrendous mistreatments of persons who have a disfigurement or physical or psychological disability readily identify societies that mistreat others including their own citizens.  Look at Hitler’s Third Reich.  His regime systematically eliminated the enemies of state (political refuse), enemies of culture (non-Christian), and enemies of state prosperity (the disabled).  People who are not productive should be vaporized if they can’t help your nation compete in the global economy?

In the United States I have seen several very nazi signs that cloud the great reputation of the country.  The mentally ill were turned out of state-run institutions and left on the street, this was a harbinger of trouble.  Now politically minded folks will blame Reagan’s political decision, but since that time no other president or congress has done much to change the historical villainy.  Especially intriguing to me is how we sent thousands of soldiers off to Vietnam, and many returned with psychological disabilities.  Were these treated?  Well, the point is that we all know that many of our street people are these very souls, wandering around in a world that abandoned them spiritually, emotionally and left them to rot undercard board sleeping bags.

Now the state of affairs for our mentally ill community is amazing forgotten.  The well, the rich and the middle class, have built for themselves a wall of detachment from the issue.  Self absorbed in their own lives and the day’s entertainment, they have carefully erected near perfect barriers from watching the mentally ill, walking the streets like zombies.  The figures are amazing.  In 1960, the state ran about 175 psychiatric beds per 100,000 persons.  Since the Reagan era, the count dropped to 15.

What was and what  is the cost to society?  The estimate cost savings from not treating the mentally ill is huge.  Staffing mental institutions and the overhead, the inventory, the plant and facilities is in the billions.  But, what is the cost to society of having people not treated?  How can you measure those costs?

Could we like the Nazis be planning on creating a new industry of euthanasia.  We could staff those institutions with the unemployed.  The baby boom could provide a whole new industry – one of death and destruction.   Instead of watching them raise the cost of insurance and for taking care of their increasing medical expenses, we could provide ss style injections—like putting down the dog.  Heck you get disabled when you get older.  Maybe once we get good at it, we could eliminate the youth with disabilities, and those with incurable cancer, too.

Hey, maybe the president could create a new military force exempt from the prohibitions for the disabled.  Then they could have something to die for.  Strap on a bomb and wait for deployment into the heart of the state’s enemies.  Then the disabled would have status.  Then they could be held on high as heroes to the populace?  Boom, baby, boom, and maybe, perchance, you then live in heaven with 21 virgins!

From News Sites:

Suicide Bomber In A Wheelchair

British disability activists say change in UK assisted suicide law “abandons hope”

Mash Theme Song Lyrics

Euthanasia: The Dutch Experience

The Wise Sloth: my prediction on the legalization of euthanasia

Solid Article covering History of Suicide Bombing or terrorism

Don’t Trust Anyone older Than 30 – about, for and by baby boomers


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Sound the Horn

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