Perspectives Blog

     As it was my first Casino night, I thought it was a hit. I didn’t really have any expectation to what it would be like but it was more amazing than I could have imagined. Just the mere amount of people that showed up to participate and support combined will all of the fabulous donations, food, and games made the night exciting in itself. I am really proud to have contributing and been a part of such an amazing event. The pavilion was the perfect location, being physically accessible for all, with no stairs, plenty of tables, and lots of space.

         Working in my one on one level sessions this semester has further proved to be how disabilities to not cap potential and opportunity. People with disabilities are just as intelligent if not more intelligent than people without disabilities. Casino night epitomized this because every individual with a physical or mental disability still participated in all of the carnival games and all of the gambling games. The gambling card games aren’t as easy as they look, I’m pretty sure the only one I know how to play is blackjack, yet everyone at the event, disability or not, participating in these card games. It made me so happy and content to see such a large crowd of people come together and unite for a good cause and for some classic casino shenanigans.

         Finally, after listening to the voices of individuals with a disability, not just at Casino Night but all throughout the semester, it could not be clearer to be that facing society and people’s perspectives is one of their biggest challenges each day. The struggle doesn’t come from doing everyday activity and getting from place to place or reading a book but it comes from the way people see you from the outside. Most often people with disabilities are talked about rather than talked to or talked to as if they were 10 years younger than they actually are. Things like this are so degrading and disrespectful. I wish that more people would be aware and educated about what it means to have a disability so that these individuals don’t have to feel uncomfortable. Events like Casino night and organizations like level have done a great job is spreading the word and especially awareness about people with disabilities and I hope that they will continue to do so.



Blog Post #4: Murderball

I think a lot of our past readings really resonate well with Murderball. I think this film does a good job of representing the mindsets of many people with physical disabilities while showing how they conquer historical barriers. These competitions and tournaments for wheelchair rugby would have never existed years ago because of the presumption that people with physical disabilities just could not succeed at sports. We’ve seen many times in class that these disabilities do not put a ceiling on the opportunity and achievement for these people. In the beginning the various athletes discuss the version of disability rhetoric people view them with, the consensus seemed to be related to the sentimental rhetoric and in this case it was overwhelmingly unwanted. In the Garland-Thomson reading from the beginning of the semester it states, “The sentimental produces the sympathetic victim or helpless sufferer needing protection or succor and invoking pity, inspiration, and frequent contributions”. When people call these players out and ask if they need help, wonder how they are able to drive, put clothes on, and more it annoys the players. It’s this rhetoric and attitude towards people with disabilities that make them angry and further fuels their drive to be successful and competitive to show what they can do.

Because this was an international competition it also reminded me of disabilities on an international level. I was happy to see teams from different countries uniting for their passion of rugby. It just shows that there are people all around the world, in every nation, who are physically disabled and passionate about overcoming their disability by participating in intense competition and being successful within those combats.

I tried to find the reasoning behind naming the game Murderball. Obviously most people say it’s because it’s “brutal, it’s fast, it’s intensely competitive and it’s bone-shatteringly full-on”, which I assumed. I was curious to see if there was any other meaning behind the tag but turns out its purely is called that because of its brutality. Another aspect of the sport that some may think is a bit brutal was the numbering system based on how much somebody’s body “works”. The combined count of four players on the court cannot exceed eight. In a way people may see this as degrading and animalistic because the players are just stamped with a number but I think it’s kind of cool. In this environment certain people with physical disabilities can be dubbed barely disabled compared to others. It makes the athletes feel good about them selves and instills confidence.

I enjoyed Murderball and I think it’s a really good film to raise awareness about physically disabilities.

Blog Carousel : Disabilities in Entertainment

For my blog carousel I decided to focus in on Disabilities In Entertainment. Aside from being passionate about special education, my heart belongs to the media and entertainment. I absolutely adore film whether it be editing, filming, or simply viewing. I wanted to see how disabilities play into the entertainment world and on what level the industry embraces people with disabilities. These blogs were all very eye opening and informative, take a look!

This post highlights the challenges and perhaps discriminatory measures a person with  disability is put up against in the entertainment field. The blogger herself is physically disabled as she is missing an arm. She focuses in on the tryouts for the hit show So You Think You Can Dance and discusses her enervation with the way they handle those with disabilities. She claims that they simply allow them to try out to create a more dramatic and sensible show while the judges were never planning to let them through for excuses like “you really wouldn’t work for our program, but we are so proud of your courage.” Basically, “you look too weird and awkward to appeal to a wide audience but we will boost our ratings by using you to elicit pity and then move on” One line that particularly drew me in and really showed me how this relates to disabilities in the entertainment industry was this, “And I’ve mentioned here before about visiting children’s homes in Latvia where children born missing limbs are sent to live where the public won’t have to be confronted with them. I was appalled then, but I wonder how different that is from TV shows that parade us out there to show us pity but then still won’t accept us in their world as we are.” She parallels a world where disabilities are not accepted by the public with the entertainment world and how they aren’t so different. Maybe they won’t let the handicapped competition through because they think the world won’t accept them and they subconsciously believe that this popular show is not the place for them. I agree that people with disabilities are not a circus act to be used for entertainment, like the emotional TV moments shows like So You Think You can Dance try to provoke. From the comments on this post I found a man who runs a performance program called Phamaly ( or The Physically Handicapped Actors & Musical Artists League. This is a theatre company where every show consists of performers who have disabilities. Programs like these and raising awareness will forge new opportunities and ways for people with disabilities to be successful in an entertainment industry with no presumptions and manipulations.

This post is extremely intriguing; it presents the idea that disabilities have been written out of history because they are not heavily involved or portrayed by characters in popular shows and movies. When they are portrayed it is incorrect and most often stereotypical. While the blogger praised a contestant that was part of the past season of the reality of The Glee Project named Ali Stroker, a paralyzed young woman, she still criticized the way her role would be taken up on Glee. “…If she was casted, she could be a love interest for Artie Abrams, the paraplegic on Glee. This is a stereotype that is common for people with disability.  What I liked about her as well is that she did know and was aware that being in a wheelchair has closed doors for her in the entertainment industry. I feel like that having a disability should not be a factor that would close doors because everybody should be entitled to have opportunities and every person should be equally represented.” She couldn’t have said it better herself. People will wheelchairs are especially challenged in the entertainment industry (the video along with the blog shows that content) however it is a roadblock for any person with a disability because of the visions and assumptions people have.

Essentially, the main point here is that able-bodied performers should not play disabled characters. They have just as much a right so self-representation on screen as people without disabilities do. The blogger uses an excellent an example of this unfair element of showbiz when she brings up Glee and its characters who apparently do not epitomize inclusiveness; “Its makers would never have considered having Rachel, the female lead, played by a man in drag. They would not have considered having Mercedes, the most prominent black character, played by a white actress in blackface. But when they cast Artie, the main disabled character, they chose an able-bodied actor and had him sit in a wheelchair and ape the appearance of a disabled person.” Each minority has had its revolution from Shakespearian times where women couldn’t perform on stage to just decades ago when Asian and Black characters would be played by white men like in Tea House of the August Moon and Othello. People have become conditioned to protest race exploitation on the big screen and have no reaction and maybe even applause when a disability is exploited on screen. The blog continues to explain the best forms of these portrayals of people with disabilities, the Oscar winning able-bodied actors, are often described as being sympathetic to the people with disabilities. People with disabilities do not want sympathy, but they seek equality. This aspect of sympathy reminded me of Garland-Thompson’s rhetorics, and specifically the wondrous and sentimental rhetoric. The entertainment industry is so consumed with money and the audience’s opinion that they will do anything to create drama and intensity within productions.

            Fortunately today there are many stars who have disabilities and act as disabled characters. Y fear, a long with blogger’s fear, is that if we are okay with these disabled roles being played by able-bodied actors, are we saying we are okay with people with disabilities being prevented from acting at all? I hope that someday in the near future we will find the same conclusion that was found with these other misacting issues. “Today, we find the sight of white actors portraying non-white roles in old films shocking. It often makes those movies unwatchably embarrassing. Years from now, films in which able-bodied actors play disabled characters will seem similarly misguided. They will be relics of a less equal age.” This equal age is coming and can come even faster if awareness grows and people see the flaws in these performance on a literally and psychological level.

 This blog goes along with the previous one as it highlights the ceiling cap of opportunities in the industry. “To become famous, you have to have a uniqueness that separates you from everyone else. But in some cases standing out can be a hindrance – especially if you’re disabled.” Many networks and studios would rather higher an able bodied performer to play a disabled character. Whereas the previous blogger emphasized the discrimination in the industry, here he tries to show that the entertainment industry is extremely rigorous and competitive even for individuals without disabilities so success for someone with a disability is even slimmer, although it shouldn’t be. There also are not a lot of public figures who could represent people with disabilities on a mainstream level. There are many “attitudinal barriers toward people with disabilities in general” society that prevent the success of programs and performances that center upon people with disabilities. Another barrier is the cost for accommodating handicaps; certain companies just do want to spend the extra money if they don’t have to.  This blogger was born with spastic cerebral palsy and her account of his triumphs of finding a job just shocked me and really show how cut throat this industry can be. “Jobs that I’ve applied for in the past – in which I was a good candidate for – have been passed on to others with little to no explanation. As a matter of fact, the most recent incident involved a boutique NY-based entertainment marketing firm. In November 2010, I applied for a position in the pop-rock department where I was scheduled to interview with a hiring manager. She seemed to show interest in me, and even wanted to meet in person, right until I mentioned being mobility impaired. Almost immediately, the meeting I agreed to have was reduced to a phoner, which eventually got delayed more times than Jay Electronica’s debut album. And while the company may argue that her demanding schedule got the best of her, I highly doubt that’s what happened, because if she was really interested in seeing how qualified I was, I’d at least be able to know if I got the job or not. Whether or not they would have hired me is debatable, but that’s the least of my concerns. The fact that she didn’t even give me a fair chance to prove my skills because of something I have no control over is the main reason I chose to pen this article.” These barriers need to be conquered and can be because people with disabilities have the right to proper representation in the entire entertainment industry.

This blog zeros in on disability in film over time. One of the perspectives I had never considered before reading this is that maybe writers, directors, and producers do want to include and portray people with intellectual disabilities properly but are often challenged by a general lack of understand of how to include and portray that population. Preconceived notions and emotions that go alone with people who have disabilities, like sympathy and uniqueness, have really clouded the way they should truly be presented. “The entertainment industry simply needed opportunities to be educated about how to work with actors with intellectual disabilities and how to weave them into story lines as part of the natural fabric of creating a realistic scene.  They needed to know it’s okay not to call them out as the center of attention in a polarizing manner as definitively good or bad.” Many people are working to include people with disabilities in mainstream entertainment as best as they can. Organizations like I AM PWD (Inclusion in the Arts and Media of People with Disabilities) and they attempt to do this by educating the people behind the scenes. People with disabilities should be included or, if they must be, portrayed in an “authentic and seamless” manner just like every other group in society.

This post caught my attention because it had to do with magazine ads; an area of the entertainment industry I had not yet discovered in relation to disabilities. Diesel unleashed a magazine campaign with a woman in a wheelchair. The woman featured in the ads is a fashion blogger from NYC, a former fashion student and she is also in a wheelchair. “Now just that fact alone would be enough for all major brands to overlook this spunky young chick. After all, disabled people are the most underrepresented group in the entertainment industry, and the largest minority in the world. It is about time a major label took the time to acknowledge diversity in all forms.” Steps like these should give everyone hope and motivation to keep spreading awareness and breaking down walls for people with disabilities and their rights in the entertainment sphere. The star of the ad has the same passions as anyone else, she just comes with a chair that moves. This ad shows that you do not need to be the typical and conventional model to represent a brand, as long as you have the right attitude, just like this woman did, you can do anything. She embodies fearlessness, passion, and of course fashion and does an excellent job in this ad campaign. The fashion world and entertainment world can be very narrow-minded but its up to people like her and others to find a part in it. This ad is really inspirational and will hopefully serve as a stepping stone for people with disabilities to embrace their confidence and see that they can do anything in this industry as long as they have passion and determination.


Extension Blog Post

The extension I chose to present to the class was an article stemmed from Uganda. It discusses the experiences people with disabilities encounter in Africa and I think we could draw on this in comparison to other nations, like Germany and the United States. I was drawn to find a situation related to Africa because I think that Uganda is a hard place to live as a person without disabilities as it is so I wondered how extreme and devastating it is for an individual with disabilities. It is common for people in Africa and even immediate family to regard a disability as a misfortune and that individual as useless to the whole community life. There is no opportunity to be educated properly if you have a disability and therefore no hope for anyone to be successful or acknowledged as a person with meaning and contribution. This Disability Rights Fund article really touched on the topic of the day because it sheds light on the situation and lifestyle of an individual with a disability in a specific part of the world, Uganda.

In class, many of my peers were shocked to find how brutal the people are in Uganda towards those with disabilities. Certain lines like these “My father would shout at me that I was just stupid… If you have a disability and you cannot do these chores, you are considered useless to the family and community… that blind girl, uh, what will she have to say?” really prompted empathy in concern in my audience as they were appalled by the horrible living situation in Uganda. We all agreed upon the solutions presented in the article especially on a global scale because these solutions can be implemented universally. Nations need to execute grassroots awareness and make the population aware of people with disabilities and the rights they deserve. The role of the government and access to education are also extremely important because these components can directly alter the course of one’s life. With education comes opportunity and with government intervention comes freedom and avoidance of discrimination. I think its important to spread knowledge about physical and mental disabilities and I hope organizations like the disability rights fund and more will continue to work towards making life easier for people with those disabilities.

Here is the link to my extension article! Feel free to browse it again or check out other articles on the site! It’s really interesting and informative and it’s things like this that begin the process of spreading awareness internationally.

Blog Post #3

Before studying IDEA and more specifically the autism spectrum disorders I didn’t not realize or know how to distinguish the various disorders that fall under that category. It surprised me to find how different they really are. For example Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are actually really distinct. Their characteristics are virtually opposite. Asperger’s is must less obvious as there’s usually an interest in social environment, little to no delay in verbal communication and cognition. There are such slight indicators whereas people with autism have a disinterest in social environment, and a delay in verbal communication. Studying not only these autism spectrum disorders but also specific learning disabilities makes me more aware and observant of social behaviors; I find myself more attentive when talking with my peers.

On a totally different note, as we discussed the rights of people with disabilities, I kept thinking of ways in today’s modern media world that these people are used as an element of humor because of their disability. I am a passionate SNL fan and I’ve seen pretty much every episode; evidently many of the skits consist of mocking the most recent events in the political and social realms. One of the most popular skits of the past season has been the opening political skit mocking Obama, but more importantly the sign language translator for deaf audiences. People laugh at the over the enthusiasm and overall actions of the translator and focus more on him or her than the President himself and SNL takes this and makes it a comedy hit on the show. I found myself feeling offended for people with deafness because to them this is the way they communicate, it’s there form of speech, and here the whole country is laughing at them solely because it may look humorous to some. Here is a snippet of the SNL skit!

An even more surprising video I found while looking for examples of these offensive SNL skits was a clip of the sign language translator at one of Nelson Mandela’s remembrance ceremonies. It turns out the translator was not even translating the spoken words correctly; he was just put there to satisfy the part but in fact he was a fake. I was just shocked that such a professional and serious ceremony would have a phony translator; I did not even think that was possible and it really upsets me that people with deafness were unable to experience such an important event. Here is the video of the false translator if you’re interested in watching!

I hope that there will be more verifications for people with this job and it will be taken more seriously. As the awareness and knowledge grows for people with disabilities I would hope that the modifications and such would be improved and taken in a more stern and important manner. 

Blog Post #2

My first level meeting was really great. I worked with Nick on some of his math and science homework. He was so sweet and since it was our first meeting we really got to know each other right away. He knows some of my friends, and I know some of his. Although by the end of our time together we had felt like we had looked at numbers and equations for hours, we were very productive together. One of the questions was to measure yourself in inches and then convert it to centimeters, as many of the problems were metric conversions. Initially we agreed to skip the question because Nick cannot really stand on his own but then after Matt helped to hold Nick up so he could complete the question. He was just so happy and it just shows that his physical disability does not prevent him from completing his work no matter the task; I could tell he was really interested in what we were doing and I loved fueling his enthusiasm and helping him get through it. Since he can’t write on his own I act as his hands as he reads the questions and we work through them together, his thoughts bouncing off mine and so on. I could definitely tell math was not his favorite subject but he is still so genuinely happy and interested in doing his work. I found that he’s just like me in that he is looking to learn from others and develop confidence among our peers and the community.

This experience was definitely different then prior ones I’ve had this past semester. I liked how its one on one and much more personal, rather than group activities. You really get a chance to contribute your help and to get to know someone, like Nick, that I never would have met before this. It reminded me of my experiences from high school. I worked one on one at a life skills school and made many resilient, special relationships throughout those four years. I’m excited to form new friendships and continue these amazing and touching experiences.

I know after each time Nick will get more and more comfortable with me and we will be able to get more work done. The one challenge we faced the firs time was staying on task. He really wanted to get to know me as I wanted to get to know him so we were often off topic just talking about each others lives. This was really enjoyable and fun and we completed what we really needed to but I know we can be even more productive. I am eager for the coming weeks! 

Blog Post #1

1.) Hi, I’m Isabel!! I’m undecided in the college of liberal arts, considering communication, education, or global interdisciplinary studies as my major. I’m on the women’s club basketball team here at nova and I love to follow our school sports too! Off the court, I love movies, music, and photography.


2.) I am taking this course because I have a passionate interest in special education and life skills education. I’m hoping this course will offer me more insight and knowledge of disabilities. I hope to gain more understanding for the different types of disabilities, the psychology beyond the surface of a disability, and more.


3.) Although I am technically a member of level I was unable to attend many of the events this past semester so I’m excited to have a chance for more involvement this time around! I love working with people who have the same enthusiasm as I do for truly leveling the life playing field and making friends with people who have special needs. These disabilities do not put a ceiling on opportunities for each individual and I’m excited to help conquer the barrier so many people think exist between us!