The Ford Foundation publicly released a “white paper,” an authoritative report/guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body’s philosophy on the matter.
The release of the Road Map for Inclusion: Changing the Face of Disability in Media white paper is the result of work by Judith “Judy” Heumann, a Ford Foundation senior fellow and lead author of the report, with former Walla Walla resident Michellie Southwick Hess and Katherine Salinas.
Released on March 27, the paper “details how few disabled people are seen in movies and on TV and calls for proportional representation going forward. That means there should be one in four people ‘both in front of and behind the camera’ with disabilities, which would match the one in four adults in the U.S. who live with a disability,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” reported Huffpost.com.
It is a project “we have been invested in as a family, not only because our daughter is a principal researcher/writer, but because we are a family deeply invested in the rights of disabled citizens. My older brother is disabled from a birth accident,” emailed Kathryn Southwick-Hess. She and husband Mark Hess are absolutely delighted with the report and their daughter’s role in it.
“Growing up, I watched my parents fight for his rights to be educated in public schools and to have what he needed to thrive,” Kathryn said.
The team lives and works in Washington, D.C., and spent about one week per month in New York City at the Ford Foundation, Kathryn said.
“This trio of women is a force of nature. They traveled the country and the world meeting with many people,” Kathryn said, adding there are many great photographs of them with strong disability rights advocates.
When the team visited with a woman at her California home, they had to help her make her entrance accessible for Judy’s wheelchair.
A graduate of Walla Walla High School in 2012 and of University of Puget Sound in 2016, Michellie studied abroad in Germany, interned at the European Union in Brussels, Belgium, and worked for the German members of the European Parliament.
Moving to Washington, D.C., she interned for The International Crisis Group before volunteering for Judy and joining the team when she completed her internship at ICG, Kathryn said.
Judy told huffpost.com, “People need to see themselves. People with disabilities, like any other group —when you don’t see yourself, you feel invisible.”
Such disability representation would mean including those with visible disabilities, such as deafness or blindness, amputations, muscular dystrophy and invisible disabilities such as chronic pain, lupus and epilepsy, Judy said.
The report looks at stereotypes of disabled people portrayed on-screen and recommends how TV and film can remedy the lack of representation, huffpost.com reported.
The 2016 film “Me Before You” underwent a backlash for having a non-disabled person play a character who was quadriplegic. Because that character sought an assisted suicide, it implied life with a disability isn’t worth living. To read more, see ubne.ws/2FMEniP.