In Chapter 5 of Horst and Miller, Faye Ginsburg discusses the lack of popular culture and social media presence of people with disabilities. As we have noticed growing up in the 21st century, TV shows and Hollywood in general are becoming more open to displaying all different kinds of people, regardless of race and sexual orientation, but what about abilities?
Kids and young teens strive to find someone to relate to in popular culture because it lets them know they aren’t alone in whatever problem they are going through. Realizing this, and the lack of opportunities presented to people with disabilities, ReelAbilities was started in 2007 to promote “awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities” (taken from newyork.reelabilities.org).
Now hosting festivals in 15 different cities nationwide, ReelAbilities accepts films by or about people with disabilities and strives to make the festival as accessible as possible, with captions on every film. It is also the only film festival in New York that “prints film programs in Braille and features audio descriptions for the blind” as Festival Director Isaac Zablocki said in an interview.
Not only does ReelAbilities create an amazing platform for people with disabilities, but it also reaches a mainstream audience made up of over fifty percent of people without disabilities.
The Manhattan festival runs from March 12-15 and films will be shown in over 30 venues throughout New York.