March is National Disability Month, as established by US Proclamation 5613 in 1987. While the observance was only officially created 36 years ago, disabilities have been around for as long as humans have. Unfortunately, there often remains social stigma and misunderstanding toward people living with disabilities in the modern world, as well as a lack of accessibility in many spaces. In order to play a part in combatting this, I will outline some of the ways Media Services works to be more accessible and inviting to people living with disabilities.
What is a disability? The CDC explains, “A disability is any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions).” It is important to remember that a disability does not make a person “less than.” People that live with disabilities have achieved many outstanding things. Winston Churchill once said, “Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. Celebrate it every day.” In order to make the world a more accessible and neighborly place, we need to keep everyone in mind. Here are some ways in which Media Services works to be more accessible for people living with disabilities.
- Handicapped-accessible location (elevators on ground floor and automatic doors)
- Visible signage posted to help with directions
- Easy-to-reach restrooms and dining area on same floor
- Individual study rooms with dimmable lights and comfortable seating
- Creativity area with LEGO, puzzles, chess, and other board games
- Movies with subtitles and alternative text on photos (including the ones on this blog!)
- Courteous and caring staff
Want to learn more? Media Services also holds a large collection of movies that either feature characters living with disabilities, or raise awareness on the topic. Here are a few of those movies and documentaries–available to check out with a crimson/borrower’s card.
The Theory of Everything tells the story of Stephen Hawking’s life before and after his diagnosis of ALS, a motor neuron disease that affects one’s nerve cells and motor functions. Hawking relies on the support of his wife–as well as his passion for science–to help him through his disability.
In Emmanuel’s Gift, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah accomplishes many difficult tasks. He was born with a condition of the leg that made walking painful and difficult. In the movie, he receives a donation of a bicycle, and travels through Ghana and America, raising awareness for those living with physical disabilities.
Vision Portraits is a documentary by Rodney Evans. Evans examines what life is like for those that are blind or have impaired vision, and builds his own support network with the three subjects of his film. The film highlights the creative talents of three people, and goes to show that anyone is capable of expressing themselves artistically.
The King’s Speech. 2010. Digital image, Imdb.com. https://go.iu.edu/4Ncl
Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech tells the true story of English King George VI on his struggle with anxiety and stuttering. George’s disability is a common one. More people identify as having anxiety-related disabilities now than ever before. This film humanizes anxiety, and illustrates how George works with a speech therapist to come to terms with and eventually overcome his disability.
The Peanut Butter Falcon. 2019. Digital image, Imdb.com. https://go.iu.edu/4Ncm
With a title like The Peanut Butter Falcon, you know this movie will be fun! This film follows Zak, a young man with Down syndrome, during his escape from an assisted living facility and journey to become a professional wrestler. Along the way, he meets a fisherman who is also on the run. The two form a strong bond and have many traits that complement each other. Watch this movie if you want to laugh, cry, and feel inspired by a heartfelt story.
The Intouchables. 2011. Digital image, Imdb.com. https://go.iu.edu/4Ncn
The Intouchables is a story of friendship, compassion, and overcoming barriers. It follows ‘Philippe’, a wealthy Parisian that lost the ability to use his arms and legs after a paragliding accident, and ‘Driss,’ a man from a low-income area of France that had a rough upbringing. Driss is hired as Philippe’s caretaker and the two clash at first, but after a short time they begin to recognize that they can learn a lot from each other, despite their differences.
Matthew Nokes is a senior at IU studying History with a minor in Medieval Studies and an honors certificate from the Liberal Arts and Management Program. Aside from working at Media Services, he interns with the Monroe County History Center and the soon-to-open IUMAA.