Athlete activist Mia Ives-Rublee spreading ‘disability pride’

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With her tiny frame perched atop her wheelchair and her service dog at her side, activist Mia Ives-Rublee deftly maneuvers through a restaurant brimming with a busy lunch crowd. She is adept at making space for herself in a world that hasn’t always been welcoming.

She proved that point on a national scale last weekend, leading the Disability Caucus of the Women’s March on Washington.

Ives-Rublee was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, commonly known as brittle bone disease. It’s a genetic mutation that leaves bones extremely fragile, prone to breaks and fractures.

She recalls how growing up in Greensboro, surrounded by adults worried about her health, there wasn’t much room in her life for childhood dreams and ambitions.

“When you grow up with a disability, a lot of times you’re told by a lot of adults and professionals about what you can’t do,” she said. “That made it very hard for me to figure out what I wanted to do.”

A trip to the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta helped change that.

“I saw people, everyday people, just getting along with their lives, maneuvering the city and interacting with each other,” Ives-Rublee said. “That really opened my eyes, and my family’s eyes, to this whole group of people that have a community, and have a sense of self and identity, even a sense of disability pride.”

That experience broadened her horizons. She was inspired to pursue adaptive athletics, and as she grew physically stronger, she gained more confidence and greater independence.

She went on to compete internationally in wheelchair track and field, fencing and cross-fit events, all while pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in sociology and social work.

Now at 32, she works as a research assistant at UNC, enjoying a level of independence and self-determination her parents and doctors never thought possible.

She still trains regularly and also works as a coach, teaching others about adaptive athletics. It was through this process of reaching out to people living with disabilities that she found her focus shifting from personal achievement to political activism.

“For a long time I wanted to disassociate and show people I wasn’t disabled,” Ives-Rublee said. “As I grew more independent and more self-aware, I started to get more involved in the disability community. It’s been a slow transition. Becoming more connected with disability rights advocates changed my outlook and what I’m passionate about.”

She shied away from advocacy in the past for fear of being pigeon-holed. Now she wants to take a more active role in developing public policy that guarantees equal rights for disabled people.

“I’ve come to the realization that other people aren’t going to fight for us,” she said.

Increasingly, Ives-Rublee sees the need to bring disability issues to greater prominence in the progressive movement. When she heard about the Women’s March on Washington, she reached out to the organizers to make sure the march would be accessible and inclusive.

“For a long time, people with disabilities have had a hard time accessing these mainstream marches,” she said. “My thought process was, if we can create a caucus, a group of individuals who are vocal, who are active, to then talk to national (organizers) about our concerns and our issues, then maybe we can get somewhere.”

Continue onto The News & Observer to read the complete article.

California man scales Machu Picchu in off-roading wheelchair

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An off-roading wheelchair allowed Robert and Nelly Kapen to visit Machu Picchu with several family members.

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On an unseasonably cold December afternoon in Southern California, most Angelenos have retreated to their homes. But at Miramar Park, a narrow strip of green space overlooking Torrance County Beach, Robert Kapen and his wife Nelly are out for an adventure.

For Kapen — whom Nelly is pushing in a special, off-roading wheelchair — wintry weather is a relatively minor obstacle. During the first 23 years of his life, Kapen was a healthy, outdoorsy person. Then in 2011, he suffered a brain stem stroke that left him paralyzed.

Doctors told his family that he had a 1% chance of survival, and that if he lived, he’d likely be in a vegetative state. Kapen beat those odds. His mental faculties were unscathed, and he slowly regained some movement and speech through therapy. Eventually, he was able to communicate, eat, operate a motorized wheelchair and write a book. He had another big dream, too.

“Growing up, I fell in love with hiking, being outdoors and the beauty of nature,” he says. That was taken away from him for 10 years, Kapen says, but very recently, a new set of wheels has allowed for his return. It’s called the AdvenChair.

The orange, “all-terrain” wheelchair is human-powered and designed to help people with mobility challenges to venture into the wild. Its wheels, tires, brakes and handlebars are all premium mountain bike parts, and the large tires and suspension system offer a comfortable ride. Thanks to a versatile system of pulleys, bars and straps, teams of one to five people can assist in navigating the AdvenChair over just about any landscape.

The AdvenChair recently enabled Kapen to visit Machu Picchu. Over in Palm Springs, Floyd McGregor — who has an autoimmune disease of the muscles called myositis — is raising money for an AdvenChair pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. Isaac Shannon, a Southern Californian with mitochondrial disease, has been using his AdvenChair for regular jaunts around Southern California.

“It’s rejuvenating to be outside, especially as a person with a disability, because these resources are not exactly the most accessible,” Shannon says in a video created for the Denver Channel. “So when there is a tool that allows a person to be able to experience life in the most average way possible, I think it’s healing, and it’s nice to be out in nature where you’re not around people.”

The man behind AdvenChair is Geoff Babb of Bend, Ore. He grew up backpacking, climbing and mountain biking, and worked as a fire ecologist for the Bureau of Land Management. At age 48, a blood clot in his brain caused a brain stem stroke, and just like Kapen, he nearly died. Babb lost the ability to walk and much of his strength, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him from visiting the outdoors.

Babb started looking around for a wheelchair that could help him navigate rugged terrain, and found a couple of options: the GRIT Freedom Chair and the Mountain Trike. The designs were good, he says, but they didn’t work for him.

“They all relied on the rider having enough upper body strength to push the levers,” Babb says. “But myself and a lot of people, we don’t have the body strength.” So Babb decided to invent his own.

Click here to read the full article on SFGate.

Bob Saget: How a family tragedy turned him into an activist

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Bob Saget headshot

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

Bob Saget channeled his grief into helping others and now some of his famous friends are doing the same in the wake of his death.

The comedian who became known as America’s dad after playing Danny Tanner on “Full House” died Sunday at the age of 65.

But it was the death of his beloved sister Gay following a battle with the autoimmune disease scleroderma which transformed him into an avid advocate for raising money to find a cure.

The star actually first became involved with the Scleroderma Research Foundation (SRF) prior to his sister’s diagnosis with the chronic disease, which can lead to a hardening and tightening of connective tissue and skin.

Saget told NIH Medline Plus Magazine in 2019 that years before he “got a call from someone I did not know asking me to host a comedy fundraiser for a disease I knew very little about.”

“I said yes and hosted the event, which starred Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell, and others.” he said. “Little did I know that just a few years later, my sister would be diagnosed with the disease.”

Saget shared that his sister was 44 and a Philadelphia-area teacher when she was first diagnosed. Drugs including prednisone and cortisone were used to treat her, he said, but it only addressed her symptoms.

“She had to move to Los Angeles to live with my parents because she needed so much help,” Saget said. “She passed away just two years later.”

The “America’s Funniest Videos” host went on to serve on the SRF board for nearly two decades and hosted their events for more than 25 years.

Following the announcement of his death, fellow comic Amy Schumer posted on her verified Instagram account that she would be donating to SRF in Saget’s honor and the organization posted a tribute to their most famous advocate.

“In loving memory of Bob Saget, a cherished colleague, friend, and Scleroderma Research Foundation Board member for over 20 years,” the caption to a photo of Saget posted on the SFR Instagram account read. “Bob was a relentless champion for scleroderma patients and the mission of the SRF—finding a cure for scleroderma. He will be dearly missed.”

Read the original article posted on EyeWitness News.

Changing attitudes toward disability, one vlog at a time

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Vlog star, Zhao Hongcheng, a 31-year-old vlogger on the video-sharing platform Bilibili

By Lin Lixin, Shine

At the end of 2021, two videos evaluating the worst and best experiences of barrier-free facilities in Shanghai received a lot of attention on the video-sharing platform Bilibili.

The uploader, Zhao Hongcheng, 31, is a wheelchair-user woman who was born in Shaoyang City in central China’s Hunan Province. She was diagnosed with poliomyelitis at the age of 1. She currently lives in Shanghai.

Zhao became a vlogger in early 2019 with the username “Dachengzi Haomeimei” and found fame after uploading a video of a trip to Guangzhou. In two days, the video had been viewed more than 2,000 times.

As a full-time blogger now, she has released 65 videos and shares her daily life with her nearly 76,000 followers. More importantly, she tries to assist persons with disabilities and help them better integrate into society.

In one of her posts, she narrated her experience at Tsutaya Books in Shanghai. The bookstore would not allow strollers and wheelchairs inside and demanded that they should be stored “at the front desk.”

After waiting outside the store for over ten minutes in the hope that someone from the store would help them out, Zhao’s boyfriend Xie Lipeng went inside to negotiate with the manager.

Eventually, they were allowed in but it left a sour taste with Zhao.

“Do you think everyone sitting in a wheelchair can stand up after entering the store? Each one of us wants to play and have fun. So why is it a mistake on my part?” she commented.

She narrated another incident, this time at the prestigious Bund One Art Museum. Zhao and Xie were told that because it was crowded on weekends, they would not be allowed in. This was despite the fact they were selling concession tickets for people with disabilities.

Again, they managed to get in but felt like “outsiders.”

On December 6, Zhao received a message on her Weibo account stating that Tsutaya Books had improved facilities for wheelchair users.

A notification at the entrance of the bookstore now reads: “People with strollers and wheelchairs, please pay attention to safety. Ask shop assistants for help if necessary.”

But Zhao also stated she felt the warmth of the city and went on to post videos of her “three best experiences” in the city.

“I would give Shanghai 7-out-of-10 marks,” Zhao told the Chinese-language Shanghai Morning Post.

Zhao was impressed with the facilities and services at the Shanghai Natural History Museum and Museum of Art Pudong.

ET Stage found a special mention in the videos. It wasn’t particularly well-equipped with facilities for persons with disabilities but the helpful staff members won her over.

Zhao moved to Shanghai in August 2019 to work with Meituan. She uploaded a video of her taking a bus in Shanghai. Although the bus had facilities to deal with disabled people, the driver wasn’t trained and took a long time to get her onto the bus.

The video was viewed nearly 160,000 times but nothing more came out of it. Zhao was told to write to Shanghai municipal government’s proposal collection office. She got a prompt reply which led to better training of bus staff in dealing with people with disabilities.

Statistics from China Disabled Persons’ Federation showed that China had 85 million disabled people in 2020.

Shanghai has been trying to improve barrier-free facilities since the 1980s, the most recent being a regulation released in June 2020.

At the Shuicheng Road Station, on Metro Line 10, there are maps and information in Braille for students at the nearby Shanghai School for the Blind. An “Accessibility Guide Manual” was released in 2020, and includes information for visually impaired, deaf and mute and physically challenged passengers.

Click here to read the full article on Shine.

I run a talent agency for models and actors with disabilities and visible differences. We’ve cast for Disney and Gucci — our clients’ success is the best part of my job.

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Zebedee Management Director Laura Johnson (left) and model Sarah D.

By , Insider

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with talent agent Laura Johnson. It has been edited for length and clarity.

The idea for a specialist talent agency came to me and my then-friend, now-sister-in-law Zoe while we were walking on the beach one afternoon in Eastern England.

It was 2017 and I was on maternity leave from my job as a social worker. During our walk, the conversation turned to the performing-arts classes Zoe led for children with disabilities.

While the children were talented and many were passionate about pursuing modeling and acting, there was sadly a lack of inclusion among traditional fashion brands, advertising, and media for those with a disability or visible difference of any sort. Not only did this lack of representation seem unfair, it also wasn’t exactly business-savvy considering people who live with disabilities are the largest minority group in the world.

The more we discussed it, the more we began to ask ourselves, “If no one out there is representing people with disabilities and differences, why don’t we?” Between my social-work background and Zoe’s work as a model and drama teacher, we had experience working with underrepresented groups.

Despite the fact that neither of us had ever worked at a talent agency before, we decided to join forces and launch Zebedee Management representing disabled and visibly different models, actors, and influencers who up until then had been virtually excluded.

We began by inviting Zoe’s students to apply and reached out to various disability groups seeking talent from within their community.

Talent was never going to be our challenge — getting clients to sign our talent was the biggest obstacle. We decided instead of waiting for jobs to come in casting people with disabilities or visible differences, we would simply pitch our talent for traditional commercial jobs.

In the beginning. it wasn’t easy. Many casting agents simply paid us lip service with no intention of actually booking our talent, but we continued trying.

Then a month after launching, we locked in two major bookings. One was for a print ad for Disney with child model Grace Wharton, and the other was for the Teatum Jones runway show during London Fashion Week with model Vicki Balch, who lost her leg in the Alton Towers accident.

Every time we get a call or receive a note from one of our models sharing their positive experiences with us, it just reinforces our mission.

One of our models named Louisa sent us a note saying: “I was always scared of what society would think of a young person in a wheelchair and I was afraid that people would judge, but then I found Zebedee, who wanted me for my disability rather than looking at my disability as a bad thing. They wanted me to spread awareness and make disability beautiful and change society’s thoughts and how they see disability.”

Another of our model’s named Roisin said: “I honestly feel so grateful to be part of something so special. The opportunities that Zebedee has given me are amazing. If me two years ago spoke to me now, she would be astonished and so proud, and that is because of the Zebedee community. Sometimes I feel like pinching myself because I feel so lucky. Also, I am amazed that I am part of the change I want to see.”

Click here to read the full article on Insider

Rose Ayling-Ellis Wins ‘Strictly Come Dancing,’ Becoming Series’ First Deaf Champion

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Rose Ayling-Ellis on the show stricly come dancing

By Selome Hailu, Variety

Series 19 of British dance competition series “Strictly Come Dancing” has its winner. Actress Rose Ayling-Ellis became the first deaf contestant ever to be crowned the series’ winner on Saturday night.

Along with her professional dance partner Giovanni Pernice, she beat out competitors including chef and 2012 winner of “The Great British Bake Off” John Whaite and television presenter AJ Odudu, who exited the competition on Friday after injuring her ankle.

Saturday’s win was also the first for Pernice, who has danced on the show since 2015 and made it to the final stage in 2015, 2017 and 2018 with partners Georgia May Foote, Debbue McGee and Faye Tozer, respectively.

Ayling-Ellis is known for starring in popular BBC One soap opera “East Enders.” She plays Frankie Lewis in the series, which has been running since 1985 and follows the daily lives of residents of a fictional East London borough called Walford.

As a deaf person and an advocate for deaf awareness, Ayling-Ellis has garnered much attention for her participation in “Strictly Come Dancing.” She is not only the first deaf winner of the competition — she’s also the first. The series had never had a deaf contestant at all before her.

During a performance in a Nov. episode of the show, she and Pernice danced a 20-second interlude without music. Before the final, Ayling-Ellis shared a video on Instagram that featured several deaf children wishing her good luck. “Because I’m deaf, I like seeing deaf people on ‘Strictly,’” one little girl said. “Look, Rose, I’ve got special ears, like you!” said another. ​​”Always be proud of who you are,” Ayling-Ellis wrote.

Click here to read the full article on Variety.

I’m A Black, Disabled Actor. This Is How I’m Making My Place In Hollywood.

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Danielle Perez, 36, actor, writer and stand-up comedian

By Regina F. Graham, Refinery 29

One in four adults in the U.S. are living with a disability, but you wouldn’t know it given the lack of representation in the workforce, Hollywood, and media coverage.

Voices of Disability celebrates the real stories — not the stigmas or stereotypes — of this dynamic and vibrant community of individuals.

Lauren Ridloff, Danielle Perez, and Diana Elizabeth Jordan all have one thing in common: They are passionate and dedicated to the craft of acting. You might not know their names, though. The women, who hail from across the U.S., now primarily reside in Los Angeles, and represent a variety of ages, backgrounds, and circumstances. But they share a common thread: Throughout their careers, they have all found it difficult to land leading roles as women of color who have a disability.

Jordan is a 57-year-old actress and director who has cerebral palsy; 36-year-old Los Angeles native Perez is an actress, writer, and stand-up comedian who uses a wheelchair; and Ridloff is a 42-year-old award-winning Deaf actress who is slated to make history playing a Deaf superhero in Marvel film The Eternals, scheduled to be released in 2021.

Since #OscarsSoWhite became a trending topic in 2015, A-list stars, producers, and directors have all spoken up in various settings about Hollywood’s systemic color issue and lack of diversity. Viola Davis, Shonda Rhimes, and Issa Rae are just three prominent figures who have been critically vocal about the lack of diversity in casting people of color in blockbuster movies or major TV dramas. It’s a conversation we’ve had the displeasure of annually revisiting since April Reign first created the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite five years ago. And while it might not seem like any progress has been made, at least the conversation exists in the public discourse.

Very little, if any, attention has been paid to the lack of disabled women of color being considered for roles. A 2018 study from the Ruderman Family Foundation found that 80% of disabled characters on television are portrayed by non-disabled actors. The research covered about 280 networks and streaming shows from that year. In addition, 26% of the U.S. population (one in four people) has a disability, but fewer than 2% of all television characters do, according to the same study. Of that extremely small number of disabled characters on screen, nearly all are white. In addition, a study from the University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative that combed through 900 popular movies from 2007 to 2016 found that only 2.7% of characters with speaking roles were portrayed as disabled.

Ridloff, Perez, and Jordan don’t see their disabilities as hampering their ability to do their chosen craft, nor should the color of their skin be an additional barrier to entry to Hollywood. Here, they speak to Refinery29 about their experiences fighting for a major shift that is long overdue in the industry.

Click here to read the full article on Refinery 29.

First deaf ‘Bachelor’ contestant, Abigail Heringer, celebrates her disability with photo of cochlear implant

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Abigail Heringer with her back facing the camera as she lifts her hair to show her new cochlear implant

By Kerry Justich, Yahoo! Life

Abigail Heringer made history with her appearance on Season 25 of The Bachelor as the franchise’s first deaf contestant. Now, the 26-year-old is reflecting on her experience and sharing gratitude for how Bachelor Nation welcomed her.

“As 2021 starts to wrap up, I just wanted to say thank you to all of you for this past year. The amount of support and love I’ve experienced through DM’s, comments and more continues to blow me away,” Heringer wrote alongside a slideshow of photos of her wearing her cochlear implant — a small electronic device that helps to provide her with a sense of sound, although she was born completely deaf.

“When I first got the call saying that they wanted to cast me for The Bachelor, I called my mom in a panic,” she wrote. “I was excited but also so scared and unsure if I wanted to talk about my hearing loss on tv, especially on a show that hasn’t had much disability representation.”

While Heringer was ultimately celebrated for being on the show and bravely sharing her story during her first meeting with bachelor Matt James, she explained that she had reservations about being so open about her disability on television.

“After countless awkward interactions growing up, I had become so used to trying to ‘act normal’ which meant to me, undermining my hearing loss. Acting like I had nothing different about me,” Heringer shared. “I wouldn’t tell new friends, first dates, teachers and I felt guilty about it. I had something beautifully different about me and so when my mom said ‘if sharing your story can help just one person, one family, you should do it’, that’s all it took for me to say yes.”

Heringer went on to explain how going on the show changed her life “overnight.” More importantly, however, it was just the beginning of a longer journey to finding confidence to fully embrace her cochlear implant, which has long made her feel different.

“It took me 26 years,” she said of showing off her device. “But I got here and I’m not ready to stop sharing. I’d like to think a lot of you are here because either you have a similar situation, know someone that is deaf or hard of hearing, or simply just curious and want to learn more. And I’m happy you’re here.”

Heringer received an outpour of love and support in the comment section from fellow Bachelor contestants turned friends.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Life.

How actors with disabilities are changing the narrative in Hollywood

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Hollywood's Ryan O'Connell is the creator behind Special. He and his cast have earned a total of four Emmy nominations for the show about a millennial gay man living with cerebral palsy while trying to make it as a writer.

By Tashauna Reid, CBC News

When Ryan O’Connell created his Netflix series Special, he knew it was good. But he didn’t imagine the comedy would earn four Emmy nominations, including best comedy, in its first season. “I always believed in the show,” said O’Connell. “But having that validated is sort of incredible.” Special is about a millennial gay man living with cerebral palsy while trying to make it as a writer. But when he gets hit by a car just before starting his new job, he decides to hide his disability from his co-workers, citing the accident as the reason for his limp and dexterity issues. It’s a story that rings true for O’Connell. It is, after all, based on his real life.

O’Connell wrote every episode, produced, and starred in the show. And like his character in Special, O’Connell also hid his disability after a car accident — until he decided to come out of the “disability closet'” in his late 20s. He is one of a growing number of creators and actors with disabilities who are breaking ground in Hollywood, in a film and TV industry criticized for still having a long way to go when it comes to inclusion. This past June, Broadway star Ali Stroker became the first person in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award for her performance in Oklahoma!. Last month, Marvel announced its first deaf superhero. And mainstream shows like AMC’s The Walking Dead and HBO’s Years and Years are casting actors with disabilities. “I think that disability representation is like the last to the representation party. Like, maybe that party wasn’t handicap accessible, but honey we plowed our way through,” said O’Connell.

O’Connell started shopping his script around in 2015. But at the time, he says networks were hesitant to take on the show about a gay man with a disability. “It was a hard sell.” Even with the help of The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons, whose production company backed the project, it took four years to get the show made. Based on his memoir I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, the series is now being praised by critics for its authentic portrayal of disability, sex and relationships, and family dynamics. “Even though it came in kind of an unconventional package, [the story] was very universal​,” said O’Connell. “People are realizing that stories like this need to be told,” he said. “[And be] told by the people that have lived it.” And perhaps the best surprise to date? O’Connell himself has earned an Emmy nod for best actor. “I feel like it kind of fits in the narrative of Special,” he said. “We just keep trucking along and defying the odds.”

‘It wasn’t even on their mind’

Los Angeles-based actor and advocate Tatiana Lee, who was born with spina bifida, is someone else who has been working to advance opportunities for people with disabilities in Hollywood. “They want you to audition at a space that’s on a second floor with no elevator,” said Lee. “People who are deaf are going to auditions and an interpreter is not provided.” Lee blogs about her own experiences as an actor who uses a wheelchair and also works with Respectability, a non-profit seeking to break down stigmas around disability in the industry. The organization hosts panel discussions and works with studios and writers’ rooms to help ensure more realistic, accurate portrayals of those with disabilities.

Click here to read the full article on CBS News.

Christina Applegate Marks 50th Birthday After MS Diagnosis: ‘May We Find That Strength’

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Headshot of Christina Applegate smiling at the camera

By Glenn Garner, People

Christina Applegate is kicking off a new chapter after revealing her multiple sclerosis diagnosis earlier this year.

The Emmy Award winner celebrated her 50th birthday Thursday, which was also Thanksgiving, with an encouraging message for her 1.4 million Twitter followers. “Yup. I turned 50 today. And I have MS. It’s been a hard one,” she wrote.

“Sending so much love to all of you this day,” Applegate continued. “Many are hurting today, and I am thinking of you. May we find that strength to lift our heads up. Mine currently is on my pillow. But I try.”

She previously talked about her experience with MS on Twitter in August, a few months after she was diagnosed. “It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition,” Applegate wrote at the time. “It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some asshole blocks it.”

Applegate has since been met with love from friends and fans alike. Selma Blair, with whom she starred alongside Cameron Diaz in the 2002 romantic comedy The Sweetest Thing, offered her support in the replies.

“Loving you always. Always here. As are our kids. Beating us up with love,” Blair, 49, wrote, to which Applegate responded: “Love you sister. Our kids are so weird.”

Blair has also been open about her own MS diagnosis, which she revealed in 2018. Most recently, she detailed her journey with the disease in the discovery+ documentary Introducing, Selma Blair, which Applegate recommended on Twitter.

Applegate’s Dead to Me costar James Marsden has praised her strength as well, telling Entertainment Tonight that it’s “really, really inspiring to see.”

Click here to read the full article on People.

Barbara Gordon Will Use a Wheelchair Again Sometimes in Batgirls

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Barbara Gordon Will Use a Wheelchair Again Sometimes in Batgirls.

By Jude Terror, Bleeding Cool

Batgirls launches from DC Comics in December, a new series by Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, and Jorge Corona starring, as the title implies, Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain, and Barbara Gordon. Cloonan and Conrad did a promotional interview for DC’s website last weekend where they debuted plans to have Barbara begin using a cane and a wheelchair again. Not all the time, but sometimes. According to Cloonan, showing Gordon “in a chair again” was one of the things they pushed for when asked to work on the book. “She’s just going to have some days where she needs to use it,” Cloonan said.

Here’s what Cloonan and Conrad had to say about addressing Barbara’s “relationship with mobility and disability” in Batgirls:

BC: We are addressing it, I think, pretty head-on. Right now, Barbara has a chip in her back that allows her to walk again. But in our book, she has off days. She’s got bad days. So, we’ll see her using a cane. She does use a wheelchair occasionally. She’s got days when she’s just spending some time under her desk rearranging all the cables, you know? And I think anyone would want to spend the rest of the day sitting down. So, I think it’s just natural. We don’t make a huge deal of it because it’s such a big part of her character and her history. It’s not like we want to beat readers over the head with this idea. But at the same time, we want to show that it’s still part of her character. She is still disabled, even if she doesn’t always look like it all the time. She can walk around, but it’s still a part of her.

MWC: And we love that she’s become an icon for this community. It’s a community that we really want to serve. We’re going to do so to our greatest ability, without necessarily creating a different character entirely in our book. We can’t have her running and jumping through, I don’t know, ventilation shafts of whatever in one book, and then in our book have her be a representation of someone with different mobility skills. It’s just a continuity issue.

That said, I’ve got a past in working with people who have mobility challenges. And, like Becky said, it doesn’t always present in a way that becomes central to a character, and it shouldn’t be. It should be that the central thing going on here is this awesome character and her great personality, and then if we can also show her physical norm is different from maybe your physical norm, then great. And if it’s something that people can identify with and feel empowered by, we would love that.

BC: Yeah, and that’s what we’re really here to do. When we first got asked to work on Batgirls, one of the things we pushed for was, “Hey, we want to show Babs in a chair again, but she’s just going to have some days where she needs to use it, you know?” It’s such an integral part of her.

The writers also preemptively responded to criticism that the representation will be “half-assed.”

MWC: And we don’t want to make it feel like, “Oh, here’s like a half-assed representation of something.” Or, “Here’s an afterthought of what this particular modality can look like.” It’s really coming from the most genuine place that we have. It’s coming from a place of fandom of the character, her various iterations, and also of our great love for the fact that people have seen something there that looks like them. That feels like their life on a comic book page. We want to maintain that. We want to strengthen that moving forward.

BC: We don’t want to think that we’ve taken something away from people. We’re here to make people feel good, and we want to make a book that makes people feel good. And that’s a big part of it.

Batgirls #1 is out on December 14th. Read a preview below.

Click here to read the full article on Bleeding Cool.

Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

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Upcoming Events

  1. From Day One
    January 18, 2022
  2. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  3. From Day One
    February 9, 2022
  4. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  5. From Day One
    February 22, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. From Day One
    January 18, 2022
  2. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  3. From Day One
    February 9, 2022
  4. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  5. From Day One
    February 22, 2022