This cool new sneaker solves a really important problem for people with disabilities

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Nearly three years after Matthew Walzer, who has cerebral palsy, wrote a viral letter asking Nike for more accessible footwear, the company has announced a new sneaker with people with disabilities in mind.

The Lebron Zoom Soldier 8 Flyease basketball sneaker employs Nike’s new Flyeasetechnology; instead of laces, which prove extremely difficult for people with movement disorders, stroke victims and amputees, the sneaker has a zipper that extends around the back of the shoe, allowing its wearer to “peel” it open with one hand and slide his foot in easily.

Designed by Nike’s senior director of athlete innovation, Tobie Hatfield, the footwear system aims to “help athletes of all abilities and ages perform better.” Hatfield worked with Walzer to develop the cutting-edge sneakers.

“It feels great to have this shoe made for everyone and to be the catalyst for such a great project,” Walzer, 19, told Mashable. “Writing my letter three years ago, I honestly wasn’t expecting much at all, maybe a polite letter from customer service …

I couldn’t be more proud that people will be able to have this long, overdue independence.

I couldn’t be more proud that people will be able to have this long, overdue independence.”

While Flyease has actually been seven years in the making, prompted by Nike CEO Mark Parker’s desire to help the company’s first employee, Jeff Johnson, after he had a stroke, it was Walzer’s 2012 letter that inspired Hatfield to move forward with the idea.

Walzer wrote that he was born two months premature, with underdeveloped lungs, and after being diagnosed with cerebral palsy, doctors said he’d never be able to walk. But with the aid of crutches and Nike basketball sneakers, which provided enough ankle support, he could.

Continue reading the full story here.

Barbie releases first-ever doll with hearing aids. 5 other groundbreaking Barbies

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barbies now wearing a hearing aid

By Ishita Srivastava, Daily O

Barbie has been an icon and inspiration for women across the world. Since its creation in 1959, Barbie has evolved from being only a doll for young girls to a global symbol of ‘anything is possible’.

The doll, however, has a long history of lacking inclusivity, in terms of race and body shape. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Lizzo have made the non-Barbie body type ‘stylish’ and as social media is evolving to become a safe space for all body types and races, Barbie has begun making changes of its own.

Here are 5 groundbreaking Barbie dolls that promote body acceptance and racial diversity:

1. HEARING AID BARBIE

On May 11, Barbie’s latest Fashionistas line was announced and it was a reason for joy for many consumers with hearing disabilities. The new collection, for the first time, features a Barbie doll with behind-the-ear hearing aids.

The new line also features a doll with a prosthetic leg and a Ken doll with vitiligo.

Mattel’s Barbie team collaborated with expert and hearing loss advocate Dr Jen Richardson in order to accurately represent the doll.

“I’m honoured to have worked with Barbie to create an accurate reflection of a doll with behind-the-ear hearing aids. As an educational audiologist with over 18 years of experience working in hearing loss advocacy, it’s inspiring to see those who experience hearing loss reflected in a doll,” said Dr Richardson.

While in 2020, Mattel did release a Barbie doll with vitiligo, this is the first time a Ken doll has been released with the skin disease. (Read more about vitiligo Barbie here: 11 fancy Barbie dolls we wish we had in the 90s. Just like the Queen Elizabeth one)

2. DISABLED BARBIE

Barbie’s 2019 Fashionistas line marked the first time Mattel released Barbie dolls with physical disabilities. Available to buy since June 2019, the new line featured a Barbie doll with a prosthetic leg and another doll with a wheelchair.

Similar to Mattel’s collaboration with Dr Richardson to create a Barbie doll with hearing aids, Mattel joined hands with 13-year-old disability activist who was born without a left forearm, Jordan Reeves in 2019 to create the Barbie doll with a prosthetic leg.

Mattel also worked with the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital and wheelchair experts to design the Barbie doll with a wheelchair.

Not only the physically disabled Barbie dolls, Mattel also introduced a Barbie DreamHouse compatible ramp to promote infrastructure accessibility for the physically disabled.

3. BODY POSITIVE BARBIE

Back in January 2016, Mattel announced that Barbie will now be available to buy in three new body shapes; tall, petite and curvy, marking the first time the popularly skinny doll was available in other body types.

At the time, spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni explained that the new Barbie dolls will allow “the product line to be a better reflection of what girls see in the world around them.”

4. ASIAN BARBIE

Named Oriental Barbie, Mattel’s first Asian Barbie doll was released in 1981. The collector doll was a part of Barbie’s Dolls of the World collection.

The Oriental Barbie was released in a long yellow dress with red trimmings and a red and golden-flowered jacket. Oriental Barbie described herself as from Hong Kong. Since Oriental Barbie was the first Barbie of its kind, the face sculpt came to be known as the Oriental / Miko / Kira Face Sculpt.

While Mattel did release an Asian Barbie in 1981, it was ultimately in March 2022 when the toymaker released its first Desi Barbie. To celebrate Women’s History Month, Mattel released a South Asian Barbie who was modelled after Deepica Mutyala, the founder and CEO of makeup brand Live Tinted.

Click here to read the full article on Daily O.

Meet 2022 Gerber Baby! Isa Slish, Born with Limb Difference, Is ‘Amazing Little Girl,’ Says Mom

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2022 Gerber Baby Isa Slish

By Shafiq Najib, People

Introducing the new Gerber Baby!

On Wednesday, Gerber revealed the winner for its 2022 photo search contest as Isa Slish of Edmond, Oklahoma. The bright-eyed baby girl will serve as 2022 Gerber Spokesbaby and take on the adorable and vital role of Chief Growing Officer (CGO) on Gerber’s Executive Committee.

Isa, whom her mother, Meredith Slish, describes as a “strong, amazing little girl” via a press release, will collaborate with Gerber to help the next generation of babies grow and thrive, which includes her serving as official Chief Taste Tester to review new baby food products as well as provide “advice” to the team.

Meredith says her daughter “loves to interact with the world around her and nothing will stop her.”

“Her smile lights up the room and her laughter is irresistible,” the proud mom notes before sharing her unique experience while pregnant with Isa, born in September 2021.

2022 Gerber Baby! Isa Slish of Oklahoma, Born with Limb Differences: 'Strong, Amazing Little Girl'
CREDIT: COURTESY GERBER

“We knew Isa was special, she has shown us that every day since she came into our lives,” Meredith explains. “We found out when I was 18 weeks pregnant that Isa would be born without a femur or a fibula in her right leg.”

“We hope Isa’s story can bring more awareness for limb differences and create greater inclusion for children like her. Because, just like Isa, they too can be or do anything they want!” she says.

Isa’s favorite foods are Gerber Sweet Potato Puffs and Gerber 1st Foods Butternut Squash. Aside from spending her days babbling to her 4-year-old sister Temperance, Isa also enjoys playing with her stuffed hippo and listening to soundtracks from her favorite movies.

The original Gerber baby in the brand’s iconic logo was Ann Turner Cook. In 2010, Photo Search was launched, inspired by the “countless photos sent by parents who see their little ones in” Gerber’s logo. Isa has now followed the tiny footsteps of baby Zane Kahin who scored the Gerber Baby title in 2021.

For the first time this year, Garber will match Isa’s cash prize with a $25,000 donation to the nonprofit March of Dimes’ maternal and infant health programs.

Click here to read the full article on People.

Jo Whiley: What my disabled sister taught me about love and loyalty

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jo whiley sitting with disabled sister frances

By JO WHILEY, Express

Finally, in February 2021, the Government agreed the vulnerable should be fast-tracked, but it was too late for Frances. Following an outbreak in her Northamptonshire care home, she contracted the disease and almost died. In a touching, honest tribute to mark National Siblings Day, which raises awareness of the valuable role they play in the lives of their disabled brothers and sisters, Jo celebrates everything that Frances has given back to her.

The biggest thing I have learned from being Frances’s sister is that sharing how you feel is important
THE PHONE’S ringing again. How many times today? I’m not sure, maybe ten, maybe twenty, it’s easy to lose count. My sister, Frances, is being a pain again, and I couldn’t be happier. Every day she FaceTimes me at 30-minute intervals asking the same questions about my kids, my husband and the dogs: “Where’s Coco? Where’s Steve? Where’s Django?” Frances is 53 and has a rare chromosomal disorder called Cri du Chat syndrome, which means she has physical vulnerabilities and learning disabilities. She is loving, loud and a real live wire. No one forgets meeting Frances.

In January 2021 Frances caught Covid in her care home and was rushed to A&E. She didn’t understand why she was there and wouldn’t tolerate an oxygen mask. Her breathing deteriorated dangerously. We spent a terrifying 72 hours uncertain if she would survive.

So, now, when my sister FaceTimes to find out where everyone is, it’s a joy.

Frances is back in relatively good health. She eats more than you’d think is humanly possible and if she’s staying at Mum and Dad’s house, she’ll wait for me to arrive before getting out of bed so that I can shower her, just like I would when we were kids.

There are over half a million young people and at least 1.7 million adults in the UK with a disabled brother or sister. National Siblings Day, on Sunday, recognises the impact of that on their lives. This year’s theme is What I’ve Learned From Being A Sibling.

So, what have I learnt? I wouldn’t be who I am now without Frances. She has taught me -e g understanding, resilience, a strong sense of justice, compassion and a necessary dark sense of humour.

Being a sister is special. Being a sister to Frances has been life-changing. In a funny way, she’s even guided my career path. My earliest memory is of the two of us getting up early on Saturdays when she was small and listening to Junior Choice on the radio; her favourite song was Puff the Magic Dragon, which she still plays from an old jukebox in her bedroom.

Back then, I had a little cassette recorder, so I used to make radio shows for her. I’d record her voice and play it back to her. It was lovely, she would be so attentive. These were my first radio shows.

For a long while, I wasn’t aware there was anything different about Frances, she was just my little sister. I spent a fair amount of time with my grandparents because Mum and Dad were in hospital with Frances, but I loved that.

Click here to read the full article on Express.

Michael Kutcher On Turning Obstacles Into Opportunities

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michael kutcher smiling at the camera in a black suit

By Karl Moore, Forbes

With a cerebral palsy diagnosis at the age of three, and a life-saving heart transplant after being told he had 48 hours to live at thirteen, Michael Kutcher’s life has been marked less by the obstacles he has faced, and more by the gumption he has displayed in overcoming them.

The leading motor disability today, cerebral palsy can have a wide range of effects. While dealing with limited mobility on his right side and some additional hurdles when it comes to speech, hearing, and eyesight, Kutcher was never treated differently by his family. They created a sense of unity and inclusion, challenging him to keep up with his twin brother, Chris (professionally known as Ashton), and his sister, Tausha.

“I think that’s really what gave me the driving power to overcome challenges and obstacles,” Kutcher said of his familial support system. “But I learned a lot outside of the family, interacting with different people, and unfortunately, in society, people with disabilities are looked at as being different. I dealt with those struggles, and I still deal with those struggles.”

Rather than allowing his disability to dominate the day-to-day, Kutcher made it his mission to view life as an opportunity. He began to seek out speaking engagements where he could share his story and started working with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

By educating as many people on the disability as he can and advocating for the importance of organ donations, he is opening people’s minds and encouraging others who suffer from cerebral palsy to share their stories as well.

“My goal isn’t to reach everyone,” Kutcher shared. “If I can touch one person, that’s my goal. If I touch many, that’s awesome. My goal is just to inspire and impact lives and invoke change by teaching people about the importance of organ donation. If you look at my life, I’ve done a lot in the last 30 years. I’ve been able to inspire people, I’ve been a productive member of my community, and I have children who wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the generosity of someone else.”

Kutcher has developed the mindset that everyone has a disability of one type or another, but prefers to call them “diffabilities,” a term he has trademarked. Rather than holding onto a prefix with a negative connotation, he focuses on the fact that we all have positive abilities, despite the fact that they may differ.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Mandy Harvey: A Voice for Change

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By Brady Rhoades

Mandy Harvey, who landed in the nation’s living rooms in 2017 with exquisite singing on America’s Got Talent, recently released her fifth album.

Paper Cuts is a collection of stories and lessons learned,” Harvey said in an interview with DIVERSEability Magazine. “The album took form after my song ‘Masterpiece’ was created. It is about embracing who you are and the entire journey that’s brought you to where you are now. Each part is worth celebrating, even the parts that have been the hardest.”

It’s vital to Harvey, who is deaf, that people who live in worlds with dimmed or no sound be able to experience Cuts, which was independently funded, as well as all of her music.

Paper Cuts is a labor of love that at the end of the day, I will never be able to hear,” said the 34-year-old. “I very much want to have an opportunity to experience this album along with the entire deaf and hard of hearing community. I teamed up with Voya Financial to make sure that we could increase accessibility by having an ASL video for each song performed on the album by deaf performers.

Mandy Harvey performing at NFL game with Color Guard behind her
Mandy Harvey performing at NFL game. Photo courtesy of Mandy Harvey.

There are several music videos that are visual representations of the songs that were captioned in multiple languages, too… This project has been an amazing continuation of our ongoing collaboration to increase awareness of the need for greater disability inclusion. We want to start conversations about inclusion, as well as spread the important messages of these songs, which include mental health awareness and celebrating being unique.” While many companies have pledged to be more inclusive and diversity-minded, it’s a work-in-progress.

“I dream of both venues and events that have interpreters and access to various means of communication,” Harvey said. “The opportunity to offer art in multiple forms to people and places that typically wouldn’t have access to it. There are so many ways to be more inclusive, but it has to be a thoughtful choice and not just wishing things were better.”
There are encouraging signs.

“I have noticed more ASL inclusion, like this past Super Bowl during the national anthem, for example, and there are a lot more businesses on all sides that are letting their employees know that it’s OK to be different or need different tools,” she said. “More people are feeling like they have the ability to share their barriers with less fear of discrimination, too. We still have a long way to go, but we live in a world where we benefit immensely from diverse communities.”
As for employers recruiting and retaining employees with disabilities, Harvey said it starts at the top.

Mandy Harvey playing guitar in a learn to play guitar store
Photo courtesy of Mandy Harvey.

“Having CEOs and executives who see the value of implementing a diverse hiring practice is important. There are a lot of incredible people who have so much to give, but there is a very real fear of discrimination.”

Harvey, who was born in Ohio before moving to St. Cloud, Fla., then Colorado, suffered hearing problems as a child and underwent several surgeries to try to correct them. She sang throughout her childhood, and her talent was recognized at Longmont High School, from which she graduated in 2006.

She gradually lost her hearing as a result of the connective tissues disorder Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. While majoring in vocal music education at Colorado State University, she became totally deaf and left the university.

It wasn’t looking good, and she was feeling low. But with the aid of visual tuners, she learned how to find the correct pitches when singing. In 2008, she met jazz pianist Mark Sloniker at Jay’s Bistro in Fort Collins, Colo., where she began performing regularly. She later performed at Dazzle Jazz Lounge in Denver and recorded three studio jazz albums: Smile, After You’ve Gone and All of Me. She also released Nice To Meet You before this year’s Paper Cuts. Jazz Times described her singing as “rich and captivating.”

Mandy Harvey hugging Marlee Matlin
Mandy Harvey with Marlee Matlin. Photo credit: Noam Galai.

In 2011, Harvey won VSA’s International Young Soloist Award, and she performed at the Kennedy Center.

In 2017, Harvey — who likes to bake bread, rollerblade and do CrossFit in her private time — appeared on season 12 of America’s Got Talent, where judge Simon Cowell was visibly blown away when she performed an original song using a ukulele. She finished fourth.

The same year as her America’s Got Talent appearance, she published a memoir with co-author Mark Atteberry titled, Sensing the Rhythm: Finding My Voice in a World Without Sound.

Harvey is an ambassador for the nonprofit organization No Barriers, which helps disabled people overcome obstacles.
Asked what’s in the works for the future, the star said, “My goodness! There are so many things I am working on. As far as music goes, I have a holiday EP that I would like to release this year. I have several albums worth of songs in my head that I need to get out, too.”

Yes, those songs are imprinted on her brain. She has said that most of what she sang and heard before going deaf is “locked and loaded” in her head, and so are current and future songs.

Harvey writes her own lyrics about all manner of things. Here are some lines from a song called “Masterpiece,” which is on the Cuts album:
When I feel like I’m all broken pieces
That I wish I could just throw away
Look for glue I can put in between them
Back in place, back in place

‘Cause my heart is way up on the ceiling
And my mind took a boat, sailed away
But I still got my angels and demons
Used up string, can of paint

And more from “Bought Myself Roses,” on the same album:
I’ve been flying on a feeling
Breaking through the ceiling
This could become
Heaven, I could let myself in
Look in all directions it’s already done

Mandy Harvey visiting young girl and showing her how to play a guitar
Lily (L), as part of Voya Financial’s Invest in Something Special campaign aimed to help Special Olympics athletes achieve their goals beyond sport, got a surprise visit from her hero, Mandy Harvey. Courtesy of ABC Denver 7 Noam Galai.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 37 million Americans are deaf or hard of hearing. Millions of others live with hearing disorders such as tinnitus. There have been extraordinary medical and technical advances that are helping those with hearing issues. That includes about 800,000 cochlear implants worldwide and 60,000 in the U.S. However, the statistics are dubious barometers because of evolving criteria for who qualifies as deaf or hard of hearing.

There are thousands, maybe millions, who want to become allies to the deaf and hard of hearing community, which, of course, is good news. The tough news is that many, if not most, are hesitant for a number of reasons. Harvey has a keep-it-simple tip that can serve as a takeaway for those serious about doing their part.

“Every person’s journey is different. You can never assume you know best how to help someone. The only way to know how best to be an advocate is to start a conversation with that individual. As people, we need to understand that we judge quickly, and that is something we have the power to change.”

‘The Simpsons’ will feature a deaf actor and American Sign Language for the first time

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The episode features Lisa Simpson meeting the son of her idol, the late musician Bleeding Gums Murphy.

By Faith Karimi, CNN

“The Simpsons” will feature a deaf actor on Sunday for the first time in its 33-year history.

Even though the characters in the show have only four fingers, they’ll use American Sign Language in the groundbreaking episode. And no, the episode was not written after “CODA,” the movie about the hearing daughter of two deaf parents, won best picture at the Oscars last month. “It’s very hard to do a ‘first’ after 722 episodes. But I couldn’t be more excited about this one,” executive producer Al Jean said. The episode is titled “The Sound of Bleeding Gums.” It centers on Lisa Simpson, who finds out that her role model and favorite musician, the late saxophonist Bleeding Gums Murphy, has a son who’s deaf and needs a cochlear implant. Lisa gets a little too carried away trying to help the son, Monk Murphy. Bleeding Gums Murphy died in season 6. The episode’s storyline is loosely based on the life of Loni Steele Sosthand, its main writer.

“Loni pitched making the son of Bleeding Gums Murphy a man who was born deaf and could never hear his father’s music,” Jean told CNN.

Sosthand told CNN that the show’s producers consulted two ASL specialists regarding the signs that characters make in the episode. The sign language specialists reviewed animatics — rough versions of the show’s visuals — to make sure that despite the characters’ missing fingers, the meaning of the words was conveyed correctly.
Sosthand said the episode was personal for her and a labor of love. Her brother, Eli, is hearing impaired in a family that loves jazz music.

“Having a brother, who is just a year older, who was born deaf, really shaped who I am as a person. So it is a story not just close to my heart, but to my identity,” she said.
“There are many autobiographical themes in the episode regarding the tension between a love of music and loved ones who are deaf — themes also present in “CODA,” but very much from my own life,” she added.

Deaf actor John Autry II, whose credits include “Glee” and “No Ordinary Family,” plays Monk. In a statement, he called the role “life-changing” for him.
“It’s about hard of hearing and hearing characters coming together,” he said. “It’s a part of history.”

The episode will also feature three kids — Ian Mayorga, Kaylee Arellano and Hazel Lopez — from No Limits, a nonprofit devoted to deaf children. Watching them record “Happy Talk,” a song from the musical “South Pacific” and featured at the end of the episode, was emotional for Sosthand.

“The song says, ‘If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true.’ While watching them record, I just had tears in my eyes the whole time, realizing this is a dream come true for all of us,” she said.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Selena Gomez Says Being Diagnosed As Bipolar Was ‘Freeing’

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Selena Gomez smiling at the camera at a red carpet event

By , The Cut

Since Selena Gomez revealed her bipolar diagnosis in 2020, she’s been selective about what she makes public and what she keeps to herself. In fact, she’s been much more selective with her press appearances in general. She even skipped the Grammys on Sunday, despite earning her very first nomination. But on Monday, April 4, Gomez spoke about being diagnosed as bipolar and how she’s been taking care of her mental health since. (Hint: It involves the World Wide Web and a brand-new company.)

Gomez gave a rare interview on Monday to announce the launch of Wondermind, her new multimedia company focused on mental health. “I really want people to be understood and seen and heard,” she told Good Morning America of her goals for the company. Co-founded by her mother, Mandy Teefey, and Daniella Pierson, the group aims to create an “inclusive, fun, and easy place where people can come together.” Wondermind is meant to provide people with tools to work on their “mental fitness,” which will include journaling exercises, podcasts, and resources. For the singer and actor, one of those tools has been stepping away from the spotlight a bit, which included taking a four-year break from the internet. “I haven’t been on the internet in four and a half years,” she admitted. (Shout out to her social-media people keeping her Instagram alive!) Another tool: knowing her diagnosis. “It was really freeing to have the information,” she said. “It made me really happy because I started to have a relationship with myself, and I think that’s the best part.”

The actor went public with her diagnosis after years of speaking out about her depression and anxiety. “After years of going through a lot of different things, I realized that I was bipolar,” she said during an appearance on Miley Cyrus’ former Instagram Live show, Bright Minded. One year later, she told Elle that finally receiving a diagnosis felt like “a huge weight lifted off me.” She explained, “I could take a deep breath and go, ‘Okay, that explains so much.’”

Click here to read the full article on The Cut.

Nyle DiMarco: What the big ‘CODA’ win means to a Deaf actor like me

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Nyle DiMarco on the cover of DIVERSEability Magazine

By 

The moment Troy Kotsur was announced as the best supporting actor winner at the Oscars, the Dolby Theater exploded. Just about every single person in the audience rose up to cheer on the first deaf Oscar winner in 35 years.

Goosebumps prickled my arms as Troy took hold of his Oscar. At that moment, millions of people watching on their TVs all over the world were introduced to an extraordinary talent and an even better person.

As Troy gave his award speech, I couldn’t help but think about how the Deaf community had already known of Troy’s talent long ago. I first learned of Troy when I was a young teenager. My Deaf mom told me of a handsome actor who had a piercing gaze and a gift for cinematic, eye-popping American Sign Language. His name came up in my conversations with Deaf friends from time to time. He worked on his craft in Deaf theater productions for decades, mostly unknown outside of our community, until he finally got his well-deserved opportunity. “CODA” showed the world his talent, and for the first time, a movie led by a Deaf cast won the Oscar for best picture.

Actors Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin in “CODA.” Kotsur won an Oscar on Sunday for his role in the film, making him the second Deaf person ever to do so. Coincidentally, Matlin was the first Deaf actor to win an Oscar in 1987, for her role in “Children of a Lesser God.” – Apple TV +

For the evening, Deaf and sign language representation weren’t just limited to these two Oscar victories. “Audible,” a short documentary about the football program at Maryland School for the Deaf, which I served as an executive producer on, was also nominated. Two other nominees, “Dune” and “Drive My Car,” also featured sign language. Altogether, the 2022 Oscars felt like a watershed moment in deaf history.

But that’s what scares me a little bit. Deaf people had another moment similar to Sunday night back in 1987. That was the year Marlee Matlin won a best actress Oscar. It’s taken us 35 years to see another Deaf Oscar winner take the stage.

We need this moment to be something bigger. We need it to be the linchpin for a broader movement, the first swell of a tidal wave of opportunities for Deaf people in entertainment.

To me, the key to turning this moment into a movement includes putting Deaf people behind the camera. In producer roles. In the writer’s room. As directors, closing their index and middle fingers like a pair of scissors, to yell “Cut!”

One amazing twist out of many in Troy’s story is that the role that landed him an Oscar wasn’t going to be available to him in the first place. When Marlee Matlin signed on to “CODA,” she insisted on Deaf actors being hired, rather than hearing actors taking on the roles as initially planned. Thankfully, the powers that be relented. No one could play Frank like Troy did, and the rest is history. Marlee’s story is one example of how having Deaf people take the lead in telling stories that involve them can have a powerful impact.

It’s tough to be an actor. It’s even tougher to be a Deaf actor in an industry designed for and run by hearing people. Like many Deaf actors, my experiences on set tend to be more than that of most actors. From captioning my own self-tape auditions, teaching other actors their lines in ASL on set, consulting directors on keeping my hands neatly in frame so no signs are cut off, and sometimes assisting with post-production edits and captioning to ensure ASL is captured on screen and translated accurately, there are many, many hats we wear as Deaf actors. We do it because we love our craft despite the divided attention, but for a story to be told as best as it possibly can, there needs to be more of us behind every aspect of the storytelling.

Click here to read the full article on TODAY.

‘CODA’ brings home the Oscar for best picture, a historic win for the Deaf community

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CODA cast at the oscars

By ,  NPR

CODA has been named best picture, beating out the likes of Belfast, Drive My Car and Power of the Dog at the 2022 Academy Awards. It’s a historic win for a film that brings Deaf culture, and Deaf actors, to the forefront.

Written and directed by Sian Heder, CODA is based on the 2014 French film La Famille Bélier. The English-language remake centers on Ruby Rossi, the only hearing member of a Deaf family, who struggles to balance family obligations and her love of music.

“CODA does have a double meaning in the title because it’s Children of Deaf Adults, but it’s also the end of a piece of music,” director Sian Heder told NPR’s Here and Now. “It’s a story about the end of childhood.”

Distributed by Apple TV+, it is also the first best picture win for a streaming service. The film earned three of Apple TV+’s six Oscar nominations, and won each one: best picture, best adapted screenplay for Sian Heder, and best supporting actor for Troy Kotsur, who joins his co-star Marlee Matlin as the only Deaf actors ever win Oscars for acting.

Streaming studios have been building momentum in the years since Amazon Studio’s Manchester by the Sea made waves in 2017 with the first nomination for best picture for a streaming studio. Their increased presence has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic leaving many moviegoers unable to attend local cinemas, and movie distributors began increasingly streaming films shortly after their theatrical openings. Eight of the ten Best Picture nominees were available on streaming services in the weeks leading up to the award ceremony.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Hollywood Flashback: Marlee Matlin Made Oscar History 35 Years Before ‘CODA’

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Marlee Matlin

By Ryan Gajewski, The Hollywood Reporter

Marlee Matlin was just 21 when she earned an Academy Award for starring opposite William Hurt in the 1986 drama Children of a Lesser God, becoming the first deaf person to win an Oscar and the youngest best actress recipient.

Marking her feature debut, the film focused on the relationship between a hearing speech teacher (Hurt) at a school for deaf children and a deaf custodian (Matlin) working there. For Matlin, the Oscar win was the culmination of a lifelong dream that began at age 8 when she started appearing in children’s theater productions for the International Center on Deafness and the Arts in Northbrook, Illinois. Henry Winkler, who dealt with undiagnosed dyslexia as a child, saw her in a play there and offered encouragement backstage.

“The win reinforced what Henry Winkler told me when I was 12, that I should never give up doing what I love, despite the critics and naysayers,” Matlin tells THR. She admits her trip to the podium was a blur, and she wasn’t sure what to believe when the category’s presenter, Hurt, whom she was dating at the time, called her name: “I remember thinking at first that he was kidding, but then I thought, ‘He can’t be kidding on national TV!’ “

Her film CODA, about the lone hearing member of a deaf family, nabbed this year’s SAG Award for best film ensemble and has three Oscar noms, including best picture and best supporting actor for Troy Kotsur, who could follow in Matlin’s footsteps as the second deaf performer to win.

Click here to read the full article on The Hollywood Reporter.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. 2022 Academic Careers Workshop Apply Today!
    June 9, 2022 - June 12, 2022
  4. From Day One
    June 14, 2022
  5. From Day One
    June 22, 2022