The recent gameplay showcase of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart was met with praise across the gaming community. With a detailed look at levels, items and gameplay modes, there was a lot to get excited about if you have your eyes on this next gen platformer.
Right at the end of the video, Insomniac also highlighted a wide range of accessibility features that will be in the game.
It’s hardly common practice for a game showcase to mention video game accessibility, even though it is a subject that will affect thousands of players. This break with industry convention is being met with praise among accessibility advocates, who say that such segments should feature in more gameplay trailers.
“I have mobility issues so the use of my hands is a problem in games”, explains Bobby, a freelance gaming and accessibility writer. “The toggle option will give me the ability to work the controls around my own ability level, such as toggling aim instead of being forced to hold it down to aim, using auto-aim features to help me when my hands become tired.”
Bobby has raised awareness on video game accessibility in the past, particularly in Nintendo titles that fall short. Despite the industry taking progress slowly, he tells TheGamer he’s incredibly happy with what was seen at the showcase. “This to me was very meaningful as I felt considered and seen as a disabled gamer. This does appear to be more inclusive than most other AAA games on the market right now”.
Sharing this sentiment is fellow accessibility advocate, Laura Kate Dale. After the showcase, she tweeted “I am so, so glad this is becoming a Sony first party game staple. Other developers, take notes on this. Such a great accessibility feature.”
Both Laura and Bobby allude to The Last of Us Part 2 in their praise of Sony. It was lauded for its accessibility last year, which was so well designed that a sightless player was able to complete the game multiple times.
Speaking to members of r/disabledgamers on Reddit, others were also happy to see Sony platform the topic in this manner. User tysonedwards shared that they would benefit from the visual accessibility features, as Rift Apart allows for extensive changes to the shades used in-game. The user says this will allow many with low vision to play what would otherwise be an “unapproachable game”. u/chaZ04 agrees, sharing that everything seen so far looks promising.
However, Sony hasn’t always got accessibility right. Despite the praise, u/tysonedwards also commented: “given Sony’s overall aggressive stance towards accessibility features within the hardware and operating system like screen reader support, text-to-speech, reduce motion, system wide subtitle toggle, combined with their policy of issuing PSN bans under a Code of Conduct Violation for use of modified controllers in ‘competitive games’, I won’t be buying.”
Being a superhero wasn’t part of Lauren Ridloff’s plan. The Eternals star wanted to be a children’s book author before an American Sign Language tutoring gig for the director of Broadway’s Children of a Lesser God led to a starring role in the show’s revival.
Theater, she says, is a “much more natural and inviting medium for deaf actors,” and the production came fully staffed with a toolbox ready to support its deaf and hearing artists. But coming off that critically praised performance in 2018, Ridloff wasn’t sure she wanted to keep acting. TV and movies weren’t a place she had seen herself represented growing up, instilling the idea that it couldn’t be part of her dream.
Yet, after scoring The Walking Dead as her first TV role, Ridloff found herself in demand. Now, she’s set to star in the Chloé Zhao-directed Marvel movie that will take her and deaf representation to marvelous new heights when it releases on Nov. 5.
During her transition from stage to screen, Ridloff says she’s felt like she wanted to prove she’s easy to work with, something that has led to her not always advocating for what she needed as an actor. But being on this massive Marvel production full of A-listers who “know exactly what they want” helped change her outlook.
Ahead of The Eternals’ anticipated release, The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Ridloff about her journey from stage to screen, how working on a blockbuster as an emerging actor changed her perception of self-advocacy on set, and why the Eternals cast wasn’t sure what to expect in the final cut.
Your journey to acting was a bit of being in the right place at the right time. Before that Broadway break-out, what were your acting ambitions and how have those changed?
My goal growing up was to write a book. That’s why I studied English and creative writing in college, and that is a big reason I started teaching. I wanted to write children’s books. I felt that the best way to understand how a child thinks in their mind is to be with them all day. So I started teaching because of that. I didn’t dream of acting. I didn’t want to pursue acting. I had some acting experience — your basic high school play, or I was a part of a performance group in college, a dance group. I just didn’t see enough people on the screen like myself. Every once in a while, like maybe Marlee Matlin, I saw on the big screen, and then years went by, and you would see somebody appear on one episode of a TV show or another episode there. Acting on Broadway came so completely as a surprise to me. It wasn’t part of my plan.
And, yes, absolutely, my goals have changed since I’ve gotten into acting. When I was on Broadway, my manager was interested in pursuing and looking for other projects, and I told him to then I didn’t know if I wanted to continue acting. Maybe this was just a one-time thing. I wasn’t even sure if it was my thing. But then, when I saw the theater audience full night after night, and I saw the lines forming at the back door, I realized that my classroom just got a lot bigger. I made a bigger impact here. It seems like I can act, and I enjoy the opportunity to fully immerse myself in a character, which is very connected to reading and writing. When you write, you need to drop into that character and how it represents itself on the page. So I felt like it was a very natural leap into acting because of that.
Click here to read the full article on The Hollywood Reporter.
If you were to read Amy Purdy’s medical history, you’d be introduced to a journey that, for many, could feel incredibly daunting.
If you were to check out her accomplishments as a snowboarding champion, a renowned motivational speaker, a dancer, an actress, a model, a podcaster, a New York Times bestselling author and a philanthropist, you’d be introduced to her toughness and will.
And if you watched her shredding the slopes on her way to medaling in the Paralympics or ball-rooming her way into America’s hearts on “Dancing with the Stars,” you’d start to see the big picture.
Purdy’s mantra? “Live beyond limits.”
“Live beyond limits became my mantra very organically. I personally never liked being told what I could or couldn’t do,” said Purdy, 41. “I always wanted to figure out what the possibilities were. Snowboarding, for example, felt impossible at first, and I could have just walked away but I got creative, made my own feet and figured out a way to not just do it again but to excel at it. I’m so grateful that I never gave up.”
The Fight of Her Life
Born in Las Vegas in 1979, Purdy was just 19 years old when she contracted bacterial meningitis. She was given a two percent chance to survive. She lost both of her legs below the knees, lost both of her kidneys and her spleen (she later received a kidney transplant from her father).
Purdy met the challenge head-on, weathering unthinkable surgeries and rehab, teaming with medical experts, designing her own prosthetic feet and legs (through trial and error, sometimes with chunks of wood) and never losing sight of her goals.
“There’s always going to be something preventing you from your goal, whether it’s a loss of legs or anything else, but you’ll never be happy if you surrender to circumstances,” she said.
Purdy’s immediate goal after her initial diagnosis was to snowboard again. After getting prosthetic legs, she achieved that. It turned out to be the start of big things.
Purdy eventually won a bronze medal in snowboarding at the 2014 Paralympics and a silver in 2018. She formed a non-profit organization — Adaptive Action Sports — along with her husband, Daniel Gale, who is also a competitive snowboarder, to get snowboarding included in the Paralympics. Adaptive Action Sports, a chapter of Disabled Sports USA, targets those with physical disabilities who want to get involved in action sports (snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing). Their organization, founded in 2005, also trains athletes with physical disabilities to qualify for the U. S. Snowboard Team. Purdy believes part of her mission is helping others with health challenges.
“It was an evolution from losing my legs, relearning to snowboard, helping others learn to snowboard and finally getting it into the Games.”
Purdy began snowboarding seven months after she received her prosthetic legs. About a year after her legs were amputated, she finished third in a snowboarding competition at Mammoth Mountain.
On Her Own Two Feet
In 2003, Purdy was recruited by the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) as a spokesperson. At the time, she didn’t live far from the CAF headquarters, as she and Daniel had moved back to San Diego to pursue surfing.
In San Diego, she continued her pre-amputee profession as a massage therapist. She also started working for Freedom Innovations, a prosthetic feet manufacturer, as its Amputee Advocate.
On top of all that, Purdy has numerous television and film credits. In 2012, Purdy and her now husband Daniel Gale participated on the 21st season of The Amazing Race.
After nearly winning the first leg of the race, they were the second team eliminated and finished in 10th place out of 11 teams.
In 2014, Purdy was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.” Paired with five-time champion Derek Hough, Purdy was the first double amputee contestant to ever appear on the show. Hough was, at the time, fresh from winning his fifth Mirrorball trophy and did not plan on coming back to the show.
However, he changed his mind when Purdy joined the show as a contestant. Purdy wowed judges from the get-go, and kept improving. She never received a score lower than 8. She received her first perfect score (40 out of 40) for her eighth dance, the Argentine tango, after having an intense back injury the week prior. She eventually made it the finale, where she finished as a runner-up to Olympic gold medalist Meryl Davis.
In 2015, Purdy was featured in a Super Bowl advertisement for the Toyota Camry. The ad showed Purdy snowboarding, dancing and adjusting her prosthetic legs to a voiceover of Muhammad Ali’s “How Great I Am” speech.
Purdy has penned a memoir titled, On My Own Two Feet: From Losing My Legs to Learning the Dance of Life (HarperCollins), created a podcast (“Bouncing Forward”) and carved out a lucrative and inspirational career as a motivational speaker.
Among her accolades, along with two Paralympic medals, are being named one of ESPNW’s Impact 25 and one of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100 visionaries and influential leaders.
Purdy says that healing is never a linear process; it’s full of ups, downs, twists, turns, setbacks, victories.
And it’s lifelong.
After experiencing medical setbacks — including an injury to her popliteal artery — in 2019, Purdy has undergone 10 more surgeries, including amputation revisions on her left leg.
“Phase one of my journey was all the surgeries and trying to find stability with the injury and phase two is getting legs that I can live comfortably in,” she said of her latest plight. “Once they are comfortable, then I’ll be able to snowboard again.”
Meantime, she continues to move forward on myriad other projects. She continues, in other words, to live beyond limits.
“I’m currently excited to be planning the second season of my podcast “Bouncing Forward,” and I’m always looking for new ways to help others live their possibilities,” she said.
“I have a handful of projects I’m working on in TV that I can’t talk about yet and some that are online. With COVID, I went from doing many live speeches to doing virtual speeches, which has been fantastic, although I want to go to even a deeper and more immersive experience with my community.
I’ve been so grateful to connect with so many amazing people in real life and on social media that I’m really inspired to create ways to connect even deeper.
That’s what life is about: living, learning and growing, and helping others do the same.”
Click here to read the article in the digital magazine.
Cornelia Duryée’s ‘Heartfelt and Sensitively Drawn’ film Language Arts, starring Ashley Zukerman & Sarah Shahi, takes viewers on a powerful journey of connection and redemption.
A student project abruptly forces an emotionally stunted high school English teacher to confront his demons—past and present—taking him on a powerful journey of connection and redemption in Language Arts, available now On Demand.
A poignant family drama that connects us all in the universal need to love and be loved, Language Arts is now streaming in the U.S. and Canada on Apple TV, iTunes, Microsoft, Prime Video, Spectrum, Vimeo and VUDU; and is coming soon on Google Play and YouTube.
Starring Ashley Zukerman (the upcoming Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol,Fear Street, Succession, A Teacher), Sarah Shahi (the upcoming Black Adam, Sex/Life, The Rookie, Person of Interest, The L Word, Fairly Legal, Alias), Elliott Smith (Confess, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) and Lincoln Lambert (Witch’s Castle, Modern Farmer).
Based on the novel by best-selling author Stephanie Kallos (Broken for You), Language Arts was written and directed by Cornelia Duryée (West of Redemption, The Dark Horse, Camilla Dickinson), whose youngest son—who makes a cameo appearance in the film—falls on the autism spectrum. Parenting her son has given her a unique perspective on her adaptation of the novel and her direction of the film.
Britain’s Manchester Film Festival (MANIFF) called the film a “heartfelt and sensitively drawn drama,” adding that “the story of Language Arts is touching on its own, but the treatment it receives in this adaptation elevates it into something deeply moving.”
In Language Arts …
High school English teacher Charles Marlow (Ashley Zukerman; Young Charles, Elliott Smith) has spent decades shrinking from life, hiding away from the disappointments that have trailed him; regretful over a profound tragedy in his past.
When one of his students, Romy (Aishe Keita), proposes a photojournalism project documenting collaborations between autistic youth and senior dementia patients, Charles tailspins into the past, confronting the mistakes of his youth and struggling to reconnect with his own autistic son, Cody (Kieran Walton) and his ex-wife, Allison (Sarah Shahi). Their marriage shattered from the stress of raising a special needs child and Charles’ inability to reveal himself.
As Charles remembers an unlikely friendship with a boy in a white suit (Lincoln Lambert as Dana), who inscribed his troubled childhood with both solace and sorrow, he is forced to confront the actions and inactions that have shaped his life. Will Charles be able to release the regrets of his past in time to be a part of his family’s future?
WATCH THE TRAILER!
Family Drama. Not Rated (Some Mature Themes). Run Time: 127 Minutes.
From Kairos Productions and Gravitas Ventures, Language Arts was directed by Cornelia Duryée from a screenplay by Cornelia Duryée, based on the novel by Stephanie Kallos. Director of Photography was Alisa Tyrrill. Casting by Richard Pagano. Music by BC Smith. Produced by Larry Estes, p.g.a. (Smoke Signals). Co-producer is Randy Suhr. Executive Producers are Rich Cowan and Stephanie Kallos.
About Kairos Productions:
Kairos Productions is a leading independent production company based in Seattle, Washington, that aims to enrich the world through redemptive storytelling. Kairos develops original content such as The Dark Horse, West of Redemption and Portal Runner; adapted content such as Camilla Dickinson and Language Arts; and collaborates with other production partners to create unique stories, such as JourneyQuest. For more information, visit http://www.kairos-productions.com or follow us on Facebook @kairosseattle or Twitter @KairosFilm.
About Gravitas Ventures:
Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, is a leading all rights distributor of independent feature films and documentaries. Founded in 2006, Gravitas connects independent filmmakers and producers with distribution opportunities across the globe. Working with talented directors and producers, Gravitas Ventures has distributed thousands of films into over a hundred million homes in North America – over one billion homes worldwide. Recent releases include Queen Bees directed by Michael Lembeck; Our Friend directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, starring Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson and Jason Segel; Vanguard, directed by Stanley Tong and starring Jackie Chan; The Secret: Dare to Dream, directed by Andy Tennant and starring Katie Holmes; End of Sentence starring Logan Lerman and John Hawkes; Looks that Kill; Tread; Loopers: The Caddie’s Long Walk, narrated by Bill Murray; and Colin Hanks’ All Things Must Pass. For more information, please visit https://gravitasventures.com and follow @GravitasVOD on Twitter and @gravitasventures on Instagram.
About Red Arrow Studios: Red Arrow Studios is one of the world’s leading creators and distributors of entertainment content, comprised of an acclaimed network of international production companies and labels in seven territories; world-leading digital studio, Studio71, based in six countries; and global film and TV distributors Red Arrow Studios International and Gravitas Ventures. The group’s significant output includes scripted, non-scripted and formatted content and IP, from TV and film to short-form and branded content, made for an array of global networks and platforms. Red Arrow Studios is part of ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, one of Europe’s leading media groups. https://redarrowstudios.com
For several months now, Facebook execs have been kicking around an eerie product idea few people seem to want: Instagram for Kids. Given the negative mental-health outcomes the app’s youngest users already report, lots of parents, lawmakers, and almost all the nation’s attorneys general have lobbied the company to please not. Nonetheless, Facebook persists — the youths are a lucrative market! — even though its own research reportedly confirms that for teens, Instagram outpaces other social-media platforms when it comes to fostering feelings of anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphia.
“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” reads a slide from a 2019 presentation of corporate data, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apparently, Facebook has been investigating these topics for about three years, and the findings have painted a bleak picture. “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” another slide stated. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.” Numbers from 2020 indicated the same: “32 percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse …Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.” Among teens who reported experiencing suicidal thoughts, 6 percent of U.S. users and 13 percent of U.K. users attributed ideation to Instagram.
The Journal reports that about 40 percent of Instagram users clock in under 22, and that about 22 million teens use the app daily. For this group, corporate research suggests that Instagram poses a unique problem in terms of social comparison, or the tendency to measure oneself against the standard set by other people’s posts. While TikTok leans on performance and Snapchat promotes cartoonish filters, Instagram is where people go to document their best moments, often edited for maximum impact. Then in comes the algorithm, the same villain that may have led you to believe everyone went to Greece without you this summer: Similar to TikTok, it notices what content engages you and for how long, then tailors your Explore page accordingly. The Journal identifies this feature as a uniquely damaging Instagram feature: One 18-year-old who spoke to the paper said she developed an eating disorder after falling into fitness wormholes every time she opened the app. “When I went on Instagram, all I saw were images of chiseled bodies, perfect abs, and women doing 100 burpees in ten minutes.”
While the research notes that not every young user who spends time scrolling reports the same problems, it also suggests that many link their self-esteem issues directly back to Instagram. In one survey of U.S. and U.K. teens, 40 percent reportedly said they started feeling “unattractive” around the same time they started using Instagram; about 25 percent said it made them feel “not good enough.” Many said that using the app created anxiety around friendships and social activity, but that many teens are “unable to stop themselves” from logging on.
What’s especially discouraging, though, is that Facebook publicly downplays Instagram’s potential for making people depressed, even though it has the data. “The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental health benefits,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress in March of this year, while in May, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said adverse effects on adolescents’ well-being were probably “quite small.” One in three teen girls isn’t an insignificant portion of users, though it is a strong argument against the forthcoming Instagram Junior. Nobody asked for this, and per Facebook’s own data, it seems no one needs it, either.
During a stream on September 11, Asmongold shared a candid moment with viewers where he discussed his struggles with mental health and suicidal thoughts.
Asmongold is one of the most popular MMO steamers on Twitch, but recently opened up to fans about the struggles he’s had with mental health as a result.
When a user donated and asked if he’d ever “felt like Reckful (who took his own life in 2020) unironically.” Asmon gave an honest answer that initially concerned fans before the streamer provided reassurance.
“‘Do you ever feel how Reckful felt unironically?’ I probably shouldn’t say this, I’ve wanted to kill myself many times, yeah, absolutely,” Asmon revealed during the stream.
If you check out the chat while Asmon was saying this, there is an outpouring of love and support for the streamer, but at the same time worry for the concerning comments from viewers.
“What a f***ing segway,” Asmon added. “Yeah, many many times, I’m just too much of a p****y to do it, don’t worry about it I’ll be fine, I’m not going anywhere.”
His chat was, as we said, more than supportive after the streamer made these comments, but they still caused plenty of concern among fans. However, he said it was something he’d been wanting to talk about for awhile, and would be making changes to his stream in the future.
“I’d like to take down some of the super high energy stuff I do, and just try to have a little bit more of, just me,” Asmon said. “Not a bunch of crazy bulls***t, not a bunch of weird showmanship, just me. Just me streaming us having fun together, and relaxing.”
Mental health has become a huge issue not just on Twitch, but with internet personalities and creators as a whole. Asmon certainly isn’t alone in his struggles, either, so if you happen to tune into him in the near future, be sure to show the WoW OG some love.
Hollywood superstar Zendaya got candid about her mental health and how she learnt to prioritize it while growing up in the spotlight.
In a sit-down with British Vogue, the Dune actor, 25, spoke about going to therapy and recommended everyone to give it a try as well.
“Of course I go to therapy. I mean, if anybody is able to possess the financial means to go to therapy, I would recommend they do that. I think it’s a beautiful thing,” said the Euphoria actor.
“There’s nothing wrong with working on yourself and dealing with those things with someone who can help you, someone who can talk to you, who’s not your mom or whatever. Who has no bias,” said the former Disney star.
The actor also spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that subsequently followed led her towards feeling persistent existential sadness.
“[It was the] first kind of taste of sadness where you wake up and you just feel bad all day, like what the [expletive] is going on? What is this dark cloud that’s hovering over me and I don’t know how to get rid of it, you know?”
Click here to read the full article on The News International.
The 49-year-old American, known for films like Cruel Intentions, Hellboy and Legally Blonde, was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease in 2018.
Blair, who had been left with intense physical pain, told reporters her condition had improved as a result of a stem cell transplant and chemotherapy.
“My prognosis is great,” she said. “I’m in remission. Stem cell put me in remission.”
She added: “It took about a year after stem cell for the inflammation and lesions to really go down.”
Stem cell treatment it is not a cure for MS but can help to stabilise the disease and improve disability, according to researchers.
The star was speaking while promoting a documentary, Introducing Selma Blair, which follows her as she “reconciles a journey of monumental transition” to living with the incurable condition, which affects the brain and spinal cord, causing vision, balance and muscle problems.
MS had left Blair unable to speak properly or fully use her left leg, and she was pictured using a cane to walk up a red carpet after the Oscars two years ago.
Speaking to a virtual Television Critics Association panel on Monday, she said she had been doing well for the last few months after having felt “unwell and misunderstood for so long”, according to People and the Associated Press.
“I was reluctant to talk about it because I felt this need to be more healed and more fixed,” she said.
She was just 21 years old when she won Hollywood’s most coveted prize – the Oscar, for Best Actress – for her first movie, “Children of a Lesser God.” “You have to understand that I was a girl from Chicago who appeared on the scene out of nowhere,” said Marlee Matlin.
Thirty-four years later, she remains the only deaf person to win an Academy Award, in any category.
“When I won the Oscar,” she told Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz, “the community was very, obviously very thrilled, certainly. And then they said, ‘Okay, now what? What are you gonna do for us?’ It was a heavy load.”
Her new film, “CODA,” now streaming on Apple TV, is the story of deaf parents with two children, a deaf son, and a hearing daughter, played by Emilia Jones.
Matlin plays the mother: “It’s about a hearing girl who wants to sing, but she has deaf parents who rely on her to interpret, and they always have.”
Mankiewicz asked, “They want hearing actors as the father and the older brother. And you say?”
“I said, ‘If you do that, if you choose somebody who’s gonna ‘play’ a deaf person, I’m out,'” Matlin replied.
“That suggests to me that, maybe, 35 years after ‘Children of a Lesser God,’ and 34 years after the Oscar, that you’re a little more comfortable making some noise?”
“And in all honesty, I didn’t even think,” Matlin said. “I just said it, I put it out there. Playing deaf is not a costume. We, deaf people, live it.”
For Matlin, “CODA” (the acronym stands for Child Of Deaf Adults) gave her a rare opportunity to work in an ensemble cast of deaf actors.
“It was always sort of as background or, you know, token deaf characters,” Matlin said. “And this time we carried the film.”
“I was envious, and I think my wife was, too, of the marriage [in the film],” Mankiewicz smiled. “Like, that’s what I want, right? That was it. That’s as good as it gets!”
As the most famous deaf person in show business (and probably the country), Matlin has worked steadily since her debut – feisty on “The West Wing,” funny in an episode of “Seinfeld,” and always game, quickly becoming an audience favorite on “Dancing with the Stars.”
She’s come a long way from the Chicago suburb where she grew up as a deaf child in a hearing family. Her hearing loss was caused by illness and high fevers when she was just one-and-a-half-years-old. “My childhood was so normal,” she said. “I was just so happy to have great neighbors, great schools, great friends, great family.”
“You’re a big sports fan?”
“Yes, I am. Big time! My father and I always watched sports together. You really didn’t need captions to watch sports.”
Her parents enrolled her in a weekend arts program for deaf children, where the camp director cast eight-year-old Matlin as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.”
The new film CODA premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews and a record-breaking distribution deal with Apple. One aspect of the film that awed both audiences and critics was the supporting performance by actor Troy Kotsur. He plays a father and fisherman in the story, struggling to understand his hearing daughter’s dreams to sing.
Prior to the film’s acclaimed Sundance debut, Kotsur has already been a pioneering star of stage and screen, honing his craft despite the structural limitations of an industry that hasn’t always recognized his gifts. “If Troy were a person who could speak and hear, if he were a hearing person, his star would have risen many, many years ago,” signs fellow actor David Kurs, who is also artistic director of Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles. “There is a deep respect for him and his work. And so to finally see him in a place where his work can be witnessed by a larger audience has been an inspiration.”
Kostur’s vulnerability, expressiveness and humor make him a wonderful actor, says CODA director Sian Heder. “Troy’s an incredible improvisor and he’s really funny,” she says. “He’s just a handsome, big guy who’s got a great face on screen and I think he’s got incredible charisma and presence. His ASL (American Sign Language) is really creative and really beautiful.”
Fisherman, father and acting force of nature
CODA centers on Ruby Rossi, a high school student who wants to be a singer. She’s a ‘Child of Deaf Adults,’ the only hearing person in her family. Ruby’s family rely on her to voice what they sign, code switching for the hearing world. She works on the family’s boat with her brother, who’s also deaf, and her father, played by Kotsur.
“He’s kinda like a papa bear,” Kotsur signs in ASL, American Sign Language. “There’s humor, and that bond is very tight.” As the film proceeds, Frank tries to understand and relate to why singing is so important to his daughter. In one poignant scene, he asks her to sing for him as he tenderly holds her neck to feel the reverberations.
Kotsur says the scene echoes an experience he once had with his own daughter. “A long time ago when she was in kindergarten, she sang for a class performance” he recalls. “I asked, ‘can I just kind of feel your neck?’ And it was very cute. And then all those years later, the movie CODA was a real flashback where I did the same thing. And now my daughter is learning how to play guitar. So sometimes I’ll just touch her guitar so that I can feel her strumming.”
A formerly homeless man with a severely deformed hands has been able to rebuild his life after discovering a new way to communicate, thanks to a novel hexagonal smartphone keyboard made in Switzerland.
Russ Miller, 36, from Ohio, was first diagnosed with the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis when he was just 26. The condition attacks the body’s joints, making it progressively more difficult for him to do everyday tasks.
“My hands are deformed. They’re not shaped properly and I can’t bend them like everyone else can. Recently my thumb has stopped working, so I can’t bend it,” said Miller in a letter to the company. “I can no longer use normal computer keyboards and it’s hard for me to even hold a pen anymore.”
Russ’ condition led to a downward spiral which resulted in him living on the streets in Florida for 4 years—but in 2018, he started trying to turn his life around.
“I was trying to get help and get myself out of my situation. I had a phone, but I struggled typing on keyboards… So I started looking for alternative smartphone keyboards that might enable me to type again. I found Typewise by accident.”
Russ attributes Typewise smartphone keyboard with enabling him to “get his life back” by empowering him to communicate with people, and therefore get help, get an apartment and even get a job:
“I was able to communicate a lot better than talking, because my voice is kind of monotone so people don’t understand me very well. And because I was able to start typing on my phone again, I was able to use social media to reach out to an organization that helps people with disabilities.”
It’s the hexagonal layout of the keyboard that Russ finds a whole lot easier. “I can move my fingers around and not mess up as often.”
“Now I have a part-time job where I take care of dogs and cats; Tuesdays and Thursdays. I can’t work full time, because of my physical issues but at least I have something to do and something to look forward to.”
The company making the smartphone app, which has a popularity rating of 4.5 stars, had been unaware that their unique keyboard design could help people with reduced dexterity, until they received Russ’s letter.