Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 Think Tank Comes to NYU to Discuss Disability-Inclusive Diversity in Media

Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 – a think tank dedicated to achieving disability-inclusive diversity in media, entertainment, and digital platforms – will gather at New York University on Monday, July 13 from 1 to 7 p.m., in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The summit aims to develop strategies for improving disability portrayals on large, small, and personal screens, enhancing access to digital media, and increasing employment of people with disabilities in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

“As we recognize the historic importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the progress it has spurred in the past 25 years, we also need to recognize the challenges that remain for people with disabilities,” said Dominic Brewer, Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. “The Steinhardt School is pleased to host Monday’s summit to explore new ideas and solutions that increase opportunity for people with disabilities.”

The think tank, produced by EIN SOF Communications and The Loreen Arbus Foundation, will explore leading-edge accessible technology, authentic disability narratives, and best practices in advertising, television, film, and other media. Speakers at the July 13 opening session include:

  • Vinton G. Cerf, vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, who is recognized as one of the two “fathers of the Internet”
  • NYU professors Anita Perr and R. Luke DuBois of the NYU Ability Lab, an interdisciplinary research space dedicated to the development of adaptive and assistive technologies

Breakout sessions will focus on accessible hardware and software, as well as disability-inclusive diversity in Internet programming, social media, and gaming.

“Inequality and discrimination still exist in many of our circles, even in 2015. In so many ways we are very advanced, but in our treatment of fellow humans, we can do so much better,” said Perr, clinical associate professor of occupational therapy at NYU Steinhardt.

“The entertainment industry has the ability to help our society ‘normalize’ the differences among people, although people with disabilities are sadly underrepresented in all aspects of entertainment,” she added. “Involvement of people with various abilities and disabilities both in front of and behind the camera needs to be stepped up so that it matches our overall population. This think tank is a great opportunity for those with the ability to make changes to learn about and talk about participation by people with disabilities.”

Reporters are invited to attend the opening session (registration at 12:30 p.m.; speakers from 1 to 2:30 p.m.) at the NYU Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life, located at 238 Thompson Street, between Washington Square South and W. 3rd Street. The opening session will also be streamed on the NYU Ability Lab’s website. Breakout sessions are closed events. Reporters interested in attending must RSVP to Rachel Harrison, NYU Office of Public Affairs, at 212-998-6797 or rachel.harrison@nyu.edu.

Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 will continue at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Tuesday, July 14 with speakers including Victor Calise, commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and Cynthia López, commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. The two days of conversation, which are part of the official New York City ADA 25th anniversary celebration, will frame two “call-to-action” summits this fall on disability portrayal and employment in the media industry: October 1 in New York City and October 21 at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.