The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy & Innovation along with Lights! Camera! Access! hosted an Executive Leadership Roundtable, an engaging day of discussion, support and entertainment at the Playa Vista Campus of Loyola Marymount University.
“Accessible Technology: Products, Services and the 21st Century Workforce.”
The day included workshops, resume support and the wealth of experience of professionals (with and without disabilities). Vital to the day was “flash mentoring” where aspiring tech and media professionals, filmmakers and storytellers with disabilities connected with college students, recent grads, transitioning youth and veterans with disabilities, who may be your future employees and colleagues.
The gathering recognized three founding pioneers of the Media Access Awards, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Norman Lear, Loreen Arbus —who were not able to attend—and Fern Field were recognized for extraordinary leadership. Also acknowledged were Deb Calla and Allen Rucker for the their leadership in producing the current Media Access Awards, now celebrating their 10th anniversary— preserving that legacy and bringing the awards to a new level.
An all-star ensemble of talented actors with disabilities performed readings from Vicki Lewis’ play ONE DAY: On the Road to the ADA, September 27, 1988 with Vicki, herself, directing.
The talented panel then offered insights on the importance of disabled and Deaf performers and storytellers owning the narrative.
Flash Mentors, professionals with and without disabilities, were paired up in order to provide participants with the most comprehensive experience. Red, Blue and Yellow teams traveled to each of the three activities with their team ambassadors, while the flash mentors stayed at their tables. Some of our flash mentors were joined via Skype on a laptop or iPad.
1. Scott Silveri (creator/producer of SPEECHLESS) and Geri Jewell (FACTS OF LIFE, DEADWOOD, CAROL OF THE BELLS)
2. Mallory Gordon (Facebook) and Bella Cosper (Eggroll Media and Southern Blend Productions)
3. Russell Boast (Casting Society of America), Diana Jordan (Performing Arts Studio West) and Eileen Grubba (Actress, Writer, Producer)
4. Jd Michaels (Michaels.Adams.), Sam Rubin (Sam Rubin Pictures) and Scottie Madden (Writer, Director, Actor, Showrunner, Educator, Author and Speaker)
5. Liz Pritchard (Paper Bag Comic), Peter Jensen (Exceptional Minds) and Dominick Evans (#FilmDis, The Crip Crusader, and LCA Film Clip Editor)
6. Robert David Hall (CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, former chair SAG-AFTRA Committee of Performers with Disabilities and Jason E. Squire (USC School of Cinematic Arts and Editor, THE MOVIE BUSINESS BOOK)
7. Allen Rucker (Chair, WGA Committee of Writers with Disabilities, Co-Chair Media Access Awards) and David Radcliff (staff writer THE ROOKIE)
8. Michael Kaufer (Deaf Film Camp) and CJ Jones (BABY DRIVER, AVATAR)
10. Michael Wood (Never Forgotten Media) and Jake Riess (Exceptional Minds)
Participants were enlightened in workshops like No One Taught Me How to Network —presented by Derek Shields, National Disability Mentoring Coalition and Self-Disclosure: How to Leverage Your Disability to Sharpen Your Competitive Edge – presented by Barbara Butz and Steve Allen, PolicyWorks.
They also gleaned experience from success stories on How to Make it in the Media, hearing experiences from industry professionals: Trelanda Lowe of Facebook, Cartoon Network’s and Ryan Oldis, Scott Silveri (creator/producer of Speechless) and David Radcliff (staff writer, The Rookie).
This set of “success stories” team employers with emerging talent with disabilities in an informal “fireside chat” format moderated by Anna Pakman via Skype:
Facebook’s Mallory Gordon and Trelanda Lowe – interactive (LCA is the official disability talent pipeline for Facebook’s Diverse Production Assistant “PA” Initiative);
Cartoon Network and Ryan Oldis – animation (LCA partner Exceptional Minds has an internship program with Cartoon Network); Scott Sllveri (creator/producer of SPEECHLESS); David Radcliff (staff writer, THE ROOKIE) – Importance of disabled writers in “The Writers Room” – scripted television and Zach Anner (comedian, actor, writer and winner of Oprah Winfrey’s “Search for the Next TV Star”.
Film Clips from LCA partners
A showcase of film clips by three LCA partners brought an exciting and energizing closing to the day. Included in the presentation were the upcoming feature film Carol of the Bells, staring RJ Mitte, Andrea Friedman, Donna Mills and Geri Jewel with 70% of the crew having disabilities (Inclusion Films/Options for All) and selections from EasterSeals Disability Film Challenge; and Deaf Film Camp.
Executive Leadership Roundtable
The roundtable discussion brought together distinguished leaders in accessible technology, media, healthcare and disability to share best practices as we all ramp up to the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 2020. The Honorable Tony Coelho, author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, facilitated discussions around an action plan to further drive disability-inclusive diversity leadership in the workplace, marketplace and communities around the country.
Gregg Vanderheiden, Professor and Director of the Trace R&D Center
Deborah Kaplan, Founder of Enterprise Accessibility
Marcie Roth, World Institute on Disability,
Judy Brewer, Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative
Katherine Perez, Director, The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation
Ryan Easterly, Executive Director, WITH Foundation
Tari Hartman Squire, CEO EIN SOF Communications, Inc., Founder, Disability Media Transition Alliance and Lights! Camera! Access!
Yesmeen Mikhail (abilityE.org)