Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 Boston Summit for Disability and Media

On Wednesday, March 21st, PYD youth and staff participated in Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 Boston, a Disability & Media Summit featuring expert panelists and professionals from Google, BBDO, National Disability Mentoring Coalition, PolicyWorks and Futuro Media Group as well as others in the entertainment and media industries to help mentor, motivate, EMPOWER, and network with aspiring professional college students, recent graduates, and career transitioning youth with disabilities.

According to the 2016 Ruderman Foundation White Paper, “95% of television characters with disabilities are portrayed by non-disabled actors. Under-representation of people with disabilities exists in ALL forms of traditional media, broadcast and entertainment, as well as emerging digital platforms in front of and behind the scenes. This stark under-representation contributes to a severe lack of professional media role models for youth with disabilities and perpetuates the myth of “invisibility” of people with disabilities.”

Participants and Employers at previous Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 event in New York at CUNY’s John Jay College during Speed Interviews and Flash Mentoring


Because of the snow storm the panel and workshop portions of the summit were converted to a virtual webinar, and the employer and flash mentoring one-on-one sessions will be rescheduled at northeastern university later this year.

“The meeting was very good – learned a lot in there and it gave me some thoughts about my craft”-LCA2.0 Participant and actor Josh Jones.

LCA2.0 collaborative objectives include 1. Increase employment of people with disabilities in front of or behind the camera 2. Improve disability portrayals and having people with disabilities tell and share their story and 3. Enhance accessible entertainment.

At the same time, the core goal is to help participants get a head start in their passion and how to brand themselves and be part of a mentoring pipeline with professionals who share their experience.

Tari Hartman Squire, co-founder of LCA2.0, provided us a statement on the experience of bringing LCA2.0 to fruition and the roadblocks faced in the process:

“The only thing constant in life is change. This is particularly true in developing a career in media, no matter what genre or delivery platform – television, movies, advertising, theater, news or internet-based, including video games. Flexibility and creative solutions are key.

That is why we were excited to bring LCA2.0 Summit to Boston. LCA2.0 is a dynamic gathering where aspiring media professionals meet media employers and mentors with disabilities for resume review, speed interviews, flash mentoring, “How to Make it in the Media” panel discussion and two self-awareness and career-building workshops, Network and Mentoring presented by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition; and Self-Disclosure and Leveraging Your Disability to Sharpen Your Competitive Edge” presented by PolicyWorks.

Despite the snow, the show went on – virtually. After a warm welcome from Northeastern University’s Career Development and Disability Services Offices and the ReelAbilities Film Festival Boston, Google, BBDO, Futuro Media Group, and Deaf Film Camp along with our collaborators Northeastern University, ReelAbilities Film Festival Boston, UMass Boston/Institute for Community Inclusion, MA Cultural Council, No Limits Media, and WGBH

Thanks to Northeastern University for offering to host the LCA2.0 media employers and mentors down the road when the snow melts. LCA2.0 looks forward to returning to Boston,” according to Tari Hartman Squire, creator of Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0

As a Disability & Media Industry Call-to-Action Summit, LCA2.0 brings together diverse voices representing theatre, advertising, content creators, filmmakers, actors, and employment experts to guide participants in leveraging their skills to make their way their desire career path. The first panel called How to Make It in the Media Panel brought together professionals, from Jd Michaels from BBDO, Jeff Pardo from Google, and Julio Ricardo Varela from Futuro Media Group. The three discussed with moderator Anna Packman about how one gets started in the field. The moderator disclosed her disability and struggles and shared how employees warmly welcomed her. The panel goal is to share career entry experiences and strategies that helped the panel build on their personal and professional brand and content.

The first workshop was presented by barbara butz, from policyworks entitled self-disclosure and framing your disability to sharpen your competitive edge, telling how disability can be an asset during the screening and interviewing process for your desired job.

Derek shields, co-chair of the national disability mentoring coalition, provided the second workshop on networking and mentoring entitled: “nobody taught me how to network.” this session provided a networking model that helps develop a more positive mindset regarding networking and how to access mentors. After the event Derek said: “providing this content enhances the self-confidence of aspiring media professionals with disabilities. One of the Boston-area participants shared with me after the webinar that he better understands that a combination of skills, abilities and networking will help him to utilize connections to discover employment opportunities.” Derek also mentioned that the “practical experience and intentional activities” that lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 provides participants – both the aspiring professionals and the employers – helps all of us discover how to leverage mentoring as a disability inclusion strategy.

LCA2.0 was held in conjunction with the Boston ReelAbilities Film Festival (first premiere film rescheduled to this Sunday, March 25th at the Museum of Science)!

All participants and employers featured will be part of the LCA2.0 database for media professionals and aspiring career starters for LCA2.0 recruiting events, webinars, future internships, scholarships and apprenticeships, and the Cornell University/National Disability Mentoring Coalition Media Mentoring Opportunity Talent Pipeline. Participants can continue to network with each other and continue working of their content and brand!

This summit was co-founded in part by Tari Hartman Squire of EIN SOF Communications and Loreen Arbus of The Loreen Arbus foundation in collaboration with PYD, Deaf Film Camp; Easterseals Disability Film Challenge; Inclusion Films Workshop; Mass Cultural Council; National Center for Accessible Media — WGBH; National Disability Mentoring Coalition; No Limits Media; Northeastern University Career Development, Northeastern University Disability Resource Center; PolicyWorks; ReelAbilities Film Festival Boston; and UMASS Boston Institute for Community Inclusion 

Guest Blog: Mentoring and Diversity

The following blog post was written by Bjarne P. Tellmann from the Association of Corporate Counsel, provided through the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC).

Young adult in a suit files papers in an officeOur legal department recently launched an innovative mentoring program for college students and recent graduates with disabilities, some of who were interested in pursuing a legal career. The success of this initiative, launched in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind, has revealed how mentoring can be a powerful tool to achieve more diversity.

Diversity is intrinsically desirable from a social justice perspective. But it also makes good business sense. Numerous studies show that diverse teams outperform homogenous ones in many ways. For example, a company’s financial performance improves along with its level of racial, ethnic and gender diversity . Diverse teams are also more innovative and better at solving complex, non-routine problems.

But to achieve such outperformance requires ”cognitive diversity”, which is defined as “the extent to which the group reflects differences in knowledge, including beliefs, preferences and perspectives”. That usually requires seeking diversity beyond race and gender to include educational attainment, national origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, and other characteristics. The deeper the level of diversity across all dimensions, the more likely a group is to be cognitively diverse. A Harvard study of 1.5 million scientific papers, for instance, found that those written by more diverse groups of authors and associated with greater geographical and intellectual diversity had more citations and higher impact factors.

Mentoring can play a vital role in promoting diversity because it is an easy and cost effective way to attract, retain, and motivate diverse talent. It sends a strong signal to marginalized groups that typically lack optimal support networks that they are valued and desirable.

Mentoring programs can be structured in different ways depending on the specific needs of the company and individuals involved. But for the program to be successful, it must be authentic. It must focus on helping mentees develop their knowledge, networks and careers and (to paraphrase Steve Jobs) how to make their dents in the universe.

At Pearson, our legal professionals are supporting disabled young mentees to develop career plans that reflect their true interests and capabilities, without regard to their disabilities or others’ perceptions of what is ‘appropriate’. The model leverages our internal resources and is innovative, inexpensive and replicable.

We decided to focus on disabled professionals because they are highly marginalized both in our profession and within the job market as a whole. Despite being the largest minority in the US, disabled people have by far the largest unemployment rate. Only 0.38 percent of all lawyers in law firms are disabled.

That is shockingly low, leaving precious few disabled lawyers to act as role models for younger disabled professionals, with the result that pathways for success can seem hard to scale. Many get discouraged. A UK study found that, even though the scope and level of career aspirations of disabled and non-disabled 16 year olds are similar, the gap between unemployed disabled and non-disabled people widens as they age. In the US, 60 percent of all 1.4 million disabled college graduates are unemployed. Those who do find work are 16 percent more likely than nondisabled graduates to be underemployed and working in service-related jobs that do not require a college degree.

A culture of low expectations is pervasive when it comes to disabled professionals. As one disabled senior in-house attorney remarked, “many professionals assume I am unemployed or work from home. Astonished to learn that I am an attorney, many proclaim me “an inspiration,” as if the biggest challenge in law school was negoti¬ating hallways in a wheelchair, not mastering the rule against perpetuities.”

Our mentoring experience has convinced me that success can lie in such simple things as being authentic, challenging self-defeating assumptions, providing gentle encouragement and helping disabled mentees to discover and then harness the power of their own narratives.

The results speak for themselves. Although our program is less than one year old, in that time our mentees have been admitted to Harvard Law School and promoted at Apple, have interviewed for and secured sought-after positions, and decided to attend or apply to great graduate programs. On a human level, this feedback from one mentee says it all: “I was able to ask [my mentor] questions of any kind without feeling silly. She brainstormed with me when I needed to solve a problem, and has also celebrated with me when I have had a success. [She] has truly had an impact on my life….”

So little effort can yield so much. If we all chipped in, we would enjoy a more diverse workforce.

Reprinted with permission of the author and the Association of Corporate Counsel as it originally appeared: Tellmann, Bjarne. “Mentoring and Diversity,” ACC Docket volume 35, issue 9 (Nov. 2017): 22-23. Copyright ©2017, the Association of Corporate Counsel. All rights reserved. If you are interested in joining ACC, please go to, call 202.293.4103 x360, or email

“Nothing About Us Without Us” : Mantra for a Movement

This blog post was written by Eli Wolff (Partners for Youth with Disabilities) and Mary Hums (University of Louisville). This article was originally posted on HuffPost Blog.

Traveling through an airport and being left on a plane because no one informs the airport mobility accessibility attendants that an arriving passenger needs assistance. Relocating accessible parking spaces without consulting anyone with a disability working in the closest building. Construction workers leaving equipment in hallways and elevators, blocking a student with a disability using a mobility device from passing through, and navigating the building to get to class.

These are typical everyday issues persons with a disability encounter that persons without a disability may never even think about. Over the course of time and life, these occurrences add up, resulting in people with disabilities feeling disrespected, disenfranchised and – ultimately – powerless.

But it does not have to be this way. People with disabilities have a voice that should and must be at the table from the beginning of any planning process and should never simply be an after-thought. Language, words, and actions can help us fight some of these daily battles. One example of words that can help insure people with disabilities are not cast aside is the phrase “Nothing About Us Without Us.”

These empowering words form a mantra that has fueled the disability rights movement over the years. To quote James Charlton who authored a book by this same title, the term “Nothing About Us Without Us,” “expresses the conviction of people with disabilities that they know what is best for them.” This mantra became the rallying call for the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and continues to have relevance and significance more than ever. But why does it matter?

It matters because people with disabilities must be front and center as visible leaders to share our voice and our experience. It matters because it reinforces the role of people without disabilities as allies and partners who share the road toward inclusion and equality.  It matters because it unites us with all the marginalized and invisible individuals and groups who are demanding a seat at the table. Most of all, however, it matters because we as people with disabilities need to be the ones whose voices must lead the way.

“Nothing about Us Without Us” emphasizes how people with disabilities must be valued as integral and essential contributors to every sector, industry and community including entertainment, fashion, education, sports, medicine, business and law. While people with disabilities need to be leaders of disability-focused organizations, that is not enough. We also need to be front and center in mainstream local, national and international organizations.

For example, in the entertainment industry, people with disabilities need to represent themselves and be visible in movies, TV and advertising. Similarly in the world of sports, people with disabilities need to be leading the Paralympic, Special Olympic, and Deaflympic Movements, but also need to be front and center within the Olympic Movement, professional sport, intercollegiate athletics and youth sports.

The powerful phrase “Nothing About Us Without Us” ignites a vision for people with disabilities that represents pride and power rather than stigma and pity. It helps us realize that the disability community is an empowering and uplifting community that unites us and works for our rights and dignity. The phrase reinforces the possibilities for people with disabilities to be meaningfully included, and if we wish to, seamlessly become leaders in every type of organization and institution. We need to have a valued voice in every facet of daily life.

“Nothing About Us Without Us” moves us to re-define, re-imagine and transform what it means to be a person with a disability in all aspects and all avenues of our global society. It inspires a movement that extends beyond the status quo while demanding progress toward equality and justice. Hopefully “Nothing About Us Without Us” will continue to serve as a social justice call to action in mobilizing future generations.

Maria Town inducted into the Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame

The Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame was established by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) to honor those individuals who are making a significant difference in the lives of youth and adults with disabilities through mentoring and to raise awareness about the importance of mentoring for individuals with disabilities.

We are proud to induct Maria Town into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Maria Town is the Director of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities for the City of Houston. In this role, she advocates for the rights and needs of citizens with disabilities, serves as a liaison between the mayor, city council, city departments and other public and private entities on matters pertaining to people with disabilities in Houston, and establishes local and national partnerships to advance inclusion. Town is the former Senior Associate Director in the Obama White House Office of Public Engagement where she managed the White House’s engagement with the disability community and older Americans. She also managed the place-based portfolio and coordinated engagement across Federal agencies. Prior to this, Town was a Policy Advisor at the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. While at ODEP, Town led and coordinated numerous efforts to improve employment outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities. She has particular expertise in areas of youth development and leadership and promoting college and career readiness for all youth.

Before moving to Washington, DC to work in public service, Town graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, GA with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. At Emory, Town was a Community and Diversity Fellow at the Emory University Office of the Provost where she aided in oversight, policy formulation, program development, and management to improve access, equity, and inclusion on Emory’s campus. While a student at Emory, she also served as the University-wide Student Government Association President. In addition to her disability policy work, Town is the creator of the popular “CP Shoes” blog where she writes about fashion, design, and disability. She is an alumna of both the New Leaders Council Fellowship program and the Mobility International USA Professional Exchange Program. She hails from Louisiana, where her family still resides.

Why mentoring matters to her:
“Life is so much harder without quality mentors. Mentoring relationships can make individuals feel valued, help them discover their potential, and can challenge individuals in ways that encourage growth. I have benefited personally and professionally from mentors and consider it my responsibility to make sure others can do the same.”

Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame: Information and Inductees

Nicole Turon Diaz inducted into the Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame

The Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame was established by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) to honor those individuals who are making a significant difference in the lives of youth and adults with disabilities through mentoring and to raise awareness about the importance of mentoring for individuals with disabilities.

We are proud to induct Nicole Turon-Diaz into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Nicole Turon-Diaz, MA, Ed./SpEd., BCBA is the Founder/Director of Learning By Design, LLC, a behavioral, educational and employment consulting firm that provides a spectrum of services to individuals on the autism spectrum across the lifespan in Northern New Jersey and beyond. She is a local, national and international public speaker who has discussed topics such as best practices in transitioning to independence, the benefits of employing individuals with autism and embracing their talents. Honorary memberships include Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and National Scholars Honor Society. She holds national certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). In addition, she is a Licensed Behavior Analyst in the State of New York. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business, Marketing and Organizational Management summa cum laude, and Master of Arts degree in Education and Special Education from Felician University. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from Caldwell University and completed her clinical hours and practicum experience in Applied Behavior Analysis at Pennsylvania State University. She became a certified college coach at Bank Street College of Education to assist individuals with autism whose aspirations are to attend and successfully complete college.

Over the past 12 years, she has gained a variety of experience while assisting individuals with autism at transitional times in their lives, such as early intervention to public/private school, public/private school to vocational placement and/or college based on each client’s individual interests. She has also had the privilege of working alongside Joey Travolta and his crew for the past 8 summers at the Joey Travolta Short Film Camp held in New Jersey. She learned the ins and outs of professional film-making from start to finish alongside both individuals with autism and their neurotypical peers aged 9 to 23 years old. Quite a few campers obtained employment in the field arising out of their film camp experience. In addition, many campers went on to college to obtain degrees in their areas of interest such as scriptwriting. As a result of her work with Joey Travolta’s NJ film camp, Nicole served as a mentor at the White House Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 Disability and Media Summit held at Gallaudet University and a facilitator at the CBS Corporate Diversity and CBS Entertainment Diversity/Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 Disability Visibility Hollywood Panel Discussion, Flash Mentoring and Networking Reception. Both of these events provided individuals with disabilities a platform to meet, speak with and learn what it takes to make it in front of and behind the camera from key leaders in the entertainment industry.

Through her work with individuals transitioning into the “real” world, she saw a need and found a way to incorporate her degrees, certifications, knowledge and experience to offer supported employment and business management services for individuals with autism who sought employment or endeavored to start their own business. She began educating potential employers such as Sesame Workshop in New York City and post-secondary institutions to understand the gifts and talents that individuals on the autism spectrum often have and how to “work” with them. She has also assisted and represented writers, public speakers, as well as artists of various mediums including illustration, animation and acting in the capacity of business manager. Her extensive contacts in various fields of employment allow her to connect the autism community with potential employers, colleges, local retailers, libraries, hospitals and other organizations. For more information on Nicole and her work, see this newspaper article about her.

What does mentoring mean to you?
Mentoring is a back and forth, fluid, give and take relationship between two people who trust each other. We all take on the roles of both mentor and mentee in life and through these processes continuously learn about ourselves and others. Helping others reach their fullest potential utilizing their strengths and talents through mentoring is the greatest reward.

Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame: Information and Inductees

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