Dedication to Diversabilities

By Riley Kinum April 26, 2021
Oscar stage has a ramp for the first time ever, a win for the disability movement.

In a year where several movies featuring people with disabilities were nominated for Oscars, it is only right that a ramp leading up to the stage would be included. It is shocking that there has not been an alternative to stairs present at award ceremonies in the past. The ableist standard is seen in many instances in the arts. For example, when Ali Stroker won the Tony Award for best featured actress in a musical for her role in the “Oklahoma!” revival in 2019, she had to wait backstage because there was no ramp for her to access the stage in her wheelchair.

Since then, there have been strides in making spaces more accessible for those with disabilities, as well as pushes to include more representation in film. 25% of the population in the United States has a disability, but representation on screen makes up only about 1%. Eryn Brown, a talent manager at Management 360, and other advocates are trying to rectify this issue. Brown founded the 1in4 campaign, an intersectional advocacy organization led by disabled creatives currently working in Hollywood. Their goal is to increase employment and authentic representation of disabled people.

In addition to Brown, James Labrecht, the co-director of the Oscar-nominated film “Crip Camp,” is challenging the ableist norm. The movie is about a kid’s summer camp where multiple campers go on to become activists. His movie focuses on disability rights and, as an advocate, he constantly emphasizes the amount of work that still needs to be done for people with disabilities in show business. LeBrecht told MSNBC, “It’s just been deeply frustrating but more, like, sobering…It makes me aware of how much further we have left to go.”

The Twitter account for “Crip Camp” actually pointed out that the ceremony included a ramp near the stage. The tweet stated, “While our film didn’t win Best Documentary Feature, we are proud of the momentum that Crip Camp has created for a push towards disability inclusion…From tonight’s historic accessible stage to the broadcast’s innovative captioning, it’s clear disability inclusion is here to stay.”
In addition to “Crip Camp,” two other nominated films also were about disabilities. The “Sound of Metal” is about a deaf drummer and “Feeling Through” is about a friendship between a teen and a deaf and blind man. Hopefully, the diversity present at the Oscars, in plots, nominations, and attendance, is a trend that continues to grow upwards.