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Nyle DiMarco stars in politically-charged short film about the future of disability

By Rhys Matthews

The non-profit organization Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD), has released Beyond Inclusion, an eight minute-long fictional film aimed at inspiring a national conversation about the perceptions of people with disabilities.

The film stars deaf America’s Next Top Model winner Nyle DiMarco, who plays Ash, a young deaf man romantically involved with Tavi, a humanities professor played by Katie Folger, best known for her film work in Grow Up, Tony Phillips, and Zero Charisma.

Beyond Inclusion is set ten years in the future, at a time when technology makes it possible for people of deaf status to have meaningful conversations.

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The film sees Ash and Tavi meet in a coffee house to mull over the passage of landmark legislation that reframes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into new legislation. They talk about the destiny of certain groups of people and the role that diversity plays in the society.

“We explore these themes in the film, and imagine a society where all people are invited to come as they are and celebrate their uniqueness,” says Ash.

According to the film’s director, Ryan Commerson, the film’s objective is to “challenge the notion of ‘disability’ and to question whether or not the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) actually helps the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.”

“If ADA is designed to protect people with disabilities, then why is the government funding programs designed to remove deaf and hard-of-hearing people from the human gene pool?  Our film tackles these kinds of issues.”

The film’s corresponding #DeconstructDisability campaign intends to promote new programs to provide smart solutions for rectifying chronic unemployment, illiteracy, and the lack of political capital that have stifled the deaf, deaf-blind and hard-of-hearing communities.

“The Beyond Inclusion film represents an exciting new direction for us and an opportunity to reach even more people with our message of inclusion”, said Christopher Soukup, CEO of CSD.

“With the film and #DeconstructDisability campaign, we are looking to challenge viewers’ beliefs and perceptions of people with disabilities, including the notion of whether being deaf or hard-of-hearing is even a handicap.”

CSD highlights the fact that there is still much work to be done. 98% of the US deaf population does not have public access to education in sign language and 72.5% of deaf people are unemployed.

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