Disability Film Media Study

Daniel Leinweber

Provost Undergraduate Research Project 2013 – 2014

Blog #1 

This academic year, I will be working with Professor James Lawler on an Undergraduate project researching Disability Film Media. Specifically focusing not on mainstream film media but only on film media that discusses, portrays the story of, or involves disability issues.  This can include documentaries, full length features, or short films.  Expanding it can be a film created, involving, or about an individual with disabilities.  This field in both my experience and my initial research is under researched which I makes this project very important in broadening awareness for these kinds of films.

My initial research tasks will be to research the methods and factors that could be used to assess, evaluate and rate the disability film media.  In the early stages of this I have been focusing on database research based off ideas and concepts discussed in Haller. Beth A. (2010), Representing Disability in Ableist World.  The book discusses representing disability in all types of media, with film media as a section, and new technology trends and how they are affecting the industry and representation of disability issues.

I will finalize between 10 to 25 factors of evaluation, each being sourced back to a peer reviewed source, with a Factor definition.  I will construct a Factor Research Source Table from all the sources.  Once this is completed we will solicit disability films from industry scholars and staff from organizations that focus on disability issues including AHRC NYC.  I will then assess each of the films using the factors sheet as reference, and using the rating scale of 1 – 5 cut down the amount of solicited films (estimated to be 50 – 75) to a to be determined est(10 – 20) films.  These films will then be reviewed by a Professor Lawler and staff from the Office of Disabilities at Pace University.

This will be the first piece of the project of which my goal is to have this completed by December or early January.  The assessed films will be used in the Disability Film Festival at Pace University, in April 2014.

Our overall goal is to submit a Tier II Publication on Disability Film Media Study by May 2014, with preparation for this being the presentation at the Research Forum Presentation.

After working in a K-12 for kids with special needs doing technology development, and myself being a graduate of the special education program, this project is very close to me.  My career goal is to continue development of education technology for special education incorporating all types of adaptive technology.  Film media is an industry that in the past I have personally not be involved in, and from this research project hope to gain valuable knowledge and experience in its uses in disability studies.  I can see myself looking down the line and incorporating much of what I have already learned in future projects in my career.  I hope also to gain valuable research skills that are necessary in doing professional research paper’s.

The methods roughly that I will be using to answer my research are peer reviewed sources that specifically focus on disability film media.  In initial research some key terms that I have utilized have been “factors for disability film media” and “disability quarterly studies”.  Specifically I will be utilized library databases, books such as the book noted above, and gaining ideas and brainstorming from publications such as disabilityscoop.com, an online publication focusing on disability issues.