By Suzanne Joe Kai
With the Television Academy and CBS announcing that its 2021 Emmy Awards Show would be the 'most inclusive ever,' as reported by critic Kristen Lopez for IndieWire - on the day of the live televised broadcast, Oscar and Emmy nominee James LeBrecht, directors of "Crip Camp" with wife Nicole Newnham saw that the promised 'ramp making access to the stage open to all" was not there.
This prompted James to go to his Twitter account to blast CBS and the Television Academy.
Without a ramp, wheelchair bound James LeBrecht ("Crip Camp") nominated that evening for an Emmy, and others with disabilities could not reach the 2021 Emmy Awards stage which was broadcasting live across America.
It took nearly 50 years for James, his colleagues, and thousands of others to see the landmark 1973 Americans with Disabilities laws enacted.
These changes in our laws from those early years are presented vividly with archival footage of young James and his childhood camper friends who attended and bonded at a camp for youth with disabilities.
James' documentary "Crip Camp" originally screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Its archival footage really brings home the emotion, hard work, and joy of youth discovering themselves at the camp, and years later proactively involved and witnessing the passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, a civil rights law and policy center published this article in 1992 about the History of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The article cites that thousands of people fought for years against the injustices faced by people with disabilities, "There are far too many people whose commitment and hard work contributed to the passage of this historic piece of disability civil rights legislation to be able to give appropriate credit by name. Without the work of so many – without the disability rights movement – there would be no ADA."
Here is an article dated November 11, 2021 by Kristen Lopez for IndieWire, about her own personal experience working as a film critic in Hollywood.
While there have been updates to the American Disabilities Act since the landmark 1973 ADA, in 2021, there is still more work to do.
Kristen Lopez for IndieWire
The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Originally published December 14, 2020