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Reel Eyes: Disability in Film (Spring 2012)

This course focused on disability history by showcasing the following: 
  • Disability History Museum
  • Lives Worth Living which traces the development of consciousness of these pioneers who realized that in order to change the world they needed to work together. Through demonstrations and inside legislative battles, the disability rights community secured equal civil rights for all people with disabilities. 
  • It's Our Story a national initiative to make disability history national and accessible. The project conducted over 1,000 video interviews with disability leaders across the nation so everyone can take part in the discussion about what it means to be an American with a disability.
  • select TED Talks and films
In response to a forum question: "Is the disability rights movement still being fought today? If so - in what ways - in what areas?" I wrote the following post to bring to light a current example:

Thread: SOU and Eliza Schaaf
Author: Ezra Lockhart
Post Date: March 13, 2012 9:09 AM

    The disability rights movement is unfortunately still being fought today as made evident by a recent issue where a 20-year old female with Down syndrome was excluded from attending a non-credit introductory ceramics course at Southern Oregon University ( In this specific case SOU removed Eliza Schaaf from the course stating she was “not qualified to meet academic standards necessary to participate” and “was a disruption of curriculum delivery” as well as “interfered with the teaching and learning environment for the instructor and other students.” How is a 20-year old female with Down syndrome disruptive to a pottery class? Especially when this particular individual graduated from high school and whose family “made a reasonable effort to prepare the university and assure that [Eliza] had an orderly transition to college life.” Note the decision SOU made comes after the enactment of Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Public Law 94-142) (, a 35-year old landmark civil rights measure that opened public school doors to millions of students with disabilities (now called IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).
    As college students who are being afforded the opportunity to attend a university, I’d like to ask you to weigh in with your thoughts on the matter described in this article. Should Eliza Schaaf as a non-degree seeking student be afforded the same opportunity to participate in a college course that is well within her capability? Does this go against the inclusive environment stance which most educational institutions take? Is this a violation of IDEA? ...Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act? Here is a link to a fact sheet regarding Section 504 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Right (, so those who are not familiar with this policy can have a source to qualify their consideration.
    For those of you who are interested there was a 19 person demonstration at SOU (, that was headed by a classmate in the course Eliza took which gathered almost 40 signatures. However I do not believe it was enough to get SOU officials to change their decision. I have also attached a link to Eliza's blog maintained by her parents, named Eliza's University Experience: A blog about Eliza Schaaf's experience at Southern Oregan University ( for those who want to discover the outcome of her story. Here is a timeline of events that Eliza Schaaf experienced for those of you who are interested or who had trouble locating the series of events on her blog (