Giving a Face to the Word ‘Disability’

According to Patricia, a writer, promoting justice is a gratifying career but it’s not the one Vince Staskel dreamed of when he was in school.

“But Vince is a determined man,” she said of the New York paralegal who protects the rights of people with disabilities.

Staskel, of Poughkeepsie, co-founded the Abilities cable t.v. channel which will feature various performers with disabilities that we rarely see on television.

“We are going to release an explosion of the remarkable untapped resources of talent, perspective, creativity, and determination in our community and use it to create and celebrate,” the website reads. “So do not give away your stories.”

The Wilton, CT business began as a film and t.v. production company in July on the 15th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Its goal is to grow toward a 24-hour channel, taking a path like HBO.

“The advantage is that we will be inclusive, not exclusive,” say staff. “The market will be the 54 million Americans with disabilities, their families, friends, caregivers, and assorted organizations and providers of service.”

According to literature, the need is for this minority to have a platform to define, express, and empower itself as a group and an individuals. Staskel said he feels that t.v. is in need of new and unique programming concepts and that the competition is not doing what Abilities is doing.

Howard Renensland serves as the chairman/president of the company that he founded and Dr. Frederick Fay also is on the board of directors and is considered an icon in the disability movement. He is the co-founder of Justice For All, the American Coalition of Citizens With Disabilities, the American Association of People With Disabilities, the Washington Architectural Barriers Project, and the Boston Center For Independent Living.

“It is important for us in the disability community to advocate and legislate but it’s tie for us to create and celebrate both our historical and future contributions to American popular culture,” said Renensland, an actor, writer, director, and teacher who has a daughter who was born with disabilities. “Few characters with disabilities appear in t.v. and film.”

Abilities has applied for not for profit status. At present the company is moving forward regarding employment with no funding.

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