Category Archives: Disabilities

Mar 9 2012

ReelAbilities: Appreciating the Lives, Stories and Challenges of People With Disabilities


Missed the Reelabilities Film Festival in New York, Washington or Philadelphia? The festival, which features invited films showing the lives, loves, triumphs and challenges of individuals and artists with different disabilities, is on the road with festivals planned for Chicago in April and Richmond in May, along with other cities later this year.

The three-year old festival grew out of a meeting of agencies in New York City that serve people with disabilities to help “widen the definition of community and broaden the notion of inclusion,” says Anita Altman, founder of the festival, and Deputy Managing Director, Department of Government and External Affairs of UJA-Federation, an umbrella group in New York City for services to the Jewish and greater community. Altman is also founder of the organization’s Task Force on People with Disabilities. At that meeting, says Altman, the group realized it could be a change agent for society and chose film as the vehicle.

Altman says a key goal of the festival is a greater acceptance and understanding in society of people with disabilities, says Altman. A key element of the festival is that the goal goes far beyond simply screening films. Each showing includes a “talkback” about the film and its lessons learned. “It’s about helping to raise consciousness,” says Altman.

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Feb 20 2012

Recommended Reading: Travel Tips for Older or Disabled Travelers

NewPublicHealth writers are on the road a lot, so we appreciated a recent column in The New York Times, that offered helpful ideas for older flyers. Truth is, many of the tips—carts to speed you to your gate, ordering a wheel chair from an airline, small fees for early boarding and storage room—are available to anyone who flies, and may also be beneficial to disabled travelers.

Bonus Travel Tips:

  • Many more airports than listed in the article have golf carts to get you to the gate; stay to the side of the corridors and flag one down. You’ll need to show a ticket for a flight that day.
  • No mobility problems? For some extra physical activity, skip the tram or train and walk to the gate. At some airports, that can get you a walk of a quarter mile or more.

Feb 8 2012

Getting Ready for a Maturing America

WalkWise Hendersonville, NC, home of the Walk Wise, Drive Smart campaign to create more pedestrian-friendly environments for senior adults (photo courtesy of

The startling new National Association of Area Agencies on Aging report, "The Maturing of America," concludes that many communities are unprepared for their quickly aging populations, with "nowhere near the level of progress that has to be made to ensure that communities are livable for people of all ages." Last week at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, a panel discussed the challenges our nation will face as it ages and how we can better design communities to be healthier and more accessible for all age groups.

Rebecca Hunter, MEd, of the University of North Carolina Institute on Aging and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Healthy Aging Research Network, said we’re currently facing a "perfect storm" when it comes to aging:

  • Baby boomers are starting to reach “older adult” status
  • There is a vast increase in the “oldest old,” or age 85 and above
  • The economic downturn means we are less and less prepared for the health and social consequences of this trend

We are moving into an era when at least one in five Americans will be age 65 and older, said Hunter. "We need to ensure our communities are livable for all people."

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