Movies & Television Shows / Documentaries Starring People with Disabilities

We’ve been pleasantly surprised lately to see so many documentaries about people with disabilities get mainstream publicity.   Think of where we’ve come just in the past decade with awareness and education through the explosion of social media.  These films and television shows will help all of our communities understand, empathize and want to be involved with helping find cures, medical advancements, etc.  Here are a few films we thought looked interesting:

you and me movie

 “You and Me – The David ‘Barney’ Miller Story”

Active and life loving David ‘Barney’ Miller was a passenger in a tragic car accident that left him a quadriplegic, unable to use his arms and legs ever again.

As expected he enters a dark time in his life, but through the love and support of his family, friends (world surfing champion, Mick Fanning) and finding his soul mate, Kathryn ‘Kate’ Southwell, he takes on the impossible.

He makes it his mission to kneel when he proposes to Kate, stand at the altar as they get married and dance with her as husband and wife.

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The hit documentary from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival goes inside the life of Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saints defensive back who, at the age of 34, was diagnosed with ALS and given a life expectancy of two to five years. Weeks later, Gleason found out his wife, Michel, was expecting their first child. A video journal that began as a gift for his unborn son expands to chronicle Steve’s determination to get his relationships in order, build a foundation to provide other ALS patients with purpose, and adapt to his declining physical condition—utilizing medical technologies that offer the means to live as fully as possible.

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Tin Soldiers Movie

“Tin Soldiers”

“Tin Soldiers” is a fascinating perspective film into the world of amputees, people who have spina bifida, and paralysis, all doing adaptive sports. This film is 100% independent, and the passion project of Ben Duffy and Michael J Sassano as well as executive producer Jeff Bourns.

This film can inspire people to make a change in their life through the power of commitment and sport.

To feel better psychically and mentally is a key to feeling better emotionally, which begins to resolve the hardest challenge people with these conditions face; overcoming depression. This film is about believing in yourself through adapting. We have documented people who have began their journey of healing and finding passion, and their flame can reach out to many others who desperately need it.

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Hope for Steve Movie“Hope for Steve”

“Hope For Steve” is a feature documentary about the triumphant love story of two people, Hope and Steve Dezember, who continue to battle against Steve’s ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The film follows the couple from the initial diagnosis through their first two years of marriage, chronicling the unimaginable challenges of ALS contrasted by their unrelenting spirit and thirst for adventure despite Steve’s ever-declining health. Their journey, struggles, beliefs and desire to spread awareness about the disease are followed over two-and-a-half years in this film.

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body of war movie

“Body of War”

Body of War is an intimate and transformational feature documentary about the true face of war today. Meet Tomas Young, 25 years old, paralyzed from a bullet to his spine – wounded after serving in Iraq for less than a week.

Body of War is Tomas’ coming home story as he evolves into a new person, coming to terms with his disability and finding his own unique and passionate voice against the war. The film is produced and directed by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, and features two original songs by Eddie Vedder. Body of War is a naked and honest portrayal of what it’s like inside the body, heart and soul of this extraordinary and heroic young man.

Body of War unfolds on two parallel tracks. On the one hand, we see Tomas evolving into a powerful voice against the war as he struggles to deal with the complexities of a paralyzed body. And on the other, we see the historic debate unfolding in the Congress about going to war in Iraq.

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rolling documentary


When Dr. Gretchen Berland gave video cameras to three Los Angeles residents in wheelchairs and asked them to film their daily lives, she wasn’t sure what they would capture. In the end — after nearly two years and 212 hours of tape — Galen BuckwalterErnie Wallengren and Vicki Elman did far more than accomplish Berland’s goal of providing care givers, policy makers and health care professionals insight into life on wheels for 1.6 million Americans.

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certain proof documentary

“Certain Proof”

Certain Proof:  A Question of Worth is a feature documentary about three children living with significant communication and physical disabilities, who struggle against the public schools in an emotional battle to prove their worth.

Over the course of two and a half years, “Certain Proof” follows the lives of Kayla, Josh and Colin, three children with cerebral palsy. Despite multiple disabilities, they fight to prove that they are able to learn and deserve to be taught.  Colin finds “No Child Left Behind” has exceptions; Kay combats harsh stereotypes inside middle school; and Josh faces continual doubt that he can learn at all.  They and their families dare to hope in a striking testament to the complexity of the human spirit.

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Speechless TV Show

“Speechless” – TV Show

The series follows the DiMeo family, and their own unique personality: a take-charge mother with an outlandish but no-holds-barred attitude, a husband who seems to be smarter than he thinks, a no-nonsense athletic daughter, a middle child who’s the “brains” in the family, and their teenage son with cerebral palsy. The DiMeos are about to bring all that from a middle-class neighborhood they despised because of the location itself to a more upscale town in an effort to improve their way of life, with imperfect results.

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Tips To Stay Safe in Hot Weather

How Weather is Dangerous for People with Disabilities

Along with snowmen and icicles, winter increases the risk of frostbite, increased joint stiffness and pain, and hypothermia.  However, even with winter over, there are still some weather risks we should all be aware of. The warmer weather can present different but equally dangerous problems.

With hot weather, everyone is at risk for dehydration, heat stroke, and other heat-related issues. People with certain disabilities may be at a higher risk in hotter temperatures.  The sunshine is meant to be enjoyed, but be sure to follow these tips so that your spring and summer are not only fun, but safe.

Who’s at Risk?heat image

The truth is that everyone is at risk for things like heat stroke, sunburns, and dehydration when the temperatures climb. But people with disabilities or health problems have an increased risk of running into these issues.  Many disabilities, like Multiple Sclerosis (MS), increase a person’s sensitivity to heat. The body normally cools itself through sweating, but when humidity is high or when disabilities restrict this regulation, the body can quickly overheat and suffer from heat stroke. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if not treated promptly by an emergency team. Be sure to keep hydrated and take lots of breaks if you are doing any physical activities.

Disabilities or medications that make you or your skin more sensitive to sunlight can also create serious issues in the warmer weather.  For example, lupus can cause inflammation in several  organs that can be triggered by exposure to ultraviolet light. Though we want everyone to enjoy Utah’s beautiful outdoors this summer, be sure to wear sunblock, wear a hat,  and reduce sun exposure if you have a disease that increases your sensitivity to light.

What can I do to reduce risks?

Though certain disabilities may have a lower heat or sun exposure tolerance, everyone can take measures to protect yourself from warm weather risks. Keeping yourself cool and protecting yourself from the dangers of the sun can help reduce the risk of sunburns, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat rash, and dehydration.  These preventative measures can also reduce the risk of future diseases, such as skin cancer.

During the summer months, get back to the basics. Try these tips to keep cool:

Know before you get outdoors

Often, disabilities and illnesses can affect our day to day lives in unexpected ways. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know all the health risks that come with your condition.  Be sure to ask your doctor about potential risks you might have with your disability or illness.  Ask them how you can avoid those risks.  Then, be sure to follow their directions.

Also, research your condition on your own. Ask people with similar health issues how they beat the heat. Find techniques that work best for you while still allowing you to enjoy the summer.

Wear sunscreen

You might have heard rumors that some sunscreens cause melanoma, lead to vitamin D deficiency, or even interfere with your hormone levels.  But, doctors have debunked these common sunscreen myths.

It’s important to always wear some sort of UV protection, even when you aren’t spending all day at the pool.  Even short periods of sun exposure can damage your skin. Try purchasing a daily moisturizer that has UV protection so you can incorporate some protection in your daily routine. Also remember that sunblock fades, so be sure to reapply it regularly.

Drink and keep drinking

Up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.  Dehydration is no small thing, and the side effects can be deadly.  Try making some of these fruit and herb infused waters to keep you and your kids hydrated with healthy flavored water, instead of drinks with added sugars.

Alter your diet (slightly)

During the warmer weather you lose salt through sweat. Don’t replace this lost mineral through salt licks, but through your diet.  Drinking sports drinks and clear juices while you are working or exercising outdoors can help get your salt levels and electrolytes back to normal in a natural way.

Watch your wardrobe

There’s no rule against wearing white before Labor Day. In fact, it’s smart.

Wearing lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored fabrics can help keep your body cool when it’s hot outside. But just because these fabrics are lightweight does not mean they should be short and leave lots of skin uncovered.  You can actually stay cooler and more protected by staying covered.

Make a Plan

Learn the boy scout motto by heart and follow it: “Be prepared.” If you have serious disabilities or health problems, the best thing you can do to stay healthy in hot or cold weather is to always have a plan. If you are going to spend a lot of time outdoors, know what to expect.  Bring plenty of water, extra food, a hat and sunglasses, sunblock, and extra layers of clothes.  It’s also smart to carry a basic first aid kit with you as a general practice.

We hope this can give you some tips about staying safe in summer’s hot temperatures. If you would like more information on navigating the legal aspects and benefits of a disability, we are here to help. Visit us for a free consultation or for more information, and be sure to have a safe and happy summer.

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