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Published on April 26th, 2021 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


Ruderman Family Foundation Applauds Most Inclusive Oscars Ceremony Ever

The Ruderman Family Foundation, an international leader in advocating for the inclusion of people with disabilities in entertainment and throughout society, lauded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for tonight’s landmark 93rd Academy Awards being a monumental step towards a more inclusive Hollywood. The Oscars ceremony featured an ASL interpreter in the event’s media room for the first time, in addition to various components of the ceremony also being inclusive, such as closed captioning, audio descriptions, and its first-ever accessible stage with a ramp.

“The entertainment community has historically prided itself on taking the lead in advocating for social change, as racial, gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity are acknowledged as worthy ambitions for popular entertainment. Yet only in recent years has Hollywood incorporated disability into its definition of diversity, including by auditioning and ultimately casting a rising number of actors with disabilities,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Tonight’s Academy Awards are a powerful manifestation of progress in the entertainment industry, which can set an influential paradigm for all sectors in the realms of inclusion and social justice.”

As well as the disability-themed production “Crip Camp” being nominated for the Best Documentary Feature, the Oscars for Best Documentary Short and Best Documentary Feature were presented by Marlee Matlin, the only deaf actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actress (“Children of a Lesser God,” 1987). In 2017, Matlin received the Ruderman Family Foundation’s Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion for her lifelong activism for people with disabilities. Last year’s 92nd Academy Awards, meanwhile, had marked the first time that an actor who has Down syndrome (Zack Gottsagen) presented an Oscar.

The historic events at the Academy Awards come amid the Ruderman Family Foundation’s campaign to ignite disruptive change in the entertainment industry, specifically by motivating Hollywood decision-makers to create more opportunities for people with disabilities. NBCUniversal and CBS Entertainment have recently adopted the Foundation’s guidelines to open auditions to actors with disabilities for each of their new film and television productions.

The Foundation also partners directly with the Academy to advance their shared objective of promoting greater inclusion in the entertainment industry. This past week, the Foundation announced a three-year, $1 million grant to the Oscars-affiliated Academy Foundation for an initiative that champions new perspectives on filmmaking and film history as well as an accessible and equitable experience for audiences of all backgrounds. The grant funding will support content and accessibility services at the Academy Museum, which is scheduled to open in September 2021 and help fund Academy Gold Rising, an internship enhancement program for college-age students and emerging professionals from communities underrepresented in the film industry.

Amid these ongoing efforts, the Foundation released a white paper last year showing that 22% of characters with disabilities are authentically portrayed on television, up from just 5% in 2016.

About the Ruderman Family Foundation

The Ruderman Family Foundation is an internationally recognized organization that advocates for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in our society. The Foundation supports effective programs, innovative partnerships and a dynamic approach to philanthropy in advocating for and advancing the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout the United States and the world.

The Ruderman Family Foundation believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community and imposes these values within its leadership and funding.

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About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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