This year shows signs of change. LeBrecht, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair, will attend the April 25 ceremony. So will Robert Tarango, the deaf-blind star of the nominated short, “ Feeling Through.”
The victors’ podium will be accessible for both. And LeBrecht hopes that will become a permanent change, both literally and figuratively.
The two films, along with “Sound of Metal,” nominated for six awards including best picture, have the people behind them hoping their Oscar moment can become a catalyst for Hollywood to stop using the disabled as sources of inspiration, objects of pity, or twisted villains.
“I think that the goal is to alleviate the fear,” Tarango said through a translator, “to open the doors so that executives don’t look at our ability to hear or not to hear and to see that somebody who is blind, deaf-blind, who has any kind of disability is just part of the world and can be part of these films.”
The academy, under pressure, has pushed for greater race and gender inclusion in recent years. The disabled can too often be forgotten in that discussion.
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