About the Project

Approximately 6.5 million Americans are identified as having an intellectual disability, and most live segregated lives based on low expectations. 17% of students with intellectual disabilities are included in general education classrooms alongside their non-disabled peers, and as adults, 24% are employed.

In the new documentary film project Intelligent Lives (working title), filmmaker Dan Habib will explore how the segregation of people with intellectual disabilities became the norm, why this segregation is slowly being dismantled, and how some people with intellectual disabilities are blazing a bold new path.

Intelligent Lives will focus on three central themes:

  • The history and legacy of intelligence testing, which was used to justify the forced sterilization and institutionalization of tens of thousands of Americans during the 20th century.
  • How narrow perceptions of intelligence continue to disproportionately limit people with disabilities, leading to the isolation and unfulfilled potential of millions of people in the U.S. and worldwide.
  • An emerging paradigm in which people with intellectual disabilities participate in general education, college, meaningful employment, relationships, and other aspects of community life.

The film project will explore these themes through personal stories along with a historical perspective on the experience of people with intellectual disabilities, with narration from Academy Award winning actor, Chris Cooper. The project will launch in January 2018.

The project will also include a companion film focusing specifically on youth with disabilities transitioning from high school to employment or postsecondary education.