Dan Habib Participates in Star-Studded “Redefining Inclusion” Diversity Panel in L.A.

February 27, 2017

The “Redefining Inclusion” panelists and guests pose for a group photo before the LA event. Dan Habib kneels next to Andy Arias, with (from left) Micah Fialka-Feldman, Brent Elder, Amy Brenneman, Beth Myers, Megan and Sean from A&E's Born This Way, and Carrie Rosen. Photo by Rich Prugh

The “Redefining Inclusion” panelists and guests pose for a group photo before the LA event. Dan Habib kneels next to Andy Arias, with (from left) Micah Fialka-Feldman, Brent Elder, Amy Brenneman, Beth Myers, Megan and Sean from A&E's Born This Way, and Carrie Rosen. Photo by Rich Prugh

On Thursday, January 26, 2017, Dan Habib participated in the “Redefining Inclusion” Diversity Panel hosted by Syracuse University Los Angeles and Syracuse University’s Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusion Higher Education. During the event, Habib had the chance to screen and discuss the preview of his new film, Intelligent Lives (working title). 

The Los Angeles panel represented a mix of academics, media, and self-advocates focusing on disability in the mediato bring awareness and garner national attention for the work that they’re doing for inclusive education. The panel was moderated by Taishoff Center Executive Director Beth Myers, and the panelists were: 

  • Amy Brenneman, actress (The Leftovers, Judging Amy, Private Practice), producer and activist 
  • Carrie Rosen, writer for ABC’s Speechless 
  • Dan Habib, Filmmaker, Intelligent Lives and Including Samuel 
  • Micah Fialka-Feldman, self-advocate and Outreach Coordinator for the Taishoff Center 
  • Brent Elder, Professor of Inclusive Education at Rowan University 
  • Andy Arias, disability advocate and actor 

“This panel represented the cutting edge of a national effort to reduce stigma and create inclusion for people with disabilities,” Habib said after the event.  “Human and civil rights are not advanced through any one channel; the effort must be waged on multiple fronts – education policy, legal victories for greater accessibility, technological advances, and more frequent and accurate portrayals of people with disabilities in the mass media.”  

Habib told the audience that “All people with disabilities should have access to all aspects of our society – including general education classrooms, community and the workplace.” 

The panel included Micah Fialka-Feldman, who is featured in Habib’s new film project. Feldman spoke about his life-long advocacy towards inclusion in education, from elementary school through higher education. Micah graduated from high school and attended college and is now an assistant teacher at Syracuse University. 

Actress Amy Brenneman became involved in disability advocacy to support her daughter who has cognitive disabilities. “You stop looking at ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ and you start looking at ‘strengths’ and ‘challenges’. The question to ask is, ‘What can you do and what do you need help with?’” 

Special guests included Megan Bomgaars and Sean McElwee from the Emmy Award winning A&E series “Born This Way.” The show follows adults born with Down syndrome as they pursue their passions while defying society’s expectations. The show’s film crew followed them and interviewed faculty and audience members as they shot footage for a future episode. 

The Los Angeles event was a part of the Taishoff Center “Redefining Inclusion” series, which also included an event featuring Habib and the film preview in San Francisco on January 25, 2017. 

Dan Habib is the creator of the award-winning documentary films Including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, and Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories. He screens his films across the country and leads discussions about the challenges and benefits of inclusive education and related topics. Habib delivered a TEDx talk titled Disabling Segregation, and received the Justice for All Grassroots Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2014, Habib was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities—a committee that promotes policies and initiatives that support independence and lifelong inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. 

You can learn more about Intelligent Lives, get information about upcoming previews and events, and watch a 14-minute preview featuring Academy Award winning actor Chris Cooper at www.intelligentlives.org. 

You can learn more about the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusion Higher Education by visiting www.taishoffcenter.syr.edu