Examining Perceptions of Intelligence: $200,000 Grant Supports New Film by Dan Habib of the UNH Institute on Disability

January 25, 2016

Micah Fialka Feldman in Intelligent Lives


DURHAM, N.H. - The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire has received a $200,000 grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation to support Dan Habib’s new film project, Intelligent Lives (working title).

The Intelligent Lives Project will include a feature-length, internationally distributed documentary which will examine 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. Habib is also creating a 30-minute companion film focusing specifically on youth with disabilities transitioning from high school to employment and higher education.

Chris Cooper in Intelligent Lives

The project, which is anticipated to be completed in the fall of 2017, will also include extensive outreach and education tools, as well as screenings and discussions across the country.

“Perceptions of intelligence affect every opportunity for people with disabilities, from inclusion in general education, to access to higher education and the workforce,” Habib says. “The support from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation is a huge boost as this project examines a central question: Can any attempt to measure intelligence predict a person’s value or potential to contribute meaningfully to the world?”

Chris Cooper in Intelligent Lives“Intelligent Lives challenges outdated notions of ‘intelligence’ by demonstrating the unique abilities every individual possesses,” says Kevin R. Webb, Senior Director of the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. “As an organization dedicated to empowering youth with disabilities to lead productive lives, the Foundation is proud to be a lead supporter of this endeavor.”

Other funders of the Intelligent Lives Project include: American Federation of Teachers, Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies at the University of Maine, Center for Disabilities at the University of South Dakota, Center for Disability Resources at the University of South Carolina in partnership with the SC Developmental Disabilities Council, Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University, Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston, John P. Hussman Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, New Hampshire Association of Special Education Administrators, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities at Minot State University, and the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Rochester.

Dan Habib is the creator of the award-winning documentary films Including Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, and Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories. Habib 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 entitled 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.

About Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation

Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation

Mitsubishi Electric America FoundationThe Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, based in the Washington, DC area, was established in 1991 by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and the Mitsubishi Electric U.S. companies, which produce, sell and distribute a wide range of consumer, industrial, commercial and professional electronics products. The Foundation has contributed more than $14 million to organizations that are empowering young people with disabilities to lead more inclusive and productive lives. To learn more, visit the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation’s website at www.MEAF.org.

Images Available to Download:

Micah Fialka-Feldman in Intelligent Lives (.JPG)

Caption: When Micah Fialka-Feldman (above) was 11 years old, he scored 40 on an IQ test. His parents, however, insisted he be included in general education classes, and Micah developed a strong circle of friends and had access to assistive technology and instruction. Micah graduated from high school and is now a college student, teaching assistant, and staff member at Syracuse University. He is featured in the new film by Dan Habib, Intelligent Lives (working title).

Chris Cooper (.JPG)
Caption: Academy Award winning actor Chris Cooper (right) records narration for the new documentary film Intelligent Lives (working title), directed by Dan Habib of the UNH Institute on Disability (left). Cameraman Steven Ascher is at center.

Naieer Shaheed in Intelligent Lives (.JPG)

Naieer Shaheed (center), a student who attends the completely inclusive Henderson High School in Dorchester, MA, works with US History teacher Matthew Reggiannini. Naieer is featured in Intelligent Lives (working title), the new film project by Dan Habib of the UNH Institute on Disability.

All photos copyright Dan Habib/UNH Institute on Disability

The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire was established in 1987 to provide a university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. Its mission is to promote full access, equal opportunities, and participation for all persons by strengthening communities and advancing policy and systems change, promising practices, education, and research.

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.