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My Disability Roadmap
New Documentary Short Film Drives Home the Power of Inclusion
Dan Habib and Samuel Habib
Co-Directors, “My Disability Roadmap”
Evaluation Criteria: Creating a Culture, Planning with Data, Improving Instruction, Engaging Families & Communities, Closing the Gap
Samuel Habib‘s life goals are pretty typical for a 21-year-old: Earning a degree. Moving out of his family home. Establishing his career. Dating.
At Concord High School in New Hampshire, Samuel was included in regular classes, attended prom, played unified sports, and earned a regular high school diploma. He was in community college and is about two-thirds of the way to his associate degree.
And yet for Samuel, every rite of passage is fraught with challenges, including unexpected seizures and other medical emergencies. Friends’ cars and homes that are inaccessible to his 350-pound wheelchair. An ableist society that underestimates him at every turn.
‘No one tells you how to be an adult, let alone an adult with a disability,’ Samuel says in the new film, “My Disability Roadmap,” which premiered in the New York Times Op-Docs website in May 2022.
For Samuel and the approximately 7 million of other young adults with disabilities, the path beyond public school and into adulthood can be a precarious maze. Adults with disabilities are half as likely as adults without disabilities to have a college degree. Just 37% of adults with disabilities are employed, compared to 77% of adults without disabilities. One in four adults with disabilities live in poverty. “No one tells you how to be an adult, let alone an adult with a disability,” Samuel says in the new film, “My Disability Roadmap,” which premiered in the New York Times Op-Docs website in May 2022. The film is co-directed by Samuel and his father, renowned documentary filmmaker Dan Habib. AWSP and OSPI are proud sponsors of “My Disability Roadmap” and an accompanying free, year-long webinar series. We’ll be showing the film and announcing more details about the webinar series at the 2022 Summer Conference. Read on to learn how Samuel answered some questions about the film, and his life. What are your hopes and dreams for the film? My goal for the film is that people won't talk down to people with disabilities. I want everyone to know that people with disabilities demand respect and rights. And I want other young adults with disabilities to have the same opportunities that I've had for health care, inclusive education, college, assistive technology, jobs, making friends, and independent living. I want people to learn from disability role models like Judy Heumann and Bob Williams. I want to help people learn how to live a full life with a disability as they transition to an adult by focusing on all the possibilities of relationships, work, education, and disability rights. The mentors you interview give powerful advice. Is there one piece of advice that you’ve most taken to heart – that may benefit other young adults with disabilities? The advice I got from Maysoon Zayid was: “You are not alone. Find your community.” That was powerful advice because I’ve always had a strong community, starting with Beaver Meadow Elementary School. I’m continuing to find my community at NHTI Community College, in the disability rights community, at work at the Westchester Institute for Human Development, and in my hometown of Concord, New Hampshire. What was the best part of creating the film? I love to travel, so my favorite part of making the film was going around the country with my dad, seeing new places, filming with my GoPros, and meeting all these cool adults with disabilities. Like Keith Jones, who is a hip-hop musician and human rights advocate. He is hilarious.
What was the most challenging part of creating the film? Setting up and getting all the interviews done was the most challenging part of creating the film. We had to fly or drive a long way for the interviews. On our flight to Indianapolis, they turned my power wheelchair on its side both ways -- and it got damaged both ways! On our trip to DC, we had a six-hour flight delay, and then as we were finally boarding our plane, another passenger talked down to me, like I was a three-year-old. I wanted to curse at her but didn’t. On our NYC trip I had a seizure. But we still got the filming done on all the trips! Communication device technology (i.e., Augmentative and Assistive Communication) can be very time-consuming and frustrating. How did you try to capture that in the film? I agree that it is really slow and frustrating to use a device, especially because it’s gotten harder to move my arms because of my GNAO1 Neurodevelopmental Disorder. And it is hard for me to talk. That’s why we put the scene in the film where I’m speaking out the words one by one, and my dad is repeating them. Then we show him programming them into the device. I think that shows that it takes a long time to get the words into my device. We also showed Bob slowly typing his words in his scene. We also wanted to show that I communicate better with people that are patient, and who talk to me in an age-appropriate way. Could you give one or two pieces of advice to schools? Be inclusive! All of my schools have been inclusive and that made a big impact on my education. And find new ways to help young adults with disabilities transition out of high school, especially for employment. What are you up to these days? I’m working a lot on this film. And I’m in college at NHTI, the local community college in Concord, New Hampshire. I am working on getting my Liberal Arts Associate degree. I have been taking one class a semester and have a 3.0 GPA. So far, I've taken Sociology, Cultural Anthropology, Psychology, Contemporary Ethical Issues, US History, and Social Media Strategies. This semester, I'm taking English Comp Mindful Communication and I also joined the Environmental Action club at school. I have enjoyed meeting new people. I continue to look forward to making more friends and maybe finding a girlfriend. What are your dreams for the future? I dream about getting married, having kids, and making more films. I am thinking about transferring to a four-year college in the future. And traveling around the country and the world. I want to go to the Football Hall of Fame, Mount St. Helens, a Florida Gators game with my cousins, London, and Europe. Learn more about “My Disability Roadmap” and watch more of Dan and Samuel’s films at
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Association of Washington School Principals
Washington Principal | Volume 3 – 2021-22