Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship
The Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship managed by Rooted in Rights and AAPD provides the opportunity for individuals with disabilities to learn and apply skills in digital media storytelling, and to connect with media professionals to prepare participants for advanced careers in media production, journalism, online advocacy, or digital design. The project combines hands-on training in cutting-edge technologies with a strong foundation in developing each individual’s voice and using story-driven videos in advocacy.
Upon admission to the program, Rooted in Rights will send a pre-tested, pre-assembled video production kit to the Fellows. The fellowship kicks off with orientation sessions in which Rooted in Rights creative professionals and AAPD staff lead workshops on the history of disability justice, current policy issues, and the media’s role in the disability rights movement as well as technical workshops focused on video technique, script writing, digital storytelling, basic camera composition, and video editing.
The Fellows will begin using their kit and gain valuable hands-on experience right away. During the 6-month fellowship period, Fellows are expected to write and film two 3-4 minute videos. At every step in the process, the Fellows are a part of the Rooted in Rights production team – receiving feedback and guidance while being challenged creatively to make the videos as engaging as possible while also meeting the standards for quality and universal accessibility that all of our video projects demand. The Fellows will have the opportunity to ask questions and Rooted in Rights professionals will be available for one-on-one mentoring. At the beginning of the fellowship, Rooted in Rights will work with each Fellow to arrange a schedule for choosing video topics, developing a production plan, filming, and editing to ensure timely completion of both videos.
In addition to hands-on workshops, the Fellows will participate in video chats and Q&As with media professionals, including people with disabilities, to receive advice on how to break into the media industry. AAPD will also work to connect the Fellows to internships and employment opportunities. Because work in the Storytellers Fellowship is not a full-time commitment and can be completed from anywhere, the Fellows would have the opportunity to begin work or internships simultaneously.
The Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship is supported by WarnerMedia.
2019 Disability Rights Storytellers Fellow
Blessitt Shawn Bryant
Blessitt Shawn Bryant (pronouns: they/theirs) is a dynamic community organizer and social influencer with a decade-long career in the non-profit advocacy space. Blessitt Shawn’s passion for social justice and community engagement has allowed them to build digital movements for some of the nation’s leading nonprofits and agencies.
A Kansas native, Blessitt received their Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Washburn University. Blessitt currently resides in Washington, D.C. where they can often be found hosting brunch and mastering the perfect selfie. They currently serve on the board of the Chocolate City Burlesque and Cabaret Historical Society & National LGBTQ Workers Center.
Daisy Wislar (pronouns: they/them/theirs) is a queer and disability rights activist based in Boston who is passionate about the intersection of sexual rights and disability. They recently graduated from Bowdoin College with a degree in Sociology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, and wrote an award-winning thesis titled “‘What’s it like to be a lesbian with a cane?’: A Story and Study of Queer and Disabled Identities.” They previously interned at the Equal Rights Center in Washington, DC, where they assisted with the organization’s efforts to advance and protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. Daisy has also worked at various non-profit organizations specializing in affordable housing, community development, and food insecurity. When they aren’t working in Boston, they can be found visiting their home states of Maine and New Jersey, drinking too much coffee, and/or making pancakes for dinner.
2017 Disability Rights Storytellers Fellow
Carrie Wade is a writer and disability rights activist whose work can be found on Autostraddle, Everyday Feminism, Upworthy, and other outlets across the internet. She specializes in the intersections between disability, sexuality, and politics and has been a frequent guest on podcasts including Bad With Money, Yo! Is This Racist?, Sex Out Loud, RISK!, and Hot Mic. She is the accessibility coordinator for A-Camp and EVERYBODY Los Angeles, and has presented accessibility workshops for organizations throughout the United States. She is currently the Programs Manager of the American Association of People with Disabilities.
Obergefell v. Hodges marked a huge legal victory for LGBTQ Americans. But what if marriage equality isn’t so equal after all? Carrie Wade explains how Social Security marriage penalties keep equal dignity out of reach for queer people with disabilities.
Women, LGBTQ folks, and people with disabilities are all underrepresented in public office. So what if you’re all three of those — is there a place in politics for you? Carrie Wade discusses paths to success for nontraditional candidates in 2018 and beyond.
- Hold a strong interest in disability rights advocacy and pursuing that work through digital media storytelling. NOTE: Applicants are not required to have prior experience producing digital media.
- Be able to commit to fully participate in the fellowship and meet all deadlines. Time commitments include Orientation sessions, digital meetings with media professionals, and weekly check-ins.
- Identify as a person with a disability. You will not be required to disclose your specific disability; however, your application for this program will signify that you consider yourself a person with a disability. NOTE: This is a program run specifically for people with disabilities by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Rooted in Rights. Those selected for this program will be involved in various disability-focused activities and associated with AAPD and Rooted in Rights as a Disability Rights Storytellers Fellow.
- College students with disabilities are encouraged to apply; however this is not an academic Fellowship and is not restricted to college students. All individuals with disabilities who hold a strong interest in disability rights advocacy and who can commit to the time requirements are eligible to apply. This Fellowship can serve as a professional development opportunity for individuals who are already employed.
Application Guidelines and Procedures
Candidates for the Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship must submit the following materials:
- Applicant information (Section 1)
- Resume (Section 2)
- Responses to the three (3) essay questions (Section 3)
- Letter of recommendation (Section 4)
- Demographic information, optional but encouraged (Section 5)
Applications for the Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship are due on September 4, 2018. Incomplete or late submissions will not be considered. We will not consider any materials in excess of the stated requirements. Applicants chosen for the Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship release all information contained in their application for use on the AAPD and Rooted in Rights websites and in public press releases, including releases to the program funders and potential funders.
Applications will be collected and reviewed by an internal Review Team from AAPD and Rooted in Rights. Finalists will be contacted for formal interviews. The 2018 Fellows will be selected for the program and notified in October 2018.
Program Requirements and Policies
This is a six (6) month fellowship that will begin in January 2019 and conclude in June 2019. There will be some pre-fellowship assignments during the last couple month of 2018. This Fellowship is conducted remotely using video conferencing and other means of communication. As such, Fellows can be located anywhere within the United States, but must have access to a reliable internet connection. The Fellows must commit to participate in the Orientation sessions (early January 2019) as well as recurring sessions and digital meetings with media professionals. A detailed schedule of events will be reviewed upon acceptance as a Fellow. The Fellows must commit to completing two 3-4 minute videos by June 2019 (a detailed timeline will be established after the Fellows are selected). The $600 stipend is disbursed in two (2) installments throughout the fellowship, one after each of the videos is completed.
If you have any questions or would like to request reasonable accommodations as part of the application process, please contact AAPD at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 521-4316.
Applications for the Disability Rights Storytellers Fellowship are closed.