Movie Sparks Discussion on Independent Living for People who are Disabled

Sheila Barnard, Administrative Assistant, Student Disability Services

On March 10th Student Disability Services teamed up with the MIT Program in Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) to present Body & Soul: Diana and Kathy. Featured as part of the WGS Women Take the Reel Film Festival, the film was created by Academy Award Nominee, Alice Elliott (The Collector of Bedford Street). As described by the filmmakers: “the film portrays the symbiotic relationship between two people some would call profoundly disabled…. two of the country’s most remarkable advocates for people with disabilities, Diana Braun, who has Down Syndrome, and Kathy Concour, who has cerebral palsy, met over three decades ago and vowed to fight to live independent lives… the film is a story of a compelling, creative friendship, as Diana and Kathy model a grand experiment in activism and independent living.”

Welcome Change Outreach Director, Rachel Gordon and Max Rasbold-Gabbard, Policy Associate for The Arc of Massachusetts, lead the discussion

Following the screening was a lively, lengthy, and at times, exigent discussion that focused primarily on the likelihood of recreating the model for living an independent life exhibited by the women in the film. The most dynamic exchanges occurred while considering the option of whether institutionalization of people who are disabled should indeed be discontinued, identifying ways to make the role of Personal Care Assistant a practical and a desirable career, and in identifying the resources currently available in the community. Also discussed were what types of assistance are most desired by people with disabilities and their care-takers alike with regard to inclusion and independence.

Leading the discussion were the film’s Outreach Director, Rachel Gordon, and Max Rasbold-Gabbard, Policy Associate for The Arc of Massachusetts. Questions or comments regarding the film, as well as, viewing opportunities may be directed to Rachel Gordon at Welcome Change Productions Our hope is that this event represents the first of many future outreach partnerships with WGS.


This was a great opportunity. Thanks for showing the film and featuring disability issues!