Disneyland Resort Celebrates Creativity in Deaf Community

Disneyland announced a special event to celebrate the talent and creativity of the Deaf Community.

The event, SIGNin’ in the Street, will take place over the weekend of March 17 & 18, 2012 in the Downtown Disney District at the California resort.

It will showcase top Deaf performers and feature interactive workshops, film screenings and appearances by Deaf actor Katie Leclerc and her Switched at Birth cast members for panel question and answer sessions and autograph signings.

Academy Award winning actress Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God) will also make an appearance.

Over the weekend, two Deaf feature films will be shown and include:

  • The Hammer, which is a story based on the life of triple NCAA champ and professional mixed martial artist Matt Hamill.
  • The award-winning documentary See What I’m Saying, which follows the journeys of four Deaf entertainers over the course of a year.

Stars from these films will host question and answer sessions, sign autographs and perform live.

Other highlights include:

  • Musical performances by Tony Award-winning Deaf West Theatre, including a sneak preview of the group’s upcoming world premiere, and workshops for guests interested in learning American Sign Language and acting.
  • Drum Café, the internationally acclaimed drumming crew, will super-charge the audience through interactive performances and workshops.
  • Nighttime concerts by popular deaf performers including singer-signer TL Forsberg, rock band Beethoven’s Nightmare, and comic CJ Jones.
  • Specially created Disney merchandise featuring American Sign Language.

The event kicks off at 1 p.m. both days and continues until 9 p.m. Saturday and 8 p.m. Sunday.


Saturday, March 17
11:30 a.m. to midnight

Film screenings of See What I’m Saying, a multi-award winning documentary, and The Hammer, a biopic based on the life of triple NCAA champ and professional mixed martial artist Matt Hamill. Purchase discounted tickets at the AMC Theater box office.
For periods of time between 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Artist Mary Rappazzo will be autographing a special Mickey ASL (American Sign Language) poster.

1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Q & A sessions, meet-and-greets and autograph signings with the cast from ABC Family’s groundbreaking drama Switched at Birth

Screening at the AMC Theater of 2 episodes of Switched at Birth — plus, an exclusive sneak preview of the spring finale episode.

Sunday, March 18
11:30 a.m. to midnight

Film screenings at the AMC Theater of See What I’m Saying, a multi-award winning documentary

The Hammer, a biopic based on the life of triple NCAA champ and pro wrestler Matt Hamill.

2:00 p.m

Q & A session on the Westside Stage with Matt Hamill, the filmmakers and 2 stars of The Hammer
After The Hammer Q & A

Matt Hamill will be at the ESPN Zone to sign autographs and challenge fans to games in the Game Zone.

Time TBD

Marlee Matlin (Melody) and Sean Berdy (Emmett) from ABC Family’s Switched at Birth will discuss their characters’ relationship during a Q & A session.

After the Switched at Birth Q & A, there will be a meet-and-greet session with Marlee Matlin and Sean Berdy.

Refocusing the diversity movement.

A group of diversity professional recent debated the snail pace that diversity programs moves in creating changes in organizational culture. While a few applauded accomplishments made to date, a slight majority felt that the drive for inclusion was going too slow and focusing on the wrong things.

This latter is precisely what I have been pointing out to anyone that listens. Organizations need to stop reinventing the “business case for diversity” and start doing more than creating diversity hugging ads.

We know attitudes is a barrier. That argument was made ages ago and it dismayed me that a few diversity conferences to which I attended last year were still talking about it and celebrated a ‘groundbreaking’ white paper that covered the same ground as many documents that preceeded it. This fixation on the discovery phase of diversity only serves those who wish to do nothing.

In my view, INACTION – not attitude – is the big barrier.

Thoughts on Mandatory Diversity Training

Mandatory diversity training is a good thing in my book. It increases awareness and knowledge of the human-cultural tapestry.

However, I don’t support simply marching people through training sessions on topics that they already have in-depth experience and/or applying programs that speak only to the lowest common denominator. This gives diversity training the type of reputation that makes employees eyes roll with frustration at having to sit through “another boring meeting“.

To be effective in the delivery of training, organizations working to create welcoming environment must develop a training scheme that addresses diversity at the experience level of their employees and the provide the right tools for the roles that exist in the company hierarchy. This was the approach that I used while lead the Diversity Outreach and Intake Program as CIBC.

Working with the Employment Equity Department and the CIBC Knowledge Network, we created a diversity awareness scheme that addressed the roles that existed in the bank and the type of information someone in those roles would need to know in order to become a diversity promoter.  Next, we surveyed employees to get a better understanding of the knowledge that already existed in the company.  After this was done, a diversity communication plan was created and implemented.

While this took a bit more work, I believe that the outcomes (e.g., engaging training sessions, growing support for inclusion, and a truly equitable workforce) were worth the effort.