SF State Faculty, Staff Apply Expertise to Provide Perspective, Aid

Thursday, April 23, 2020
Photo of four people at Longmore Institute watching a video on a laptop computer
From left: Catherine Kudlick, Emily Beitiks, Danny Thomas Vang and Juhee Joshi meet at the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability in 2018.

SF STATE NEWS -- Experts at SF State’s Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability have leveraged the stay-at-home order to spread programming for and about disability culture to a broad audience. As experts in online accessibility, they quickly offered an array of online content, including an online-only version of their annual disability film festival Superfest. Not only is the shift a first for the organization, it also opens participation to an even wider audience. “We had someone post that this is the first film festival they’ve been able to attend, because festivals aren’t usually accessible,” said Longmore Institute Associate Director Emily Beitiks. Future screenings, she says, will include one for children.

The Longmore Institute has also aided other organizations as they attempt to move their disability-related content online. The institute partnered with Netflix to screen the company’s new award-winning documentary “Crip Camp,” a film about attendees at a camp for children with disabilities who later led the disability rights movement. They also held a number of online panels in conjunction with the screening. Other film festivals, like Seattle’s transgender film festival and the Jewish Film Festival, have approached the institute about how to move festivals online.

Given the dangers of COVID-19 to specific groups, Beitiks says, the institute’s outreach efforts are more important than ever. “There’s a lot at stake for people with disabilities, especially black and brown disabled people,” Beitiks said. “It’s a population with higher risks of fatalities from the coronavirus.”