About the Disability Justice Project
What is the Disability Justice Project?
The Disability Justice Project (DJP) is a strategic partnership between the Disability Rights Fund (DRF), an international NGO funding grassroots organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) in the Global South, and journalism educator and human rights filmmaker Jody Santos and other nationally recognized media makers from Northeastern University’s School of Journalism in Boston, Massachusetts, and across the U.S. Based on a fellowship model, newer professionals with lived experience of disability from the Global South are paired with mentors/professional journalists in the U.S. In an exchange of ideas and experiences, the fellows learn about digital storytelling from some of the best in the industry, while the mentors learn about the global disability justice movement from frontline activists – with the goal of incorporating that new understanding into their reporting for publications like The New York Times and The Guardian or for broadcasters like PBS and ABC.
Recognizing the centrality of storytelling to systemic change, the DJP is a 12-week virtual program, training fellows in everything from video production to rights-based reporting. Sending storytelling kits (cameras, mics, lights, etc.) to fellows all over the world, the DJP supports persons with disabilities to “take back the narrative” on disability justice. This website is the first platform of its kind dedicated to disability justice in the Global South. Its purpose is to build a sustainable media network of persons with disabilities, with collaborators from all over the world.
What is the Disability Justice Project Fellowship?
Five fellows from OPDs in the Global South participate in a 12-week workshop on digital storytelling and receive a stipend and a certificate of completion at the end of the course. Trainings are virtual over Zoom, and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) and International Sign are provided. Storytelling kits, including video cameras, tripods, and mics, are shipped to participating fellows and are the property of the affiliated OPD.
Who can apply to DJP?
Applicants must be based in the Global South and from OPDs that are current DRF grantees.
We are currently hosting our first 2022 cohort consisting of Indonesian fellows. In September, we will host a second cohort of fellows from five countries in Africa – Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda. Please sign up for our newsletter to be notified and to receive updates from the frontlines of the global disability justice movement.
What is required of the fellows and OPDs?
Fellows are expected to attend and complete the full fellowship program, which requires them to:
- Be available twice a week for the 12-week workshop on digital storytelling.
- Attend at least 20 out of the 24 workshop classes.
- Meet with a mentor (a U.S.-based journalist) every week, for at least 7 of the 10 weeks of scheduled meetings.
- Complete three major assignments.
- Have access to a stable internet connection.
- Have a working level of English.
- Be 18 years or older.
- Be a staff member of a DRF grantee organization for a minimum of one year.
- Have prior experience with writing or storytelling. This could include writing a report, policy brief, or telling a story with video, audio, or print.
OPDs are expected to:
- Support the fellow and give them the appropriate time off to participate in the workshop, mentoring, and completion of assignments.
- Receive and be responsible for digital storytelling kits shipped to the fellow.
Why the Disability Justice Project now?
We are in the midst of a revolution accelerated by COVID-19. All around the world, persons with disabilities are on the frontlines of advocating for an inclusive response to the pandemic so that no one gets left behind. Never before has the potential been greater to create sustainable change, with the COVID-19 crisis starkly revealing the extent to which persons with disabilities have been excluded in everything from health care to employment. Even before the pandemic, women and girls with disabilities faced systemic barriers to equality and inclusion, with limited visibility in the women’s movement and in disability and gender equality laws and policies. The COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated these underlying inequalities. The protection of persons with disabilities during a humanitarian emergency is a right guaranteed under Article 11 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). COVID-19 may be the greatest test yet of this global commitment to achieve more inclusive and accessible societies for everyone.
The Disability Justice Project is committed to providing an accessible and inclusive experience that functions for the widest possible audience, regardless of technology or ability.
In addition to being tested on modern browsers, this site has been checked to make sure it’s compatible with:
- Recent versions of popular screen readers
- Operating system screen magnifiers
- Speech recognition software
- Operating system speech packages
We have tried to improve the accessibility of our website for users with disabilities by:
- Using time-tested, stable, and interoperable technology based on open standards to help ensure our content can be accessed by the widest range of devices as possible
- Running automated and manual checks to test for accessibility issues
- Supporting magnified and zoomed displays, as well as custom typefaces and themes potentially set by someone in their browser
- Maintaining a color palette with high contrast ratios values to keep content legible
- Providing keyboard accessible navigation
- Providing skip to content links at the top of the page
The Disability Justice Project accessibility menu can be enabled by clicking on the accessibility menu icon that appears in the righthand corner of every page.
If you are experiencing difficulty with any content on the site or if you would like to request accessibility-related assistance, report any accessibility problems, or request any information in alternative formats, please email email@example.com.
Cara Reedy is a journalist, actor, comedian, and film director from St. Louis, Missouri. She spent ten years working at CNN, producing documentaries and writing for various verticals like Eatocracy and CNN Business. In 2019, she co-produced “Dwarfism and Me,” a documentary for the Guardian about persons living with dwarfism and America’s treatment of them. She now works at Storyline Partners, a collection of organizations that collaborates with the entertainment industry “to promote accurate, authentic, and equitable cultural narratives in television and film.” She is on the advisory board of the National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University and is currently building the U.S.-based Disabled Journalists Association.
Jason Strother is an American multimedia journalist who covers the news through the lens of disability and accessibility. After working overseas as a freelance reporter for 15 years, he returned to his home state of New Jersey in 2021 and launched Lens15 Media, which produces news content for and about 15 percent of the world’s population that has a physical, sensory, or learning difference. He also advises on best practices for covering this community as well as making real and virtual spaces more inclusive. Jason’s work is informed by his own experience of having low vision, and his stories have been published by The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, the BBC, and many other US and international outlets. He is also a 2020 National Geographic Explorer and an adjunct professor at Montclair State University, where he’s created a course on disability representation in media.
Rahul Bhargava is an educator, researcher, designer, and facilitator who works on data storytelling and technology design in support of social justice and community empowerment. His workshops have been bringing people together around data with engaging activities since 2010. Rahul is co-creator of the Data Culture Project, which helps individuals and organizations build their data capacity in creative ways. He combines a background in interactive robotics, education, and effective data presentation to build creative and playful activities that introduce data literacy in appropriate ways to a variety of audiences. Rahul argues that our toolbox for telling data stories is far too small, and engages the approaches and materials of the arts in support of building a wider set of projects and practices. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Journalism and Art + Design at Northeastern University, where he founded and leads the Data Culture Group. This academic research group builds collaborative projects to interrogate our datafied society, with a focus on rethinking participation and power in data process.
Rahul’s work has long had connections to equity and justice for people with disabilities. His Master’s thesis focused on collaboratively designing and building a robotic construction kit for students with blindness and visual impairments. Rahul’s work with a small set of students revealed how they built cognitive models about feedback loops, essential for robotics work, differently and faster than students without visual impairments. More recently, he integrated early efforts to make charts and graphs more accessible via screen readers into his Data Culture Project website. In his spare time, Rahul occasionally works on custom-made accessibility devices with a family member with quadriplegia.
The author of several books, Meredith O’Brien currently teaches journalism at Northeastern University and creative nonfiction for Bay Path University’s MFA program. A former newspaper reporter, investigative journalist, syndicated columnist, freelance writer, and blogger, O’Brien has written a collection of columns, a novel, an award-winning nonfiction book about a hero middle school teacher, and a medical memoir about living with multiple sclerosis. She has taught courses as varied as news reporting, opinion writing, and media ethics to media criticism, online writing, narrative medicine, and first-year expository writing at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Framingham State University, Northeastern University, and Bay Path University. O’Brien holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Bay Path University, an MA in American government from American University, and a BA in journalism and political science from UMass-Amherst.
OBrien’s multiple sclerosis-related writing has appeared in STAT News, Healthline, Health Central, Remedy Health Media, and Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine. Additionally, she has appeared as a speaker at a New York Writers Workshop seminar; an online Women, Health and Beauty panel; and Bay Path University’s “Narrative Medicine and the Art of the Medical Memoir” webinar. She was the keynote speaker at two regional National Multiple Sclerosis Society events in Fall 2021.
Dan Kennedy is a professor in the School of Journalism at Northeastern University and a contributor to GBH News in Boston, where he writes a weekly column on journalism and politics. He is the author of three books and writes the Media Nation blog, which is online at dankennedy.net.
Kennedy is connected to the disability community through his daughter, Becky, who has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. His first book, “Little People: Learning to See the World Through My Daughter’s Eyes” (2003), is part memoir, part exploration of the cultural meaning of difference. The current edition includes a foreword by Becky. More information is available at littlepeoplethebook.com.
Mike Beaudet is a journalism professor at Northeastern University in Boston and an investigative reporter at WCVB-TV, Boston’s ABC affiliate. He’s worked in local television news for more than 25 years. Beaudet started his career in radio covering politics at the Massachusetts State House and also made stops at television stations in Bangor, Maine, and Manchester, New Hampshire. Before joining WCVB-TV, he was an investigative reporter and anchor at WFXT-TV FOX25 in Boston.
During the pandemic, Beaudet reported extensively on the challenges facing individuals with disabilities as COVID-19 cases spiked in group homes and other residential settings. He examined the toll the pandemic took on people with disabilities who were often isolated in their homes and unable to participate in outside activities. As Massachusetts began vaccinating people, Beaudet raised questions about why people with disabilities weren’t eligible for vaccines earlier.
Beaudet has won numerous awards, including 20 New England Emmys. His most recent Emmys came in 2021 when he was named Outstanding Investigative Reporter. Beaudet’s reporting has also been recognized repeatedly by the Associated Press and the Radio Television Digital News Association. Beaudet’s research at Northeastern focuses on the future of local television news and finding new ways to grow the audience and engage younger viewers both on-air and online.
Jody Santos Founding Executive Director/Editor-in-Chief
A human rights filmmaker, Jody Santos (she/her) has traveled to some 30 countries across five continents, documenting everything from the trafficking of girls in Nepal to the widespread and often abusive practice of institutionalizing children with disabilities in the U.S. and other countries. Santos became interested in disability justice after her son was diagnosed with autism and she began to navigate the various systems – educational, medical, etc. – that seemed to exclude if not actively work against persons with disabilities.
Santos teaches at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism. Her documentaries have appeared on public television and cable networks like Discovery Channel, and her work also has been featured on New England Public Radio and in advocacy journals like Mad in America. Regardless of the medium, Santos’s goal has been to highlight those narratives that are usually unseen or deliberately underreported.
Santos is the recipient of American Women in Radio & Television’s Gracie Allen Award, and she was nominated for an Emmy for a special report on black-market guns airing on NBC Boston. Her book, Daring to Feel: Violence, the News Media, and Their Emotions, was published by Rowman & Littlefield’s Lexington Books division in 2009.
Michelle Faulkner Head of Alumni Engagement/Managing Editor
Michelle Faulkner (she/her) is a media advocate, activist, and writer. She is Sierra Leonean and has lived in several countries throughout the world. Faulkner received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Northeastern University in 2020. During her undergraduate college career, she worked as a Program Co-op at Social Innovation Forum, a Boston-based non-profit organization.
Additionally, Faulkner received a Master of Science in Media Advocacy at Northeastern University in 2021. She is a former Communications/Technical Associate with the Disability Justice Project through Northeastern University’s School of Journalism. She also worked as a Graduate Program and Events Assistant at the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute while completing her master’s degree.
Claire Joy Moss Audience Engagement Editor
Claire Joy Moss (she/her) is an educator, writer, musician, and social justice advocate. She currently works as a program manager at Hack.Diversity, providing career coaching and professional opportunities to tech-minded folks in the Black and Latine/x/a/o communities. As Audience Engagement Editor with the Disability Justice Project, she creates content and strategy for all social media platforms.
She’s a published writer, writing for idontmind.com and The Scope, a digital magazine focused on social justice and advocacy issues in Greater Boston, and the DJP. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, major depression, and anxiety as a teenager and has been managing it ever since. Claire holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Berklee College of Music.
Sakdiyah Ma’ruf Interpreter/Instructor
Sakdiyah Ma’ruf is Indonesia’s first Muslim female stand-up comic. Her comedy promotes dialogue, peace, and gender equality. She has performed in Indonesia, Australia, Sweden, Norway, and Mesir. Ma’ruf’s comedic work has been featured in Comedy Jihad, Born A Women, etc., Indonesia Seharusnya Rumah, Bersama, and other shows. She is the co-founder and main facilitator of “Our Voice for Change,” a women and youth initiative and comedy workshop promoting social change through comedy.
Ma’ruf is also a certified conference interpreter and translator who has 12 years of experience. Her translation works pertain to but are not limited to women’s rights, children and youth’s rights, disability rights, public health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, politics and democracy, disaster, emergency, environmental issues, and humanitarian issues. Ma’ruf is fluent in providing simultaneous, consecutive, and/or whispering interpreting services, including RSI (Remote Simultaneous Interpreting) at conferences, workshops, FGDs, press conferences, and webinars. Moreover, she has experience with translating documents, legal documents, and books.
Sokhean Jonathan Ouk Technical Consultant
Sokhean Jonathan Ouk is an artist and storyteller who grew up practicing traditional arts with pen and paint. His preferred medium is now narrative visual storytelling. Ouk has a love for the human condition, enjoying stories that touch upon universal emotions, struggles, and situations in life we all have experienced before.
He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies at the University of Southern Maine (2017) with minors in Information and Communication Technology and Audio and Video Production. As a well-rounded multimedia creator aspiring to share stories and feelings of others to the masses, he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Cinema and Media Production from Boston University (2019), concentrating in cinematography to advance his skills.
Ouk is also a born and raised Mainer. After living in Boston for 4 years, he returned to all the comforts of home in the great city of Portland, Maine. Traveling to different parts of the country and the world opened up his view that no matter the language we speak, the food we eat, or the ways we live, we’re all part of a larger community.
Dan Zedek Designer
Dan Zedek heads a design studio specializing in content-driven design and strategy. As creative director of The Boston Globe and BostonGlobe.com, he led the print and digital design, news development, data visualization, and infographics teams, building an award-winning visual brand. The Society for News Design named BostonGlobe.com “The World’s Best Designed News Site” at launch. Prior to the Globe, he was a designer or art director at numerous local and national publications, including Natural Health, Seattle Weekly, The Dallas Observer, Parenting, Guitar World, and the Village Voice. Zedek is a professor of the practice at the Northeastern University School of Journalism where he leads master’s degree studios in Media Innovation.