Directors: Eric Neudel, Alison Gilkey
Total Running Time: 54 minutes
Release Date: 2011
People with disabilities are one of the largest minorities in the United States, and this program is the first television history on their struggle for equal rights. The film begins in the post World War II era when the status of people with disabilities began to change rapidly. ‘Lives Worth Living’ is a window into a world inhabited by people with an unwavering determination to live their lives like anyone else, and a passage into the past where millions of people lived without access to schools, apartment buildings, public transportation, etc. – a way of life today’s generation cannot imagine. ‘Lives Worth Living’ traces the development of consciousness among a small group of people who realized that in order to change the world they needed to work together. Through demonstrations and inside legislative battles the disability rights community secured equal civil rights for all people with disabilities. Ultimately tens of millions of people’s lives have been changed. This is a pure oral history, told by the movement’s mythological heroes themselves, vividly illustrated through the use of rare archival footage. These characters take us step by step on their challenging quest for equal rights. The film ends with the dramatic battle for the Americans with Disabilities Act, one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in America’s history. The essential message of this program is about the power of humanity and self-determination, and what one can accomplish against seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
2011 National Broadcast through PBS’s Independent Lens Series