Dan Habibi, filmmaker of the documentary “Intelligent Lives” knows that people with intellectual disabilities are the most segregated of all Americans. “Only 17 percent of students with intellectual disabilities are included in regular education. Just 40 percent will graduate from high school. And of the 6.5 million Americans with intellectual disability, barely 15 percent are employed,” Habibi says.
“People with disabilities number over 288,000 as of 2017 in the state of Oregon.
Only 37.8%, or 109,027 of those with disabilities are employed.”
— Oregon Study of Health & Disability
His documentary “Intelligent Lives” was shown at UCC on April 23, sponsored partly by Les Rogers, the director of the Transfer Opportunity Program. “We had a pretty good turnout with about 20 people who were leaders from the college, the learning disability advisory council, and the Center for Independent Living in the Umpqua Valley Disabilities Network,” Rogers said.
Habibi’s documentary informs about the damaging effects of IQ tests being used in schools to determine the value of students. Specifically those with mental disabilities. He brings to light how these tests dictate the educational services a student receives simply based on a score.
The documentary follows the lives of three students with intellectual disabilities in order to show that their differences don’t make them unintelligent.
Oregon had a long history of mistreating and institutionalizing those with mental challenges through practices of eugenics well into the 1980s. This institutionalizing kept those with disabilities walled off from the rest of society (some would argue for our own convenience rather than for their safety). These practices have since changed.
Oregon no longer has any mental institutional facilities and has been using legislation to better care for those with disabilities within their own communities. The big reform now is for supported employment, something both the documentary, Les Rogers and the attendees are working to implement all over the US. However, support for families and the mentally disabled is woefully inadequate, Rogers said.
The documentary shows how the three people with intellectual disabilities live extraordinary lives. They have been integrated into their communities through education and supported employment. Les Rogers and those who attended the showing hope to implement this into our community here in Douglas County.
Following the showing, Rogers and the attendees spent roughly 30 minutes discussing ideas on how to improve our community through supported jobs and events that help create community for those who are different.
“My dream is that we find ways that isolation doesn’t happen so that if people want to be in their community they have opportunities to get out, make friendships, and form relationships within their community,” Rogers said.
Documentary attendees discussed how to help create this community with things like improved teaching environments with better sensitivity training, increased inclusion and better attention to different learning styles. Other ideas were community events like an inclusive walking moai and even a photography event for those with disabilities.