Thanks to the Disability Communications Fund, the UCLA Disability Inclusion Lab is hosting its inaugural Lab with the theme of Inclusion in Communications: Autism Media Lab.

People with autism who are non-speaking, minimally-speaking or unreliably-speaking face challenges with activities like health care, transportation, and employment. Not enough is understood about their communications needs. The Inclusion in Communications lab has developed a course model that supports students learning directly from individuals with disabilities in order to assess the communications landscape, identify hidden challenges, and develop person-centered approaches.

This is an experiential course model where discovery comes from immersion in both scholarship and the lived experiences of individuals facing communication challenges. The model creates a research team comprised of undergraduate students guided by faculty, a graduate student TA, community teachers with autism who are non-, minimally, or unreliably speaking individuals. Together, the team will perform a needs assessment, uncover communication barriers, examine a variety of person-focused communication strategies, explore best practices, and propose improvements to professional training methodologies. Results will be presented by teams in documentary short videos at a regional event in Spring 2019.

Judy Mark portraitJudy Mark is currently a UCLA Disability Studies faculty member and teaches undergraduate courses on autism and neurodiversity. Judy received her B.A. in Communications Studies from UCLA and her M.A. in Public Policy from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.  She is the founder and President of Disability Voices United, a statewide advocacy organization fighting for the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities. She helped lead the successful effort to enact California’s self-determination law and advocates for inclusion in education, employment, and community life. She has spoken extensively throughout California and trained thousands of individuals and families about disability rights issues. Judy’s past professional experience includes over 30 years with national policy organizations, most extensively focusing on immigrant and refugee rights. Judy lives in LA with her husband and 22-year old son with autism, and visits her 19-year old daughter often in New York at Barnard College at Columbia University.
Sjoerd Oostrik portraitSjoerd Oostrik is a Dutch documentary filmmaker based between Los Angeles and Amsterdam. Sjoerd received his MA in history at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen before moving on to study Documentary Directing at the Dutch Film Academy in Amsterdam. With his graduation film ‘Destiny’ he won the Wildcard Award of the Dutch Film Fund for the most promising graduating documentary director. He directed several short- and medium length documentaries that screened at internationally renowned festivals like Locarno Film Festival, IDFA, FESPACO, Sao Paulo ISFF and Dokfest München. In 2014 he won the Media Fund Prize at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) for his latest project ‘A Quiet Place’.

In addition to his work as a director, Sjoerd is an adjunct assistant professor in documentary filmmaking at UCLA, a grant advisor for the Dutch Media Fund, and a guest lecturer at the Dutch Film Academy in Amsterdam.

Jingqiu Guan portraitJingqiu Guan grew up in Chengdu, China, where her love for dance was first ignited through the study of Chinese folk and classical dance. Her later exposure to modern dance and ballet allowed her to discover that dancing had become her way of life.  Currently, Jingqiu is pursuing a doctoral degree in Culture and Performance at the Department of World Arts and Culture/Dance at UCLA. Her research explores the development of dance film in China and how these works engage with China’s social and cultural transformation in the recent three decades. Her dance film works have appeared in a number of screendance festivals in the US, China, Hong Kong and Scotland. Jingqiu has also earned a BA in Economics and French from Saint Mary’s College, a Master’s Degree in International Education Policy from Harvard University and an MFA in Dance Performance from the University of Iowa.
Kate Hadraba Davis Major: Music History
Megan Hodges Major: Psychology, Minors: Disability Studies and Psychology
Yesenia Lopez Major: Chicana and Chicano Studies, Minors: Disability Studies and Education
Stephanie Martinez Major: Psychobiology
Marie Rhoads Major: Neuroscience, Minor: Disability Studies
Alexandra Shambayate Major: Human Biology and Society, Minor: Disability Studies
Sara Skerritt Major: English
Events and Activities

UCLA students, faculty and staff and community guests come together for a public screening of Deej and Q&A with our Community Teachers. This event, held on October 8, 2018, coincided with UCLA Disability Awareness Week.

picture of Dillan at a table with computer in front of him and communication partner to his right holding a mic

picture of audience members in the audience

On October 6, 2018 our Community Teachers and early-enrolled students into the Autism Media Lab course attended the Spectrum of Opportunity Conference at California Lutheran University.

picture of the 3 instructors with students in front of a sign reading “California Lutheran University, Autism and Communication Center