The days of Tiny Tim type roles that beg for sympathy are beginning to dwindle. While starring roles out shined by their handicaps can be heartfelt, the shared opinion was often one of pity. People with disabilities have played their part in providing comedic relief, as well, offering a laugh at the expense of a physical handicap. However, recent trends in movie magic have characters claiming, “woe is me, no more!” with inspiring stories, full of triumph in the face of their adverse realities. Oscar nods are populating the pool of these powerful films, and box office sales continue to reflect their popularity.

In contrast to former films, people with disabilities are seen more motivated than ever. They are no longer forced to live on the outside while looking in. They’ve become the life of the party, completely capable of success and reward, and most importantly, they have become equal. This refreshing change in character portrayal from confined caricatures to able-bodied heroes is reshaping not only how people with disabilities may view themselves, but it’s changing how others view them. We have started to see an even playing field in film where folks with disabilities are seen as equals, deserving of love, success, triumph and a little bit of fight. And the similarities between those who do and do not have a physical disability are more numerous than one might think.

Here’s a closer look at what moviemakers are making of individuals with disabilities:

Untouchable has managed to delight the hearts of many with the uplifting love story of a quadriplegic and his caretaker. Becoming the highest grossing film ever in a language other than English, Untouchable has grossed well over $400 million dollars on a production budget of about $8 million. Adding to the excitement, the film is nominated for the Best Foreign-language Film Oscar.

No less impressive is Rust and Bone’s portrayal of a double amputee, played by Marion Cotillard, as it is also in the running for Best Foreign-language Film at the upcoming awards show. Having already won top prize at the London Film Festival, Rust and Bone is still in theaters and still ringing in paying audiences with praise.

We are happy to see strides in this direction and can’t wait to see what is next in the industry.

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.

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