Movies, Television Shows, and Documentaries Starring People with Disabilities

We’ve been pleasantly surprised lately to see so many documentaries about people with disabilities get mainstream publicity.   Think of where we’ve come just in the past decade with awareness and education through the explosion of social media.  These films and television shows will help all of our communities understand, empathize, and want to be involved with helping find cures, medical advancements, etc.  Here are a few films we thought looked interesting:

“You and Me – The David ‘Barney’ Miller Story”

Active and life-loving David ‘Barney’ Miller was a passenger in a tragic car accident that left him a quadriplegic, unable to use his arms and legs ever again.

As expected he enters a dark time in his life, but through the love and support of his family, friends (world surfing champion, Mick Fanning), and finding his soul mate, Kathryn ‘Kate’ Southwell, he takes on the impossible.

He makes it his mission to kneel when he proposes to Kate, stand at the altar as they get married and dance with her as husband and wife.

Trailer –


The hit documentary from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival goes inside the life of Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saints defensive back who, at the age of 34, was diagnosed with ALS and given a life expectancy of two to five years. Weeks later, Gleason found out his wife, Michel was expecting their first child. A video journal that began as a gift for his unborn son expands to chronicle Steve’s determination to get his relationships in order, build a foundation to provide other ALS patients with purpose and adapt to his declining physical condition—utilizing medical technologies that offer the means to live as fully as possible.

Trailer –

“Tin Soldiers”

“Tin Soldiers” is a fascinating perspective film into the world of amputees, people who have spina bifida, and paralysis, all doing adaptive sports. This film is 100% independent, and the passion project of Ben Duffy and Michael J Sassano as well as executive producer Jeff Bourns.

This film can inspire people to make a change in their lives through the power of commitment and sport.

To feel better psychically and mentally is a key to feeling better emotionally, which begins to resolve the hardest challenge people with these conditions face; overcoming depression. This film is about believing in yourself through adapting. We have documented people who have begun their journey of healing and finding passion, and their flame can reach out to many others who desperately need it.

Trailer –

“Hope for Steve”

“Hope For Steve” is a feature documentary about the triumphant love story of two people, Hope and Steve Dezember, who continue to battle against Steve’s ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The film follows the couple from the initial diagnosis through their first two years of marriage, chronicling the unimaginable challenges of ALS contrasted by their unrelenting spirit and thirst for adventure despite Steve’s ever-declining health. Their journey, struggles, beliefs, and desire to spread awareness about the disease are followed over two-and-a-half years in this film.

Trailer –

“Body of War”

Body of War is an intimate and transformational feature documentary about the true face of war today. Meet Tomas Young, 25 years old, paralyzed from a bullet to his spine – wounded after serving in Iraq for less than a week.

Body of War is Tomas’ coming home story as he evolves into a new person, coming to terms with his disability and finding his own unique and passionate voice against the war. The film is produced and directed by Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro and features two original songs by Eddie Vedder. Body of War is a naked and honest portrayal of what it’s like inside the body, heart, and soul of this extraordinary and heroic young man.

Body of War unfolds on two parallel tracks. On the one hand, we see Tomas evolving into a powerful voice against the war as he struggles to deal with the complexities of a paralyzed body. And on the other, we see the historic debate unfolding in the Congress about going to war in Iraq.

Trailer –


When Dr. Gretchen Berland gave video cameras to three Los Angeles residents in wheelchairs and asked them to film their daily lives, she wasn’t sure what they would capture. In the end — after nearly two years and 212 hours of tape — Galen Buckwalter, Ernie Wallengren, and Vicki Elman did far more than accomplishing Berland’s goal of providing caregivers, policymakers, and health care professionals insight into life on wheels for 1.6 million Americans.

Website –

“Certain Proof”

Certain Proof:  A Question of Worth is a feature documentary about three children living with significant communication and physical disabilities, who struggle against the public schools in an emotional battle to prove their worth.

Over the course of two and a half years, “Certain Proof” follows the lives of Kayla, Josh and Colin, three children with cerebral palsy. Despite multiple disabilities, they fight to prove that they are able to learn and deserve to be taught.  Colin finds “No Child Left Behind” has exceptions; Kay combats harsh stereotypes inside middle school; and Josh faces continual doubt that he can learn at all.  They and their families dare to hope in a striking testament to the complexity of the human spirit.

Trailer –

“Speechless” – TV Show

The series follows the DiMeo family, and their own unique personality: a take-charge mother with an outlandish but no-holds-barred attitude, a husband who seems to be smarter than he thinks, a no-nonsense athletic daughter, a middle child who’s the “brains” in the family, and their teenage son with cerebral palsy. The DiMeos is about to bring all that from a middle-class neighborhood they despised because of the location itself to a more upscale town in an effort to improve their way of life, with imperfect results.

Trailer –