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"Invisible Disabilities: The Problems of Perception," a 20-minute documentary directed and produced by Jenny Mackenzie, examines the challenges faced by adults with special needs whose disabilities at first glance may not be readily apparent to others, will have its premiere screening Thursday, November 30 at the City Library.
The 7 p.m. screening, free and open to the public, will be followed by a panel discussion and question/answer session featuring several of the experts featured in the film, including Temple Grandin, Ph.D., nationally known autism expert and author of the classic autism memoir, Thinking in Pictures, and Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank.
Betsy Burton, owner of The King's English Bookshop whose son, Nicks Burton, is one of the invisibly disabled men profiled in the documentary, will moderate the panel, which will also include William M. McMahon, M.D., chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
"Invisible Disabilities" trains the camera on two 20-something men whose special needs may not be immediately apparent at first meeting, and, as a consequence, the erroneous and sometimes harmful judgments that they encounter in their daily lives. A young woman whose disabilities are more readily apparent is also featured. The film looks at the way their families are addressing these problems and working with community leaders to raise awareness and make the safety of this population a priority.
Moving, inspirational scenes from the everyday lives of these individuals are interspersed with advice from behavior experts, Dr. Grandin and Dr. Sally Ozonoff, professor of Medicine, UC Davis, as well as law enforcement officials about how society can correct its misperceptions about these individuals and create a safe, nurturing environment that encourages their contributions to the community. The film has already received several local awards, including the Governor's Golden Key award for social impact media focused on the empowerment of people with disabilities.
"Invisible Disabilities" was produced by Kit and Betsy Burton and The City of Salt Lake. The Utah Film Center is a fiscal sponsor of the project.