I first met Matthew the way all students in Disability Studies 201 meet him. I walked into class through the back door, gingerly stepped past a guy in a wheelchair as I eyed a seat on the side of the room, and sat down trying to avoid eye contact and the initial anxiety that the first day of any class brings.
Dr. Mahosky, one of the instructors came in and started the usual first day spiel, but then something different happened. The guy with a significant disability at the back of the classroom, the one who sat in a wheelchair, wore a helmet with a pointer on his head, and had a board of letters attached to his tray, was pushed to the front of the room. He introduced himself with a revoicer, as Matthew Wangeman, the other instructor of our class, and he asked how many of us thought he was a student when we walked in. This was our very first lesson about the perception of people with disabilities.
As Matthew and I have kept in touch over the years, he reached out to me very excitedly about a new project he was working on. He was being filmed in a short documentary! As time went on, I got to see this film’s journey through film festivals across the world where it has won many awards and now it is finally being released!
This film portrays disability from Matthew’s son’s point of view, which is very different from how society at large views disability. As Matthew says, “I think it makes people think about disability differently.”
Recently I asked Matthew to interview him on his success in life and he kindly obliged. When asking about his son, he told me, “I was very scared to have a kid, and I wondered what they would think about having a dad with a disability.” Well, now we know. Please sit back and enjoy My Dad, Matthew.
Congratulations Matthew! I’m so happy for you in this release.
In the comments below, name one part of this documentary that challenged your perceptions of disability.