The entertainment market is fairly saturated when it comes to viewing options. According to a Consumer Reports survey conducted in early 2023, more than half of American households subscribe to four or more streaming services, like AppleTV, Amazon Video, Disney+, Netflix and Max, among others; and almost 1-in-10 subscribe to nine or more. As it turns out, content consumers are willing to give yet another digital channel a chance. ReelAbilities Stream is the first-of-its-kind streaming platform dedicated to a collection of disability-themed films and presented with pioneering accessibility features.
What is ReelAbilities Stream?
In mid July 2023, in alignment with Disability Pride Month, ReelAbilities Film Festival announced and officially introduced ReelAbilities Stream (ReelAbilitiesStream.org). This groundbreaking, online hub aims to celebrate and explore the lives and experiences of people with disabilities.
The digital platform’s mission of inclusion is an extension of that of ReelAbilities Film Festival. This film showcase — dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with disabilities — was founded in 2007 in New York. Since then, the festival has engaged individuals of all abilities on an international scale.
Is There an Audience for ReelAbilities Stream?
In the U.S. alone, at least 61 million (or roughly 1-in-4) adults live with a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The disability community, of course, also includes caregivers, disability allies and so on – meaning, yes, there’s absolutely a significant audience available to engage with ReelAbilities Stream.
The company says that every film on the platform will be equipped with pioneering accessibility features, including full open captions and audio descriptions. Additionally, innovative accessibility features will be rolled out by the end of the year. A press release issued by ReelAbilities declared: “By ensuring that these films are accessible to all, ReelAbilitiesStream.org aims to amplify the voices of individuals with disabilities and drive attention to disability perspectives. This commitment to accessibility will revolutionize the streaming experience for audiences nationwide, fostering a more inclusive cinematic landscape.”
Isaac Zablocki, the Director and Co-Founder of ReelAbilities Film Festival, enthusiastically shared his hopes regarding the new platform. “Over the past fifteen years, our festival has amassed an incredible collection of films that deserve wider recognition. Unfortunately, many of these exceptional works have not been given the attention they deserve. With ReelAbilitiesStream.org, we are proud to establish the most comprehensive platform, amplifying these voices and providing a well-deserved spotlight for these highly demanded films.”
Initially, ReelAbilities Stream will feature more than 50 diverse films connected to the disability experience. Some of the highlighted films available, for example, include Tribeca Film Festival’s award-winning Keep the Change, a comedy featuring young adults on the autistic spectrum, and the Hungarian Academy Award nominated Kills on Wheels, which is about wheelchair users that team up with a hitman. Short films are also part of the catalog, such as 4 Quarters of Silence, centered on a deaf high school football team; and Jmaxx and the Universal Language, highlighting an autistic man who expresses himself through dance.
Presently, ReelAbilities Stream is available on a pay-per-view model, with prices ranging from $1.99 to $3.99 per film. The platform’s tagline is “Accessibility on Demand.” Because, let’s face it, the demand is there — and expanding.