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Oscars stage had a ramp for first time ever in key moment for disability movement

The ramp was featured in a year in which several movies about people with disabilities were nominated for Oscars.
/ Source: TODAY

Sunday night’s Academy Awards featured a first you may not have realized.

The Twitter account for the Oscar-nominated film “Crip Camp” pointed out the ceremony featured a ramp near the stage.

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“For the first time ever, this year’s #Oscarsstage has a ramp! We are so delighted to see disability inclusion tonight,” the account wrote while retweeting a photo of the stage.

“Crip Camp,” about a summer camp for kids with disabilities where several campers went on to become activists, was nominated for best documentary feature, losing out to “My Octopus Teacher.” Despite that, the movie’s Twitter account noted it was pleased to have made a difference.

“While our film didn’t win Best Documentary Feature, we are proud of the momentum that Crip Camp has created for a push towards disability inclusion,” it wrote. “From tonight’s historic accessible stage to the broadcast’s innovative captioning, it’s clear disability inclusion is here to stay.”

The film has received critical acclaim, including winning Best Documentary Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie shined a light on disability rights, but co-director James LaBrecht says there’s more work to do for people with disabilities in show business.

Judith Heumann, Nicole Newnham, James LeBrecht, Sara Bolder, Andraea LaVant and service dog Gofi LaVant arrive at the Oscars red carpet at the 93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles on April 25, 2021.Matt Petit / A.M.P.A.S. via REUTERS

“It’s just been deeply frustrating but more, like, sobering," he told MSNBC. “It makes me aware of how much further we have left to go.”

“We are 25 percent of the population, but representation on the screen is hovering around one percent,” he added.

In addition to “Crip Camp,” a pair of other films about disabilities were represented at the Academy Awards, in a year that featured a diverse list of nominees.

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“Sound of Metal,” which won a pair of awards and was nominated for four others — including best picture and best actor for Riz Ahmed — focused on a drummer who loses his hearing, while “Feeling Through,” which was nominated for best live action short film, revolved around a teen who meets a man who is deaf and blind.

The Oscars broadcast also featured a moving Google ad about a pair of deaf grandparents communicating with their grandchild during the pandemic that had many people talking.