Examining Perceptions of Intelligence: Grant Supports New Film by Dan Habib of the UNH Institute on Disability

March 7, 2016

The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire has received a $200,000 grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) to support Dan Habib's new film project, Intelligent Lives (working title).

The Intelligent Lives Project will include a feature-length, internationally distributed documentary which will examine how the segregation of people with intellectual disabilities became the norm, why this segregation is slowly being dismantled, and how some people with intellectual disabilities are blazing a bold new path. Habib is also creating a 30-minute companion film focusing specifically on youth with disabilities transitioning from high school to employment and higher education.

The project, which will be completed in the fall of 2017, will also include extensive outreach and education tools, as well as screenings and discussions across the country.

"Perceptions of intelligence affect every opportunity for people with disabilities, from inclusion in general education, to access to higher education and the workforce," Habib says. "The support from MEAF is a huge boost as this project examines a central question: Can any attempt to measure intelligence predict a person's value or potential to contribute meaningfully to the world?"

"Intelligent Lives challenges outdated notions of ‘intelligence' by demonstrating the unique abilities every individual possesses," says Kevin R. Webb, Senior Director of the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. "As an organization dedicated to empowering youth with disabilities to lead productive lives, the Foundation is proud to be a lead supporter of this endeavor."

Other funders of the Intelligent Lives Project include: American Federation of Teachers, Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies at the University of Maine, Center for Disabilities at the University of South Dakota, Center for Disability Resources at the University of South Carolina in partnership with the SC Developmental Disabilities Council, Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University, Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston, John P. Hussman Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, New Hampshire Association of Special Education Administrators, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities at Minot State University, and the Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Rochester.

Dan Habib is the creator of the award-winning documentary filmsIncluding Samuel, Who Cares About Kelsey?, and Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories. He screens his films across the country and leads discussions about the challenges and benefits of inclusive education and related topics. Habib delivered a TEDx talk titled Disabling Segregation, and received the Justice for All Grassroots Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2014, Habib was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities-a committee that promotes policies and initiatives that support independence and lifelong inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.

You can learn more about Intelligent Lives, get information about upcoming previews and events, and watch a 14-minute preview featuring Academy Award winning actor Chris Cooper at www.intelligentlives.org.