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AAW 015 McCourt Final.docx
June 15, 2022
Transcription is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.
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Welcome to AccessAbility Works, a podcast about the possibilities of accessibility, people with disabilities. I’m Jonathan Hermus.
And I’m Albert Rizzi. And this is Accessibility Works. Well, today’s interview is going to be with Brian McCourt. He is the founder and CEO of The Able Channel.
So The Able Channel is the first streaming service dedicated to delivering health information, inspiration, innovation that– basically, it’s aimed at 150 million people with disabilities.
And people who have chronic diseases.
Around the world, I supposed, because it’s on the internet.
Yeah. No. It’s–
It’s a really worthwhile endeavor. The channel is really informative and it really positioned people with disabilities in a manner that they’ve never been highlighted before. It draws attention to how we navigate life, how we execute in life, and the challenges we face when trying to execute, in general.
It highlights them in a good way.
Yeah. And. It draws attention to the independence that most of us are capable of having in our lives and again, The Able Channel embraces our mantra that access to the right tools promote stability and restores infinite possibilities in our lives.
The Able Channel and My Blind Spot have collaborated before, correct?
Yeah. I’ve worked with Brian. I know Brian for almost four or five years now, I think. He and Paul– Paul is the editor and cameraman extraordinaire– and I met just as you and I started whatever it is we have going on between us, baby. And they interviewed a number of people from all over the world of ability. Some people had severe dyslexia, which he mentions in the interview and people like John Kemp and Debra Ruh, who we’ve interviewed here.
Mallory Weggemann was going to host the premiere of Together We Are Able. And I believe that it’s supposed to be happening this fall on NBC. And I think NBC has found reason to want to air it because I found out from Brian that the piece they did on me, specifically, won a Gold and Silver Telly Award. Able Channel won four different Tellys– two golds, a silver, and bronze.
Yours, specifically, got a gold and silver.
Yeah. He was impressed by the entries that they made that we got 50% of the win.
And apparently, there was over 12,000 entries for these awards from all 50 states.
All over the world.
And five different continents.
Yeah. And when I took a look at this, I saw people and organizations like Microsoft, Sony, I mean, huge companies that were in the running for these awards. And through Brian’s directorship and Paul’s editing and camera angles, they actually made me look good and we won awards. So that’s an interesting opportunity. We just found out about it, very humbled by.
Well, the Telly Awards were originally to honor the excellence in local-regional television or commercial programming. But in recent years, they have moved into the digital era with the rise of web series, VR stuff, and–
–YouTube or other streaming services.
Yes. And they also highlight and acknowledge the work done around diversity and inclusion, which is what we won the gold for, and social responsibility, which we won the silver award for, when corporations tried to send messages and the concepts around their mission and vision to their employees and their management. A lot of these videos we’ve done with Microsoft, the one we did with Margaret Price, where we were talking about the challenges of, quote unquote, “focusing as a person with a disability in the technology age of war,” the piece we did for American Airlines on traveling with the service animal. So these aren’t really broadcast live like an Emmy.
It’s less of a popularity contest.
I think it is, in a way. It’s about who’s got the best message. Yeah. So it’s not about the–
Not about how many eyes you get to, it’s about your message.
Correct. And I think that to me that’s really humbling. That with the Ted Talk that we’ve done and the various keynotes that I’ve done, it’s just humbling to say the least to get acknowledged for the work we do and the message we are trying to present around authentic inclusion and digital equity. So I’m looking forward to posting that on our social media so everybody can take a look and see what the fuss was all about. The Able Channel is just one of Brian’s significant accomplishments, right, Jon?
Brian may or may not have worked on a cult classic movie in the ’90s. And you’re going to have to find out in the interview that you’re about to listen to, what that movie may or may not have been.
And it may or may not have been one of your favorite cult classics of all time. And one of the new blogs I’ve done is about Madison Avenue seeing people with disabilities as a market base and individuals worthy of hitting runways and print ads. And I tip my hat off to the colors of Benetton that started having diverse people represent their brand and how Madison Avenue has moved full force forward with doing that and now includes people with disabilities.
And as usual, we’d like you to tell two friends so they can tell two friends and so on and so forth and have your friends and family tune in to Accessibility Works by downloading our podcast from Spotify, or Apple, or visiting our website at myblindspot.org.
Or you can check out more information about My Blind Spot on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
All of our social media outlets, this is where you can find out more about us. So without any further ado, we introduce Brian McCourt. Hello, Brian.
Good morning, Albert. Nice to be with you.
Brian, we’ve known each other for a few years. And I can’t even remember how we came to know each other. But somebody introduced you to the unfortunate circumstances around meeting me, and you took lemons and made lemonade, I guess, so to speak.
But we met around work you were doing at The Able Channel. And part of what I want to get to today is, what is The Able Channel? What was the driving force behind it? And a little bit about who Brian McCourt is since you are–
Why don’t we start there? Why don’t we start with who is Brian McCourt?
Who is Brian take it away Brian McCourt?
Well, I can tell you in the context of Able, I spent a large degree of my early career working in both film and television and working with large multinational corporations. And we learned how to create compelling stories at some point. I guess it was in the late ’90s. My son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Subsequently, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My best friend was diagnosed with cancer. Life. So when you ask me who Brian McCourt is? I think I’m a lot like a lot of other people who are essentially dealing with either chronic health conditions or disability. And as a good marketer and a reasonable storyteller, I thought, wow, this is a massive underserved marketplace.
There’s not enough stories being told about people who are everyday folks, who are making a difference but at the same time, are living incredibly compelling lives, transcending an awful lot of challenges, and yet still here and still contributing. And I wanted to be part of that. So that’s the impetus behind The Able Channel, in creating a channel that folks with disabilities and chronic health conditions can learn from others.
That’s one of the interesting. Things and I think what’s endeared me to you from the very first time we met, it was like a kindred spirit. I don’t know about you. But I get along with a lot of people but there are very few people that the minute I meet them, there’s an. Energy and there’s a connection. And that’s been true for everybody that works at The Able Channel.
But with you as the head of it all, one of the things I did not realize until we got to know each other better is that you took what most people would have considered tragic life events and crippling events, instead of rolling over and playing dead, or waiting for death, or coddling your family members who were diagnosed with these conditions or challenges, you all came together and turned it into something to manage, manageable, doable, and it’s part of life that we have these curveballs thrown at us. And you dove into something that drew attention to circumstances that touch all of our lives but very few people tend to have a public forum to discuss it.
I have sort of a question. I don’t think we’ve talked too much about autism spectrum disorder.
Brian, would anything about how the spectrum works? If there’s like a scale or what the scale is? Or how can you explain that for us a little more?
I think that even the medical community is still having a hard time defining that because it’s changed even recently in the DSM diagnosis. And when my son was born with Asperger’s, specifically, it was only a diagnosis in I think it was 1994. So by the time he was born, in ’98, I’d go to the doctor and the doctors would have to look it up. So the preponderance of the incidence of autism spectrum disorder when my son was born, I think it was 1 in 80– I’m sorry, 1 in 180. And now, it’s one in 59.
It’s a situation that’s now impacting a significant amount of the population, especially new births. And it’s something that’s not going away. Now, the causes of it are highly speculative at this point, but you can have varying degrees– if you’ve seen one person with autism, you’ve seen one person with autism spectrum disorder. No two are alike. Those are the facts on autism.
The other thing, Albert, that I liked what you said– and I appreciate the compliment– I came to the realization, because I was hit with so many different folks that were close to me, as a son, friend, father, to realize that everybody– always says, we’re all in this together, but the idea that the population, people living with disabilities or chronic health conditions, is the largest population– minority population on the planet, and also the largest underserved population when it comes to amplifying the issues that they’re faced with, I thought of, as a marketer, the best way to draw attention to it is to expose it to folks who are trying to reach other people.
That means advertising. That means marketing. It means spending power. When you think about a trillion dollars in spending power, according to the statisticians, you’re talking about a significant voting bloc, a significant population that needs to be paid attention to. And the way that you do that is to coalesce the group and give them an opportunity to learn about others who look, and act, and are challenged similarly, and at the same time demonstrate that they are worth communicating to, or showcase it– because at some point, one point or another, I thought I was really struck by one of the interviews we did for the series together We Are Able.
I came to learn that only 17% of people with disabilities are born with them. So that means 83% are– acquire them after birth.
And I know that was your case, Albert.
I was born with mine.
Yeah, John also has dyslexia. He was born with his. Brian, can you tell us what DSM is? You mentioned that earlier– what DSM stands for?
It’s the diagnosis manual that doctors will use to effectively codify all the different diagnoses that you can have. And it’s ever-changing, especially when it comes to things–
Goes with their knowledge.
Yeah, that’s one of the things that I think has happened with the disability community overall and our nation– actually, our nation’s and the world’s comfort level with acknowledging our innate abilities, whether we want to dislabel it and call it a disability– I like to say, don’t dis my ability.
We are more aware of the circumstances that some people are born with, while others do acquire it. It was very interesting that you touched on the percentage of people born with a disability versus those of us who acquire it. 17% of the population are born with a disability, and I think those numbers have dropped because of advancements in science and prenatal care– really helped us understand how to stave off acquisition of a disability, or I think, more importantly, how to understand the needs of that child being born with those abilities in advance of their birth.
But there are still a number of people who are being introduced to or drawn into the disability community through no choice of their own because of any number of illnesses, misdiagnoses like mine, or accidents. And it’s interesting that we are now seeing, like with your son, the acceptance of and the inclusion of people on the autism spectrum, people who are deaf, people who have mobility issues, learning disabilities– the entire list.
And I think it’s combined with our ever-changing understanding of science and– as it relates to diagnosing and for the flushing out the individual aspects of a disorder or of a diagnosis, because again, like you said before, no two people are alike. It’s like a fingerprint. And I find that we understand that, but somehow there’s a disconnect between the way we embrace our loved ones at home versus how we avoid them out in society.
One in four people have a disability, or one in– I think one in three of us know somebody who has a disability. The statistics just get ridiculous to repeat. We’ve known them for years. And yet no one’s going to turn around and call me the blind guy at home. They’re going to just call me Albert.
But when I walk out in public, people all of a sudden put this Post-It on my head and say, he’s disabled. He can’t do squat. And that’s one of the things that I’m hearing in your trials and tribulations is that you’ve never stopped seeing the ability and the possibilities. And that’s one of our mantras that My Blind Spot.
We believe access to the right tools– and tools can be a technology or knowledge– will allow us to promote our own ability, and thereby create infinite possibilities in our lives. So what are you doing with The Able Channel to promote possibilities in people’s lives?
Number one, it’s think about the gap in the marketplace, think about it from a marketing perspective. Health care is 18% of GDP, and of course, disability falls under the health care rubric. From our point of view, what we’re trying to do is to amplify, to provide an amplifier for folks dealing with disabilities and chronic health conditions to tell their stories, to see commonality, to see humanity– their own and others’.
But also– the point that you were making before– one of the things that I’ve learned through these experiences is that we’re all the same at the end of the day, and that the stories that we can tell not only– we’re not talking about the quasi-inspiration porn, which is offensive, where I don’t want to be your inspiration. I get that. We’ve heard that time and again.
We’ve discussed that at length.
With people, people who have disabilities– it’s nice to have the feel good story at the end of the newscast about the kid that shoots the basket and–
Leave off on a happy note.
But the truth of the matter is that, when you live with someone who has a disability or you know someone who has a disability, your perspective on what it is completely changes.
It does, and it’s so significant that the stories that we’re telling are stories of the human spirit.
That’s what we’re focused on. And there’s that commonality that’s common across everyone. The fact of the matter is when you’re living with a disability, as you know, it challenges all other aspects of your life. You think about people that you’d like to hire, for example. Give me the qualities. Tell me the list of traits that you’d want– perseverance, fortitude, think–
Problem solving, thinking outside the box–
–all of those things that we espouse as values while this is a tremendous candidate. But then you think about what it is to put on four prostheses in the morning, to then make a cup of coffee? You can describe it better than I. Just the idea that they’re somehow not qualified to do some other thing– it’s an affront. But at the same time, it’s pretty humorous.
Yeah, it’s insulting. And nust now– funny you should say– we interviewed John Kemp who I believe you know, because you interviewed John Kemp for–
–Together We Are Able. I was always wondering, how did he function? And you just referenced making a cup of coffee. I ran into a hell of a time this morning, because as I told you– and our listeners know– we are approaching the end of a complete reconstruction of our house and living in a 28-foot trailer on our front lawn– lucky us.
And our stove knob has broken so I can’t light a gas stove. And then I tried making coffee this morning and don’t have any locator dots on the screen. And Lord knows what I touched or what I pushed, but John’s like, yeah, you can’t make coffee. So it is very frustrating that you can do these things safe for one thing. Nobody’s looked at things in a universal manner, and nor have they looked at our ability to thrive in spite of conditions and overcome circumstances by troubleshooting on a dime 95% of the time. And yet we’re not worthy of inclusion in our work environments, in our academic environments, and in a lot of instances, our social communities.
Yeah. And the thing I often think about is how inconvenienced we are by traffic or some little inconvenience in the course of a day. Then you think about what other folks who have– are living with a disability are dealing with. And that’s part of their every day. It’s just incredible.
So I guess at the core of it, for me, my son being born and having to understand a different thought process, a different way of looking at the universe, a different way to live was transformational for me personally. And I have a deep abiding respect for both folks that have a disability or acquire one, and then their caregivers as well, because they’re also part of the mix, right?
So bringing it back to Able Channel, my thought was, well, let’s start telling these stories. The best way to change somebody’s perception is to show them something new. And that’s what we’re trying to do with Able is to tell these stories of people that are every day– even in the show Together We Are Able that you’re part of, it’s almost irrelevant– it’s relevant, but it’s irrelevant–
–in terms of what you are, the person you are. And your story makes you better. It makes you stronger. It makes you more compelling. And at the same time, in my mind, it removes any barriers in terms of capability. But you don’t get to see that unless you hear your story.
And it’s the Jon Kemps, as well. It’s the Toby Cosgroves, who’s also in the show, he’s on our board. He’s the former CEO of Cleveland Clinic. He, like you, John, didn’t realize he had dyslexia after he had gone through med school, after he had graduated from Williams, and after he was the number one heart surgeon in the country.
Yeah. And to me, it’s kind of like, spare me the idea that people are not capable despite their disability. Toby says the idea is, in some cases, it’s a gift to those who have to deal with it, who have to live with it.
But the idea for me is to translate that gift to others, just like it was given to me and presented to me. And it increased my knowledge and my experience as a human being to really appreciate what others are going through, and at the same time, giving them a forum to showcase those talents and their stories to inspire others, but at the same time, change the conversation, elevate it, improve it, and also, ultimately, change hearts and minds.
The inspiration I want to, I guess, inspire or initiate in others are in my community. We all need to face life’s challenges head on. Those of us who can wake up every day in spite of the challenges we face and look at the day as a beautiful thing to be appreciated and enjoyed– it transcends physical ability, mental ability.
I think it’s a matter of embracing it in a manner that allows us to feel good about every day we’re alive. And I find that that isn’t exclusive to people with disabilities, but for millennia people with disabilities have been ostracized, disenfranchised, marginalized. You just got to read the story– I say this all the time– the story of the good Samaritan, where the prophet Jesus Christ was in a gutter, and everybody walked by– the rich, the poor, the clergy.
Everybody was just ignoring this man in need. And that’s evidence of the human condition, and it’s very rare that people stop and see us for who we are. And I think that’s what I want to inspire in others. I want them to see who they are. And again, going back to the similarities in who we are, that was something that resonated with us when we were interviewing people who head up Jehovah’s Witnesses. They spoke about how similar we all are.
And people misunderstand the Jehovah’s Witnesses inasmuch as they’re trying to convert us to believe in whatever they believe in. And that’s not the case. They look for the similarities. They look for the oneness, and then allow you to make choices. They’ve happened to make a very accessible platform that people with disabilities can access the passages in the Bible and appreciate it from a historical perspective or from a faith-based perspective.
But again, the oneness in all of us– I think that’s one of the things that escapes our consciousness, because– and I’m going to ask you this directly– I think I know the answer– when it happens to us, we either can crawl into a hole and whine and moan about why we’re being punished, or why we’re being forgotten, or why we’re being left by the wayside, or we can embrace the situation and the circumstances of our life and work what others consider to be a tragedy or a challenge into our everyday DNA.
Find the silver lining.
Find the silver lining, exactly. I’m sorry. And what is your son’s name?
Cameron– all the years we’ve been talking, I did not burn that into my brain. Cameron. When you found out about Cameron’s diagnosis, how much of your emotional energy went to being angry and upset, and a sense of loss or confusion? And how long did it take for you– and again, layering in your mom’s circumstances, your friend’s circumstances, you got a load of stuff thrown at you all at the same time. How did you rise to appreciate that it was just another day, another dollar, and needed to be worked into the schematics of your life and your family’s life?
Well, first of all, based on what I was dealing with, I was feeling like you may not want to know me, right?
Everybody I knew– something was going on. But let me talk about Cam and the experience. I didn’t accept it. I was in denial. I denied it. I couldn’t believe that this was happening. It’s interesting, because I did volunteer work with folks with disabilities earlier in my career just as part of working in the community.
I would see children with disabilities and say, my goodness, I know I could not do that. This is prior to having children. I don’t know how their parents manage them, how they manage whatever their circumstance is. And then, when it happened, I was in complete denial about it. And then, as I grew to understand it and live with it, I thought it was more of a gift at the end of the day, because it changed me.
It changed my tolerance. It changed my perspective. And folks with autism, as it is as well folks with dyslexia, as Toby had said in the interview we did with him, is that people that think differently actually change the world, right?
Nothing new there– but when it changes you personally, that’s transformative. And when I thought about my journey with him, and then my mom, and friends, et cetera, I realized that we live in a country where one of our biggest exports is communication, the things that we’ve really perfected and a lot of– and destroyed at the same time.
I was going to say–
Yes. So we don’t need to look much further than the fact that there’s– the CDC came out a week ago or so and saying that misinformation is actually a threat to our health.
That is true. And so the idea that the community writ large can have a place where they can be seen, heard, and understood is really important, because I can learn from you, you can learn from me, clearly. But in the community of disability and chronic health, there’s such a need for resource, and connectivity, and shared experience, and hope. And that’s exactly what I’ve seen.
I love it.
I’ve seen people like you and [INAUDIBLE], who is the person who introduced us–
Absolutely. Yes, right.
–folks like that that are literally changing the world and being champions. But then again, our platform is about [INAUDIBLE], who’s lost his leg to cancer and is a dancer out in Las Vegas for Cirque Du Soleil. These are people who are living despite and in spite of their circumstance–
–and have all the skill to add to society and all of that contribution. We want to tell those stories. We want to amplify that, their experience, because it improves us.
And one of the things you touched on that resonates for me, because I remember when I first lost my eyesight, my parents were both just– I won’t say devastated. They were happy to have their son back, plain and simple. You know that story. But what my mother would say is, I don’t know how you do what you do. I’d be in a fetal position waiting for death.
Well, that’s not who they raised, but I can understand that being a choice. But that gets back to my feelings of, why don’t we have a smooth integration and assimilation of people from the disability community, who are adept, capable, who are not dependent on the kindness of strangers, who are, like me, like John, like Cameron, and John– the list goes on and on.
How many Johns do we have?
We have many Johns, and ain’t none of them paying me anymore. But we look at a sense of at least– I’m going to break this up in two segments– society– we are fearful of dealing with a person with disability, I think, and breaking it down to an elementary level, because we might acquire it more than usual these days, because we said 83% of these disabilities are acquired.
So you have that fear factor. I might catch it. I might get it– or a fear factor that our loved one who was born with it is going out into the world exposed, so we coddle them. And then we have this guilt factor. You talk about a 12-step program, dealing with the denial, dealing with the anger, dealing with the guilt factor of not being able to protect our loved ones sufficiently that– they were born with it or they got into that accident.
And you have this unconscious, conscious– I’m going to call it a bias. But you can be conscious and unconscious at the same time. I think I’ve done that a few times in college. But the fear and guilt factor combined is a very powerful barrier to the inclusion. I think those are the things that we need to address.
And one of the things you touched on before too is that our personal care assistants, the family that is helping us– I don’t consider John my personal care assistant, but then I can’t make coffee. My computer crashes. There are systems that I get. And I think it’s important. One of the things that I appreciated with the direction The Able Channel takes the narrative is this is not happening to a person.
This is happening to a community of people who are of like mind, like spirit, who are Americans, who want to see everybody thrive and live the dream. And I think we lose sight of that– no pun intended. I think we all isolate ourselves and lose hope, and have it beat out of us because of the frustrations around the changing circumstances with scientific advancements for diagnoses and the antiquated myths and misperceptions that have been drilled into our minds for hundreds of thousands of years about disability.
So The Able Channel’s going to be able to bring together a few communities, a number of mindsets to establish that oneness we all have, and hopefully move people with disabilities away from being taxing dependents on Social Security systems or public assistance programs. And if we work together to enlighten people about ability, we can then create avenues to having people with a disability become independent taxpayers and live the American dream.
Couldn’t agree more. I think one of the things that John Kemp talked about was the lack of hiring of people with disabilities since ADA was passed. Was it 1% increase in 30 years?
That’s a staggering statistic.
That’s one of the things too. Tom Harkin–
They were disappointed in how little impact the passage of the ADA had on employment opportunities and careers with upward mobility for people with disabilities.
It’s pretty profound. The one thing that really struck me of all the key learnings that I’ve had over the last couple of years building this is just how fragile life is. And we’ve seen this now, obviously, with the pandemic, that life can turn on a dime. So many people have lost loved ones, and are challenged by health concerns that they never had preconceived being an issue.
So I think the fragility of life, that it turns on a dime and it can change in a heartbeat, is something that people are acutely aware of now. And I think, with respect to Able, our goal is to provide this opportunity for folks to learn from others and also work with some of the leading medical organizations, hospitals, doctors, et cetera, to provide credible health care information and resources to folks who need it the most.
The other part is– what’s also interesting is that when everybody went home to work essentially– the disabled community has been working from home for a long period of time.
Yes, if you can call it work.
Yes, well, if you can call it work. Right. But my point is that the ability to transition– those things that you talked about before, to always be adapting, to always be accommodating, to always having to overcome or manage– those skills are– now have to be acquired and be universal. So with respect to Able, our thought process was, let’s provide access to health care content, credible stories, and the resources at the community level, to your point, local and nationally, where folks can learn. Unfortunately, we don’t read as much as we used to. That’s one of the hallmarks of the age that we’re currently in. And we tend to believe video more than we do the printed word.
Right, or memes.
I happen to think we read at least the same amount, because we have to read on the screen sometimes.
The content that we’re reading–
It’s a different kind of reading.
It’s the content.
It is. It’s the depth. You’re reading headline, maybe first paragraph. Then you go through the filter system of, where is this coming from, what’s the point of view, et cetera?
It’s not like reading a book, because the book has one block of content. If you’re reading off the internet, you can follow a thread, and keep searching things and going different places.
You’re an exceptional human being, because you don’t trust what you read. You dig deeper. A lot of people–
Yeah, I agree. Not many people will do that. Some people will just take the face value and run with it.
And I don’t think that’s the right thing to do.
That’s what I think Brian is talking about, the situations where we want immediate satisfaction, immediate gratification all in a second, and we don’t want to dig deeper to find out truths.
That’s a different problem than–
–people not reading.
But they’re not reading deeper enough, I guess. But go ahead, Brian. Continue your thought.
Yeah, my point was that the ability to amplify and tell these stories, whether they’re long form or short form, ultra short form, that’s what we’re doing, is we’re giving them that platform to tell those stories to have the largest impact, and also being emblematic and representative of folks that are dealing with various issues that don’t necessarily have a place to be seen, and heard, and understood, as I said before.
So our goal is quite clear. We want to make the world healthier in a large measure. Right now we have a few programs. We actually release a program called Surviving Suicide.
Another hot topic– I’m sorry. That is such an important topic. We don’t talk about the issues and the challenges faced by somebody who makes that choice, and never once realizing how it’s not just impacting them, but it’s leaving scars with their loved ones after the fact. We need to have an open forum about that. That’s fantastic. Go.
Surviving Suicide is like, a catch-22.
It is, but the basis for the series is– it’s a six-part, six-episode series. It’s on our preview channel. If you go to www.theablechannel.com, you can click on the Preview Channel and watch the series. It tells six stories of folks that either attempted suicide and lived to tell this story– and the lives that they’ve led in response to it are incredible. And again, it’s about providing a resource to others. And the other group of stories is about folks who have lost loved ones to suicide, and the impact to your point–
–Albert. What that series has really helped us do is– and even tweeted out by NAMI, which is the folks that essentially are focused on mental health at the federal level. What we’re trying to do is tell these stories, because they’re not necessarily being told. And before we release the series, we were told that people don’t want to hear about suicide.
And that’s the other thing that’s important about Able is we were trying to focus on, and still are focusing on mental health issues that affect all communities, people with disabilities–
We call them temporarily able.
Right. Because we’re inexorably all headed toward some sort of disability, whether that’s age–
–or something But in the context of the Surviving Suicide program, it’s become a resource for people who are struggling, and then connecting them to the appropriate health care resources. That’s part of what we see as Able Channel’s value proposition, especially in the health care space with those that we’re working with, which are, as I said, leading health care organizations, to tell these stories so that others who identify with those conditions and disabilities have a place to go where they can see themselves, and also understand that they’re not alone and that there are resources. That’s really important too.
And I think, again, going back to the silver linings of the pandemic, we touched on a few different points, but it seems as though, for us, for me, we’ve noticed more attention paid to remote work from home opportunities. I remember, when I first lost my eyesight, I was told with two master’s degrees and significant amount of business acumen that I needed to volunteer for a couple of years to make people feel good about what a blind person could do, and then maybe get a $10 an hour job.
That’s not happening. And that’s what we do. We lower the bar for people, because they’ve all of a sudden lost what we traditionally think is an important sense, whatever that sense might be or whatever that physical ability might be. I think that’s an important part of what came out of this for me. And we realized that at least 50% of the work-related positions could be done from home.
And in the past, when the disability community asked for that as a reasonable accommodation, we were told it couldn’t happen. So I’m hoping to see a shift in a major way for corporate America to reevaluate their workday and include structures and mechanisms that include remote work from home opportunities that need to be digitally inclusive and designed the right way, people, so we can give people with disabilities an opportunity to thrive.
And the other thing that seemed to jump out at me that you spoke about here is the #MeToo movement is similar in nature, in the fact that, oh, that happened to me too, or this is happening to me too. And you see how our nation has become maybe something overly sensitized to, or seeing the first time ever, the subjugation that was imposed on women, and still is.
And it’s been for– again, since the dawn of time, basically. But there are correlations and historical milestones that have been met in the African-American communities, the women community, the LGBT community, where it’s no longer a badge of abnormality to be a member of that community. And it’s time for the disability community to ride that wave, and take those historical successes and implement them in a way that allows us to be elevated to a point in our society where we’re celebrated, included, and valued.
I totally agree. I think that’s really what the show that you’re in is all about. Together We Are Able is about breaking down those stereotypes, examplifying and showcasing how people living with disabilities are impacting everybody’s lives on a regular basis. So it’s about redefining and elevating the conversation around what it is, and changing perception. Once you start seeing yourself– the common themes in those stories, it demystifies it. And it–
It makes it much more– OK, I get it. Maybe I’m a hiring manager. Maybe I’m a friend of somebody. Maybe my perception changes just incrementally. That’s an important learning from our perspective. And that’s the reason why Able is in existence, but it’s also becoming a resource to folks who are seeing their health care in a different way and utilizing it like that.
When it comes to health care too, I include mental wellness and mental well-being. And one of the things I learned back in the ’80s, when I was volunteering for a company called MTS, Multitasking Systems, when people were dying of AIDS before they were living with HIV– the cure is working– not that we had a solution to the illness, but being able to go to work, with a capital W, cures a lot of ills. And I think that’s one of the things that has escaped our community.
Just feels good?
Yeah, no, being able– you have a reason to wake up in the morning.
I think we both have dealt with the frustrations of, what am I going to wake up and do today? Imagine if that’s all you had to think about. And I think that employment is a great way to allow for assimilation. It’s socialization. It’s financial empowerment, enrichment. And we need to stop looking at these sheltered sites, where we can pay people with the disability much less than a person of ability, or temporarily abled.
To that point, you and I have discussed this ad nauseum, Brian, that we believe that people with disabilities are at the intersectionality of all other groups, whether it’s race, gender orientation, religion, age. At some point in time, somebody somewhere in this world will acquire a disability or a limitation of their senses or their mobility, and by default, join this acclaimed group of individuals that has movers and shakers that have impacted the human condition for thousands of years, but just don’t get the acknowledgment sufficient to have us be seen in our schools and our workplaces. Would you agree?
Absolutely. That’s really the core of what Able is about is showcasing those stories, and telling those tales, if you will, and showcasing what people are really capable of, just demystifying all of it. One of the great things about even the interview that I did with you is, what is it like to be blind? Because people were– are taught to either avoid, or don’t stare, or don’t do this, or don’t approach.
Yeah, don’t acknowledge. It’s the story that you told previously.
I thought, why not get the opportunity to tell people what it is, and tell me your story? Your story is as compelling as it gets. In fact, the series– some of the episodes are already being played on Delta in-flight entertainment. And your story is one of those stories.
Shut up. I’m flying Delta?
That’s really cool. And I did not know that, so I need to be updated on that memo.
The goal there is, again, to propagate in places where people are going to start seeing it be commonplace, that these stories and what people are capable of starts to become normalized.
So Delta, American Airlines, Jet Blue, Hawaiian Air, Alaska, Delta, get on board. No, I didn’t know that. That’s fantastic. So now, I would say, what was your motivation or what was your inspiration, but you had so many different people in your life, because when you were growing up– going back to some of the things the stories you and I discussed about my experiences as I transitioned into the blind community– did you have any people with disabilities in your life?
I did, but I just thought they were my cousin John, my friend Ellen, my cousin Christopher. I didn’t look at them as people with disabilities. They were just who they were. Did you have that experience growing up? Did you have anybody in your family that had a disability?
Not that I was aware of, to your point–
Probably, but the knowledge is much more front and center these days. But I was going to say that, as time goes on, as we age, it’s inevitable that you’ll know somebody, as you said before. What is it, one in three will be disabled before retirement or have a disability before retirement?
That’s a fact.
It shows. If you think about it enough, you know people like that.
They’re retiring and they definitely have a couple of disabilities.
And whether it’s mobility or not– and then that’s the thing, too, you touched on earlier, that– again, that is a fact. We are all going to acquire some compromise or limitation to all of our abilities. What is a fact is there are 1.4 billion people in the world with a disability. What is a fact– we have 2.3 billion friends and family.
What is a fact is we have $8 trillion of discretionary spending power all around the world. What is a fact is we have $4.9 trillion of that resting in North America, where there is 62 million people in the United States alone. I’m not including Canada, because I don’t have those numbers at the top of my head.
And in North America, we have over $300 billion of– billion, not trillion– billion dollars of disposable income. Those statistics absolutely demand that corporate America and our society look at us as a market to be contended with, a voting bloc to be contended with, because– I always make this analogy about Forrest Gump.
If Forrest Gump was the middle– median individual from the disability community– our global society sees people with disabilities as acquiring daily care, they have to be fed and changed– all of this stuff. And that is a percentage of people, and we’re not denying they need value and they need to be cared for to their level of ability.
But that leaves– if we do this conservatively and divided the number in half, 31 million people are Forrest Gump or smarter, or Forrest Gump and capable. And we’re not providing avenues for upward mobility, academic enrichment, or social inclusion to those people based upon antiquated myths and misperceptions about what we can do. And that’s where The Able Channel comes in, for me anyway.
You’re seeing it similar to me. Unfortunately, because just the way the system works, if you don’t have critical mass, if you don’t have a market size that is, to your point, scalable and scalable–
–then you will not have any attention or help. And there are a lot of disparate voices, depending on what you’re struggling with. There’s camps that are divided within the community as a whole, but with Able, we’re talking about chronic health conditions which become debilitating and people living with disabilities, and we put them on a platform in a forum that says, these are the stories that we’re telling, and then connect them to resources– community resources, medical resources– and become incorporated into the care of that particular family or person.
So the idea is it’s a platform, yes, it is a streaming service, but it can actually be integrated into your care path as part of your ongoing lifestyle.
So Brian, have you had a lot of difficulties trying to get Able Channel off the ground?
No. It’s interesting. I should say it’s a heroic undertaking. Let me put it to you that way. It’s a, big, big idea, and it’s also a big opportunity. Now, what’s interesting is that, through the pandemic, and prior to, people have been cutting the cord and essentially adopting streaming. With the pandemic, everything from telemedicine to virtual care has only accelerated. So the value of the application has only increased versus if you think about it as a traditional [INAUDIBLE].
You’re riding the wave of the switch from cable to the internet.
Yes. There’s two things. One is the consumerization of health care and virtual care alongside of the cord cutting and people going to vertical channel consumption of content that they want to see. Now, seeing it historically, it’s all been related to entertainment. What Able Channel is, is it’s not just entertainment-based, because we have programs that are entertaining, compelling, from documentaries to episodic programming, but also incorporating that into your health care itself with partners.
So it becomes, if your son or daughter is diagnosed with autism, the doctor will say, we want you to watch this particular program on this, this condition. So that’s what Able Channel is able to do when I say it’s incorporated into your health care.
Second piece was socioeconomics and social determinants of health are major impacts for most people today. If I was able because of my socioeconomic advantage to send my son to $400 an hour therapy so that he could eventually do what he’s done, which is remediated a lot of his issues, ultimately just graduated from college with a degree in video game design–
He’s a video game designer?
He is, yeah.
Among other things– but the point is that I was spending that kind of money for OT, and sensory integration, and social skills training, and all of those other things. Well, Able Channel is able to take those same services and put them into a video format so that people who are socioeconomically disadvantaged can watch the content so that their child can get the therapy that I was spending $400 for now on the channel itself.
Your son– does he work for any particular video game company, or is he working on his own? Or what is he doing?
Oh, he just graduated–
–from college, so he’s now out there looking for a job, and doing quite well. In addition to that, he’s a musician.
Musician? What does he play? Sorry. Sudden interest in your son–
Because of his Asperger’s, he– one of the gifts is he recognizes patterns.
He’s a rapper.
I’d love to hear some of his work sometime.
I would be glad to share it with you. It’s amazing. I know I’m the proud father, but his wordplay is incredible.
I’d love to hear it, because I find the same kind of thing with being dyslexic. I’m a bit of a writer myself– not that I’m very accomplished, but I do love to write poetry, and written a rap here too. But I’m not– I’m too white, I guess.
Well, like I said, it can be– the gifts you get are as many as the challenges, I believe.
Yeah. That’s one of the things that I believe. And I’ve said this to you. I said it to John. I think I’ve said it to everybody I get a chance to speak with. I definitely consider the way I see today as a gift.
It’s not for the faint of heart. Don’t get me wrong. It does not mean I don’t have days where I’m frustrated with the way I see, but I have never seen more clearly in my entire life as I have since losing my eyesight. And I think that’s some of the things too that you embody for me, Brian, through The Able Channel as well. You allow people to feel good about themselves in spite of what our society sees or doesn’t see in us.
As the saying goes, the camera doesn’t lie. You know, Albert, your story is incredible unto itself, but your energy is– just comes through. It comes through even in this conversation. But on camera, when you hear what you went through and the life that you’ve built, and you’re not taking it lying down– you’re getting up, and you’re asserting yourself, and you’re impacting other people’s lives. That’s what you did. That’s what you’re doing. That’s what people with disabilities, a lot of them that I’ve met, are doing.
It’s enhanced my life. It’s changed my perspective, it’s made me a better person, and it’s really made me want to utilize whatever skills and limited time I have to just accelerate those stories and empower folks to understand what other people are going through, and actually see them– as you said before, seeing yourself in someone else.
I just got chills. And, again, you hit a [INAUDIBLE] button for me. I’m happy to be here doing what I do. I’m blessed for people to see me as Albert, and not as a blind person and then any other thing before they get down to Albert. My family– and that includes John’s family– my family always says, we don’t know how you do what you do.
And I’m always walking around and saying, God, I don’t do enough. John and I were just having this heart-to-heart the other day about how, I can’t even play a fricking video game. I can’t get in the car and go. At least the types of things that I was used to doing with my eyes just aren’t capable anymore.
I envy, and I value, and I am so proud to have John by my side as he goes in and works on our house with the contractor, who is a friend of mine since I was four. He’s able to go in and, as silly as it sounds, put on handles to our cabinets. All of that– I still beat myself up for what I am looking at–
Well, you could sand the banister. It has nothing to do with your eyes. It’s all about feeling.
No, but there are things that I can do. And that’s the one thing that I– my family, John’s father, my father, my mother, his mother, our brothers, our sister– they all sayk, look, there’s things you can do that nobody else would be doing right now if they were blind, or even if they were sighted. So being, quote, unquote, “normal” is something I have never been, but boy, am I trying hard to fit into that square peg– my round hole into that square peg. But that’s that. I’m going back under my emotional rock right now.
I don’t think that’s possible.
No, no, I wear my emotions on a sleeve.
That’s who you are.
The world needs more of that. I see that, and I hear what you’re saying. Everything you’re doing is making the world better for others. It’s interesting. You hit on something that’s uncommon across society, but it’s common across folks that I’ve interviewed for the program– is your sense that you’re not doing enough.
There’s no quit. There’s no, I’m done. I’m satisfied. Well, I can’t do this. None of that comes through. And that’s something that we all could use, that when the chips are down or things are difficult, the stories that we’re telling and the stories that you’re brave enough to share and gracious enough to share are ultimately holding us to a higher standard. That, to me, is super important.
That’s part of why I feel there’s a calling happening here. My higher power wants me to establish a new benchmark, a new gold standard. And I don’t say that lightly, and I am trying to say it with humility, because members of my community have been told forever that, you just sit here. Let us get you your food, let us turn on your television for you, and you just wait for death. That’s not happening.
And then I get nervous about the people who are in the community, and then maybe they’re frustrated by the things I’m doing, as opposed to understanding they could do. It’s a very delicate walk. And still, at the same time, as you mentioned– and I’ve had this conversation with other colleagues of mine who are movers, and shakers, and changers of the world’s condition– that you never feel you’re doing enough.
I don’t know whether that is attributed to our disability or who we are in our mind, our heart, and our soul to begin with that just got accentuated, or as you’ve said, amplified because of our circumstances.
Absolutely. And I often think about, like you’re saying– and I can’t speak for you– the idea of wanting to be part of the other community or to get back what you lost. And it’s that balancing act between what you lost and what you gained that I see all the time. And I truly believe that people not living with a disability have a lot to gain from knowing people who do.
There was just this quote. I surf the social media from time to time. I don’t partake of it in relation–
The social media?
The social media.
The social media.
Social media is plural.
There’s a bunch of them.
I don’t ride the internet to share whether or not I had diarrhea or a bad meal at Chipotle.
Yeah, some people share way too much.
Way too much– I do inspirational quotes, and one of the quotes I had come across my desk and I posed it out was, I felt bad about not having shoes until I met somebody who had no feet. When I do public speaking, or keynotes, or interviews, I tend to try and draw a correlation between my trials and tribulations and other people’s trials and tribulations to emote or elicit a compassionate empathy, rather than sympathy, because that quote really embodied that for me.
I am so sad I don’t have any shoes. Oh, wow, could you imagine if I had no feet? And you become empathetic, which I think does more to promote inclusion. Compassionate, empathy does more to promote inclusion period, whether it’s for disabilities, whether it’s for Asians, whether it’s for women, gays, blacks– whatever it is– than the prescribed sympathetic approach, because it’s, quote, unquote, “the right thing to do.” So that’s my truth, and I’m sticking to it.
But now, Brian, I know you have a rich history, and you touched on that you were working in television and film. And there’s a couple of films that you’ve worked on that I know John’s excited to discuss with–
Oh, here it comes.
–discuss with you. What are you laughing at?
I said, here it comes.
Here it comes. Here it comes.
Here it comes.
Do you want to ask him, or should I?
Can we talked about Blair Witch Project, and how that movie shaped my childhood, how I didn’t go in the woods for like two weeks after I watched it?
I remember too– so that movie– I remember seeing it. We used to have a camp up in the Adirondacks, and I was sufficiently skeptical– and I think I even told you before. I said, eh, I never watched that movie. It didn’t impress me. And it was a dynamo in the box office. It took the world by storm.
Yeah, it’s a cult classic.
Most people don’t know– nobody knows about me, I guess– I do haunted houses almost every Halloween.
He was just out yesterday scoping–
–out a venue.
–9 times out of 10, they’ll have a section– if it’s a trail in the woods, they’ll have a Blair Witch Project section. And the one I’m doing this year has a Blair–
The Blair Witch Project.
Yeah– has a Blair Witch section.
To your credit, you’ve inspired people all over the world. But it was funny too– I’ll let you speak in a moment, because we’re just overwhelmed with the fact that we’re able to talk about Blair Witch Project– and 2012, by the way. And I remember– it was some award ceremony. I want to say it was the Oscars, but I’m not sure. I can’t recollect.
But I remember being in the room of people, and at least four of them said, wait a second, they didn’t die? That wasn’t a documentary? People really believed. They got up to accept the award. I’m like, oh my God, you people. So what did you do with that? Because I know that its popularity had a lot to do with.
Well, I can’t take credit for that I just. Specifically, you’re asking me my involvement or you’re asking me about the– about your fear of the woods?
Well, that doesn’t– no. My fear of the woods is irrelevant.
We were talking about your involvement.
Yeah, no, it’s– the things that I took away from Blair Witch was that, number one, storytelling is old as time.
It’s how we emerged from the cave–
–telling each other, hunt over there, don’t hunt over there, eat those berries, don’t eat these.
Stay away from that sand pit.
Fear of the dark.
And the fear of the–
Fear the dark.
Fear of the dark, and also sitting around the campfire and being in the woods, which is– I guess there’s something in our DNA that the program resonated around. I’ll give you the quick nickel tour is the folks that produced it were friends of mine. They were film students, and also had a daytime job. And we would work together on commercial ventures.
And when they started making the film– the film is actually pretty interesting. There was a lot of interesting anecdotes I could share with you, but the interesting thing to me– the huge takeaway was that confluence of the internet exploding, the dot com phase, because it was ’97, ’98, in that time frame.
And the confluence of the internet exploding and the fact that– the accessibility of moviemaking equipment, if you will, because generally, back in the day it was very expensive to make films, and you needed huge studio, budgets, and so on to actually get your film made. But credit to the guys, my friends, who were producers on the program, and had the idea in the first place, that they saw that trend.
And back in the day, there was no social media. You talked about social media. So what they did was the strategy was to go into chat rooms and put disinformation into those chat rooms, which we now know to be commonplace–
–and say– tell the story about the missing students, and at the same time, going on college campuses and putting out, have you seen these missing students– which you can’t do today.
You ruined it for everybody.
And then really targeting the demographic of the kids, because none of those kids were actors. They were just cast to be in the film. It was very, very low budget. And in fact, it played into the fears of people, because it was shot first person. So in other words, I’m not sure–
It was found– they call it found footage now.
Yeah, found footage, but– yeah, and it’s become its own genre, right?
Right. And that was the original found footage.
But the idea that actually came from Robin his father who was a– Robin was a friend of mine, who is a producer. His father was a trainer in South Africa. It’s where he comes from. And instead of watching a corporate training film, where you’d shoot somebody talking to camera, he switched it around.
He put the camera on the person who was both watching and receiving the message. And so you got perspective from both sides of things. Now, if you remember, back in the ’80s and ’90s, you also had the shaky cam that was innovated by folks at MTV.
I got to say that Blair Witch Project did it right, and then the shaky camera stuff made me feel nauseous.
The Blair Witch was good, and then everything else that came after it was terrible. And so it kind of–
It sort of petered out. It stopped being so popular, and now it’s– every now and again, you catch another one, something to do with the shakiness. And it’s just nauseating.
So this may be too much granularity for you, but what I’m saying is it was a confluence of a multitude of happenstances that actually made it be what it was. So it was low cost, accessibility to equipment. Number two was chat room distribution of content, which– prior to that point, Hollywood really didn’t pay much attention to use of the internet to generate as much information and buzz as possible.
And then the third piece was the fact that it was sold at Sundance and then distributed out beyond and amplified to the marketplace, and really turned filmmaking on its head, because there’s different numbers that are associated with it– $60,000 to make the film. It was more than that. But, at the box office, to do over $200 million was–
That was a good return on an investment.
A crazy return Yeah for–
Like you said, they used minimal amount of film– of–
Pretty much. Pretty much, the minimal amount of effort to make an amazing film that grossed so much–
Well, the thing of it is–
–and is still popular today.
–it’s an interesting film from a lot of different perspectives. Because I’d seen the first six cuts of the film, and was like, man, I could make this myself, right, with my kid. But at the end of the day, because– you have to also understand there were multiple things going on in the film making itself.
There was really no script. There were just cue cards. And the kids were out in the woods, and kept awake for inordinate amounts of time with no food, et cetera, and waking them up, and then giving them the– what’s going to happen that day. So if you’ve ever traveled and have been sleep deprived. It’s going to impact your emotional sensibility, right?
That makes sense, but now it’s like, I don’t think you can do that anymore. There’s probably laws against that.
Yeah, there probably are, but my whole point is that, back to the takeaway, the takeaway was that, in time and space, you’re going to get lucky that things are going to line up, at the right time and the right piece, the differentiated point of view.
It had to be in ’98. It had to be those people at that time doing the things that they did where they were doing them. That’s just the relativeness of the universe.
Well, that’s just typical too. And I think, again, if–
To do the same thing today, it’s probably just going to be a popular YouTube video for five minutes.
Well, that’s also because we have an attention span of a flea.
And there’s a lot more creators out there right now.
Yeah, and I think I think the way you interpreted that is circumstances, timing– there are so many outside influences and influencers that allowed Blair Witch to be this mega– what are you calling it, John– a cult–
–cult classic– that I drew from our conversations, correlations to what’s happening in my life. I actually had best confluence of opportunities to choose to be blind, or come back as a blind person, to actually succeed at what I’m doing, because there was this remarkable marriage of circumstances– time, science, and everything.
Yeah, so all of that went into the marketing and making of Blair Witch Project– I can’t believe you went on to school campuses and said, have you seen these kids? I did not remember that at all. That’s wild. So Brian, I guess, as we come to the close of our time with you, I’d like to know what is on the horizon for Brian McCourt and The Able Channel.
Well, we’re slowly rolling out series after series on the channel itself. You can go to the preview channel and look at the Surviving Suicide program, which we’re enormously proud of. We also have Together We Are Able series that you’re in. And the other thing that we’re doing is expanding, as I said before, the accessibility to the content or access to the content is not just coming through your normal Roku and Apple TVs of the world, where you will be able to get access to the channel.
The goal for us is to be integrated into care path with hospitals and with health care providers so that they can direct their patients and their folks that they’re essentially– need access to information to have access to the channel as part of their care path. So we’re working with, as I said throughout the interview, some of the largest, most well-known organizations, the hospital systems, et cetera to deliver the content in a health care setting so– can actually touch people’s lives who are going through various health challenges, and having been diagnosed with a disability.
That’s one of the things I think that’s critically important, and I noticed was seriously lacking when I lost my eyesight. Our doctors tend to want to stave off the advancement of acquiring a disability or a limitation, but then, once their Hippocratic oath isn’t sufficient enough to stop the progression, they don’t know what to say to you after you’ve lost your eyesight. They don’t know what to say to you after you had to have your limbs removed.
And I think a platform like The Able Channel, and any interview we do in the future, may want to focus in on these health care providers understanding the human side of their wishes and hopes to cure us, and prepare us, and give us avenues to search for that information that allows us to be a stronger, more independent, adept person who happens to be blind. I had to struggle to find the answers to the questions that I needed answers to in order just to walk upright and use a computer.
Yes. That’s a super important part of what we’re doing with Able. It’s not just another streaming service. It’s a streaming service that’s 100% dedicated to health– to your health, depending on what your condition is. Even if you’re well, we want you to stay well. And so we saw the opportunity to work with some of the best hospital systems to do exactly what you just said, Albert. We have a series called So You Have, which basically tells you, so you have Parkinson’s–
–so you have depression, so you have cancer– because the doctor only gets 5 or 10 minutes with you to tell you what you have, and then you’re kind of left reeling. It’s a PTSD event.
You may be there with a spouse, who’s also trying to process what the doctor’s saying. So that series in and of itself is– you’d be able to watch– understand what you have, number one; number two, who else has what you have. So you see that others have also gone through what you’re about to go through or is in your future. And then the third piece is, what are we going to do about it?
So now the series itself is actually, as I said, supplemental to your care path. And it also helps you to share that with your other family members, et cetera, because once you get a diagnosis, it is a family affair. The ability for us to utilize content to actually help educate, inform, and inspire others is really what Able Channel’s all about. And the ability for us to touch the patient at point of care is super important.
So Brian, tell people where they can tune in to The Able Channel, where they can find you on the internet.
Sure. We’re at theablechannel.com, so T-H-E ablechannel.com. And it’s essentially our website, but you can go and click on and view the preview channel. And then ultimately, as I said before, we will be available on other streaming boxes, like Roku and Apple.
Any films in your future? And do you need a stunningly handsome blind leading actor?
I thought we already shot your spot.
I’m B footage on the floor. I know where I went in the editing process. Any films in your future?
Well, that’s what we’re doing is we’re creating programs now– these are episodic programs multi episodic programs like you’d watch on any other streaming service, but all dedicated to health care. And then, as part of it, we do all forms of videos. So we can do film, we can do documentary, we can do docu follow. We can do long form, short form, snackable. It doesn’t matter. People want to consume content how they want it, where they want it.
Basically, you’re doing whatever makes sense, whatever works.
Right, yeah. Depending on what the issue is, if it requires– like for Surviving Suicide, I think the episodes themselves are roughly half an hour, so those would be longer form. But we also have short form content that you can consume, like Good Health Minutes, snackable daily programming to keep you well.
Very good. Just to keep the tradition alive, give me a sentence with the word– how did you say it? Oh my God. I was supposed to say, I am with the word able in it. You had required all of us to sign off with some little tagline. I want you to do that for us right now.
How about if I say this? Is Brian McCourt. I’m the CEO of The Able Channel, and I’m pleased to have participated with AccessAbility Works.
That sounds great.
No one said it yet. Well, Brian, thank you so much for joining us today. We really appreciate it. I appreciate your friendship, I appreciate your vision, and I appreciate everything that you’re doing at The Able Channel to promote awareness about ability.
It’s been my pleasure. I appreciate the time and the opportunity to talk to you about what we’re doing. And keep up the good work yourselves.
That was Brian McCourt. I kind of– as blunt as I am– saw you get all excited at two points in the interview. Do you know which ones they were?
Well, definitely The Blair Witch Project.
The Blair Witch Project, and when you found out that his son Cameron was a video game designer.
I mean, just the fact that his dad is the guy with Able Channel, and video games seem to be on the cutting edge of accessibility, I think those are going really hand in hand, and they should be really working together on that.
We’re looking forward to getting an update on and Cameron’s job search since we’ve spoken to Brian. The only thing he could tell us about was the gold and silver awards we won through the Telly Award program, which is just, again, so humbling and so unbelievable. And then, when he was talking about something near and dear to our hearts, the program that he produced called Surviving Suicide, that was a Telly Award winner in 2021.
And if you look in the show notes for this episode, we have a link in there for the Telly Awards, and Able Channel, and probably a couple of other things that I’m forgetting.
And if you have a thought for the show– and we’ve been getting some interesting suggestions– don’t forget to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org– and again, myblindspot.org for any and all information about organization and what we do. Be sure to keep an ear out for our next podcast, where we interview friends [? Ing Smith ?] and Andrew [? Himler. ?]
They were listeners of our show, and submitted something for us to include as a guest blog that I think Andrew wrote. And they are guys who work together, and they really pursue the possibilities of accessibility for people with disabilities out in a fishing string. They went fishing together, and their friendship has been something–
As with most of our guests, they have a great story. [INAUDIBLE] is a professional chef, and that’s how they met. And they go fishing, and it’s about their overcoming–
Their differences, and how they [INAUDIBLE]–
Yeah, their friendship. It’s all about friendship, and it really is about seeing the powerful people in each of us, regardless of what dis-labeling society puts upon us. We are still in this pandemic, unfortunately. Over a million people have died to date. So wash your hands. That’s all I can tell you right now, because everything else is subject to contemplation and discernment on your own part.
But we do know that the one thing that is consistent and can help you avoid catching anything, especially COVID, is washing your hands. So thanks for joining us today. This has been AccessAbility Works Podcast.
A podcasts about the possibilities of accessibility for people with disabilities– I’m Jonathan Hermus.
And I’m Albert Rizzi. Thanks for listening.
That’s a wrap.
[END OF TRANSCRIPT]
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