Quinnipiac launches new media platform that educates general public about unique skills, potential of people with disabilities

March 09, 2021

Dave Stevens speaks to 2 students sitting on a couch.

Quinnipiac has launched a new and innovative media platform called Ability Media.

Created by Quinnipiac’s School of Communications and Professor Dave Stevens, Ability Media educates the public with stories about the unique skills and potential people with disabilities offer, beginning with the media industry, where less than 2 percent of the film and TV workforce is disabled.

Stevens, a professional in residence in the School of Communications, directs the program, which includes eight student content producers.

“I am honored and privileged to be part of such an amazing and unprecedented effort,” Stevens said. “To be able to use my 37 years in television, as well as my life skills, to help others with a perceived or unperceived handicap is such an opportunity that I cherish.”

Born without hips and legs, Stevens has had a distinguished media career. He worked at ESPN for more than 20 years as the assignment desk manager and then as coverage editor. He covered 14 Super Bowls and three World Series, and he has won seven national sports Emmys. Prior to ESPN, he worked at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis.

Stevens is the only legless player in sports history to have played NCAA football (Augsburg University in Minnesota) and minor league baseball (St. Paul Saints). He joined the Disability Dream & Do Foundation in 2016 and helps put on baseball camps for disabled children across the country. In addition, he is a popular motivational speaker and has worked as the U.S. correspondent for The Disability Channel in Canada.

Ability Media and the School of Communications are dedicated to elevating the voices and visibility of disabled Americans by ensuring that at least 28 percent of its workforce is composed of people with a “different ability,” which is the term that Ability Media uses in all of its content.

The School of Communications relies upon the expertise of students, faculty and media experts in three classes and internships to produce and promote disability-themed programs, podcasts and research on potential audiences.

“People with different abilities are grossly underrepresented in media, both in front of and behind the camera,” said Chris Roush, dean of the School of Communications. “The school, working with Dave Stevens, wants to correct this problem. As a part of higher education, we feel it is our role in society to look at its issues and present solutions. We think Ability Media can be a national movement.”

Stories can be found on the Ability Media website and YouTube channel. Stevens and his students plan to develop the channel with short-format programming, original content, news and entertainment programs, podcasts and social media efforts.
Alena Galan, a graduate student in the MBA 3+1 program, is an Ability Media staff member.

“We want to tell stories that show people that even if you have something unique about yourself or have faced obstacles in life, you can still follow your dreams, you can still inspire people, you can still do what you want to do in life, and you can still make a difference,” Galan said. “We’re trying to give a whole population of people perspective that even if you are different, it doesn’t make you unable to do what may seem to be the impossible.”

Ability Media also plans to launch a summer camp for high school students with different abilities who want to learn broadcasting and media skills as a way to promote these areas as future career possibilities.

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