Aside From Laughs, ‘Speechless’ Committed To Raising Awareness
As the debut of ABC’s “Speechless” brings cerebral palsy to the forefront, those behind the show are looking to help people directly affected by the developmental disability.
The creators of “Speechless” are partnering with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation to release materials online after each episode airs addressing the specific issues touched on in the show.
And chief among those expected to benefit — individuals personally impacted by cerebral palsy.
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“People with CP don’t get the therapies they need,” said Richard Ellenson, CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation who serves as a technical consultant on “Speechless.”
Ellenson said the supplemental materials that will be available on his group’s website to complement “Speechless” are designed so that people with cerebral palsy “can better understand their condition and make better choices.”
“Speechless” focuses on the DiMeo family who has just moved in hopes of finding a better school for their son, J.J., who has cerebral palsy and is nonverbal.
The Web content released after each show will include videos featuring the nation’s leading experts and people with cerebral palsy elaborating on how situations the DiMeos face play out in real life. Segments will touch on everything from cerebral palsy itself to adaptive communication and inclusion at school.
“We don’t talk enough about CP,” Ellenson said. “We want to inform general practitioners, parents and people with CP.”
In addition to disability experts, the stars of “Speechless” will also be featured discussing what they’ve learned about special needs in creating the show.
“Our job at the show is plain and simple: to tell good stories and make people laugh — this is no documentary about disability. That said, we’re committed to presenting a character with CP in a way that is informed, respectful and authentic,” said “Speechless” creator Scott Silveri. “Richard Ellenson and the foundation have given us a great gift in helping us find the path to that goal.”
“Speechless” premieres Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.