Hello! Luda here! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 Want to know more about INCLUDAS Publishing and why it was started? Well, growing up and even now, I rarely saw anyone in a wheelchair (or muscular dystrophy) play a positive role (or any role for that matter) in a movie, t.v. show, or book. I’d always wanted to pursue acting as a teen—it seemed fun to play other characters; it was my escape from the harsh realities of living with a disability in this world—but no one cared about the girl in the chair. No one listened or saw me as a person. Doors shut in my face even when I was more than qualified and a perfect fit for something. All because of my wheelchair.
Well, now I have the control to do what I want—to open my own doors; to spread the magic of diversity and inclusion; to exude the stories and characters I want to play. There is something crazy about the entertainment industry and how it’s deeply fabricated into reality even though so much of it is fiction. Have you ever thought of what life would be like without books, movies, songs, or plays? Would anything exist? We seem to live and breathe for the entertainment industry, fueling it and having it fuel us. Such power.
So, I am going to fuel the world in my own way, the way I want to do it, and won’t let anyone shut the door in my face ever again.
INCLUDAS Publishing aims to bring disability inclusiveness and diversity into the book world by creating fictional characters with disabilities—from children’s books to romance novels to mystery stories. Our authors and illustrators, most who identify with a disability, help create a feeling of inclusion for everyone through the art of stories, power of images, and movement of design. This is not just a press that prints books, this is a press of forward thinking—books are art and can be designed upside-down, with multi-layered paper textures, or with braille embossing—it is all about the adaptability of design, while putting inclusion first.
The innovation of book reading is the second aspect—whether focused on physical, emotional, or mental engagement—different elements will be introduced, from tactile braille graphics to accessible interactive ebooks. This will allow readers to experience reading in various levels. Even if a child is not blind, braille can become a norm to start introducing inclusion into a family’s home. Additionally, focus on creating diverse ways of crafting inclusion and accessibility in how a reader interacts with a book, whether through touch, sight, sound, or shapes and colors, will matter.
The goal is to create a culture for change and seed inspiration of creativity for other people with disabilities, to build stories of themselves, and not be lead by media’s narratives, which is run by able-bodied people. To use art of stories as change for social justice.
If you’re still not convinced INCLUDAS Publishing should exist:
The representation of people with disabilities throughout history and media, as well as society: helpless, worthless, sick—having a disability is a bad thing because it dehumanizes a person. In a nation that identifies one in every five people as having a disability, things need to change. “CinemAbility” is a documentary that shows how people with disabilities were portrayed in the history of film: used for comedic purposes, newly injured folks as angry, and helpless without care givers; any happy moments went to when someone walked. The “Me Before You” book shares a message that it is better to die than to live, because someone who is quadriplegic would be too much of a burden for anyone.
Because I use a wheelchair to live in this world, I get ignored, silenced, and forgotten. Everyone is always trying to fix me—wanting to make me better so I’d add value to this society and be happy. What kind of world do I live in? A segregated one; an unfair one. Diversity in stories is less than 10%, according to “Where Is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey Results,” and disability inclusion in publishing is practically not existent. The impact, or more importantly, the need for the right inclusion is now, which is why this press is important for everyone—from stories to staff to technology. Disability should not be portrayed as something to hide, but something to be engaged in; not something to fear, but something to adapt to.
In the end:
Images and stories cater to perception, as well as thinking. So when the media and entertainment industry produce the same dehumanizing views on people with disabilities, those perceptions become realities and put an umbrella of invisibility on people with disabilities. Others that try to show positive images of people with disabilities do it in one medium, or from some medical perspective to ease the fear of “disables” for the able-bodied population. People learn through communication, and the messages coded in words is what shapes reality. So if there are no stories, there are no realities. If there is no inclusion, there is no change. If there is no access, there is no opportunity.
And this was why INCLUDAS Publishing was born. To open doors for those who have been treated unfairly.