6 user 2 critic

The Ability Exchange (2016)

"The Ability Exchange" is a documentary about an innovative Disability Studies class at NYU Tandon where engineering students and adults with cerebral palsy learn to communicate, connect, and cultivate their abilities by making movies.


Bing Wang


Bing Wang

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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




An intimate documentary film that delves into an innovative Disability Studies course at NYU Tandon where engineering students and self-advocates with cerebral palsy team up to make movies. This observational "empathy engine" illustrates the trajectory of personal growth and bonding that these first time filmmakers experience in the classroom and beyond, during a journey of which the line between ability and disability gets blurred, traditionally assigned roles of "filmmakers" and "subjects" blend, and the definitions of "normalcy" and "inspiration" are challenged. "The Ability Exchange" invites the viewer to reflect on what it takes to understand and appreciate a person, a community, a culture, and how this exchange of abilities and perspectives empowers lives.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A documentary about disability, inclusion, and empathy in the classroom and beyond





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Release Date:

10 September 2016 (USA) See more »

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Did You Know?


About 56.7 million people-19 percent of the U.S. population-had a disability in 2010. However, characters with disabilities are "invisible" on major broadcast networks. Of 647 regular characters who appear on scripted prime-time television, only five (less than 1%) have disabilities, and these roles are generally played by actors without physical disabilities. The disability community needs the unique, accurate and compelling perspectives of people with disabilities (PwDs) on media. See more »

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User Reviews

Real moments with real people
3 December 2016 | by Valeria PintoSee all my reviews

The documentary is excellent because it presents life as it is. A semester long school project that becomes so much more than that. Lessons learned, serious conversations and topics, genuine laughs, mistakes and wisdom. It is all there. Its captured in the most natural way possible - as to give us the feel that the camera is not there. It presents reality as it is. Unaltered and unfiltered. An insight into disability, what it really is, and a suggestion of the real issue surrounding it. A raw exposure of humans, their insecurities, their pride, their awkwardness in new situations and when meeting new people. Different personalities come to play, they evolve, grow and learn. Something is achieved at the end, something that only can be experienced first-hand but can be felt through the screen. A 'must see' in America and the world.

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