Deej: Inclusion shouldn't be a lottery.

Film - Documentary | October 19 | 5-7 p.m. | 300 Wheeler Hall

 Disability Studies Research Cluster, HIFIS

A nonspeaking young man dreams of autistic civil rights. The documentary film Deej, with its insider view of autism, challenges us all to live inclusion. Abandoned by his birth parents and unable to speak for himself, DJ Savarese ("Deej") found not only a loving family but also a life in words, which he types on a tect-to-voice synthesizer. As he makes his way through high school and dreams of college, he confronts the terrors of his past, obstacles to inclusion, and the sometimes paralyzing beauty of his own senses. In his advocacy on behalf of other nonspeaking autistics, he embraces filmmaking and poetry, and discovers what having a voice can truly mean.

In this first-of-its kind collaboration between a veteran filmmaker and a nonspeaking autistic, Robert Rooy and DJ share editorial control as they navigate the challenges of representing autism. Deej, the result of this often difficult partnership, is a story told largely from the inside, by DJ -- not by his parents or autism experts or even the camera. At its core, Deej reflects the level of participation that disability rights advocates insist upon: 'Nothing about us without us.'

"I won the lottery when my parents adopted me from foster care; I won it again when they included me in regular education. Now, I seek to help kids much less fortunate than I by showing people what a nonspeaking student with autism can do.

In Deej, the camera intrudes on every aspect of my life. If seeing truly is believing, then perhaps eyes can be opened to the full potential of kids with significant disabilities. Shot over a six-year period, Deej reveals not only what the ideal of full inclusion requires but also what it can accomplish." -- DJ Savarese

This film showing is free, open to the public and wheelchair-accessible. The film is captioned. Please refrain from wearing scented products so that people with chemical sensitivities can join us. If you need any other disability accommodations in order to attend, including communication services, please contact Susan Schweik at

Accessible entrance: enter Wheeler Hall through the front ramp entrance on the south side. At the moment the working elevator to the third floor is in the back, northwest corner of the building. (It's possible the new elevator on the back side of the building nearest to Doe library, the northeast side, will be open by the time of the film showing.)

 All Audiences

 All Audiences