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UNO documentary: 'America's Freedom Sailor'

America’s Freedom Sailor is a non-profit organization looking to expand universal accessibility to the seas. The organization is going to build the world’s first universally accessible tall ship. America’s Freedom Sailor is working with naval architects from The University of New Orleans and The Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access based in Buffalo, New York.

In America, the largest minority group is people with disabilities. More than 15 million people in America have disabilities. To add clarity to the matter, any person can become a part of this minority; in one second your life could be irrevocably changed.

Universal accessibility involves allowing spaces, entrances, exits and appliances to be accessible to people with disabilities in a way that gives them freedom that has long been overlooked by others. You’ve seen it, felt that sensation of guilt as the man in the wheelchair struggles to get the bank's front door opened with one hand, while gripping his chair’s wheel with the other. Trying to push himself in.

The term "handicap accessible" is different -- it means simply that businesses are required to put ramps up by law, but does not mean equality is intended or achieved. Many times, the ramps are put up behind or on the sides of buildings. Universal accessibility, on the other hand, gives shared space to people with disabilities and those without disabilities.

America’s Freedom Sailor is on a mission to do something no one has thought of doing before: build a ship that is accessible to people with disabilities --  paraplegics, the blind, the deaf, etc. There are plenty of challenges ahead of the organization, but the group is in constant communication with leading naval architects and universal designers who will assist in this grand project.

To donate, or find more information out about America’s Freedom Sailor please go to their website at www.americasfreedomsailor.org.

The Film and Theatre Department of UNO and NolaVie present this series of short films produced by the students in Laszlo Fulop's documentary class. Read Renee Peck's column about the program here.

Laine Kaplan-Levenson is a producer at WWNO, The Moth and Listening Post and cofounder of Bring Your Own.