Video cameras are buzzing this week in Lawrence as a national film company shoots a video for employers who might hesitate to hire someone with a cognitive disability.
"I think some people find people with cognitive disabilities scary somehow," said Renee Williams, employer liaison for Full Citizenship Inc., which works with people with disabilities.
People with cognitive disabilities include the mentally retarded and those with other developmental disabilities.
"This puts people much more at ease. It makes it less scary to hire people with cognitive disabilities, and it shows them to be good workers," Williams said.
Cameras and crews from Northern Light Production, a Boston film company, arrived Wednesday to shoot a segment of the half-hour video on the Americans with Disabilities Act.
They are focusing on the everyday doings of people with cognitive problems who lead productive lives and hold responsible jobs.
For example, the crew went Thursday to Lawrence High School to record the story of a 19-year-old student in an LHS special education class who works in the New York School library.
THE VIDEO crew set up this morning at the city's sanitation department to follow two mentally disabled workers who pick up newspapers from recycling bins part-time.
"It will focus on them in their jobs. They will try to show some of the steps they take to be job-ready," Williams said.
Employers considering hiring a person with a cognitive disability may worry about lack of productivity and making other workers comfortable with the employee, said Lenny Rotman, producer of the video.
"If we can show a little bit of a slice of life of these people with disabilities, we can break these barriers down," Rotman said.
The video will be targeted at employers but will be available to the general public. Woolworth Corp. is financing the project.
"My sense is that there are a number of peope in powerful positions in the corporation who have children with developmental disabilities, and they have decided to take this on," Rotman said.
Northern Light is shooting about five minutes of the video in Lawrence. Other shooting locations include Washington D.C. and cities in New Jersey and New York, Rotman said.
Northern Light's connections to Lawrence are Ann and Rud Turnbull, co-directors of Kansas University's Beach Center for Families and Disability, who served as consultants for the film.
THE VIDEO crew will spend some time filming at the Beach Center and following the Turnbulls' son, who has a cognitive disability, Rotman said.
Northern Light will finish filming Saturday. The film should be finished and ready for release in February.
Williams said she thought she would like the product.
"I think it's wonderful. I've seen the script and I think they are doing some really great things," she said. "It has some humor in it, but it's basically really normal, everyday kinds of things."