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"We want to expose audiences to obstacles that get in the way of what Anthony, Gus and Nefertiti want to accomplish, and dating is a huge part of that." Since "Blind Date" was released, Ellis says, a few accessibility improvements have come about, namely on social media platforms, but not many.
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Their personalities and how they lost their sight vary: The quietly confident Matos had a brain tumor on her optic nerve at age 3½; ladies' man Anthony Butler was blinded six years ago in a shooting; and a genetic disorder claimed the sight of Gus Chalkias, a technology-accessibility expert, in his late 20s.
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Her words encapsulate the purpose behind the Reel Abilities Houston Film & Arts Festival, a citywide event that uses the arts to eliminate the stigma associated with disabilities by celebrating those who have them. Subjects include a swim team composed of teens with autism; the Texas School for the Deaf Rangers, the only high school football team for students with hearing impairments; and a program that allows prison inmates to care for and train puppies as service dogs for injured veterans.
It is bookended on other days by an art exhibit, speaker series, live music jam session, school tours and seminars at local offices.
"We need to be allowed to run into things and fall if we have to.
It teaches us, and it teaches society as well." So says Nefertiti Matos in "Blind Date," a documentary by a filmmaker from Houston that follows three blind New Yorkers as they face challenges the digital age brings in their search for love. 22 for its sixth year in Houston, the five-day Reel Abilities festival offers 17 shorts and feature-length films, including "Blind Date." After the screenings, audiences can talk with filmmakers, parents, professionals and people with disabilities.
The dating experience is also fully customizable with token-based perks and gold membership.