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Disability History Month: Film, TV and book recommendations

November 16 marks the start of Disability History Month, a campaign, Beds SU is committed to support each year. As part of our campaign we have put together a variety of titles to read and watch.

Beds SU

By Beds SU

Thursday, 16 November 2023

This year’s campaign focuses on children and young people with disabilities so our following recommendations collated from top reviews include children’s titles too. All of the below content seeks to represent a number of disabilities.



This award-winning film focuses on seventeen-year-old Ruby Rossi a child of Deaf adults (CODA). Ruby is the only hearing member of her family and acts as the family’s informal interpreter. The film follows Ruby and her family’s journey as she discover her passion and whether the pursuit of her own dream with alienate her parents and brother. Starring alongside Emilia Jones (Ruby) are award-winning Deaf actress Marlee Martin, Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant. Kotsur was awarded Best Supporting Actor in 2021 became the first Deaf man to win an Oscar.

Join us on Monday 27 November, The Metro, Luton campus for a screening of this incredible film between 6-9pm. Entrance is FREE and includes popcorn. Refreshments will be available to purchase.

An Irish Goodbye – BBC iPlayer

This Oscar and Bafta winning short film is set in Northern Ireland and follows the story of two brothers, Turlough and Lorcan, reunited following the untimely death of their mother. Lorcan, who has Down Syndrome, wishes to stay on the family farm and continue his mother’s work but Turlough plans to send Lorcan to live with family away from the farm. The discovery of an old bucket list takes the brothers on an adventure with a will to fulfil their late mother’s wishes.

Peanut Butter Falcon – Amazon Prime

The highly acclaimed film charts the friendship of Zak, a young man with Down Syndrome (Zack Gottsagen), who escapes from an assisted living centre and strikes up a friendship with a wayward fisherman Tyler (Shia LaBeouf). This American comedy-drama, follows them on their journey to Salt Water Redneck’s wrestling school where Zak is determined to join and compete. A long the way Tyler teaches Zak a number of life skills.

Then Barbara Met Alan – BBC iPlayer

Set in the 1990s and based on real life events, Then Barbara Met Alan portrays the untold love story of two cabaret performers and disability rights activists who together lead the charge of the historic campaign that led to the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995. Starring Bafta-nominated Ruth Madley and Arthur Hughes and written by award winning Jack Thorne and Genevieve Barr, this uplifting film shines a light on the importance of disabled peoples’ right to equality.


Special – Netflix

Comedy series following the life of Ryan, a young gay man with cerebral palsy who is on a mission to find the life he wants for himself. The TV series is based on lead character and comedian Ryan O’Connell’s Memoir: I Am Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves. All three series are now available to watch on Netflix.

Rising Phoenix - Netflix

This one-off documentary focuses on the Paralympic Games and the role they have played in raising awareness and global understanding of ‘disability, diversity and excellence’. With reflections from a host of elite athletes and others from the sporting world, this is an insightful and inspiring watch.

The A Word – BBC iPlayer

Set against the rolling hills of the UK’s Lake District, this three series drama focuses on Joe a young boy with Autism and his the family as they navigate through life including school decisions and the ups and downs of family life.

My Beautiful Broken Brain – Netflix

This one-off documentary tells the story of filmmaker Lotje Sodderland recovery from a Hemorrhagic stroke, she had at 34. Sodderland who lost her ability to read, write or speak coherently, shares her experiences and challenges of life since her stroke.

A Special School –BBC iPlayer

This two series documentary, takes viewers behind the scenes of Britain’s biggest specialist school, offering insight into how they are taking a different approach to learning, pushing against the boundaries and challenging misconceptions.

Children’s programmes:

Mixmups – Milkshake Channel 5

Mixmups is Milkshakes (Channel 5’s young viewers) the first animated series featuring disabled lead characters Commissioned by Channel 5’s Milkshake! Join Pockets, Giggle and Spin, who live in a wheel-chair accessible Helter-Skelter home with their assistance pets, Roller Guinea and Yapette the guide dog on their adventures in Mixington Valley.

Something Special – BBC iPlayer

This much-loved and long running series introduces children to Makaton sign language and takes young viewers on adventures with presenter Justin Fletcher and children with disabilities along with adventures with Mr Tumble and the Tumble family.



A Day with No Words – Tiffany Hammond

This colourful and engaging book offers young readers insight into the world of a family who use nonverbal communication. It tells the story of a mother and her son and their use of the table to communicate with others. A beautiful look at Autism.

Lost Inside My Head- Vigg Warriner

Meet Vincent, a young boy who has a large house inside his head that includes a control room, where he spends a lot time. Inspired by the author's experience growing up with ADHD, Lost Inside My Head is a touching and illuminating story that brings the reader into the thoughts, struggles, joys and uniqueness of a young child with ADHD.

This Is Me – George Webster and Tim Budgen

Inspired by an original poem by CBeebies George Webster, This is Me Is a celebration of our differences and how we each approach the world around us. This engaging and colourful book also has a gentle nod to Down Syndrome and George’s personal story.

Abduls Story – Jamilah Thompkins - Bigelow

Meet Abdul, a little boy who loves storytelling but finds it difficult to write and feels like giving up on putting them down on paper. That is until he is told everyone makes mistakes, even writers and his confidence grows. This is a thoughtful and supportive story focused on dyslexia and Dysgraphia.

My Brain Is Magic – Ana and Olivia Meredith

A beautifully illustrated book that focuses on sensory-seeking, highlighting neurodiversity and sensory processing and ask children the question ‘Is your brain magic’?

I Think I Think A lot – Jessica Whipple

Inspired by Jessica’s own experiences with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), I Think I Think A lot tells the story of a young girl who is aware she approaches things, including her school work or feelings differently to her friends. She accepts the differences and strives to help the reader see how important it is to accept yourself the way you are.


Sitting Pretty: The View from my Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body – Rebekah Taussig

This personal memoir features a series of essays penned by Rebekah who shares her personal story of what it is like and what it means to live with a disability and the need for more stories that allow disability to be ‘complex, ordinary, uncomfortable, fine, painful and fulfilling. This is a must read for everyone. It is a book that challenges each of us to be more patient, imaginative and to better our understanding of disability.

ALT-Text as Poetry – Shannon Finnegan & Bojona Coklyat

A collaboration between artists Finnegan and Coklyat and supported by Eyebeam and Disability Visual Project, ALT-Text as Poetry explores how we can better understand the use of this medium, learn to write it and view it as a form of poetry versus something we need to do to be compliant in the social space.

Hoben The Deaf Blind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law – Hoben Girma

Girma’s memoir is a truly inspirational story of a woman’s determination to quench her thirst for knowledge travel and seeing her disability as a tool of innovation. Girma’s memoir is packed with personal accomplishments from climbing up an iceberg in Alaska, supporting the build of school in Mali to meeting former US president Obama.