Vanessa Wells at the ReelAbilities Film Festival, holding a sign that says "Universal design benefits everyone"Vanessa Wells

Vanessa runs Reel Words Subtitle and Caption Editing, having married her book-editing and caption-writing experience to ensure excellence in captions for improved accessibility. Her clients include European filmmakers and TV/VOD production houses. She has hyperacusis, tinnitus, and Ménière’s disease, all of which cause her to have difficulty hearing, and she’s in her second year of studying ASL. When she’s not busy reading for her day job, you can find her reading for leisure, drinking coffee, and chilling with her cats Jack and Neville in Toronto, Canada. #NoMoreCraptions!

Michael McNeely sits in an armchair, with a large window to his leftMichael McNeely

Michael McNeely is a filmmaker, critic, advocate, teacher, and ReelAbilities Film Festival juror and is in his second year of law school. He identifies as deaf-blind and appreciates when visual media is made accessible to him. His first short film, Hold Music, depicted the struggle of a deaf-blind, gay man to purchase tickets to a musical. He is currently working on completing a documentary about the Advocacy Club at the Canadian Helen Keller Centre. He is very concerned about TIFF’s snail-like pace in ensuring that all films and media are closed captioned/subtitled.

Chantal Deguire sits in a director’s chairChantal Deguire

Chantal Deguire, equally fluent in ASL and LSQ, tirelessly strives to educate people about the plight of the Deaf communities in Canada in hopes that her deaf son will not grow up without a culture. Her film, inVisible rEvolution, due out in late 2018, shows the consequences suffered by the Deaf community as their culture slips away. It shows that true societal inclusivity can only exist when we reject the concept of hearing loss and instead celebrate Deaf gain.

Chantal has other roles in the film world. She appeared in Mark Trifunovic’s film, Deafening Darkness, which had its Canadian premiere at the ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto in June 2018 and continues to be screened at film festivals internationally. She also participated in the follow-up panel discussion with insights into the world of Deaf-and-hearing filmmaking collaborations.

Rob Harvie stands in front of a whiteboard with blurred writing on it, with a microphone in front of himRob Harvie

A founding director of Toronto-based Inclusive Media and Design, Rob Harvie brings a rich background in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and accessibility solutions. While at the University of Toronto for over 10 years, he directed Information Technology Services for the Faculty of Information and taught on human–computer interaction and emerging technologies, including augmented reality and multisensory interfaces at the Institute for Communications, Culture and IT. Rob continues his lecturing at universities and colleges, presents at conferences, and serves on various accessibility and inclusive design–relevant working and advisory groups.

Nicola Di Capua, independent filmmaker, is shown with a large video camera facing forwardNicola Di Capua

Nicola Di Capua is a profoundly deaf filmmaker and accountant. He is extremely passionate about proactively advocating for accessibility and equity in the workplace. He produced a very affecting short-film documentary, Step Into My World, which was well-received at the third annual ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto 2018. The film had previously received other film-festival recognition, including screening at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto.

He is on a relentless, daily mission for proper disability accommodations for all, even as he himself faces challenges of accessibility and equity. He maintains that D/deaf professionals deserve an authentic career and recognition for what they do.

Nicola stays current with local and world events and pursues research to keep himself well-informed. He enjoys skiing, chatting with family and friends over coffee, and travelling—especially to Florida.