dolJohn Hawkes, the Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated actor who portrayed Mark O’Brien in the film The Sessions, recently shared his reflections about the journalist and poet’s life and advocacy for individuals with disabilities as a contribution to’s “What’s Your Connection” campaign. According to a news release from the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the website launched the campaign to commemorate the site’s 10th anniversary.’s initiative is designed to highlight disability as a natural part of the human experience, and focuses on the key role individuals with disabilities play in American society.

Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, notes that, “By sharing how disability touches us all, we can reinforce and encourage the inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of daily life, in our homes, communities, and workplaces.”

In his contribution to the “What’s Your Connection,” campaign, Hawkes reflects on O’Brien’s role in calling attention to individuals with disabilities and the challenges they face. While Hawkes acknowledges that some of these challenges have since changed for the better, he notes O’Brien emphasized that individuals with disabilities may still be thought of by others as less than equal and are not seen clearly. “He was a poet and journalist who wrote prolifically with intelligence, wit, and singularity—about disability and beyond… Today I feel his work changing me, shifting me, opening my eyes,” Hawkes says. In spite of O’Brien’s passing, his ideas remain relevant and alive, Hawkes adds.

The release reports that individuals across the nation can participate in the campaign by submitting a captioned photograph or video that answers the question, “What’s your connection to disability?”

Submissions for the initiative will be accepted through July 31, 2013. is managed by the Office of Disability Employment Policy in collaboration with 21 additional federal agency partners.

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[Source(s): US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy]