The making of the Hale Zukas story

Hale Zukas

Hale Zukas, in a photo from the KQED website, courtesy of Brad Bailey

“When I was 15, my dad had an accident. He got hit by a Mac truck driving down the expressway. That changed my childhood forever. When that happened, disability affected me and my family firsthand. Disability touches everybody. Nobody is immune from that. No matter your race, your gender, your sexuality, disability is universal. It affects everyone. Hale’s work affected everything from ramp to curb cuts, to the way we build buildings today.”

This is how UC Berkeley journalism student Brad Bailey describes his connection to Hale Zukas, who studied Russian and math at Berkeley in the 1970s and helped make Berkeley the birthplace of the disability rights movement. Bailey, who graduated from the Graduate School of Journalism last spring, chose Zukas as the subject of a short documentary, “Hale” that he made as his thesis project. The film recently won a Student Academy Award. 

Bailey talked about Zukas and the making of the film with KQED’s Sasha Khokha. Excerpts of her interview are posted on the KQED website, along with a transcript. He describes the challenges of depicting a subject who is brilliant and witty but cannot communicate verbally — and his own learning journey about disbility, a subject he thought he knew well. 

“I had to go through my own transformation through my filming with Hale,” he tells Khokha. 


Read more and listen to the interview