Kyra Ynez Siegel, 10, of Eugene, Oregon, lost most of the vision in her right eye last year. While this may seem a far cry from Helen Keller's complete blindness and deafness, her landing a coveted Broadway understudy role is still a major deal in an industry where only a handful of actors with disabilities are working today. Although the production's producer maintained that they'd need a star in order to sell tickets, he pledged to find an understudy with either some visual or hearing impairment after the casting of Abigail Breslin in the lead drew criticism from advocacy groups. As Sharon Jensen, executive director of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts, tells the Times when Breslin's casting was announced, "We do not think it's O.K. for reputable producers to cast this lead role without seriously considering an actress from our community...I understand how difficult it is to capitalize a new production on Broadway, but that to me is not the issue. There are other, larger human and artistic issues at stake here."
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