Disability by Design

23 November 2021

Deaf and Disabled People in TV (DDPTV) have collaborated with Bectu Unscripted to create ‘Disability by Design: Representation in TV’ – a campaign that promotes increased representation of deaf and disabled TV professionals, both on and off screen, in the UK.

Disability by design graphic

The key aim of the campaign is to amplify the voices of deaf and disabled professionals, showcase the breadth of disabled talent in the UK TV industry, and educate both employers and employees on legal obligations and best and worst practice.

Earlier this year, we created a comprehensive survey for the deaf and disabled TV workforce, both on and off screen. The results of the survey were then analysed by specialist researchers at Bournemouth University, who then created a report which focused on the key findings from the quantitative data. Read the full report here.

Our findings revealed shocking realities of working in the film and TV industry as a deaf and disabled person. The stories told by our respondents demonstrated the need for immediate yet long lasting change in the industry and the importance of spreading awareness for such an endemic issue.

This week, as part of our campaign, we will be sharing the testimonials from our survey respondents on our social media platforms and this webpage. It is vital that we share the stories and real-life experiences of deaf and disabled workers, both positive and negative, to generate real change in the industry. *It is important to note that some of the testimonials include stories and information that may be triggering*.

We believe that urgent action is needed from broadcasters, indies and stakeholders to tackle the alarming levels of under-representation of deaf and disabled professionals in the UK’s TV workforce. Diversity is the lifeblood of our industry, and we aim to demonstrate why disabled talent is so fantastic and what we collectively bring to the table.

 

Testimonials and Statistics:

“In the past I was working as a runner for a month at a well known TV broadcaster and a job came up for a junior researcher on the morning show I was working on. I was encouraged to apply for it. I did, got interviewed, was informed I got the job and silly me before signing the contract disclosed my disability. There wasn’t really a reaction and I was informed HR would be in touch with my contract and then I got ghosted. I tried and tried to get back in contact to find out what happened and the excuse was my contract got withdraw because of a spelling mistake on my CV!”

Anonymous

Sentiment: Negative


“The worst experience I have had was have a hypoglycaemic episode when in studio during an already exhausting 14 hour day. This is when your blood sugar has dropped below safe levels and your brain function starts to shut down. If it isn’t addressed quickly enough by consuming glucose then you can enter into a coma. I had disclosed this to the production team at the beginning of my employment. The series producer came down to speak to me about the script and I tried to explain to her that I just needed a minute to bring my sugar levels back up she told me “We don’t have time to sit around and eat sweets”, walked away and barely communicated with me for the rest of my employment.”

Anonymous

Sentiment: Negative


“Just having a supportive boss who didn’t make me feel guilty for needing time off for mental health was an amazing experience because it’s so rare.”

Anonymous

Sentiment: Positive


60% of participants were aware of the Access to Work (ATW) programme, but only 38% of those applied for the grant available under this scheme.Many respondents said that freelance and short contracts meant by the time their support package was put in place, they had moved on. There was also a recurring theme where respondents said that Access to Work did not understand their line of work and the scheme was clearly not designed to support those in television.

Disability by Design: Representation in TV survey, 2021

“I can’t remember any specific moments that was best for my disabilities but my best experiences usually involve working with kind people on fun productions and even if the production isn’t necessarily fun, it would be the ones where I felt valued as a member or where I felt I was useful. I have low self esteem potentially from my struggling as a child not knowing I had invisible disabilities but thinking I was instead, useless and lacking in intelligence. So feeling valued is really important and anything opposite can be very destructive.”

Anonymous

Sentiment: Positive


“Someone from a different department who had seen my CV approach[ed] me in an open plan office in front of everyone, loudly proclaiming that accessibility schemes and diversity schemes shouldn’t exist because the truly oppressed group is the white working class (I’m not white). Nobody stood up for me, it escalated. I resigned 3 days later being told I just needed to ‘know myself better’ by my line manager, who then fired me before I could serve my notice.”

Anonymous

Sentiment: Negative


“The best experience was when I started a job and was asked in detail about my condition and needs and also wrote a list of what to do should I need help, which was keep by senior production people at the company. It felt official and important, rather than informal, which has the potential of being missed or misunderstood.”

Anonymous

Sentiment: Positive


“[My] current job [is] great! They are happy for me to continue working from home, will discuss transport options for me when we get to the point in production when we will be at the studio. No one is weird about me using noise-cancelling headphones in loud environments (when we went on studio tour), my input is always welcomed even if I am having a bad day and my communication is scatty. They allow me to work at my own pace and take time away from work without repercussions if I am unwell. This is the first job (at age nearly 40) that I have ever had where I feel totally included and part of the team : ) They are actively creating disabled stories from disabled voices”

Anonymous

Sentiment: Positive


“[My] current job sees my disability as a huge positive. My opinions are valued and asked for. Change is made and acted upon when I make suggestions. Access to Work and access requirements are not awkward conversations to have and just done without a big song and dance made about them.”

Anonymous

Sentiment: Positive


“One of my best experiences was when I worked at a company where there was another person in my team with requirements. She was very proactive and specific in disclosing her needs/ adjustments. It made the team and brainstorms run in a manner that felt inclusive, creative, and supportive. Even though her needs were different to mine, it created an atmosphere of acceptance, solidarity and equality. Over the long term it built up my confidence.”

Anonymous

Sentiment: Positive


Read the full report here