Why does disability representation behind and in front of the camera matter?

  • According to the study Inequality in 1,100 Popular Films: Examining Portrayals of Gender, Race/Ethnicity, LGBT & Disability from 2007 to 2017 only 2.5% of all speaking characters in the top 100 films of 2017 were depicted with a disability. Nearly three-quarters of characters with disabilities (73%) were white. 27% were from underrepresented groups. Only one character shown with a disability was LGBTQ+.

  • According to GLAAD’s “Where We Are On TV” 2018-19 Report, only 2.1% of all series regulars on primetime broadcast programming depicted as people with disabilities. 95% of characters with a disability in TV’s top 10 shows are played by able-bodied actors.

If you think these stats are messed up, keep reading—we have a guide to help you change things for the better.

Film school probably didn't teach you how and why to hire a person with disabilities onto your production. Thanks to the Media Access Awards' guide to hiring people with disabilities, we can shift society's expectations of how people tell stories about disability and who gets to tell those stories in the first place.

  • Learn the best interview questions to ask when interviewing people with disabilities

  • Find ways to make your sets accessible

  • Be an ally through every step of the production process

Different departments can join in the effort. For example:

Producers and Showrunners – Ensure that the hiring process and set itself is accessible.

Writers – In crowd scenes: along with other diverse characters, specify including persons with disabilities. – Small parts: specify persons with disabilities and, most important, know that his or her disability need not be the focus of their presence.

Casting – Ask casting directors to audition actors with disabilities for non-descript roles.- Main characters: If you write a character with a disability, indicate that actors with disabilities be included in the auditions for the role.

– Make sure casting sessions are conducted at accessible places.

For more lessons and tips, download the guide here.

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