Channel 4 has launched a new disability strategy which focuses on “driving structural shifts” across the industry to increase disabled representation on and off-screen.
It forms part of the channel’s wider Creative Diversity plan and will drive forward commitments to deliver Commissioning Diversity Guidelines, the Valuable 500 Commitment, the CDN’s industry-wide commitment to Doubling Disability behind the camera, and the channel’s own commitment to increasing representation on-screen.
To achieve this, Channel 4 has set out a strategy to engage and enable the industry to increase its inclusion of disabled people even further by focusing on high level changes in practice and shifts in culture.
Building on the established Production Training Scheme, including a 100% disabled Paralympic cohorts managed by thinkBIGGER!, the broadcaster is looking to find even more ways to support and progress disabled talent off screen, as well as to increase the quantity and quality of representation on screen.
The ‘engage & enable’ strategy covers plans for:
Identifying talent pipelines & pathways: for example, implementing the first ever disabled talent & contributor welfare policy, and identifying spaces and routes for disabled on-screen talent to grow within the Channel 4 portfolio
Empowering disabled freelancers by removing barriers and continuing to champion disabled talent at all levels: including a dedicated mentoring scheme by disabled talent with disabled talent, in partnership with TripleC DANC (Disabled Artists Networking Community) which will draw in experience and support from senior creatives beyond the screen industry
Industry upskilling to build knowledge and provide practical support: including sponsoring 4Connect networking events for indies to meet with disabled talent in partnership with groups such as Deaf & Disabled People in TV, and producing guidelines for indies on hiring, including and progressing disabled talent
‘Paralympics & Beyond’ portrayal of disabled people in every genre: such as developing a disability code of portrayal, and providing expert editorial support on key projects to ensure fair and authentic representation
More disability disruption: creating more memorable and challenging on-screen moments intended to deliver big-scale social impact
Regular dialogue with disabled people: inviting and encouraging conversation and consultation with disabled viewers, organisations and industry insiders
Ally Castle, Creative Diversity & Disability Lead at Channel 4, said: “As the Paralympics broadcaster, home of The Last Leg, and champions of brilliant disabled talent, we want to be the broadcaster of choice for disabled people – viewers, talent and creatives alike. Because we believe that if we can get it right for disabled people, we will get right for everyone.
“Channel 4 wants to engage and enable the industry to achieve genuine, lasting disability inclusion. To do this, we know we need to be a part of driving and facilitating big scale change, working with a range of partners with disability expertise and collaborating with stakeholders across our industry and beyond. This strategy is intended to build on our existing work and partnerships in this area, and focus us even more on building confidence and facilitating opportunities among indies and freelancers off screen, delivering consistent and considered authentic portrayal on screen, and ensuring audience input and impact.”
Last year, Channel 4 set out a number of commitments around disability such as doubling its workforce disability target from 6 to 12% by 2023, and a commitment to achieve 9% on-screen representation by 2023. It also continues to monitor disabled representation in the channel’s top 100 shows.
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