Channel 4 has published a series of best practice guidelines to help producers and indies improve how they work with disabled talent.
The series of guides focus on the two areas of on-screen and off-screen to set out expectations for how the industry can improve its inclusion of disabled people working in broadcasting
In front of the camera, there are now clear welfare guidelines for on-screen contributors on Channel 4 productions, believed to be the first dedicated guidelines specifically for disabled contributors issued by any UK broadcaster.
The guidelines recommend three key steps for indies to ensure that disabled talent, presenters and contributors are included and free to focus entirely on performing and contributing to their best – ask; assess; adjust.
They are also accompanied by three practical template documents: Access Riders for disabled talent to communicate their needs and preferences for inclusion and support during filming; Access Statements for sets, studios and locations to review their accessibility; and Access Plans to record any agreed adjustments for disabled contributors.
Meanwhile off-screen, three booklets offer practical advice and tips to help indies be more inclusive when hiring deaf, disabled and neurodivergent people; creating working environments and practices; and progressing the careers of disabled staff and freelancers.
Channel 4 Chief Executive Alex Mahon said: “Disability has been left behind, it isn’t talked about enough and it has now become a real problem in our industry. Our job at Channel 4 is to help change it.
“People have rights to go and get jobs, this is not a favour, it’s not charity, it’s about thinking about where there are skills in our industry which we’re not accessing.”
Channel 4’s Chief Content Officer Ian Katz said: “These guidelines offer simple, often easily implemented, suggestions which we believe can make a real difference for on and off-screen disabled talent on all our productions.
“After a Paralympic year which has highlighted Channel 4’s commitment to disabled representation, we want to maintain the momentum by driving the changes needed to create a truly inclusive industry, open to the widest possible pool of talent.”
Ally Castle, Channel 4’s Disability Lead in the Creative Diversity Team, said: “It is time to celebrate the wealth of fantastic disabled talent we have in our industry and to make adjustments to ensure they are truly included. These guides will help answer common questions and offer practical solutions.
“We need to start looking at our working environments and practices, as well as our attitudes and assumptions around disability, through a different lens and see how these create barriers to a more inclusive space for everyone. By making often small changes employers usually find they’ve shaped a better working, creative environment which is appreciated by all employees.”
Underlying Health Condition, a collective movement which is calling for change within the TV industry said: “It is so encouraging to see these changes happening and that Channel 4 is doing so much to promote best practice for disabled people in the industry.”
The guides on hiring, including and progressing disabled talent, which are freely available and shareable, also detail basics such as who is disabled and what employers’ responsibilities are towards disabled people.
They include tips on how to attract disabled people, details of organisations which can help employers find disabled talent and offer employers guidance and support as well as a range of easily accessible resources available to companies and their staff.
Notes to Editors
Channel 4’s Creative Diversity Disability Lead Ally Castle, Hollyoaks’ Amy Conachan and presenters Briony May Williams and Ed Jackson were all recently named in the annual list which identifies the UK’s most influential people with disabilities.
Ally Castle leads on disability issues as part of Channel 4’s Creative Diversity team. The team’s ‘Engage & Enable’ disability strategy was launched in June 2021.
Amy Conachan enjoyed a hugely successful theatre career before she went on to join the cast of Hollyoaks; Briony May Williams progressed to the semi-final of the 2018 series of the Great British Bake Off which saw her go on to join Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped series; Ed Jackson enjoyed a 10-year professional rugby career before he sustained a spinal chord injury and has since undertaken a range of work, including presenting Channel 4’s coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.