Conventional working structures, including long days and production overtime, are among the barriers to getting more disabled creatives into Canadian writing rooms, according to the first-ever Accessible Writers’ Lab case study report.
Published by Accessible Media Inc. (AMI), in partnership with ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto and the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, with sponsorship from the Canada Media Fund (CMF), the Accessible Writers’ Lab study was completed late last year. The national lab included six writers with disabilities (a fraction of the 182 who applied to take part), as well as established showrunners and senior writers. It explored what an accessible TV writers’ room might look like, with an aim to creating more pathways for creatives in the disability community to thrive in the Canadian television industry.
The Laboratoire de scénarisation accessible 2022 Edition is a parallel French-language program, administered by l’Académie canadienne du cinéma et de la television in Québec, and sponsored by Telefilm.
While 22% of Canadians have a disability, writers with disabilities account for just one per cent of working Canadian television writers.
Designed and led by disabled writer, performer and consultant Ophira Calof, among its key findings are that many disabled writers are routinely solicited as consultants on disability-focused productions, instead of being enlisted as credited writers. While virtual writing rooms have reduced barriers for writers living with a disability, the study found that changing overall attitudes around accessibility like providing engagement options outside of scheduled meetings and maintaining scheduled breaks were an often-requested accessibility measure.
To avoid tokenism and exploitative representation, the study group found that hiring multiple writers with lived disability experience is optimal. It concluded there is also high-demand for intentionally accessible, low or no cost disability-led training opportunities and financial, education and networking support for showrunners and senior writers looking to increase disability inclusion.
“Through this program it became clear that embracing accessibility leads to innovation,” said Calof, in a release. “This allows writers to bring their full selves to the creative process and increases opportunities for the abundance of talented disabled writers across Canada to share their stories.”
Subscribe Now – Free!
Broadcast Dialogue has been required reading in the Canadian broadcast media for 30 years. When you subscribe, you join a community of connected professionals from media and broadcast related sectors from across the country.
The Weekly Briefing from Broadcast Dialogue is delivered exclusively to subscribers by email every Thursday. It’s your link to critical industry news, timely people moves, and excellent career advancement opportunities.
Let’s get started right now.