Latest NewsAccessible Writers' Lab case study finds changing attitudes key

Accessible Writers’ Lab case study finds changing attitudes key

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.

Ophira Calof

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.”

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Connie Thiessen
Connie Thiessen
Connie has worked coast-to-coast as a reporter, editor, anchor and host at CKNW and News 1130 in Vancouver, News 95.7 and CBC in Halifax, and CFCW Edmonton, among other stations. With a passion for music, film and community service, she led News 95.7 to a 2013 Atlantic Journalism Award and regional RTDNA award for Best Radio Newscast. More recently, she was nominated for Music Journalist of the Year at Canadian Music Week 2019. To report a typo or error please email -

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