New Toolkit for accessible movies

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More than 25 years after the creation of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) in the UK and 30 years since the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in the US, disabled people continue to be the most underrepresented group in the UK film industry. Recent statistics surrounding the lack of disability representation on-screen and behind the camera illustrate exactly why these guidelines are necessary.

The UK film industry is currently demonstrating that it does not value the 1 in 5 people in Britain with disabilities, either as colleagues or audiences

Disabled people made up only 8.2% of on-screen contributions in 2020, despite comprising 20% of the population

Accounting for just 5.8% of contributions off-screen, well below the national workforce estimate of 17%

According to a recent Ofcom study - over 50% of the revenue obtained by most current films comes from translated (dubbed, subtitled) and accessible versions (captioned for the D/deaf, audio described for the blind and low vision)

In Hollywood, “59 non-disabled actors have earned Oscar nominations for playing disabled characters. History suggests that those nominees have nearly a 50% shot at a win.” In fact, “No disabled actor has won an Oscar since [Marlee] Matlin’s 1987 victory. Yet since 1989, the majority of Best Actor Oscars have gone to men playing the sick or disabled.”

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is a significant milestone in disability representation and inclusion, infused with the spirit of the disability movement’s mantra - “Nothing About Us Without Us.” Using acclaimed documentary feature Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution as a case study for better future practice, the toolkit includes information on how to make the filmmaking process more accessible for all in an authentic and empowering way.

This Toolkit highlights the significant financial opportunities in making films more accessible and how disabled people actively want to spend more on entertainment, but are currently limited by its inaccessible design. It also encourages filmmakers to think about high-quality captioning and audio description as an integral part of the art and creative development process - not as simply functional but as an opportunity to enhance the storytelling.

It encompasses the following:

  • Accessibility lessons from Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
  • Accessibility as an extension of creative storytelling
  • Why make film representation of disability more equitable
  • How to make films more accessible for audiences
  • How to make the filmmaking process more accessible for team members
  • Discussions and explanations of key terms; including a full glossary of useful terms

It also includes new direct advice and expertise from D/deaf and disabled filmmakers from FWD-Doc, Press Reset and beyond for including and collaborating with D/deaf and disabled talent. As well as tangible steps and practical ideas and processes that can be incorporated from the very start of a production.

You can download Changing the Narrative of Disability Toolkit here.