Filming in a studio

Disabled actors are being invited to submit audition tapes to the BBC as part of a new initiative to improve on-screen representation of disabled people.

Those with any form of disability, including mobility scooter users, can take part in this programme to raise the profile of actors with a range of disabilities and therefore raise public awareness.

According to a report by inews, new BBC targets mean that 8 per cent of all people on screen should be disabled by 2020. This initiative continues behind the scenes, with the broadcaster aiming for 8 per cent of BBC staff and those in leadership roles to have a disability.

Alison Walsh, the BBC’s Disability Lead, told inews: “On-screen portrayal of disability is increasing on the BBC but disabled actors are still struggling to find a place – especially in roles not written specifically as disabled.

“Although this scheme doesn’t guarantee work, it will provide training opportunities and exposure for new talent as well as established actors who have yet to have their ‘big break’.”

As well as providing opportunities for disabled actors, it is hoped the move will serve as a ‘wake-up call’ to producers, according to Walsh: “Crucially, it will provide a wake-up call to drama creators that they need to work harder to consider disabled acting talent for all productions – not just those with a disability theme.”

Campaigner groups have been fighting for greater representation on the big and small screen for people with all disabilities, from wheelchair and mobility scooter users to those with learning disabilities. UK charity Mencap, which helps those with learning disabilities, is one such group. Vijay Patel, who has a learning disability and works for Mencap, said: “I think this is a step in the right direction. For a lot of people with a disability, like me, who don’t get to see many role models who have a disability on TV.

“There are lots of talented disabled actors and creating more opportunities for them will help the public understand and feel more comfortable around all forms of disability.”

 

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