The BBC has announced a major commitment to boosting disability representation on and off screen in 2020.

“Introducing the passport is a major step forward in breaking down barriers and demonstrates both our commitment to career progression for disabled staff and to creating a more inclusive culture. BBC Elevate intends to make a tangible difference to the careers of many talented disabled people in TV who face some particular challenges with progression. We want to shift the dial for the longer term, and we are determined to replicate some of that across the industry.” – Allan MacKillop, BBC Disability Lead

The BBC has today, December 3rd, unveiled a three-part plan designed to significantly improve representation of and opportunities for disabled people on and off air. The measures that have been unveiled on International Day of People with Disabilities will create new opportunities, see more disabled people working on some of the Beeb’s biggest programmes, and help disabled staff to move around and up the corporation more easily.

The plans outlined by the BBC will see job opportunities via BBC Elevate. This is an initiative to give disabled people with some industry experience the chance to work on flagship BBC shows, including Strictly Come Dancing, The Apprentice EastEnders, Holby City, Call The Midwife, The One Show, Who Do You Think You Are?, Ready Steady Cook and Pointless.

“We want to set the bar forever higher for the entire industry, both with off-screen talent and on-screen representation. In the past the industry hasn’t always done enough to offer opportunities for disabled people and so has missed out on their talent… I hope that the legacy of this initiative is sustained, enduring change which creates a greater pool of disabled people working across the industry, complemented by a richer portrayal of the lives and stories of disabled people on screen.” – Alison Kirkham, Controller Factual Commissioning

Permanently shifting the dial on what audiences can expect in terms of authentic and distinctive disabled representation on screen, with a range of new programmes as well as enhanced portrayal in existing programmes and core brands. Introducing a ‘BBC passport’ for staff with disabilities which records their needs and helps to ensure they get the right support and can move smoothly between different jobs.

The announcement comes as the BBC hosts an event with ITV to mark International Day Of People With Disabilities, focused on disability and the media through bringing together contributors from all the major UK broadcasters for the first time. The work follows a major report carried out last year involving hundreds of staff which made recommendations on how the BBC can go further to ensure staff can progress at the corporation.

New programmes unveiled include BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner confronting the challenges of suddenly becoming disabled; comedian and presenter Alex Brooker exploring what disability means to him; captivating new drama, But When We Dance about two people who both have Parkinson’s and share a love of dance; actor Mat Fraser curating a series of ambitious and challenging monologues on the theme of disability; and the return of acclaimed comedy series, Jerk.

“Today’s announcements show that the BBC is committed to making sure disability issues are recognised on and off screen. I am pleased that we will be offering disabled staff the use of the passport, which we know will make a real difference to individuals and play an important role in improving the culture at the BBC. Our ambition is that it will be embraced industry-wide through collaboration with our partners.” – Clare Sumner, BBC’s Director of Policy

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