One in five people in the UK are deaf or disabled. Yet deaf and disabled people make up just 7% of television employees (Ofcom, 2020). This is despite broadcasters having inclusion policies as a condition of their licences, and Ofcom having had the regulatory duty to promote equality of opportunity in the broadcasting sector since 2003.

The front cover of the Disability by Design report

Two decades later, deaf and disabled people are still consistently under-represented across the UK screen industries with Ofcom acknowledging that ‘for there to be improvement, the recruitment, retention and progression of people with disabilities has to become a priority’.

There’s a further reason why this needs to become a priority in this sector.  Television is an influential medium.  How it operates and the way in which it represents people is noticed.  It is formative of public perception.  Whilst being uniquely placed to drive change more broadly, then, it has barely begun to put its own house in order.

Meanwhile, the day-to-day barriers faced by deaf and disabled people continue to go unnoticed and their voices unheard.  As this study reveals, there can be fear of even disclosing a condition or impairment in the highly competitive environment of TV. 

Disability by Design is an attempt to shed light on the lived experience of deaf and disabled people within the television industry.  It is hoped that the insights that this study provides may help to spur some action towards broadcasters and television employers taking their legal duties more seriously.  Yet ignorance is not an excuse.  The law is clear.  And discrimination does not have to be intentional to be unlawful. 

This project was undertaken in conjunction with Bectu, Equity, and the group Deaf and Disabled People who work in TV (DDPTV)

Download the Disability by Design: Representation in TV report of key findings 

of participants reported a lack of accessible facilities or equipment
of participants believed they had been rejected for a job due to their condition

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