Written by Kianna Best on Mar 15, 2023. Posted in General Interest

Problems and promises highlighted in Channel 4 and Amazon Studios industry access survey

Channel 4 and Amazon Studios joined forces to produce The Industry Access Survey 2022 titled Access into Action. With a range of figures and unexpected discoveries, the survey draws attention to the sectors of the television industry that are falling short in ensuring accessibility for Disabled and neuro divergent communities. From the downfalls and promising results, the survey has presented concise next steps that productions can instate over the next 6 months to evoke change in their production practices. Moderator and Chanel 4 sports presenter Jordan Jarret-Bryan was joined by a panel consisting of writer Jack Thorne, tv producer Bryony Arnold, head of UK originals at Amazon Dan Grabiner, and  producer Clare Brown.


“We carried out the survey to get a more accurate picture of how we are performing as an industry, when it comes to access and inclusion for Disabled talent behind the camera,” stated Ian Katz, Chief Content Officer at Channel 4. “The results make difficult reading and expose how inaccessible we remain. The survey is not about shaming any one area, we all must do better. It’s a benchmark and a starting point that will help us as broadcasters and programme-makers focus on where change is needed and where we can establish best practice.”


Image courtesy of Yomex Owo by Unsplash

Led by Channel 4 disability lead Ally Castle and Miranda Wayland the head of UK & Europe creative EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) at Amazon Studios and Prime Video, the survey featured responses from 105 organisations. The sample was predominantly completed by small production companies located in the South of England who aren’t currently subscribed to the current disability benchmarks.


Broken down into three comprehensive initial categories, the survey highlighted the areas requiring urgent attention, areas for improvement and areas for promise. As a result of the data analysis, the results showed that 23% of respondents do not have a physically accessible office space with 25% not even having a functioning accessible toilet. These figures were just the beginning of exposing the serious concerns around health and safety and the attention to the hiring of external venues in addition to the general accommodation of physical access.


Other issues that required urgent action were the development of talent into senior roles from the Disabled community and the effectiveness of communication between the higher ups and their teams.  Whilst it is promising that three quarters of television production facilities are providing accessibility, the results do show that unless offering fully remote working opportunities 1 in 4 roles available in the TV industry automatically exclude Disabled individuals with physical access needs.


“There is a clearly a job of work for broadcasters, streamers and industry bodies to do, to help make production companies become more disability inclusive,” stated the survey, reporting that although 40% of companies believe they receive support from broadcasters, streamers and industry bodies, 52% cannot say the same.


Wayland emphasised the need for amplification and intent when catering to Disabled individuals in the TV production industry, which is often not reflected in the communication between companies and their employees or site visitors. 47% of the surveyed organisations admitted that they do not inquire about the access requirements of visitors to their sites, and when providing content access for employees only 17% include accessibility tools through video or subtitling.


On a positive note, organisations made it known that there is an awareness of the need to ensure their working environments and cultures in such are inclusive of all employees. 79% of the organisations reported that they have an access statement or inclusion policy available, with that figure raising to 92% in large or extra-large companies.  In addition over 51% or organisations stated that they actively encourage Disabled applicants through their job adverts. This figure increased to 76% when the organisations provided disability inclusion training for senior leaders in the last 6 months and 80% among Disabled-led organisations.


To take the next steps in actioning change, the survey proposed a three step plan that organisations will be able to complete in the next six months. Consisting of the 5A’s (Anticipate, Ask, Assess, Adjust and Advocate) organisations will identify what they can institute now that will shift their previous at work culture. These will in turn lead to follow up change that keep the momentum going and eventually result in a complete transformation of how future production activity is conducted. Whilst the general consensus was that the data was better than expected, there are still a lot of basic things that need to be bettered in order to cater to everyone in the industry.


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