The BBC has made a number of pledges to improve disability representation on and off screen, including new job opportunities on flagship shows and promises to help disabled employees develop their careers.
It has said the announcement means the BBC will be “permanently shifting the dial” in terms of authentic and distinctive disabled representation in its programmes.
The measures were unveiled by the BBC on December 3, which is International Day of People with Disabilities.
They include giving disabled people opportunities to work on shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, EastEnders, Holby City and Call the Midwife, through the BBC Elevate initiative.
Alison Kirkham, controller of factual commissioning, said: “By working with some of the UK’s biggest shows we are giving applicants a chance to develop their careers and enabling our flagship brands to benefit from their experience and talent.”
“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.”
The organisation is introducing a ‘BBC passport’ for staff who have disabilities, which will allow them to record their needs and “helps to ensure they get the right support and can move smoothly between jobs”.
The passport will run alongside other measures to support disabled staff, the BBC said, which will include additional training for managers unconscious bias training for all staff and a mentoring scheme for senior leaders.
Kirkham said efforts to improve job opportunities and career development for people with disabilities at the BBC would be coupled with “a richer portrayal of the lives and stories of disabled people on screen”.
New programmes announced include new drama But When We Dance, the return of the comedy series Jerk, and a series of monologues curated by Mat Fraser, in addition to plans to improve disability representation on existing programmes such as Would I Lie to You, Celebrity Mastermind and Who Do You Think You Are?, which will feature actor and comedian Liz Carr in its upcoming series.