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How I Support Projects

There are a multitude of things I can do to implement high-quality access support in a production - both internally for cast, crew and creatives; and externally for audience. I am extremely proud of the work I achieve throughout all stages of a production, as explained below. I use the terminology 'access requirements', not 'requests', as they are support features that are required to assist a staff member have the access they deserve.

In hiring me as your Access Coordinator, I come with an access catalogue that I wrote, and have exclusive access to, which contains hundreds of ways of making projects accessible no matter the disability, the stage of production, or the role in production. 

Whether a project is upcoming, has already started, or even is already released, I can still help you bring it to as many people as possible through the true value of accessibility.

What support do I provide at each production phase?

During Writing, Research, and Development: I ensure that disabled characters are authentic, are multidimensional, and face the same real-world obstacles and difficulties as real-life disabled people - without censoring you or them. I make sure you're using the correct terminology, and that the scenarios you have put your disabled characters in are accurate to the disability. I also provide access support for writers who have disabilities or conditions, such as adaptive software and devices to use, ensuring that they can access their environment. Another important role of mine as a Coordinator is knowing the right consultants to liaise with.

In casting: Only disabled actors should be auditioning for disabled characters, and I am able to assist you in maintaining that without compromising your production. From making sure your casting sessions (both in video and in person) are accessible by any actor with a disability; or knowing the right casting directors, managers, agents, and actors within the disabled community to approach. 

In Pre-Production: I am able to assist in set design, so that the environment is authentic to that which a disabled character would use; as well as making it practical for disabled cast and crew to navigate. I help scout accessible locations for on-location scenes, doing access run-throughs. This is for practicality, privacy and for navigation. Wardrobe is also a pre-production step that can easily be overlooked, but it is vital to ensure that costumes don't interfere with mobility aids or sensory triggers (for characters and actors). I also put plans into place is a disabled actor is unable to get into the costume by them self, making sure they never feel overly-vulnerable. I also prepare a disabled actor or crew member and the space they're working in, making sure by the time filming comes around they are comfortable and fluid using the space. 

During filming or live-shows: I make sure filming flows smoothly, helping reduce any complications or access barriers. The primary purpose of my role is to make sure that there are no access issues during the production, that everyone is able to access both their environment and their work during it, so they only have to worry about giving their best performance, or doing their job the best they can. For example I can help actors with chronic illnesses have practical plans to manage their condition during the duration; make sure any consultants needed on set (such as DASL's and interpreters) are there; ensure actors feel safe and comfortable with support staff if they have any; and provide sensory-compromises. It is also where early primary intervention on behalf of disabled viewers and audience members comes in. 

I am also the first line of defence if there is ANY kind of disability discrimination or ableism on set, no matter who from. I am in place to protect and support disabled people, in anything from intentional exclusion to airport customs not letting a guide dog enter the country with its guide-dog-owner (real scenario). All disabled creatives I know (including myself!) have multiple experiences of being discriminated against, losing their job/audition when their disability was declared, or said something offensive to on set or behind the scenes. As a trusted third party, I am able to help minimise the fear of losing one's job when declaring their condition to production, and represent them in moving straight to the access requirements.

In editing and post-production: I make sure that any disabled editors have access to the correct equipment or software that they need to access the material they are editing. I am also there to make sure an edit properly frames the disability, with authenticity and true dimension. Not only will every project I work on in this production phase be both audio described and captioned, but the audial or visual information which is being provided will be of a high quality, and provides a first-class level of sensory information; as well as helping guide the use of sound-effects and b-roll as additional sensory information. Another significantly important role of mine in post-production is ensuring access levels are kept up when filming any pick-ups.

At Press Events/Premieres: I will petition for captioned and audio described premieres and screenings, as well as making sure premieres are held in accessible venues. I can help publicity with how to release information in regards to any disability in the project, or our inclusive premieres/showings. I will also make sure any photoshoots, interviews, and publicity events are accessible for any disabled cast; and will make sure either at photoshoots or on the red carpet that we try to manage sensory-factors if needed. 

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A braille transcription of Ryan Scott Oliver's song 'Map of Scars' for a cabaret performance with a visually impaired singer

If a project has already begun?

 

It is never too late to bring an Access Coordinator on board. ​I will always do whatever I can to improve access and make a project disability-friendly, no matter what stage of the production.  If a project is already in process, then I will look at the project individually and assess what types of access-input I can do for you. This sometimes depends on the type of project:

 

If a stage show is already running, I will come in to observe, write an access report on my observations, and make you an action plan based on the access report. I will then help you with the practicalities of putting the action plan in place. I am also able to help backstage, and look at changes that can be made if a longer-running show has a disabled cast member coming in at cast-change.

If I am introduced between seasons of an ongoing TV show or series, then I will take a similar approach to if I was starting a project from scratch. Between episodes is a little more challenging, but I can still greatly improve internal access for any cast, crew or creatives as well as externally for the audience - without causing any continuity errors. 

If I am introduced during filming of a movie, then I will do what I can internally depending on where production is in their process. If production is almost finished, my focus will be more on making the final product accessible to audience members; and making sure press events, publicity, and premieres are being done fully inclusively. 

It truly is never too late to bring an Access Coordinator on board. Even post-release, I can help assist in ensuring the final product is released alternately with access adaptations, to make sure your project is accessible to up to 25% more audience members.

Why have an Access Coordinator, even if a project has no storyline or character with disability?


It’s easy to believe that your production has nothing to do with disability if there are no disabled characters, or storylines about disability. In which case you might believe that you have no use for an Access Coordinator. 
 

But we are here to support your cast, crew, audience members, creators, show-runners, even production teams themselves.

25% of the population are disabled. That includes an estimated 70-80% of the disabled population having invisible disabilities and conditions - ones that you would never know they have unless they told you. That goes for your audience, your cast, and your crew, too. There is no obligation for cast or crew to declare their condition to anyone. My primary research has shown that most cast and crew who do not declare their conditions, do so out of fear of being fired. Many of them (including myself) having had had experiences of either being fired or losing a job opportunity entirely because they declared their disability. 

However, just because they are able to simply manage to get by without access accommodations, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t flourish with the right support. A cast and crew that can flourish as best, means your production will be the best it can be, too.

I also work as a liaison, with an ever-growing plethora of contacts within access and the media. This including disability-forward casting directors, talent managers, agents, and more. Sometimes you may need a disability consultant with a specific niche of consultancy topic, so we are there to get the right consultants for the job.

Every show should be made accessible for consumption by disabled viewers, because if it isn’t, you’re losing up to 25% of your potential viewership. There are also significant financial benefits to disability inclusivity as well, with studies showing that disabled people are often willing to spend more on a service, or buy a service they may not have otherwise, because it was made with the intentions of disability inclusivity. This potential financial growth, on top of the fact that depending on where your production is based (and a few other factors) sometimes the government will reimburse money that was spent on disability access at the end of the tax year, means disability inclusivity is a financially beneficial investment, too.
 
(Statistics from CDC, 2023; Scope UK, 2022; Misfit Media, 2023; UK Parliament, 2023; IRS Barrier Removal Tax Deduction 2017)

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