Great entertainment requires authentic stories, and authentic stories require the creativity and talent of people with a variety of lived experiences. In the entertainment media industry, the impact of working with people with disabilities behind and in front of the camera can lead to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. While 1-in-4 adults in the U.S. have a disability, only 3.5% of onscreen characters have a disability. Furthermore, 95% of these representations are casted by nondisabled actors. The need for inclusion in the industry is more important and recognized than ever before, and it is crucial for authentic storytelling that the disability lens is applied to all aspects of the process.
Comprised of diverse people with disabilities, RespectAbility’s entertainment media consultants partner with studios, production companies, writers’ rooms and news organizations to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. Since 2015, RespectAbility has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and a dozen films by partnering with studios and productions from development all the way through production, promotion/publicity and impact/outreach campaigns, often from the very early stages of a writers’ room, in addition to ad hoc requests.
RespectAbility team members have conducted trainings for and consulted on projects with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, CAA, DreamWorks, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Sony Pictures Entertainment, ViacomCBS, The Walt Disney Company and others.
Consulting Scope of Services:
The most common requests are sensitivity reads and script development; casting and talent consultations; referral or staffing services including disabled writers, directors, crew, actors and more; creating reference videos for animators; and reviewing animatics and rough cuts of live-action content throughout the production process. We also are able, but are not limited, to consult on the following:
- Ongoing writers’ room consultation and script development
- Site visits / trips to the field including set accessibility checks
- Help ensure accommodations are made through connections to ASL interpreters, live captioners and other resources
- Disability-specific one-pagers for crew
- Creating reference videos for animators to accurately depict a disability or a conversation in ASL
- Reviewing animatics and rough cuts of live-action content throughout the production process
- Media training and talking points
- Promotional and publicity support (i.e. marketing campaign development and panels)
- Creating personalized resources, study guides, or toolkits for productions
- Trainings and workshops including issue-area presentations for writers’ rooms, crew trainings, network executives and other audiences (topics include Disability Representation & Inclusion 101; Producing Deaf Content & Working with Deaf Performers; Media Accessibility & Audio Description; and other specialized trainings including disability-specific workshops)
- Referral or staffing services including disabled writers, directors, crew, actors and more
- Facilitating connections with people with specific lived disability experiences and serving as a liaison and collaborator with experts, writers and creative executives
All consultation requests involve bringing an individual with the specific disability in question to the project. Occasionally, the request may be outside the scope of our work. In that case, we will make introductions to other organizations and individuals that can better service the request
Please email Vanni Le at VanniL@RespectAbility.org so we can assess your needs. Our team of consultants with lived disability experience and industry knowledge is ready to assist you in your process to ensure authentic disability representation.