DOWNLOAD THE ACCESS RIDER PLUS GUIDANCE NOTES HERE
Disabled writers are seriously under-represented in the creative industries, and in UK broadcasting alone make up only 5.4% of contributions, according to data this year from Project Diamond.
To reduce access barriers for freelance writers in broadcasting, film, theatre, publishing and the videogames industry, WGGB today launches a Writers’ Access Rider.
Access riders, sometimes referred to as ‘disability passports’ or ‘disability riders’, are already in use in some parts of the industry, with UK broadcasters launching a similar document earlier this year for employees.
The rider and accompanying guidance have been drawn up by a group of WGGB disabled members to raise access issues with all those who engage and contract self-employed writers, to identify what adjustments can be made to remove barriers to their work. The Word template can be customised by each writer to detail their specific needs and can be used in a variety of circumstances.
Under the UK Equality Act 2010, self-employed individuals can claim protection against discrimination if they are refused work on the basis of a protected characteristic, including disability, under the act.
The intention of the WGGB access rider is that it will be held by both the writer and the contractor and gives specific details of the writer’s disability and how it affects their work. There is also a space for the writer to list emergency contacts and request ‘reasonable adjustments’, for example in script development, communication, planning and feedback, while WGGB has included some template examples that writers could use, for example: Talking through an idea with a dramaturg/script editor or collaborator at the early stages will help me to discover what’s at the heart of my idea, and establish what’s missing more quickly.
WGGB is launching the access rider during Disability History Month and it will be followed by the launch of the trade union’s Disabled, deaf and/or neurodivergent members’ network next week (Thursday 15 December 2022). If you would like to attend/join the network, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The union will be campaigning for the increased use of access riders across the industry in the coming months.
Speaking about the launch Miranda Walker, WGGB Equality and Diversity Co-Chair, who writes for TV, radio and stage, said: “I’m really pleased to see the WGGB launch the access rider and guidance documents today. It’s vitally important that we break down barriers to participation in the industry, allowing more disabled writers to compete with their non-disabled peers. We want an industry where writers are judged by their ability and not on who they are.”
Ellie Peers, WGGB General Secretary, said: “It’s unacceptable that writers should face barriers due to their disabilities and there is an abundance of talent out there. The launch and use of access riders will result in writers being able to request adjustments with confidence and ensure that they are treated fairly.”
Screenwriter Sukey Venables-Fisher, WGGB TV Chair and former Equality and Diversity Chair who helped develop the access rider, said: “The WGGB access rider and guidance helps to level the playing field for disabled writers. By making it clear to producers what adjustments are needed, we can ensure that writers with disabilities are not disadvantaged when working in the industry.”
Award-winning writer and WGGB member Guleraana Mir, who was involved in the development of the access rider, said: “The WGGB access rider is a brilliant tool which will help disabled and neurodivergent writers like me have more confidence disclosing my disability with engagers and in starting the conversation around what adjustments I might need to achieve my best work.”