Disabled Talent - Read the full story here.
By Bryony Arnold - Script Executive,Drama Tiger Aspect


If I was to succeed, it would be entirely down to my sheer determination and persistence"  

Research has shown the many benefits of recruiting a diverse team. By widening the talent pool of candidates when recruiting, it not only gives your business a competitive advantage, it creates an inclusive working environment which in turn, produces innovative ideas and content that is more representative of the diversity of the UK. 

Here are some useful links to help you access talent with disabilities, for both on and off-screen opportunities: 


On-Screen Talent

Abnormally Funny People  

Abnormally Funny People is a monthly podcast discussing all things disability with a splash of comedy. Each month we welcome guests from diverse backgrounds who have a connection to disability - they might be in entertainment, journalists, disability advocates, writers and more. We also have regular guests call in with latest tech and accessibility news along with news from the USA. If you’re looking for talented actors and comedians, please contact us at info@abnormallyfunnypeople.com to discuss an opportunity. 


Access All Areas

Access All Areas is an award-winning theatre company for adults with learning disabilities. As well as having a professional performance company, we deliver the Performance Making Diploma at the Central School of Speech and Drama and have an industry-first partnership with agency Simon & How to represent seven professional actors with learning disabilities. We also run a range of exciting and innovative participatory projects for people with all levels of learning disabilities. For represented artists contact Jessica Lowe (jessica@simon-how.com / 020 7749 9780), for other enquiries call 0207 613 6445 or email hello@accessallareastheatre.org.



DaDaFest is an innovative disability arts organisation based in Liverpool which is also a cutting edge Disability and Deaf Arts Agency. DaDaFest also delivers the annual International Festival between November and December and it provides opportunities for disabled and d/Deaf people to the arts. If you are looking for actors or would like to speak to DaDafest about an opportunity please email info@dadafest.co.uk or call 0151 707 1733 


Disability Arts Online

DAO is a portal into the world of disability arts and a hub that connects people in a vibrant creative community. DAO nurture and showcase talent, provide information and create opportunities for disabled artists through innovative partnerships. This is a comprehensive directory of deaf and disability-related artists who identify with the disability arts community. The portal allows you to contact an individual directly to discuss an opportunity.



Graeae Theatre champions accessibility and provides a platform for new generations of Deaf and disabled talent through the creation of trail-blazing theatre. If you’re looking for actors and would like to advertise an opportunity at your company email - info @ graeae.org or call 020 7613 6900


think BIGGER! 

thinkBIGGER! is a training and consultancy company at the forefront of delivering diverse talent. We managed Channel 4's £500k Search for Disabled talent in front of the camera for the Bafta-award winning coverage of the 2012 London Paralympic Games. We manage the Indie Diversity Training Scheme for PACT and Writers' Cramp, part of the High End Drama Television scheme to promote disabled writers and scripted editors in the industry. To express an interest in participating in any of the programmes, please email - enquiries@thinkbigger.uk.com 


VisABLE People

VisABLE is an online agency which provides professional on-screen opportunities for actors, presenters and models with disabilities. Contact the agency directly to discuss an opportunity via the bookings number 01386 555 170 or register to advertise a role.


Off- Screen Talent


104 Films

Make British feature films for a global audience. Using the world leaders in disability and disadvantaged cinema to create a tectonic shift in the representation of disabled people both in front and behind the camera. To advertise opportunities within your organisation please email – info@104films.com



Throughout the year, 4Talent run a variety of programmes to help those wanting to kick-start their career in the media industry and to also support those who may wish to change areas. From regional pop up events with industry professionals, to apprenticeships in Legal and Finance departments. 4Talent offer a variety of schemes for you to take your pick from; providing entry level and mid-career level roles. 


The BBC Extend Hub

The BBC’s Extend Hub is similar to the BBC Careers Hub but is a specialised recruitment portal exclusively for disabled people. The hub is to provide a whole range of opportunities: from entry level apprentice and trainee schemes to work experience placements and generic BBC roles within BBC divisions nationwide. To discuss opportunities with some of the trainees please email schemes@bbc.co.uk and the team will respond recommending potential candidates. 



Evenbreak is a not-for-profit social enterprise that connects people with disabilities to inclusive employers, helps disabled jobseekers find work with employers who will value their skills and promotes the business benefits of employing disabled people. By adding Evenbreak to your usual media, this can help you attract additional disabled applicants you might otherwise have missed.  To advertise an opportunity within your company, register online and then email janeh@evenbreak.co.uk  for an Employers' Information Pack.



EmployAbility is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to assisting students and graduates with all disabilities, including dyslexia or long term health conditions, into employment. EmployAbility also run an ever-expanding range of programmes for large international and UK employers, including internships, graduate recruitment and a tailored consultancy and training service to employers, aimed at creating a more diverse and inclusive working environment. To contact EmployAbility about an opportunity at your organization email - info@employ-ability.org.uk or call 07852 764 684


Leonard Cheshire Disability 

The Leonard Cheshire Disability Organisation helps disabled people get a career in mainstream media; to broaden the positive influence that people with a disability have in deciding how their lives and circumstances are portrayed in the media. Leonard Cheshire Disability run a programme of Summer internships called Change 100 once a year, where they aim to unlock the untapped potential of students and graduates with disabilities. It gives organisations access to a talent pool bursting with ability, creativity and insight. To advertise opportunities within your organisation, please call Chris or Suzy on 020 3242 0419 or email employer@change100.co.uk  


Loving Your Work

Loving Your Work is an online private Facebook group for TV and Film employers to post paid jobs and for experienced TV and Film professionals. Join group to advertise your opportunity.



Mandy.com is an online portal for TV & Film creatives to advertise job opportunities of all levels, including actors, production crew and on-screen talent. You’ll need to register first to access the database and to advertise roles here. 


My Plus Students Club  

My Plus Students Club is a network which provides job opportunities for graduates with disabilities in the Banking, Legal, Media and Retail industries, amongst others. Our mission is to ensure that having a disability or long-term health condition doesn’t prevent anyone from having the career that they want to have. Not only do we want disabled individuals to realize their career ambitions, we also want employers to benefit from the unique talents and strengths that disabled individuals can, and do, bring to an organisation. If you would like to discuss advertising an opportunity at your company please contact - http://myplusstudentsclub.com/signup  


Production Base

Production Base is the UK's leading digital publication and network for freelancers working in TV, film, theatre, radio and commercial production. As members of this exclusive community, users gain access to hundreds of unique job opportunities on a weekly basis, and can showcase their profile & showreel to all the leading production companies and broadcasters. Register your company to search the extensive database of freelancers and post positions directly onto the jobs board.


The Talent Manager    

The Talent Manager is an online service that helps Indies and Broadcasters manage their own selected networks of people. Indies can post job opportunities and contact freelancers directly through the site. Register directly to advertise the opportunity. 


The Unit List

An online database which advertises paid production roles of all levels across the media industry.


Working in TV  

Working in TV is a private online Facebook group that circulates job opportunities amongst experienced production crew for both on and off-screen talent, which also includes entry-level opportunities. Join group to advertise your opportunity. 




Fresh Voices

Fresh Voices UK presents the work of experienced BAME writers to an invited industry audience in order to demonstrate a wider perspective. Not only of Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic stories and lives, or the ‘black’ experience, but the human condition. Fresh Voices also run a variety of writer’s courses in collaboration with The London Film School to promote new, diverse stories being told to a mainstream audience. To advertise writers roles among the pool of Writers Slam alumni email: Carol.freshvoices@me.com 


Think Bigger, Writers Camp

Think Bigger run a six-month programme sponsored by Creative Skillset for aspiring writers and script editors with disabilities. Giving 5 new writers and 5 new script editors the chance to enter the industry and shake things up, all while getting their new stories and voices heard by the Indies that they are placed with. If you’d like to sign your Company up to participate in this scheme, please email – enquiries@thinkbigger.uk.com 


Writers Slam

Writers Slam is an initiative ran by the Triforce Creative Network which seeks to find 5 new, diverse writers who will have their work showcased in front of an industry panel, with representatives from the BBC, Channel 4, Sky in addition to winning a paid development commission from TriForce Productions, culminating in an industry table read in Spring 2017 supported by Sky Drama.  

The runner up will receive a guaranteed place on the BBC’s Introduction to Continuing Drama workshop – an invite-only workshop for writer’s hoping to write for the BBC’s award winning continuing dramas; Holby City, Casualty, Doctors and Eastenders. To advertise writers roles among the pool of Writers Slam alumni email: minnie@thetcn.com 



Sminty Ltd

Sminty Ltd is a disability and diversity consultancy that works with major corporate organisations in the UK and internationally. The training and consultancy services we offer help our clients deliver strategic and innovative programmes that improve the recruitment, retention, and promotion of disabled staff and deliver better services to disabled customers. 

Sminty is supported by a team of talented associates, all specialists in their own field. Uniquely, we also work closely with a team of actors and comedians for training sessions or events that offer something fun and different. To discuss your consultancy needs, please email - simonminty@sminty.net



Legal guidance and information on hiring disabled talent: 

On 26 August 2015 the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published specific guidance for the television broadcasting industry
on positive discrimination entitled ‘Thinking Outside the Box’.

This publication provides information on what action can lawfully be taken to increase diversity in the industry, and aims to tackle some of the misunderstandings about what equality law prohibits and permits. Here, we have highlighted the key areas for consideration when it comes to ensuring that equality and diversity are an integral part of your recruitment process.

How can I diversify my production database?

On databases, the key issue is that content is often commissioned at very short notice and Indies need to put together a team of production staff and/or cast for productions very quickly. This has led to a number of Indies seeking to develop databases of information including the protected characteristics of on- and off-screen individuals with a view to being able to meet the broadcasters’ diversity targets.

The basic advice given in the guidance is that such databases can be used to widen the pool of candidates but it would be problematic if they were used to narrow the pool by using them as a priority or exclusively. It also points out (quite rightly) that the Data Protection Act 1998 Rules are critical in the establishment of such a list, with the key provisions being that:

•    individuals have given explicit consent to processing their sensitive personal data – such as protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 (apart from gender and age) – or

•    the Indies should check that the individual has previously made such sensitive personal data public or given consent to it appearing in the public domain.

As is stated in the guidance, the most effective way to comply with the Diversity Protection Act is to notify individuals that a database is being compiled, explain the purposes for which it is to be used and invite them to provide information by completing a form or a data sheet. Of course, this information should not be used for other purposes, and you need to make sure that it is kept up to date.

What is a ‘positive action’ scheme?

The EHRC Guidance sensibly suggests some positive action schemes, including ways of broadening the pool of people with protected characteristics that Indies can draw from, including making new connections, setting up training for people in protected groups, doing outreach and profile raising, establishing paid internships and so on. All of these should be lawful provided that Indies have gone through the section 158 flow chart process first (see above).

What is the difference between targets and quotas?

One issue that is often discussed is the difference between targets and quotas. There is a lot of hearsay about Indies being specifically required to have certain percentages of BAME individuals on certain productions being commissioned by broadcasters. Any steps taken in recruitment or promotion in order to fulfill a quota would run the risk of being unlawful if they went beyond the positive action permitted by the Equality Act. As the Guidance also says, running a competency-based recruitment process and keeping clear records will certainly help if you are ever required to demonstrate the actions you have taken to ensure fairness to applicants and remain within the law

When can I use a tie-break provision during recruitment?

The European Court judgements make it clear that an employer cannot simply set a threshold for candidates which is artificially low, and then have a wide field of ‘equally qualified candidates’ from whom it can tie-break various from protected groups. The recommendation from the EHRC is that you need to compare the candidates on overall ability, competence and professional experience, looking at qualifications that they have, both formally and informally.

Once you have (reasonably) established on that basis that two or more candidates are equally qualified for the role, then you
may choose those from the disadvantaged or under-represented protected group if you can show that this decision is:

•    Proportionate, in the sense that you are balancing the benefit to protected groups against the impact on non-protected groups; and

•    You do not always have a policy of choosing the person from the protected group automatically – so you need to show that you are doing this on a case-by-case basis each time.

Russell Brimelow Partner, Lewis Silkin LLPK

Download - EHRC ‘Thinking Outside the Box’ Aug 2015 


How do I increase opportunities for disabled people?

The Equality Act treats disabled people differently from those with other protected characteristics. It is not unlawful to treat a disabled person more favourably than a non-disabled person because of their disability. For example, it is lawful to treat disabled people more favourably in a recruitment process by operating a guaranteed interview scheme for those who identify themselves as disabled, automatically short-listing them for an interview if they meet the minimum criteria for the post.

What are ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people?

Employers have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to remove barriers that put disabled workers at a disadvantage compared with those who are not disabled, so they can do their work and apply for jobs in the same way as non-disabled people. This is the duty to make reasonable adjustments and applies where you know, or reasonably should know, that someone has a disability. Reasonable adjustments may involve amending practices or rules, changing physical features such as steps or chairs, or providing additional aids such as an adapted keyboard or text to speech software. Many effective and practicable adjustments for disabled people often involve little or no cost or disruption and it will often be reasonable to make them. The average cost of a reasonable adjustment is a lot lower than you might think – just £184.

What are the recruitment guidelines for hiring disabled people?

You can only ask questions about disability and health during recruitment in specific circumstances. Such questions are permitted to establish whether reasonable adjustments are required during the recruitment process (such as access to the interview), or to find out whether the job applicant will be able to carry out an intrinsic part of the job (once any reasonable adjustments have been made). If having a particular impairment is an occupational requirement of the job, it is permissible to establish if the candidate has that impairment – for example,
if a blind presenter is needed for a programme targeted at blind viewers.

It is lawful to treat disabled people more favourably in a recruitment process by operating a guaranteed interview scheme for those who identify themselves as disabled.

How do I avoid discriminating when recruiting a disabled person ?

•    be careful when writing an advertisement for a job vacancy. Stay clear of any wording that could be open to legal challenge. For example, wording that includes any reference to mental and physical health, or fitness which might relate to a disability, or one of the other protected characteristics. However, there can be rare exceptions

•    avoid advertising solely in one kind of place or media – for example, by advertising only in a specialist lifestyle magazine, or on a website targeted at the non-disabled. Use at least two different channels so as not to end up with candidates from too narrow an audience

•    be aware that a job application form could inadvertently be discriminatory. For example, to insist on the form being filled out ‘in your own handwriting’ may inadvertently discriminate against those whose disability may affect their writing ability

•    only ask candidates to complete tests if they are relevant to the job, and where they are, make sure they can be accessed by people with a disability.

And where possible an employer should:

•    give the details about a vacancy in an alternative format, if requested by the candidate – this could include, in large print, Braille or audio format
How can I apply ‘positive action’ when hiring disabled people?

Under the Equality Act, an employer can take what the law terms ‘positive action’ to help employees or job applicants it thinks:

•    are at a disadvantage because of their disability, and/or

•    are under-represented in the organisation, or whose participation in the organisation is disproportionately low, because of their disability and/or

•    have specific needs connected to their disability

An employer must be able to show evidence that any positive action is reasonably considered and will not discriminate against others. If it can, it may legally:

•    take proportionate steps to remove any barriers or disadvantages

•    provide support, training and encouragement to increase the participation of people with a disability

This means ‘positive action’ can be used to encourage applicants and develop the organisation’s talent pool.

Acas guidelines ‘Disability discrimination: key points for the workplace’, January 2016

•    accept applications in alternative formats, and ensure that         
online application processes can be accessed by people with a disability. However, there may be cases where providing alternative formats and online accessibility for the disabled may prove difficult or impracticable for some small employers

Acas guidelines ‘Disability discrimination: key points for the workplace’, January 2016