BBC Unveils Ambitious Plan to Quadruple Disabled Representation

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The BBC is set to increase its disabled staff and television actors, but what are the details of this grand plan?

The BBC has sparked a deluge of interest after bold claims to increase its disabled staff and on-air representation of disabled people.

The move comes less than a month after BBC Director-General, Tony Hall, promised to improve its black Asian and minority ethnic representation.

Hall said:

“It is vital we reflect the public we serve – both on and off air. While the BBC has some good schemes in place, we must and can do significantly more. That’s why we want to quadruple on-screen representation and open up many more opportunities for disabled people to work at the BBC.”

Hall is looking to employ a dedicated member of staff to help the organisation achieve this ambitious target. The Disability Executive will be a champion of disabled talent, looking for ways to increase representation across the BBC’s reach, on-screen and behind the scenes.

The BBC is keen to highlight that changes will not just be to increase its disabled television stars. Hall wants to increase disabled staff at the organisation (currently at 3.7%) and has an ambitious target of a minimum of 5.3% by 2017.

He also wants to employ more disabled people in leadership roles. The current figure stands at 3.1%. Hall hopes to increase this in the next three years to 5%.

Changes will also be made to the BBC’s award winning ‘Extend’ Programme. The Extend programme offers disabled people the chance to work for the BBC. Changes will now be introduced that will see more graduates of the programme kept on in long-term positions.

Graduates from Extend will be assigned a mentor and will have six-month’s access to HR, talent scouts and hiring managers. This support will help them find future employment and increase their chances of being placed in a long-term position at the organisation.

As it stands, disabled people only make up 1.2% of the channel’s onscreen representation. Hall wants to increase this to 5% by 2017.

Currently, the BBC is working with several disabled charities, including Royal National Institute for Blind People, Shaw Trust, Working Links and Remploy. The partnership hopes to open up new opportunities for ‘non-media’ disabled people in business support roles across the organisation. It is hoped that having more disabled people visibly working across the BBC will help to create a culture of change.

Changes made to HR processes, apprenticeships and access programmes will hopefully help to create more opportunities for disabled people looking to work for a broadcasting organisation.

Channel 4 is currently championing disabled representation at the moment. The channel won an award for its coverage of the 2012 Paralympics, and several of the station’s broadcasters went on to present their own TV shows.

Hall, who is being advised by members of the Independent Diversity Advisory Group, feels confident about the new approach to increased disability representation.

He finished with:

“We will now work tirelessly to achieve our new ambitions, and reserve the option of going even further in the future.”

Whether or not these changes will take place remains to be seen. But one thing is for certain; once again disabled people are being underrepresented in the main stream. The sooner executives like Tony Hall carry out their promises, the better.

Maybe one day we will be able to achieve fair representation for everyone.

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