‘Bleak’ ScreenSkills report highlights disability discrimination in UK animation

Tom Box

A staggering 74% of disabled animators in the UK industry believe that the sector discriminates against people with disabilities, according to a new report from TV skills body ScreenSkills.

The Accessibility in Animation report paints a “bleak picture” of the sector, with other key findings including that the majority (56%) of disabled people do not believe that animation is a good industry for disabled people to work in, while 60% of disabled respondents think that disability cannot be openly discussed within the sector.

The report presents the findings of a ScreenSkills survey of more than 120 people working in animation and was done in partnership with Manchester Animation Festival and the Visible in Visuals (ViV) network.

Further takeaways include that more than half of those surveyed (54%) disagree that recruitment processes in the sector encourage applications from disabled people.

Respondents also feel that there is not enough training to educate staff on the topics of disability, accessibility and inclusion. The majority (72%) thinks that they are not provided with training on how to create an inclusive workplace for disabled people.

The research, conducted by Dr Caterina Branzanti, ScreenSkills head of research, and Dr Jack Cortvriend, ScreenSkills senior researcher, highlights six actions to support the animation sector in becoming a more accessible sector for disabled people to work in.

These include continued monitoring of disability issues; recommendations that large organisations lead by example by creating more training programmes; encouraging and supporting disability disclosure and a comprehensive review of recruitment practices and make sure staff involved in recruitment are trained on issues surrounding disability.

Responding to the research, Tom Box, chair of the ScreenSkills Animation Skills Council and co-founder and MD of Blue Zoo Animation Studio, commented:

“This survey and the insights derived from it are invaluable in the mission of making the UK animation industry more diverse and inclusive. These statistics highlight in black and white how much work there is to do.

“Many of the conclusions seem to stem from visibility of the matter, either from the workforce being uncomfortable with disclosing information, or employers not being aware the impact of their apparent lack of support or awareness.

“So I think one of the most constructive ways ScreenSkills can help is with training for management and around recruitment. It is too easy for studios to assume they are doing enough but these stark statistics show those assumptions are false. Training in management and recruitment is one step towards delivering inclusive working practices for disabled employees.”

The report was commissioned by the ScreenSkills Animation Skills Council and supported by National Lottery funds awarded by the BFI as part of its Future Film Skills programme. It can be read in full here.

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