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Channel 4 names 2016 the Year of Disability

  January 21, 2016   

In an effort to increase the representation of disabled people in broadcasting, The Guardian reports that Channel 4 has named 2016 their year of disability. Channel 4’s initiative coincides with their broadcast of the Rio Paralympics in September and comes a year after the launch of their 360° Diversity Charter, in which the broadcaster set 30 targets on increasing diversity.

Increasing visibility

The initiative from Channel 4 includes a £300,000 fund to foster new talent. Some of this fund will be used to further the careers of 20 disabled people currently working behind the camera for the channel’s biggest suppliers. They will also reserve half of their apprenticeships and 30% of their work experience places for disabled applicants. In late 2015, Channel 4 also announced that Breaking Bad actor RJ Mitte, who has cerebral palsy, is joining the presenting team for the Rio Paralympics.

Hoping for lasting impact

The channel is hoping that their focus on disability in 2016 will have a lasting impact and increase the representation of disabled people both on and off-screen, and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP is pleased the industry is beginning to address the need for diversity themselves. He stresses the need for continued focus on diversity in broadcasting and promises he will continue to engage with broadcasters on the issue.

Speaking of the initiative, Great With Disability founder Helen Cooke commented:

"It's great to hear that Channel 4 are setting such ambitious targets to bring disabled talent into their organisation, both onto their apprenticeship schemes and work experience places. I trust that this will also be reflected throughout the organisation in senior and leadership roles. I sincerely hope that Channel 4 will leverage the use of Great With Disability to market their opportunities to this talent group".