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Access All Areas, the disability-focused consultancy that has worked with the producers of shows like Hollyoaks and Ralph and Katie, is moving into TV production.

The organisation, which also works in theatre, is formally launching Access All Areas Productions tomorrow, ahead of a Edinburgh TV Festival session on disability on Thursday.

The indie, which is co-led by learning disabled and autistic talent, will share its parent company’s mission to improve learning disabled and neurodivergent representation in TV and film. It plans to work with streamers, broadcasters and other production companies to co-develop and produce shows on top of its training and support offering.

Access All Areas has also joined the TV Access Project (TAP), the pan-industry inclusion group set up last year by partners including Channel 4, the BBC, ITV and Sky in response to issues raised by Underlying Health Conditions’ campaigning on the challenges facing disabled people in TV.

TAP will spell out its drive for inclusion, including new standards for the industry, at the Edinburgh panel, entitled The 6.5 Club in reference to the percentage of people in TV who are disabled.

Since its launch in 2007, Access All Areas has supported on- and off-screen inclusion on productions such as Holby City and The Crown. On BBC1’s pioneering series Ralph and Katie, the first mainstream drama with two actors with Down’s in lead roles, it provided a dedicated coach for stars Leon Harrop and Sarah Gordy and ran workshops for cast and crew about working with learning-disabled adults.

Under its newly-formalised structure, AAA will offer similar training for crews, casting teams and other staff, co-led by experienced learning disabled and autistic talent. It will also provide one-on-one creative support for talent in casting, rehearsals and on set, and will establish accessible writers’ rooms to support learning disabled and autistic talent to collaborate with experienced writers.

AAA executive director Patrick Collier said that TAP “represents an exciting drive by the TV and film industry towards full inclusion of disabled talent”.

He added: “With proper training for the industry, nuanced support for talent, and meaningful inclusion in the creative process, learning disabled and autistic voices can be at the heart of this drive.

“Alongside our partners in TAP, we want to see real systemic change, where the inclusion of learning disabled and autistic voices becomes normalised in our culture.”

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