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The BBC is spearheading an industry-wide blueprint to make the industry more accessible and inclusive, one year on from writer Jack Thorne’s declaration that TV has “failed” disabled people.

BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore has led the TV Access Project, which has featured a series of roundtables with disability champions and now an open letter to studios and facilities that has been shared with industry website Deadline.

Senior executives at ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 owner Paramount, Sky, UKTV, Disney+ UK, Paramount, Amazon Prime Video and Britbox International have all signed the letter alongside bodies such as Pact and the Creative Diversity Network.

Much of its efforts centre on the crucial aspect of pressuring studios and facilities to address long-established problems with accessibility, as outlined by Thorne in his MacTaggart speech at last year's Edinburgh TV Festival and a subsequent report compiled by his pressure group Underlying Health Condition.

That study highlighted that despite complying with the 2010 Equality Act, most studios and facilities had an alarming lack of accessible toilets and step-free access, as well as limited accessible fire regulations.

“Collectively, we have been working hard to raise the representation of disabled people on screen and off, but over the past year we have come to realise that our progress has been stymied by a significant, yet resolvable, problem – physical accessibility,” the letter states.

In what Moore describes as “a watershed moment for disabled talent and inclusion in our industry,” the letter says that broadcasters will give commissioning priority to studios and facilities that expectations of standards of disability inclusion – centred on the ‘5 A’s’ of Anticipate, Ask, Assess, Adjust, Advocate.

The signatories call for a “document of accessibility standards” and detail a three-stage process: an Autumn roundtable with studios to forge a path to greater accessibility, work on a pan-industry access group, and a facility audit to “create a target timeline for addressing access requirements”.

Moore will unveil full details of the initiative at the Edinburgh TV Festival this year. To read the open letter, click here

Thorne is set to reflect on his MacTaggart lecture alongside previous speakers David Olusoga, Dorothy Byrne and Armando Iannucci in a session at Edinburgh this week.

Deadline also caught up with Thorne and other disability inclusion champions to assess the state of play in this accompanying feature

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