AMI announces the opening of the Disability Screen Office

From a media release:

AMI, in partnership with the Canada Media Fund (CMF) and Telefilm Canada, is excited to announce the launch of the Disability Screen Office (DSO).

With our commitment to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, AMI is currently facilitating the creation of this industry office with funding from the CMF and Telefilm Canada.

The DSO will provide services that:

• increase accurate and meaningful disability representation on and off-screen throughout the Canadian media landscape

• expose and eliminate accessibility barriers to create a more inclusive and accessible industry for all

• support and amplify the creative voices of Canadians with disabilities nationally and internationally

Background
For the past year, AMI has been leading roundtable discussions with diverse groups of individuals in the disability community that are working in or with the screen industry. The groups include creators, writers, directors, producers, performers and representatives from academia. The objective of these roundtables was to obtain unfiltered feedback on the accessibility of the media industry to the disability community, and to identify barriers and brainstorm solutions with a view of developing programs to increase industry accessibility.

To do this, all roads lead to the formation of a new organization, now known as the DSO.

“It became apparent that there is currently no single program, incentive or regulation that can cause the screen industry to be fully inclusive for people with disabilities,” says Andrew Morris, Manager, Independent Production, AMI-tv. “The only way to create meaningful real opportunities for people with disabilities in the media industry is to address the systemic barriers relating to education, industry regulations, insufficient and/or inaccurate representation, public beliefs and attitudes, and full accessibility throughout the media industry.”

“As part of CMF’s growth and inclusion strategy, we’ve introduced new measures to support creators with disabilities,” says Tamara Dawit, Vice-President, Inclusion and Growth, CMF. “Helping establish the Disability Screen Office to support and amplify the creative voices of Canadians with disabilities, both here in Canada and beyond our borders, is part of that strategy. We’re delighted to partner with AMI and Telefilm to achieve this important goal.”

“The creation of the Disability Screen Office will be a significant advancement for meaningful representation, advocacy, and change for creators on both sides of the camera,” said Christa Dickenson, Executive Director and CEO at Telefilm Canada. “The DSO will further contribute to breaking down barriers and shaping a more accessible and equitable screen-based industry within Canada.”

Next steps
• With funding from CMF, AMI has begun the development phase of a national, bilingual research endeavor that will culminate in the creation of the Best Practices Guide for Disability Engagement in the Canadian Film and Television Industry. This document will be the foundation of the DSO.

• Meanwhile, Telefilm Canada has provided startup funding to enable the DSO to recruit a board of directors and open the office within the year.

• Both Telefilm and CMF have also contributed funding for innovative programs to help make writers’ rooms in Canada accessible to screenwriters in the disability community, to be announced this summer.

About Accessible Media Inc.
AMI is a not-for-profit media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Operating three broadcast services, AMI-tv and AMI-audio in English and AMI-télé in French, AMI’s vision is to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal. To learn more visit AMI.ca and AMItele.ca.

About the Canada Media Fund
The Canada Media Fund (CMF) fosters, develops, finances and promotes the production of Canadian content and applications for all audiovisual media platforms. The CMF guides Canadian content towards a competitive global environment by fostering industry innovation, rewarding success, enabling a diversity of voice and promoting access to content through public and private sector partnerships. The CMF receives financial contributions from the Government of Canada and Canada’s cable, satellite and IPTV distributors. Please visit cmf-fmc.ca.

About Telefilm Canada
As a Partner of Choice, Telefilm Canada is a Crown corporation dedicated to the success of Canada’s audiovisual industry, fostering access and excellence by delivering programs that support cultural resonance and audience engagement. With a lens of equity, inclusivity and sustainability, Telefilm bolsters dynamic companies and a range of creative talent at home and around the world. Telefilm also makes recommendations regarding the certification of audiovisual coproduction treaties to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and administers the programs of the Canada Media Fund. Launched in 2012, the Talent Fund raises private donations which principally support emerging talent. Visit telefilm.ca and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/Telefilm_Canada and on Facebook at  facebook.com/telefilmcanada.

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