Media Access Awards Releases Best Practices Guide to Employing Writers With Disabilities

Guide aims to empower producers, showrunners, writers and casting directors to bring more diversity into film & television projects

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 16, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the push to embrace diversity in Hollywood moved a step further in the right direction with the release of “Employing Writers with Disabilities: A Best Practices Guide.” Written by Deborah Calla and Allen Rucker, members of the WGA Writers with Disabilities Committee and Chairs of the Media Access Awards, the guide outlines the importance of representation in film and television, why writers with disabilities are essential to telling authentic stories, do’s and don’ts in the interview process, how to make the work environment accessible, and the benefits of casting actors with disabilities. The guide is available for download on the Media Access Awards website as well as on the Writers Guild of America (WGA) website.

“On-screen representation helps make positive change by normalizing the existence and relationships of characters with disabilities,” said Deborah Calla and Allen Rucker, Co-CEOs of the Media Access Awards. “Creating these stories and characters that authentically depict disability begins with writers – that’s why it’s essential to bring more diversity into the writers’ room. With this guide, we aim to make it easier for all those involved in story creation and casting to understand how they can take simple steps to be more inclusive.”

While nearly 25 percent of the population has a disability, less than 3 percent of speaking characters in film & television are depicted with a disability. Not only is this group underrepresented on-screen, but the entertainment industry is potentially leaving money on the table by not creating content that includes America’s largest minority group. According to the Americans Institute for Research 2018 report, the total after-tax disposable income for working-age people with disabilities is about $490 billion.

“We applaud the efforts of Deborah Calla and Allen Rucker to shine a light on the valuable contributions disabled writers and actors bring to storytelling,” said Mark Whitley, CEO of Easterseals Southern California. “The unique insights, perspectives and experiences of the disability community deserve to be told – and we are optimistic that this guide will help Hollywood continue to head in the right direction by sharing more of these stories and giving disabled writers, actors and filmmakers more opportunities.”

The 40th annual Media Access Awards, presented in partnership with nonprofit disability services provider Easterseals, will return November 14, 2019 to honor the best in disability inclusion in Hollywood. Together, the two organizations are helping Hollywood identify existing barriers for disability inclusion and how to overcome them to recognize, embrace and represent America’s largest minority group, more than 61 million people strong.
For more information about the Media Access Awards, please visit or follow the conversation on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. The Media Access Awards will stream live on Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 6:30 p.m., with a Red Carpet beginning at 6 p.m.

About the Media Access Awards
As the largest minority group on the planet—and as the only minority group that anyone can join at any point of his or her life—the disability community is a robust, diverse, and integral part of our global fabric. The Media Access Awards celebrate this fact by honoring, highlighting, and promoting disability and its depictions in film, television, and new media. The Media Access Awards aim to recognize depictions of disability that are accurate, inclusive, and multi-faceted. Our awards ceremony honors those industry professionals who have advanced disability-related narrative in fields including writing, producing, casting, performance, and directing. We are proud and pleased to be at the forefront of creating and promoting opportunities for some of the brightest talents in the industry.

About Easterseals Southern California
For 100 years, Easterseals has been an indispensable resource for individuals with developmental disabilities or other special needs and their families. The services provided by Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) – in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Imperial, Kern, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties – make profound and positive differences in people's lives every day, helping them address life’s challenges and achieve personal goals so that they can live, learn, work and play in our communities. With 2,800+ employees, 60+ service sites and hundreds of community partnership locations, ESSC assists more than 13,000 people, providing adult/senior day services; autism therapy; child development/early education; employment services, veteran employment support; independent living options; and more. At Easterseals, 88% of our income is spent on services. Join us in changing the way the world defines and views disabilities at and

About the WGA’s Writers with Disabilities Committee
This Committee seeks to enhance the visibility and employment of writers with all types of disabilities, and encourage, celebrate, and endorse accurate portrayals of the disabled in all areas of the media. We also serve as an expert resource for all issues related to the disabled community.

Media Contact:
Melissa England