We work hard to help broadcasters represent disfigurement properly

What broadcasters are doing

Broadcasters are increasingly paying attention to the representation and portrayal of issues around race, gender, sexuality and disability.

Severe disfigurement is treated as a disability in the Disability Discrimination Act and the Creative Diversity Network (BCIDN) brings together the UK’s major broadcasters to explore and address disability as it relates to the media industry.

As well as making it easier for members to recruit and retain disabled people and to promote and share best practice across the industry, the BCIDN is also concerned with getting more accurate representation of disability in the media. The BCIDN has worked with Changing Faces about portrayals and representation of disfigurement.

In January 2009, the BBC and Channel 4 presented their jointly-commissioned research findings on access services and disability portrayals to a group of representatives from Ofcom, the BCIDN and others from the broadcasting industry. They are using this research to inform their respective diversity strategies.

Both the BBC and Channel 4 have worked with Changing Faces on portrayals of disfigurement including ‘Cast Offs’. Changing Faces is currently working with the BBC on two BBC Children’s initiatives which will feature children with disfigurements.

Following a Changing Faces panel discussion for broadcasters, disability and diversity advisers from Channel 4, BBC, ITV, Five and Sky met with us to understand more about how disfigurement is currently portrayed and the changes that need to take place.

Changing Faces will continue to make a sustained effort to initiate and continue dialogue with all the leading broadcasters and related industries like Ofcom, the Producers and Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) and SkillSet.

Tips for broadcasters

  • Don’t assume you know about the experience of disfigurement or that all the information you need is already covered in existing disability / disfigurement policies. Contact Changing Faces to find out more.
  • Consider whether your coverage of disfigurement is based on stereotypes and be creative about what you could do differently. Changing Faces can help you to do this.
  • Do let Changing Faces know about any new projects which could involve people with disfigurements e.g. participants on quiz or entertainment shows, as extras in soaps.
  • Do engage Changing Faces in creative ways before you proceed with a programme about disfigurement.
  • Think about the language you use in your coverage. Consult our Media Guidelines.

For more detailed tips, check our Media Guidelines to ensure disfigurement-related stories are portrayed in an informed, fair, unbiased and non-prejudicial way.