Accessibility & Media

Media Access & Participation Initiative

Innoversity™ has developed a “MAP” to make the film and television industry more accessible for people with disabilities. The MAP initiative (Media Access and Participation) was officially launched at the 2006 Innoversity Summit™.

Working closely with representatives of the media industry, and in support of Ontario’s new accessibility law, the AODA, Innoversity developed a number of innovative educational tools and programs to help broadcasters and the independent production industry make the media more accessible to people with disabilities.

Research by media organizations, including the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, has found that people with disabilities lag far behind other under-represented groups such as women and visible minorities, in employment, participation and portrayal on television.

Cynthia Reyes, co-founder of Innoversity™, says she hopes the MAP Initiative (MAP) will raise the awareness of the significant contribution people with disabilities can make to the media workplace as well as in programming. The MAP Initiative has its own steering committee and advisory group, comprised of a wide cross-section of representatives from the broadcast, film and television industries.

MAP’s project team includes Fireweed Media Productions Inc., a production company operated by people with disabilities; DiversiPro Inc., a diversity consulting firm; and the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services. Together, they are developing appropriate learning tools to help broadcasters and producers make the media more inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities.

MAP is also developing educational resources related to the new Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) for the film and television industry.

The AODA came into effect in June 1995 and requires the government to work with the disability community and the private and public sectors to develop accessibility standards that will be phased in over 20 years. Standards will be set in both the public and private sectors to address the full range of disabilities—including physical, sensory, mental health, developmental and learning.

Most people’s perception of people with disabilities, both positive and negative, is shaped by the media. As a major employer in Ontario, the film and television industry will be expected to comply with the new law.