Start the year with a fresh pledge to hire more disabled people, Lancashire charity tells TV bosses

Henshaws is calling for action in the New Year.
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TV executives should start the New Year with a pledge to feature more people with sight loss in their programmes, leading Lancashire charity Henshaws has said, as it told them viewers ‘want and deserve’ it.

Primetime BBC One show Strictly Come Dancing, which recently finished airing its 20th series and attracted millions of viewers each week, has never had a visually impaired contestant take part.

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Kevin Clifton, a former professional dancer on the show, told the Daily Star in 2023 that having a dancer who was visually impaired would be ‘great’ for the show.

Henshaws helps people with sight loss and other disabilitiesHenshaws helps people with sight loss and other disabilities
Henshaws helps people with sight loss and other disabilities

And Henshaws, which helps those with sight loss and other disabilities across northern England, agrees.

It says blind contestants should feature in a host of primetime TV and streaming service shows and wants programme and film bosses to do more to attract and retain people who have sight loss to showcase the ‘breath of talent among people with disabilities’.

It comes after the success of hit Netflix series ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ which was released in 2023 and stars blind actress Aria Mia Loberti as the main protagonist.

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TV executives hired Loberti without her ever having starred in a professional acting film or series before, with critics lauding the decision.

And now Henshaws says bosses should go further and keep hiring people who are visually impaired, including but not only in roles where the character has a visual impairment.

Henshaws says TV executives could recruit more people with sight loss as part of their everyday programming; it doesn’t have be linked to a disabled-focused plot line.

This, they say, will help raise awareness of visual impairments and debunk the myths around what it’s like to live with a sight condition.

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Stephen Tongue, Director of Fundraising at Henshaws, said: “TV stations have made great progress in hiring disabled talent but there is still more to be done – perhaps this could be their New Year’s Resolution.

“Visually impaired people being cast in primetime shows or on major streaming service productions would boost awareness of sight conditions and the daily impact of living with sight loss.

“As millions of people consume TV shows, series and films, whether that be on a TV, smartphone, tablet, laptop or other electronic device: we know there is ample opportunity to promote and put visually impaired people front and centre of these programmes.

“We’ve seen with All the Light We Cannot See how this can be done and the impact it can have.

“So, we say to TV executives: well done so far, but please keep going and make sure you get a breath of talent that your viewers want and deserve.”