Unlocking Audiences and Authentic Representations Accessibly

Berlinale Industry Events

Access: Market Badge

Statistics demonstrate that disabled people represent between one quarter and one fifth of the earth’s population. According to recent figures, disabled people number 1.85 billion people globally and if they were considered to constitute a sovereign nation, they would correspond to the world’s third largest economic power, ahead of Japan, Germany and the UK. If we, in addition, consider the friends and family of disabled people, this figure grows to 3.3 billion people, reaching up to 73% of consumers and $13 trillion in disposable income (source: FWD-Doc).

Yet, beyond the framing of accessibility in terms of social justice, the entertainment and creative industries have been largely slow to realise the potential of making screen content accessible to disabled audiences in terms of both accessible formats and screening locations.

If disabled people represent such a sizable market segment of current and potential consumers of films, series and other audiovisual content, then storytelling which involves authentic narratives and representations of and about disabled characters must also be a key inclusion objective of the film industry. Elevating narratives that are created and acted by and about disabled people not only has a positive social impact, but it also makes economic sense. The simple fact of engaging a previously untapped disabled audience that has rarely seen itself portrayed onscreen authentically represents enormous potential to further engage with and unlock that very audience.

Featuring the insights, criticisms, perspectives and advice from accessibility experts and advocates, this conversation will unpack how ableism can be dismantled on and off-screen through positive steps to reach disabled audiences and support audiovisual creations told from authentic disabled perspectives.


Amanda Upson (she/her)



Deborah Williams

Managing Director

Reality Productions, UK

Ariel Baska (they/them)

Festival Director

Access:Horror Film Festival, USA

Winnie Luk (she/her)

Executive Director

Disability Screen Office, Canada


Ranell Shubert (she/her)

Nonfiction Access Initiative Funds Program Manager

International Documentary Association, USA