Daneka shares how they achieved the change.
In February 2022, I launched a formal complaint process with Spotlight regarding the Deaf and disabled members discount. My grievance was with their lack of transparency of the scheme, their failure to inform all members of the discount's existence and requiring an invasive 'proof of disability'. I had been a member for 5 years and had no knowledge of it.
When I asked other disabled members they either were unaware of it or had tried to access it but had been dismissed on medical evidence. Very few actually had access to the discount. Previously, to qualify for the discount Spotlight required disability benefit paperwork on each evidence pathway, which immediately excluded the majority of disabled people. If you couldn't provide this, you needed a medical certification from a healthcare professional (which you have to pay substantially for) detailing invasive, unnecessary medical information.
Having access to diagnostic paperwork as a disabled person is a privilege and requiring this omitted many on grounds of medical racism, migrant status, low-income backgrounds, medical misogyny, age and gender. We constantly position disabled people by impairment, valuing identity credibility by medical intervention, rather than the societal, attitudinal and physical barriers which disable us.
The process took a few months to complete, with support from Ian Manborde — Equity's Equality and Diversity Organiser. Finally, at the end of April, after a discussion with Spotlight, they committed to removing barriers and aligning more with a social model of disability. They removed requiring medical evidence, committed to a wider communication of the discount especially within the joining and renewal process, agent reminders and clear reminder of discount under the profile edit page.
I'm really pleased with how Spotlight responded so comprehensively, thoughtfully and promptly with meaningful action. I am fiercely passionate about levelling the playing field for us disabled creatives, championing our rights and industry welfare. I hope this is the first of many changes I am part of #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs.
If you want to play an active role in improving the entertainment industry for Deaf and disabled artists you can raise issues with Equity's Deaf and Disabled Committee, or stand for election to the committee in 2023. If there is an equality and diversity issue that you would like to take action on email Ian Manborde on firstname.lastname@example.org.