Production Accessibility Coordinators: Charting a New Path for Disabled Artists

October 10, 2023 A DGA Disability Committee Event

On October 10, the Disability Committee (DC) meeting featured the panel discussion, Production Accessibility Coordinators: Charting a New Path for Disabled Artists. In a conversation moderated by Director Ashley Eakin, UPM Debra F. Spidell, 1st AD Nandi Bowe and Production Accessibility Coordinator Kiah Amara revealed how disabled crew members were hired for above and below-the-line positions for the APPLE+ TV series, Best Foot Forward, and highlighted the role of a Production Accessibility Coordinator and how they continue to facilitate many TV productions, commercials and other films that involve the disability community.

They also spoke about the kind of accessibility needs they’ve encountered on sets, particularly while filming Best Foot Forward, how to identify accessibility needs on sets while being mindful of the individuals in need of them, what companies take into consideration when hiring disabled persons, the average cost difference between abled and disabled persons, and the kinds of needs that might go unseen while on set necessitating a Production Accessibility Coordinator’s presence.

About the panelists:
Debra SpidellUPM Debra F. Spidell
In addition to her work on Best Foot Forward, Spidell’s production management credits include episodes of The Really Loud House, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, Alone Together, Workaholics, 100 Things to Do Before High School, Big Time Rush, Just Jordan, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, Zoey 101 and The Brothers Garcia. She has been a DGA member since 2000.  

Nandi-Bowe1st AD Nandi Bowe
In addition to her work on Best Foot Forward, Bowe’s Assistant Directing credits include features such as Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Bill Duke’s Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Kenny Ortega’s Hocus Pocus, Phil Alden Robinson’s Sneakers, Garry Marshall’s Frankie and Johnny and Julie Dash’s Funny Valentines; and episodes of the series Just JordanThe Stones and Method & Red. She also directed the short film, Statistically Speaking. Bowe has been a DGA member since 1989.


Ashley-EakinDirector Ashley Eakin (moderator)
Eakin’s directorial credits include episodes of the series Growing Up and Best Foot Forward; and the shorts Forgive Us Our TrespassesBlue and Exo. Her other short films, Single and Roommates, earned nominations for the Narrative Short Grand Jury Award at the 2020 and 2022 SXSW festival. Eakin became a DGA member in 2021. 

Kiah AmaraProduction Accessibility Coordinator Kiah Amara
Amara is a Producer, Educator, Production Accessibility Coordinator and the founder of IndieVISIBLE Entertainment, an organization committed to closing the “Perception Gap,” by prioritizing multiply marginalized voices and stories. She has also worked as a consultant for RespectAbility, a diverse, disability-led nonprofit that works to create systemic change in how societyviews and values people with disabilities.

About the Committee

The mission of the Disability Committee is to examine a broad range of issues DGA members with disabilities face on sets, with the goal of developing recommendations for the National Board to address these matters. In 2023, DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter, announced the creation of this provisional committee, whose members will lead work to destigmatize disability as a way to empower other members to feel comfortable with disclosing their disability identity and push the industry towards greater acceptance of Directors and Directorial Team members with disabilities.

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