Access to Work limits Deaf actors say London Theatre Company

graeae building exterior

The Graeae Theatre Company, based in London, has claimed the government’s disability employment scheme, Access to Work, has created a “glass ceiling” that limits the support deaf actors can receive.

The disability-led company’s operations director Kevin Walsh said the self-employed nature of an acting career meant many performers were struggling to prove themselves eligible for government support.

Walsh said there were “fundamental concerns” with the scheme preventing many actors from getting support – and said several Graeae employees had been told they do not earn enough to qualify.

He claims this was hitting deaf applicants hardest due to the high support costs of sign language interpreters.

He told The Stage magazine: “Essentially, some people’s support costs more than others. In our opinion that doesn’t affect their value as an employee or a human being.

“Limiting their access to skilled support staff sets a glass ceiling for deaf and disabled employees and freelancers, which means they are kept from being the industry leaders of the future.”

Graeae champions the inclusion of Deaf and disabled people in the arts through training initiatives, Access support for creative and learning situations, workshops
for young artists and a range of training models for the creative sector.