The Bookseller's Disability Issue: 'trade can bring real change'

The Bookseller's Disability Issue: 'trade can bring real change'

The Bookseller's “Disability Issue” is published today, guest-edited by author Claire Wade, co-founder of the Authors with Disabilities & Chronic Illnesses network (ADCI), who has called on the trade to harness its adaptability to bring real change for people with disabilities.

This week's magazine features author Holly Smale on why autistic characters and novelists should no longer be seen as 'niche'; comedian Rosie Jones on her children's series featuring a heroine with cerebral palsy; an analysis by Cat Mitchell of the findings of a survey into how accessible publishing is to those with disabilities; and opinion columns from literary agent Hayley Steed and authors Angela Clarke and Michael Amherst, among others.

In her lead piece, Wade sets out a number of changes the industry can make, writing: “Changing the status quo requires allies, active participants within the industry who see that a more inclusive approach doesn’t just help disabled authors. If we create an industry that empowers everyone to find ways of working, no matter their physical ability, no one has to quit when ill health and disability strike.”

Among the steps suggested is reviewing the number of disabled authors publishers work with, which should be 20% proportionally. Companies should also examine everything from physical access to virtual meeting and events, all forms of communication, websites and online submission processes.

Calling for submissions by disabled authors, supporting disabled staff and creating specialist schemes are all things the trade can do. Wade also suggests using the Fries Test, similar to the Bedchdel Test, to ensure positive disability protrayal. For more details, see the piece by Catherine Miller and Lisette Auton’s article on avoiding disability tropes.

Wade writes: “The publishing industry has taken steps to become more inclusive and as a result we are hearing more diverse voices, learning about different lives and expanding our understanding of the world we share. The publishing industry holds enormous power and therefore must ensure that everyone is represented.”

The Disability Issue also looks at the effectiveness of company disability staff networks while author Frances Ryan shares her experiences of publicising her book, alongside a six-page preview by poet Polly Atkins looking at upcoming titles.

The full issue can be read online here. The cover was illustrated by disabled illustrator and chronic illness activist Ananya Rao-Middleton.