AMI and the Disability Screen Office announce founding board members

TORONTO, Dec. 1, 2022 /CNW/ - AMI, in partnership with the Canada Media Fund (CMF) and Telefilm Canada, is excited to announce the founding board members of the Disability Screen Office (DSO).

Yazmine Laroche, Sasha Boersma, Kenneth J. Fredeen and Prasanna Ranganathan have been onboarded to the DSO board of directors, while Line Gendreau, VP Finance & Technology Services at AMI, will remain active with the board until the organization has transitioned to a fully independent organization in March 2023. Andrew Morris will remain as Interim Executive Director until a permanent Executive Director is hired in the new year.

"I am honoured and thrilled to work with Yazmine, Sasha, Kenneth, Prasanna and Line," says Andrew Morris. "The foundation we are building will increase industry accessibility and establish programs to foster meaningful and authentic disability representation across the screen sector."

Ahead of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, a website has been launched where those interested can keep up to date on the DSO's latest news. It can be found at: www.dso-orphe.ca

Next steps for the DSO include recruiting a permanent executive director and additional board members; participating in the upcoming Canadian Media Producers Association Prime Time conference in Ottawa; and Phase 2 of its national, bilingual research endeavour that will culminate in the creation of the Best Practices Guide for Disability Engagement in the Canadian Film and Television Industry.

The DSO is committed to being inclusive and representative of Canada's Deaf and disabled creative community. Their goal is to ensure that both the French and English-language screen industries are barrier-free.

"As always, we are actively seeking feedback from both English- and French-language communities and will be transparent about our progress," says Yazmine Laroche.

As previously announced, the DSO will provide services that increase accurate and meaningful disability representation on and off screen throughout the Canadian media landscape, expose and eliminate accessibility barriers to create a more inclusive and accessible industry for all and support and amplify the creative voices of Canadians with disabilities nationally and internationally.

About Yazmine Laroche
Yazmine Laroche, ICD.D was Canada's first Deputy Minister for Public Service Accessibility and the first person with a visible disability to become a federal Deputy Minister. She has significant leadership experience in public policy, program design and delivery, communications, strategic planning and corporate management, having served in federal government organizations including Transport Canada, Canadian Heritage, the Canada Information Office, the Privy Council Office, Treasury Board and Infrastructure Canada. She is currently a member and past Chair of the Board of Muscular Dystrophy Canada. She is known as a passionate leader and persuasive communicator. Recognized as a champion of disability, collaboration, integrity and diversity, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Carleton University, in 2019, and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

About Sasha Boersma
Sasha Boersma is Co-Founder/Producer of Sticky Brain Studios Inc., creating family-friendly interactive content and video games. As an autistic entrepreneur, Sasha actively champions equity and inclusion in Canada's screen-based media sector both within Sticky Brain Studios and as a contract professor at Centennial College. Formerly on the WIFT-Toronto Board of Directors and Chair of its Programming Committee, Sasha has also participated on various committees and working groups for Interactive Ontario, Ontario Creates and the Canada Media Fund. Sasha is also a member of the Canadian Film Centre's Fifth Wave – Canada's first feminist business accelerator.

About Kenneth J. Fredeen
Kenneth J. Fredeen served as General Counsel and Secretary to the Board, Deloitte LLP from 2000 to 2020. In June 2020, he was appointed General Counsel Emeritus and Senior Partner, Indigenous and Accessibility, leading Deloitte's Reconciliation and Disability initiatives. Having retired from Deloitte, Mr. Fredeen recently joined the Return on Disability Group as a Managing Director.

About Prasanna Ranganathan
Most recently, Prasanna Ranganathan was the Head of Diversity and Belonging at Shopify. He has previously served as Senior Legal Counsel to the Independent Reviewer, Independent Street Checks Review, for the Government of Ontario; Senior Special Advisor (Judicial-Legal) and Manager for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada; and Legal Counsel for the Department of Justice Canada, International Legal Programs. He is a published writer, social media consultant, professional speaker and documentary producer.

About Accessible Media Inc.
AMI is a not-for-profit media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Operating three broadcast services, AMI-tv and AMI-audio in English and AMI-télé in French, AMI's vision is to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal. To learn more visit AMI.ca and AMItele.ca.

About the Canada Media Fund
The Canada Media Fund (CMF) fosters, develops, finances and promotes the production of Canadian content and applications for all audiovisual media platforms. The CMF guides Canadian content towards a competitive global environment by fostering industry innovation, rewarding success, enabling a diversity of voice and promoting access to content through public and private sector partnerships. The CMF receives financial contributions from the Government of Canada and Canada's cable, satellite and IPTV distributors. Please visit cmf-fmc.ca.

About Telefilm Canada
As a Partner of Choice, Telefilm Canada is a Crown corporation dedicated to the success of Canada's audiovisual industry, fostering access and excellence by delivering programs that support cultural resonance and audience engagement. With a lens of equity, inclusivity and sustainability, Telefilm bolsters dynamic companies and a range of creative talent at home and around the world. Telefilm also makes recommendations regarding the certification of audiovisual coproduction treaties to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and administers the programs of the Canada Media Fund. Launched in 2012, the Talent Fund raises private donations which principally support emerging talent. Visit telefilm.ca and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/Telefilm_Canada and on Facebook at facebook.com/telefilmcanada.

SOURCE Accessible Media Inc. (AMI)

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