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Industry Insider – Disability, Access and Publishing

5 July @ 11:00 - 12:00 BST

Virtual Event Virtual Event

The publishing industry has taken steps to become more inclusive in recent yearsbut is it really ready to support disabled writers? The 2020 Publishers Association workforce survey showed 8% of the publishing industry workforce identify as disabled, but if the industry reflected society, these figures would be closer to 20%. How different would the experience of disabled writers be if industry insiders comprehensively understood and provided for their access needs?

Join Cat Mitchell, author of The Access Denied Report on Disability and the UK Publishing Industry, as she chairs a discussion with disabled agents and editors, examining what it’s like to be disabled in the book industry, what disabled authors can expect from publishing and how all corners of the industry can better work together to help disabled people thrive as agents, editors, writers, illustrators, booksellers and more. 

This event is part of ADCI @ Home, organised by the SoA’s Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses Network (ADCI). It is a week-long celebration of authors & illustrators living with disabilities and chronic illnesses and will include an Afternoon Tea, Industry Insider and Professional Development event.

All events will take place online via Zoom with live captioning and BSL interpretation



All ADCI Network events will have the following accessibility features:

  • Live captioning
  • BSL interpretation
  • Post event transcription for captions
  • Audio description



  • Welcome, introductions and housekeeping from Cat Mitchell, Chair (5 mins)
  • Panel Discussion with Cat Mitchell, Ellie Drewy, Khairani Barokka and The Catchpole Agency (30 mins)
  • Q&A with audience (20 mins)
  • Closing comments (5 mins)



What will this session cover? 

  • What disabled authors can expect from publishing.
  • Examining what it’s like to be disabled in the book industry.
  • How all sides of the industry can work together to better support disabled people to thrive within the industry at all levels.


Who is this session for? 

This session is aimed at anyone interested in access and the book industry, especially disabled writers, publishing professionals and booksellers, and people who want to help support disabled people in the industry. 


About the Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses Network

This member-led peer support network aims to break feelings of isolation by connecting authors facing common experiences, in an online community that offers continuing professional and personal support. Our primary aim is to offer a friendly and supportive space where you can feel safe to ask questions, share experiences, offer advice, and make new connections.

Helping to encourage and enable more disabled characters in books, on screen, on the radio and online. We believe the best way of doing this is by raising the profile of disabled authors, building confidence, and helping more creative practitioners with disabilities to progress their careers.

This network can also serve as a platform to better communicate with industry representatives, to raise awareness of the needs of disabled authors to encourage more inclusivity and to highlight the value of these writers to the industry.


Send us your questions in advance 

If you would like to send questions in advance, email with lbrendfish@societyofauthors.org with ‘Industry Insider – Question’ in the subject header. We will prioritise questions sent in advance and answer as many as we can from the audience on the day.


SoA @ Home fundraising bookshop

Browse our virtual Bookshop.org store, featuring books by authors and speakers taking part in the SoA @ Home Festival. When you make a purchase using our affiliate links a percentage will go to the Authors’ Contingency Fund, providing hardship grants to authors in financial difficulty.


The line-up 


Khairani Barokka – Editor

Khairani Barokka is Editor of Modern Poetry in Translation. Okka is a disabled Minang-Javanese Indonesian writer and artist based in London, whose work has been presented extensively internationally. Among Okka’s honours, she has been Modern Poetry in Translation’s Inaugural Poet-In-Residence, an NYU Tisch Departmental Fellow, a UNFPA Indonesian Young Leader Driving Social Change, and Associate Artist at the National Centre for Writing in Norwich. Okka’s books include Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (as co-editor, Nine Arches), shortlisted for the Saboteur Award for Best Anthology, and her latest book Ultimatum Orangutan (Nine Arches), shortlisted for the Barbellion Prize.

Twitter: @mailbykite | Website: www.khairanibarokka.com


James Catchpole – The Catchpole Agency

James Catchpole runs The Catchpole Agency for children’s authors and illustrators, and is the author of What Happened to You? He and his wife Lucy write about children’s books, family life and disability.

Instagram: @thecatchpoles


Cat Mitchell – Lecturer in Writing and Publishing

Cat Mitchell is a Lecturer in Publishing and the Programme Leader for the Creative Writing and Publishing BA at the University of Derby. She previously worked in the publishing industry, including four years at Penguin Random House. She is currently researching disability in publishing, and in 2021 published the Access Denied report, which investigated barriers for disabled job seekers and employees in the industry.

 Instagram: @cat_snaps17 | Twitter: @CatMitchell17  


Ellie Drewry – Editor

Ellie Drewry is an Assistant Editor at Puffin and is the founder and co-chair of Penguin Random House’s Disability Network. She commissions fiction and non-fiction for children aged 6-18 and has a background in audiobook production and LGBTQIA+ disability advocacy.

Twitter: @elliedrewry


Need to know 

Before the event

  • Once registered, you will be sent a confirmation email with the Zoom link
  • If the confirmation email doesn’t arrive in your inbox, please check your junk /spam email folder.
  • Please add events@societyofauthors.org to your Safe Senders list so you receive our confirmation, and reminder emails

During the event

  • This online event will take place on Zoom Webinar; you will not be visible on screen but will be able ask questions via the Q&A function or interact via the chat box
  • This event will be recorded but you won’t be on screen
  • Attendees have the option to turn on the live transcript option
  • This event will have live BSL Interpretation
  • This event is 60 minutes.

After the event

  • Hashtag for this event: #SoAatHome
  • You’ll be able to catch the recording on our Vimeo channel



Book your place using the registration form below.

All SoA @ Home industry insider events are free but, if you can afford it, we recommend a minimum £5 donation to the Authors’ Contingency Fund to help us support authors facing financial hardship during the health crisis. DONATE HERE

Accordion Content

Financial support for authors in need through the health crisis and beyond

Since March 2020, the Authors’ Contingency Fund has distributed over £1 million in small grants to authors facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

With at least 57% of authors facing financial losses during the pandemic, we have helped people struggling financially due to contractual, employment and event cancellations, others who have lost income due to illness, and others prevented from working because of caring responsibilities.

As the health crisis continues, applications for grants continue to come in, and our emergency funds are running low.

So, if you are in a position to help, please donate via the link below. If you are an author facing financial hardship, please click here to see if we can help.



Accordion Content

20% off your first year with discount code SOAFESTIVAL20

The Society of Authors is the UK’s biggest trade union for authors – representing more than 11,300 writers, illustrators, translators and other creative practitioners.

Our standard subscription rate is just £26.25 per quarter (£18.50 for students).

As an SoA member, you’ll get:

  • Access to all our SoA @ Home Festival events for free
  • Unlimited one-to-one professional advice
  • Membership of our online and real-world professional networks
  • A range of member-only discounts, including books, insurance and travel
  • And much more.




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5 July
11:00 - 12:00 BST
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