Here at Blue Wave Voiceover, we are committed to presenting voices that look and sound like America. We’re proud to feature talented voice actors on our roster that span the generations and come from diverse backgrounds. When we talk about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as a country, one thing that is frequently left out of that conversation is Accessibility for disabled people. Many disabled advocates have called for the phrase to be rewritten as “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility” (DEIA) in order to truly be inclusive.
To that end, we’re proud to be a partner and champion of a new resource for both voice actors and voice seekers in our little production universe here.
Introducing The Disabled Voice Actors Database
On December 3, 2022, in honor of the International Day of Persons With Disabilities, voice actor and Blue Wave Voiceover collective member Maria Pendolino supported the launch of The Disabled Voice Actors Database. This database serves as a central dashboard that empowers casting directors and other voice-seeking industry professionals to source high-quality, talented voice actors who also happen to be disabled.
This database is important for a number of reasons. Studies have shown that people living with a disability still make less money and have higher unemployment rates. Even with its digital embellishment, the society we live and work in leaves little room for any interpretation that isn’t physically or mentally “able-bodied”.
Unfortunately, this is a theme that continues throughout the world of entertainment, including voice over acting. Although the industry may often cite inclusivity and progressinve-ness as values, so often disabled voice actors are looked over for parts — even when these parts involve the portrayal of a disabled character!
A New Beginning for An Important Disability & Accessibility Resource
Maria and The Disabled Voice Actors Database founder Nick Germain made it their mission to make sure that there would never be another easy excuse to pass over disabled voice talent. Inspired by similar databases serving the LGBTQIA+ community (QueerVox) and People of Global Majority (aka BIPOC/POC) (PGM VO List), they created Version 2.0 of The Disabled Voice Actors Database.
Like so many good ideas, the database started as a Google Sheet, but it wasn’t long before it outgrew those rows and columns. The Disabled Voice Actors Database 2.0 exists as a sophisticated AirTable that is free to join and only visible to vetted voice seekers. Other voice actors that were instrumental in making the Database come to life were Satauna Howery, Tony Jackson, Tyler Berman and Lindsay Sheppard — a hard working team of volunteer steering committee members.
Steering committee member Tyler Berman said “To accurately cast and give voiceover talent a chance to go out for both disabled (and more importantly) typical characters is why I feel this will help break the stigma of voiceover actors with disabilities only being able to voice disabled characters. You see on-screen actors with disabilities perform both types of characters all the time so why not voice over actors? You only hear their voice and the voice actor could be very capable for the role.”
How To Search For Talent With The Database
In order to protect the privacy and well-being of the voice actors in the database, The Disabled Voice Actors Database is only visible to vetted individuals. In order to pass the vetting process, an applicant must be in a position to seek out and hire voice talent, and must also be willing to provide a fair wage and humane and reasonable work process, which may need to include accommodations.
It’s easy to request to be vetted — simply visit www.disabledvoiceactors.com and follow the button labeled “Voice Seeker Access Request”. Once we’ve done our due diligence we’ll send you your login credentials along with a short tutorial on how to best use the database.
How To Join The Database As A Disabled Voice Actor
In order to make sure our database helps as many voice actors as possible, we’ve made it free to add your name. The only stipulation is that if you’re under 18, you’ll need to ask your parent or legal guardian to add you to the database.
If you have any questions or comments about this new endeavor, The Disabled Voice Actors Database volunteer steering committee would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.