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Support for Deaf Artists and Artists with Disabilities

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The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is deeply committed to ensuring that all Ontarians have access to the arts and that our programs are open to Deaf artists and artists with disabilities.

Over the past few years, OAC has undertaken several consultations with Deaf artists/arts professionals and artists/arts professionals with disabilities. They have talked to us about barriers to our granting programs and services. As a result, OAC is working to implement a number of recommendations.  Along the way we will learn and adapt, and we welcome your feedback and suggestions at any time.

Making Access a Priority

In October 2014, OAC launched Vital Arts and Public Value, a strategic plan for 2014 to 2020.  In it, Deaf artists and artists with disabilities are identified as a new priority group. A number of pilot initiatives have been developed to support this priority.

Application Accessibility Support Funding

Applicants who need accessibility support to complete their project or operating grant applications can apply for funds to cover some or all of those costs of assistance from service providers. Up to $500 is available per eligible applicant per fiscal year. You should request this funding at least four weeks before the granting program deadline. Cheques are issued directly to service providers on the receipt of an invoice and the completed application by OAC. Please contact the program officer or program administrator of the program to which you wish to apply.

Supporting accessibility costs for successful applications

Deaf artists and artists with disabilities who apply for a grant in any OAC project program may include the accessibility expenses incurred in the course of their work. This is in addition to the amount requested for the project.

Update: This fund is open to applicants who identify as Deaf or as having a disability, ad hoc groups or collectives with one or more members who are Deaf or who have a disability. Incorporated organizations may apply for this funding only if they are Deaf or disability-led (e.g. Board/staff who are Deaf or identify as having a disability) and have a mandate to serve Deaf artists and artists with disabilities. Eligible expenses may occur during the period of project creation, development, production, presentation and/or engagement. Eligible expenses include costs for making a project accessible to audiences, participants or learners, but do not include capital costs or accessibility supports needed for day-to-day living. Requests for these funds can be made after the point of application. Please contact the program officer or program administrator of the program to which you wish to apply.

Deaf and Disability Arts Projects program

OAC has established a funding program dedicated to Deaf artists and artists with disabilities. The program supports the creation and production of new work, and professional development through grants of up to $10,000. Applications in this program are assessed by a jury made up of artists and arts professionals who are Deaf or who have disabilities.

Additionally, a Materials and Supplies Assistance program provides $500 grants to Deaf artists and artists with disabilities working in the visual arts or craft for the cost of buying materials and supplies to make work. An assessment committee made up of OAC staff from the visual arts and craft office,the Deaf and Disability Arts & Access committee as well as artists or arts professionals from the disability arts sector reviews applications and makes recommendations on an ongoing basis.

Support for Jurors/Advisors

Peer assessment is an important principle for the OAC. To ensure that a wide range of perspectives are included in the assessment process, we would like to invite more Deaf artists/arts professionals, and artists/arts professionals with disabilities onto our assessment panels. All jurors and advisors receive a reading fee for the applications and for participating in the assessment meetings. OAC covers travel, meals and accommodation for jurors or advisors who come from out-of-town. In addition, any accessibility expenses or supports that may be necessary to participate will be covered or accommodated. You may nominate yourself or someone you know by visiting the jury and advisory panel page

Deaf and Disability Arts Recommender

Tangled Art + Disability has been selected as one of OAC’s external recommenders for the Exhibition Assistance granting program and Theatre Creator’s Reserve granting program  to ensure that knowledge of Deaf artists and artists with disabilities are reflected in the recommendation processes.

Resource video for Deaf Artists and Artists with Disabilities

Watch Boundless: Deaf Artists, Artists with Disabilities and OAC – a video featuring Deaf artists and artists with disabilities from a range of backgrounds speaking about their experience applying for grants and/or participating as assessors. The video incorporates ASL and LSQ and enhanced captioning.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

The Ontario Arts Council has a comprehensive Multi-Year Accessibility Plan and policies to achieve accessibility under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.


Our goal is to make the Ontario Arts Council barrier free. Please help us serve you better, by making suggestions on improvements or commenting on what we are doing well. Click here to provide feedback.

ASL Version: Art and Accessibility