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Multi-Year Accessibility Plan 2023-2028

Statement from the CEO

In this, my first year as CEO for the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), I am pleased to underline our commitment to OAC’s Multi-Year Accessibility Plan. Guided by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) which came into effect for the OAC in 2010, the plan outlines our support for Deaf and disability arts communities over the next three years. 

In addition to implementing AODA standards, OAC has taken a number of steps to build a more inclusive arts sector through our programs and services. This means increasing opportunities for Deaf artists and artists with disabilities to create work and access the work of their peers, as well as increasing access for the public to see and experience the important work of arts professionals who are Deaf or have a disability. 

The arts, an in particular the performing arts, were negatively affected by the pandemic. The OAC was dedicated to continued support to this sector and unwavering in keeping a focus on equity through our programs.

In December 2022, OAC launched a new strategic plan, Reset. Renew. Revitalize. It was the culmination of 14 focus group consultations with artists and arts workers representing the following populations: Indigenous, Black, other racialized individuals, Francophone, recent immigrants, Deaf or with disabilities, seniors, those from regions outside of Toronto, and others including LGBTQ2S+ communities. This exercise was followed by an online survey in September 2021 with 2,406 participants (including applicants, assessors and other stakeholders). The consultation period wound up with a community shareback session attended by 50 artists and arts workers.

As a result of this work, OAC’s new strategic plan has been built on the foundation of the 2014 strategic plan (Vital Arts and Public Value) which saw the addition of a sixth priority group, Deaf artists and artists with disabilities, and aims to go bigger. Reset. Renew. Revitalize. deepens OAC’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. The plan includes the specific priority groups and further embeds equity into the granting framework. The OAC has a responsibility to ensure that Ontario’s abundant diversity is fully reflected in the artistic activity it supports. This deepened commitment to equity requires a flexible approach and will be reflected in OAC’s granting approach.

In 2017, OAC established a Deaf and Disability Arts and Access Advisory Group. This group provides feedback on issues and developments in the Deaf and disability arts community and on the barriers faced in relation to OAC policies, programs and practices. Their contributions and expertise have been an essential component to the development of this Multi-Year Accessibility Plan. 

OAC is now working on establishing an Indigenous Advisory Group to provide advice on policies relating to support to Indigenous applicants.

We are developing mental health training for staff, and we will improve instructions on available accommodation supports for Deaf artists and artists with disabilities.

We are proud of our achievements in complying with the requirements under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR), and you will read more about our milestones in the following report. 

All of our efforts both internally and externally, are to encourage an inclusive and diverse artistic culture in Ontario.


Michael Murray
Director & CEO


Statement of Commitment

As a public agency, funder, and employer, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is committed to access and equity. This means treating people fairly and taking into account and accommodating different barriers and needs, so that all groups and communities can have access to opportunities and resources.

As a result, OAC is deeply committed to addressing and removing barriers for all Ontarians and will work towards accessibility, with a particular focus on the standards under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR). OAC will also address other standards that may be implemented. We also recognize that removing barriers and increasing support for Deaf Ontarians and Ontarians with disabilities is a much broader commitment than that is mandated by the AODA.

In addition to complying with all standards in effect under the AODA, OAC is actively removing barriers in its policies, programs, processes and services for Deaf artists and artists with disabilities.

Artists with disabilities include individuals who have physical, mental, or learning conditions with long-term, temporary, or varying effect that may or may not be apparent. OAC identifies Deaf artists as distinct from artists with disabilities based on feedback from the Deaf community and the Canadian Hearing Society’s definition of “Culturally Deaf”, a term that refers to individuals who identify with and participate in the language, culture, and community of Deaf people.

Accessibility Goals

The OAC always strives to ensure that the organization’s policies, practices, and procedures are consistent with the following accessibility goals:
  • Ensure Deaf people and people with disabilities continue to have equitable access to information, employment, programs, and services at OAC in a manner that respects dignity and independence;
  • Be responsive to feedback related to accessibility at OAC and broader support for Deaf artists and artists with disabilities;
  • Foster the artistic practices and development of Deaf and disability arts in Ontario, recognizing the diversity of identities and artistic practices within communities;
  • Collect data, track and publicly report on OAC support for Deaf artists and artists with disabilities, setting goals and planning initiatives accordingly.
Through achieving these goals, the OAC meets and exceeds AODA compliance.

Accessibility Policies

OAC has accessibility policies relating to the general requirements and standards under the IASR that apply to our work at this time:
  • Customer Service Standard
  • Information and Communication Standard
  • Employment Standard
Accessibility policies are the formal rules an organization puts in place to achieve its accessibility goals. You can view the policies on the OAC website.

Key Successes to Date

OAC has published Annual Status Reports describing its achievements under the previous Multi-Year Accessibility Plan beginning in 2018.

2023-2028 MYAP Initiatives

The OAC’s 2023-2028 MYAP initiatives fall under the following broad categories:
  • Supporting an Inclusive Workplace
  • Communications Practices
  • Customer Service
  • Connections to Community

Supporting an Inclusive Workplace 

The OAC will initiate the following to continue to foster an inclusive workplace:
  • Annual training sessions for staff to increase awareness of issues related to ableism;
  • Reminders to staff of the available accommodation process for employees, including how and when to request accommodations, and what to expect after submitting your request;
  • Training for managers on engaging employees seeking accommodation with dignity and respect 
  • Review the allocation of human and financial resources for accessibility initiatives.

Communications Practices

The OAC will examine the following communications practices to ensure accessibility:
  • Review the management of OAC website and Nova processes to ensure uploaded content is AODA compliant;
  • Provide clear and transparent instructions and information on available accommodation supports and services for Deaf artists and artists with disabilities;
  • Creation of ASL video content on topics such as: using Nova, how to apply for a grant, etc.

Customer Service

The OAC will undergo the following initiatives to strengthen and build an inclusive experience for members of the public: 
  • Provide training on mental health to staff to build on their ability to provide an excellent customer service experience;
  • Standardize the processes and create resources on how staff provide accommodations and support to Deaf artists and artists with disabilities through the application process;
  • Investigate processes to strengthen OAC’s ability to accept applications, application materials, and final reports in non-written formats;
  • Review job descriptions and provide training to ensure that staff have necessary skills and competencies to provide an inclusive customer service experience.
  • Review OAC processes for facilitating and coordinating events which engage the public to ensure that these events are accessible.

Connections to Community

The OAC will review the following connections to Deaf artists and artists with disabilities:
  • Update the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Deaf and Disability Arts & Access Advisory Group, ensuring that the TOR aligns with OAC’s service goals and strategic plan;
  • Explore partnerships with the Deaf and disability arts communities to strengthen community capacity to combat ableism through the arts.
  • Invite and compensate leaders in the Deaf and disability arts communities to facilitate presentations and/or training to OAC staff on Deaf and disability arts and culture.


The Ontario Arts council recognizes that accessibility is an iterative process that shifts and expands with ongoing participation and feedback from the public. As such, OAC welcomes Deaf people and people with disabilities to be part of the process as active participants over the next five years of this plan, and beyond. 

OAC will communicate progress once a year to ensure that the public knows how the organization has delivered on its commitments and any changes made to the plan. The plan and related annual updates will be posted on the OAC website. Our goal is to create and maintain an integrated plan built on feedback and to be accountable to those who apply for grants from the OAC and use our services. 

In supporting the broader arts community to become more inclusive and accessible, OAC will show leadership by messaging the importance of accessibility through communication avenues and by highlighting our commitment to accessibility through our actions and this plan. OAC is committed to supporting Deaf artists and artists with disabilities and building a more accessible arts culture, recognizing that these efforts will lead to a more inclusive, dynamic and vital arts community in Ontario.

Contact Us

We welcome your feedback on OAC’s accessibility plan, policies and customer service. To provide feedback, please submit your information via the Public Feedback Form or contact us directly.

For more information on this plan or to request an alternative format, please contact Nina Small, Director of Human Resources at nsmall@arts.on.ca