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Ontario Arts Council (OAC)
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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 told us about barriers to our granting programs and services. As a result, OAC has developed a number of recommendations. Along the way we will learn and adapt, and we welcome your feedback and suggestions at any time. Read more

Applicants who are Deaf or have a disability are encouraged to apply to any program in which their activities are eligible. In addition, OAC has a number of granting programs that were created specifically to meet the needs of artists who are Deaf or have a disability.

Grant Programs

Deaf and Disability Arts Projects Toggle Expand
What We Fund
The program supports Ontario-based artists and arts professionals who are Deaf and/or have a disability, or ad hoc groups/collectives and arts organizations mandated to serve and led by artists and/or arts professionals who are Deaf and/or have a disability. It funds all contemporary and traditional art practices that are supported at OAC.
Deaf and Disability Arts: Materials for Visual Artists Toggle Expand
What We Fund
The program supports Ontario-based professional Deaf artists and artists with disabilities working in visual art or craft practices to purchase materials.

Deaf and Disability Arts Recommenders

The OAC includes Deaf and disability arts organizations as external recommenders in the Exhibition Assistance and Recommender Grants for Theatre Creators programs. These organizations have the knowledge and expertise to review applications from Deaf artists and artists with disabilities. 

Making Access a Priority

In October 2014, OAC launched the Vital Arts and Public Value strategic plan. At that time, Deaf artists and artists with disabilities were identified as a priority group. A number of pilot initiatives have been developed to support this priority.
The OAC identifies Deaf artists as distinct from artists with disabilities based on 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.
The OAC identifies artists with disabilities as people who have physical, mental or learning conditions with long-term, temporary or varying effects that may be apparent or not.

Alternative services for Deaf persons and persons with disabilities  

To provide fair and equitable access to the OAC, Deaf artists and artists with disabilities may request the following accommodations:  
  • alternative ways of participating in OAC events, meetings or receiving OAC services 
  • alternative ways or formats for communicating with OAC 
  • alternative formats and timing for submitting applications, final reports or other required materials  
  • alternative ways or support for individuals to participate in OAC panels as an assessor 
Learn more about who can make a request, what can be requested and how to make a request

Accessibility Fund: Application Support

Applicants who need support to complete their grant applications can apply for funds to cover the costs of assistance from service providers. Up to $500 is available per eligible applicant per fiscal year. This funding should be requested at least four weeks before the granting program deadline. Grant recipients who need help with their final reports can also request up to $150 per report.

For more information, please talk to the Application Support contact person or the contact person for your granting program.

Accessibility Fund: Project Support 

Project grant applicants and recipients who identify as Deaf or as having a disability may apply for supplementary funds for their accessibility expenses to carry out a project.
This fund is open to applicants who identify as Deaf or as having a disability, ad hoc groups and collectives with one or more members who identify as Deaf or as having a disability, and incorporated organizations that have a mandate to serve Deaf artists and artists with disabilities and are led by board members and/or staff members who identify as Deaf or as having a disability.

To find out how to apply and what expenses are eligible, see the Accessibility Fund: Project Support web page.  


Our goal is to make OAC 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.


Support for Deaf Artists and Artists with Disabilities

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

Ontario Disability Supports Program (ODSP) and Arts Grants

The ODSP and Arts Grants resource by the ODSP Action Coalition has useful information for artists who are on ODSP and wish to apply for arts grants.

OAC’s Equity Statement

We are inspired by and value Ontario’s artists, who help shape our thriving and diverse society and express the richness of our stories, histories and cultures. Therefore, as a public agency, funder and employer, OAC will lead and be responsive and inclusive in supporting diverse artists, artistic practices, arts communities and our own organization. See our Equity Plan for more information.


Peer assessment is an important principle for OAC. We are committed to assembling panels of artists and arts professionals that reflect the rich diversity of Ontario, OAC priority groups, and a wide range of perspectives. All assessors receive a fee for reading the applications and for participating in the assessment meetings. The OAC covers travel, meals and accommodation for assessors who come from out-of-town, as well as accessibility and childcare needs. If you would like to be considered to serve as an OAC peer assessor, you may nominate yourself by completing the form on this page.

The OAC staff and assessors adhere to the Ontario Human Rights Code. Assessors are asked to consider who is telling whose story and who has the right to develop and share cultural expressions and knowledge from any community, particularly historically underrepresented groups or individuals. Assessors may consider the impact of the artistic work in the context of historic or continuing barriers faced by the applicant and the communities engaged by the work, when accessing opportunities for producing and participating in the arts. In cases where two applications have an equal score when funding runs out, the applicant who is a member of a priority group will be awarded the grant.