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Expanding the Arts

A Guidebook for Working with Artists who are Deaf or have Disabilities

April 27, 201627 April 2016

Diversity and equity

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Developed as part of the Canada Council’s Expanding the Arts strategy, this guidebook aims to provide “an important resource for companies and organizations working towards increasing the participation rates within their processes of people who are Deaf or who have disabilities”. That being said, the guide also notes that “the environment within which people who are Deaf and who have disabilities continues to change. Best practices and protocols around accessibility and accommodation must be responsive to this continually changing environment.”

“Deaf and disability arts” is defined as “diverse artistic practices, where artists explore the complexities, perspectives, embodiments, histories and/or lived experiences of Deaf or disabled people. These practices bring distinct perspectives and ways of being into the arts ecology, shifting perceptions and understanding of human diversity and artistic expression.”

The guide recommends “people first language”, such as using “people with disabilities” rather than “disabled people” or “the disabled”. This language “emphasizes seeing the person before their disability”.

The document provides other definitions as well as tips to ensure appropriate communications and accommodation for: individuals who are blind or partially sighted; people who are deaf or hard of hearing; individuals with mobility impairments; people with speech impairments; and individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

The guide outlines elements to consider in ensuring accessible meetings and events, as well as the Canada Council’s key policies, procedures, and programs that relate to artists who are Deaf or have disabilities. Finally, the guide has a number of appendices that provide more specific guidelines, tips, and policies for engaging people who are Deaf or who have disabilities.

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