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Camila Salcedo

Funding for Deaf and Disabled Artists

By Camila Salcedo (

Deaf and Disabled artists can access specialized funding in Canada through provincial, federal and city-wide arts grant councils. Every grant council defines “Disability” in a different way, but generally these terms are vaguely defined, so as long as individuals self-identify under that term, including impairments and mental illness, they may qualify. This funding is offered in a range of forms including: 1) Deaf and Disability Arts grant categories, 2) aggregate accessibility funding support towards projects, and 3) application/grant writing assistance.

1) There are Deaf and Disability Arts grant categories or other equity funding categories, such as Ontario Arts Council’s Deaf and Disability Arts Projects category, or Arts Nova Scotia’s Arts Equity Funding Initiative grant, that go towards supporting individuals and collectives who have members that identify as Disabled and/or Deaf, and sometimes those whose projects or mandate is to serve individuals with disabilities.  

2) Accessibility funding support is generally additional funding that is offered alongside grant applications submitted and is meant to provide aggregate supports for those with disabilities in order to remove barriers in relation to their project. Eligible expenses generally include: support workers, medical professionals, transportation, interpretation, and equipment, that go towards assisting with navigating barriers due to disability. Ironically, the process of applying for this additional support is strenuous and long, thus making it inaccessible to many folks with disabilities, as the process often requires answering multiple questions including disclosure of the barriers faced, answering why this additional funding is needed, and providing a detailed budget and quotes for services. 

3) Application/grant writing assistance is a great way to remove barriers to the grant application and accessibility funding support processes listed above. Grant councils can pay grant writers directly to assist with framing an artist’s concepts, formatting and editing grant writing, and helping with filling out forms. Different grant councils allocate different amounts towards this kind of support for disabled artists, for example, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council provide $500 yearly towards submitting grant applications, while Canada Council for the Arts offers a range of funds depending on the service for up to $900 for application development.

In addition, Deaf and Disabled artists can apply to any other project category, and are often given priority as members of the grant council’s priority groups, which often also includes Artists of Colour, Indigenous Artists, Black Artists and 2SLGBTQIAP Artists. Jurors or Peer Assessors who identify as Deaf persons and persons with disabilities, may also request access accommodations.

To search for Deaf and Disability Arts grants through the artsUNITE database, select a discipline and province, and click “Deaf Artists and Artists With Disabilities” under the Priority Community in the Advanced Search.  

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