What do you mean by deaf and disabled?

The focus of CRIPtic is on deaf and disabled people within the arts.

By this, we mean “people who face disableist [including audist] barriers”. We also mean “people who identify themselves as deaf or disabled and/or are identified by others as deaf or disabled in society”.

When we use the term disabled, we use the social model of disability. As a result, we are talking about people who face access barriers in their lives.

We include (but do not limit ourselves to):

  • Deaf, deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing people
  • Blind people, visually impaired and people with low vision
  • People with physical impairments
  • Mad people, people with mental health problems, mentally ill people, and people experiencing mental distress
  • People with learning disabilities
  • Neurodivergent people
  • People with chronic illnesses and chronic pain
  • People with energy limiting impairments

We recognise that not everyone who we have listed would identify themselves as “disabled”. Nonetheless, “disabled” is valuable as an umbrella term – though we obviously don’t insist that people use it for themselves. This is because we see the word as reflecting the common route of our oppression, and the solidarity we owe each other.

We have moved to saying “deaf and disabled” rather than “d/Deaf and disabled” to recognise changes in community discussion, and the shared experiences of deaf people with all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Our events typically have BSL and auto-captions, and we welcome Deaf signers.

What do you mean by the social model of disability?

By this, we mean that the source of the oppression deaf and disabled people is in society. While we might have our conditions, impairments, or illnesses (which might affect us all differently), we are all oppressed by social barriers placed in our way. Touretteshero explain it excellently here.

What types of access barriers are there in the arts?

  • Physical – these include people hosting events in spaces where they have not provided wheelchair access for performers, or for the audience. It also includes galleries hanging pictures where viewers can’t get close enough to see from a wheelchair or if someone is blind or has low vision. Places having dim lighting which then makes lip-reading and navigation difficult.
  • Informational – people not having captioned their videos or events without BSL interpretation. People writing confusing and complex documents or formatting them badly for screen-readers.
  • Organisational – organisations not having considered that people might face access barriers. This means they might not have calculated them into event plans or project costs.
  • Technological – websites not being accessible via screen-reader, online events relying on people being able to see and hear everything currently going on and not providing audio-description and captions/BSL.
  • Attitudinal – assumptions that because of your ‘impairment’ you can’t do a particular artform, like be a blind aerialist (Tito Bone), or that it will be impossible to accommodate someone with your impairment in a project

Why do you prioritise people facing the highest access barriers

All deaf and disabled people face access barriers within the industry, and we design CRIPtic Arts’ projects with the intention of reaching everyone. However, we also recognise that whether due to unmet access needs, some people will face barriers that others don’t. These might include

  • Physical – people unable to leave their house, or people who require a Changing Places toilet to work in a venue
  • Informational – people who require information in BSL or Easy Read
  • Organisational – people with high access costs that projects refuse to cover
  • Technological – people who can’t access online events where captions and BSL aren’t being provided correctly
  • Attitudinal – people who use assistive or augmentative communication, or have learning disabilities, who are treated by people as if they’re unable to work within the arts.
  • Intersectional – people who experience intersecting oppressions where new barriers arise and organisations do not meet requirements

We do not limit ourselves to these people by any means, but we try to ensure that we are supporting and prioritising people who would not get their needs elsewhere, and who benefit from our work to give them a starting point in the industry.

If you have any other questions, please email team@cripticarts.org