Making the Arts Accessible

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) affects all businesses, nonprofits and all levels of government in Ontario. With the goal of breakdown barriers for people with disabilities, the AODA mandates that all organizations meet various standards relating to customer service, employment, information and communications, the built environment, and transportation.

Native Earth was featured in a recent Accessibility Ontario newsletter, highlighting the work we are doing to make our performances more accessible. Check out the article below.

Native Earth:
Making the Arts Accessible


Native Earth Performing Arts in Toronto is Canada’s oldest professional Native Canadian theatre company. They are dedicated to Aboriginal expression and experience within Canada, and are passionate about addressing barriers that exist between, and within cultures.

Last week, Native Earth took part in our Customer Service Standard: Train-the-Trainer workshop, funded in part by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The theatre company was very familiar with accessibility through previous training, and their experience in creating accessible performances and studio-theatre space.

“We wanted to train the arts to understand accessibility beyond just administration.” Says Rae Powell, Project Manager of the Accessibility & Health and Safety Program at Native Earth. “Canada is behind the times in accessible performance and we wanted to do the right thing by bringing more of it to Toronto. When we started planning opening our own studio-theatre, we thought, this is our chance to do the right thing! It’s what we believe in. Accessibility Ontario’s Train-the-Trainer workshop is helping us to do just that.”

Accessibility within the audience experience is currently being explored as part of  this year’s Rutas Panamericanas Festival, produced in association with Aluna Theatre. Native Earth will integrate American Sign Language (ASL), subtitles, and audio-description into its performance upon request for audience members who identify as needing accommodation, are deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind, or have low-vision. Native Earth has been working the deaf community, audio describers, ASL interpreters and performers, George Brown students, and volunteers to make the performing arts more accessible in Toronto, making this an exciting initiative in the city!

With Native Earth’s interest in accessibility within the arts, they wanted a workshop that was tailored to their needs as artists, their studio-theatre, and unique developmental process. Accessibility Ontario’s Train-the-Trainer did just that, and helped to clarify the steps involved in accessibility training through a non-lecture based format that was appropriate for them.

Learn more about what Native Earth is doing to make the arts more accessible online through their website at: http://www.nativeearth.ca/current-season/accessibility/