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Chelle Destefano in front of her artwork at the Ignite 2019 exhibition launch.

Deaf and Disabled people

We use the term ‘Deaf and Disabled people in line with the Social Model of Disability. We use this definition as an act of pride and solidarity. 

The term ‘Deaf and Disabled people’ includes anyone with a lived experience of disability. This could be: 

  • visible or invisible
  • sensory or physical
  • neurodiverse
  • cognitive
  • intellectual or developmental
  • mental health or illness

We use Deaf to respect the right of the Deaf community to label their experience as one of cultural and linguistic difference. 

Social Model of Disability

At AAV, everything we do is guided by the Social Model of Disability. 

It was developed by Deaf and Disabled people to point out and fight discrimination. It is there to help Deaf and Disabled people live their lives the way they want to. And it shows the world how to include Deaf and Disabled people based on equality and human rights. 

It recognises that people are disabled by the barriers created by society. A barrier might be physical, like a building only having stairs and no lift. Another barrier might be the way people communicate or behave.  

By using the word disability’ to mean barriers and discrimination, we involve everyone in identifying and removing those barriers and in acting against discrimination.

A teenage girl is sitting at a table cutting out a paper building. She is behind many already assembled paper buildings.
The Echo Collective ensemble is standing up in front of a crowd.


AAV is a disability-led arts organisation.  

In an arts practice context, this means that Deaf and Disabled people have creative control of the projects 

In an organisational context, this means that the organisation is run by a majority of Deaf and Disabled people.