Accessibility for our new commissions

The Expression of Interest portal is now open! You can click through to apply by following the ‘start your application’ link at the bottom of this page.

Got a question about access and our commissions? This blog – one in a series about our commissions process – is designed to answer it! Over to Isabella Tulloch Gallego to tell us more…

Unlimited aims to make every step of the application process as accessible as we can – and we are always open to finding out more. If there is something you think would make it easier for you, and it’s not covered below, then please get in touch.

Through all the documents – and all the blogs in this series – we try and use language everyone can understand, removing arts jargon as we go. I’m sure we haven’t spotted everything so do let us know if any of the terms we use need explaining or decoding.

Access formats

Our video that tells you lots about the awards is available in the following formats:

  • With captions
  • With British Sign Language (BSL)
  • With Audio Description introductions
  • Captioned in Welsh

The introductory information about the awards and the list of partner awards is available in these access formats:

  • As a PDF
  • As a Word document
  • In Large Print
  • As an audio file
  • In Easy Read

And the same is true for our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Applications are not accepted until after 1 October 2020, but to help you plan your application, links to all the information and application materials are available on a single page right now: Apply to Unlimited.

The draft application forms and guidance notes for Expression of Interest applications in each strand – main commissions, research and development and emerging artist awards – are available in alternative formats on demand so that these can be tailored to the specific needs of the people requiring support.

We do this as we know we can best meet the needs of people individually with such long and detailed information. In many cases, we know we need to provide financial access so that people thinking of applying can use support workers rather than alternative formats – for example, to help people navigate their way through a form. However, we’d be delighted to produce these in any of the formats above if required – and others – if people want them – just ask.

Having a two-stage process is also designed to help accessibility; it helps everyone to only have to fill in a short form at the start. It means applicants have less work to do, and panellists have less to read. The form is as short as we can make it, and still give our panellists enough information so they can make informed decisions.

Access support to make an application

We know a number of people need support to formulate and complete application forms and like many other funders we can support this.

We will consider what you need on a case by case basis to find the best way to help. We will discuss this with you before you start your application. Cost and practicality, as well as your preference, are all considered.  We can pay for access support for someone to help with reading our guidance or making an application. For example, we’ve previously paid for access support to take notes on proposals and help people organise their thoughts, or to help applicants to fill in the draft application form.

With access support workers we suggest agreeing what support they may be able to provide and what possible fees they may charge, before agreeing to work with them, and before getting this payment agreed with us.

Access for submitting an application

Most people will apply via the application portal – that’s an online site designed to capture the answers to all the questions and where you can also upload any video or audio versions of your responses too. We will then undertake any translation needed (for example, from BSL to English) to support our panellists.

We will be using an application portal driven by Submittable. Back in 2018 Submittable was awarded a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (or VPAT) which means this platform passed access standards in relation to access for disabled people with a range of impairments ‘including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these.’ The portal doesn’t open until 1 October 2020, so after that please let us know if you experience any access barriers and we’ll help you navigate.

However, we know not everyone finds application portals accessible and so there is an option to email us with your information and have us upload it for you. We ask anyone planning to do this to arrange it with us in advance.

What we can’t do

There are some things we just can’t do – and they are usually about keeping the system open and fair to everyone.

  • We can’t find or choose the right access support worker for you. This is a legal restriction. You may have a note taker or interpreter that you already regularly use.
  • We can’t proof read applications or comment on any of the creative elements within your application.

Access in the next stage of the application process

Once the panels have selected the shortlists, the process begins again, with new information being available for the full application form. This is only available to shortlisted applicants and everyone on the short list is given up to one hours support with someone from the Unlimited team so that these full applications can be the very best they can be.

Access within the works we support

We expect all works supported by Unlimited to be as accessible as they can be within the aesthetic of the work being created. This means that the art is as important as the access – and that not everything can be accessible to everyone.

For example, what if it was essential to the aesthetic of a work that it took place in the dark? In our Demystifying Access Guide Jo Bannon, Unlimited commissioned artist, tells us her experiences of making her piece Exposure accessible:

“Exposure is a one-to-one performance, most of the experience takes place in pitch darkness, and is experienced through sound. I investigated the ways of making the piece accessible to a wide range of disabled people. The nature of the work, though, meant that BSL interpretation of the soundscape was not possible – it would require light, which contradicts the core artistic concept. I now tour the work with a hearing loop, for those with a hearing impairment that can use one. I always request wheelchair accessible spaces, and provide an audio described version of the performance and instructions for ushers to know how to help visually impaired audiences. However, I make it explicit to the box office teams that the piece is not accessible to profoundly deaf people, so as not to cause disappointment.”

Any other questions about access?

I hope the above answers some of the questions you might have. If not, please talk to us and tell us what works best for you by contacting or phoning us on 07506 679968.