• Three friends gather at the Fringe patio, all smiling at the camera, one sits in a wheelchair and wears a neckbrace

Our Access Plan

Updated October 2022

Download a screen-reader friendly PDF here.

The Toronto Fringe has made a commitment to establishing and prioritizing accessibility in all areas of our organization.

We are grateful to the Metcalf Foundation for supporting our organization-wide growth with a three-year Creative Strategies Incubator grant, which we began in 2017 and finished in 2020. The grant allowed us to invest meaningful resources into providing, increasing, and improving accessibility at our major events, including the Toronto Fringe Festival and the Next Stage Theatre Festival.


  • All venues the Fringe uses for our festivals and special events, including the Fringe offices, are physically accessible. Examples of this are only engaging theatres where all public and performance spaces are accessible, including washrooms and backstage areas. If a section of a venue is not accessible, we work with the venue to make arrangements for physical access, including installing temporary ramps or lifts, and shifting the stage and audience configurations.
  • All public documents for the general public and artists are tested and adjusted to be screen-reader friendly. Our website is also designed to be screen-reader friendly, and all images are captioned. Our social media includes descriptions of images, and captions for all videos and live streams.
  • Artists in our festivals are supported and encouraged to offer accessibility measures as part of their show runs, including offering ASL and/or Deaf interpretation, relaxed performances, touch tours and/or touch books, audio description, and incorporating a tactile body immersion (TBI) chair.
  • All public events hosted by the Fringe offer ASL and/or Deaf interpretation, including festival opening ceremonies, awards nights, and our annual Fringe lottery party.
  • The Fringe offers consultancy services to other festivals in Toronto and beyond to share our accessibility learnings. We have been approached by multiple organizations with regards to accessibility to ask about our processes and best practices, we will continue to offer our knowledge to ensure that more and more companies are doing this work. We also offer rentals of our audio description equipment and TBI chair at a fair rate to other organizations in Toronto.
  • The Fringe engages Accessibility Coordinators to assist participants in our festivals, and oversee the general festival accessibility and best practices. In 2022, we hired the members of the Disability Collective to serve as the coordinators for the 2022 Toronto Fringe Festival, and are looking forward to continuing this relationship in future festivals.


  • Partnering with Disability-led organizations to present the work of Mad, Deaf, and Disability-identified artists in our festivals. We have a multi-year partnership with Sol Express, a company that uses performing arts programming to develop the talents and skills of artists with intellectual disabilities. We are excited to welcome Sol Express back to the Fringe in July 2023.
  • Working with like-minded organizations to improve the distribution of information about accessible performances and opportunities for artists who are Deaf, Mad, and those with disabilities throughout Ontario.
  • Tracking and reviewing our initiatives to assess impact.
  • Refining the use of our language around what an ‘accessible’ venue means, recognizing we have been talking more specifically about patrons, rather than artists and technicians where there are still many barriers in many theatres.
  • Revisiting best practices around language for accessibility.
  • Continuing to research and implement more inclusive accessibility measures in digital interactions and events.
  • Creating more opportunities for people with disabilities, Deaf, and Mad individuals to get involved with our organization in all capacities.
  • Creating and implementing a project plan for Accessibility Focus Groups. AFGs will be comprised of people with lived experience and consulted regularly throughout the year. AFG activity will include identifying any barriers to participation in the Fringe, brainstorming future-forward ideas for increased inclusion of Mad, Deaf, and Disability-identified people, and offering feedback on Fringe events.
  • Improving accessibility for our participants.


  • Working with like-minded organizations provincially to advocate for increased funding for organizations and artists to increase accessible offerings for audiences and provide more opportunities to work with Mad, Deaf, and Disability-identified artists, producers, technicians, etc.
  • Partnering with organizations like Creative Users to program a day of presentations and workshops.
  • Engaging in outreach to disability support organizations throughout Ontario to foster awareness of the accessible offerings at the 2023 Fringe and all our future programming.
  • Creating a set of functional illustrated ASL cards with a local Deaf artist to better enable our non-signing staff to communicate with Deaf patrons.
  • Working with professional consultants and past Fringe participants to complete a thorough audit of the backstage areas of our main venues to assess and address barriers to access for Fringe participants and technicians.
  • Incorporating LSQ performances in addition to ASL in our festivals.
  • Using the data gathered in the venue audits in 2019/20 and 2021/22, we will be creating documents for each of our main venues to provide more accurate and comprehensive information about accessibility to anyone that wishes: Visual Venue Guides, and Venue Accessibility Information.



  • Created the new position of Accessibility Coordinator at the Toronto Fringe, hired an Accessibility Coordinator, and engaged an Accessibility Consultant, forging the fundamental structure of this department.
  • Created a short-term and long-term work plan (for the next 2 years and beyond)
  • Created a comprehensive accessibility handbook for the 2018 Toronto Fringe Festival participants, to be updated and added to with each new festival.
  • Created a program to educate and encourage participants to offer assisted measures (ASL Interpretation, Audio Description, Relaxed performances) at their shows.
  • Supported artists who opted-in to providing assisted measures for some or all of their performances at the 2018 Fringe Festival.
  • Mandated that all site-specific venues be physically accessible.
  • Included more information about accessibility on our website and in our program guide.
  • Began to overhaul training practices for the departments that engage with patrons and contribute to their Festival experience, including Front of House Managers, Volunteers, and Box Office Representatives.
  • Met with consultants from various sectors to discuss ideas and best practices.


  • Shifted our accessibility messaging to better reflect our commitment to independence and dignity for patrons with accessibility needs.
  • Worked with professional consultants and community members to complete a thorough audit of our main venues at the Fringe and Next Stage Festivals to assess and address barriers to access. As of 2019, the Toronto Fringe uses 16 main venues for our summer festival and one venue, the Factory Theatre, for our winter festival, Next Stage.
  • Met with consultants - we discussed learnings, things that worked, and things that definitely need to improve.
  • Implemented updates to our website to make it easier to navigate and to offer more access-related content.
  • Overhauled the box office experience to significantly improve the accessibility measures we offer our ticket-buying patrons.
  • Made modifications to POSTSCRIPT, the Fringe patio, to improve physical accessibility, to make it more welcoming to the Deaf community, and more appealing to folks with neurodiversity and diverse abilities.
  • Worked with Deaf Spectrum to create ASL videos with key information about attending and participating in our festivals as an artist, patron, and volunteer.
  • Continued to expand and enhance our relationships with service providers (ASL and Deaf interpreters, audio describers, etc.) and community consultants who can be sought out and engaged by Fringe Festival participants.
  • Supported artists providing assisted measures for their performances at the Next Stage Theatre Festival.
  • Created the new position of Assistant Accessibility Coordinator to help with the expanding access services offered by the Fringe during the Fringe Festival
  • More than doubled the number of Assisted Performances offering at the 2019 Fringe Festival from the 2018 Festival.
  • Created a text-reader friendly downloadable Assisted Performances Supplement for our Fringe Program Guide to give more information to patrons in choosing performances that meet their needs.


  • The Accessibility Coordinator role transitioned into the position of Accessibility Manager to better reflect the work and responsibilities being carried.
  • The Toronto Fringe moved its administrative office to 100 Broadview Avenue, a physically accessible building located along physically accessible TTC transit routes.
  • Worked with Factory Theatre to modify the Studio Theatre to create a more physically accessible space for performers and audiences at the 2020 Next Stage Theatre Festival. A level performance space and audience entrance was offered, allowing all audience members to enter through the same entrance (previously there had been a separate accessible entrance). 
  • Working with Ophira Calof and the producing team of Literally Titanium, we piloted an alternative to traditional relaxed performances, implementing quiet spaces and closed-circuit feed for performances.
  • The Next Stage lobby at Factory Theatre was made more welcoming to folks using mobility devices with the introduction of a cleaning station.
  • Worked with the main performance venue partners of the Fringe Festival to gather updated accessibility information in anticipation of Fringe 2020 (pre-pandemic) and future in-person festivals.
  • Pre-pandemic, reviewed and updated the instructional Accessibility Handbook for Fringe Participants and re-vamped it to a more flexible document that can be shared outside of our organization.
  • With the cancellation of the 2020 Toronto Fringe Festival, the Fringe staff and all participants navigated a steep learning curve to transform the festival into the digital Fringe Collective. Pivoting to digital brought up new challenges and learning for accessibility.
  • The Fringe Collective provided accessibility more broadly to all of our audiences by establishing mandatory minimum standards of accessibility and offering support to Fringe participants in order to meet these requirements. Everyone participating in this festival learned about online accessibility to varying degrees. Fringe participants were required to offer the following access provisions:
    - Captions for videos
    - Audio accompanied by full transcripts
    - Alternative descriptions for all images
    - Screen-reader friendly text documents
  • Welcomed our first Deaf participant into TENT 2020, providing full ASL coverage for the program.
  • Welcomed our first Deaf-led community partner, Deaf Spirit Theatre, as participants in the Fringe Collective.
  • Hosted a feedback session with Deaf stakeholders in our community.
  • Created instructional documents for making online arts programming more accessible (creating screen-reader friendly documents, captioning for video). The living documents were available to Fringe Collective participants and staff and can be adapted for use throughout the arts sector and beyond.
  • Enhanced the accessibility of our social media communications, and began a protocol document for Fringe social media platforms.
  • Hosted an online Audio Described Listening Party of Fringe Collective offerings with Blind host, Christine Malec, and audio describer, Kat Germain, in response to wants voiced by Blind and partially sighted community.
  • Collaborated with Phoenix the Fire and Teklawatheta, both new Deaf-led BIPOC service providers, to present a Deaf Interpreted Kidsfest Story Hour during our Fringe Collective live streamed programming series in July.
  • Provided live-captioning and ASL interpretation at all 5 livestreamed POSTSCRIPT events.
  • Implemented self-description protocol for Fringe staff and presenters for live and recorded events.
  • Began document outlining accessibility protocols for online workshops, seminars, etc., to inform any future digital programming.
  • Continued providing promo vlogs in ASL created and distributed by Sage Lovell at Deaf Spectrum. Vlog also created and distributed to promote the Kidsfest ASL Story Hour by event collaborator Phoenix the Fire.
  • Provided an Accessible Program Guide supplement for the Fringe Collective.

2020 and beyond

  • In September 2020, we completed the three-year Creative Strategies Incubator grant from the Metcalf Foundation. However, our accessibility work does not stop with the end to this funding.
  • We are actively seeking new funding to support our accessibility commitments, including individual donor support as well as grants and corporate sponsorship.
  • Also in September 2020, the Toronto Fringe began an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Audit with Where You Are Consulting. A summary of the results of the audit will be available on our website in Spring 2021.
  • Due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, we hosted the Next Stage Community Booster in January 2021 as a digital event to replace what would have been our 13th annual Next Stage Theatre Festival.
  • Building on our work on accessibility in digital spaces from the Fringe Collective, the Community Booster featured digital theatrical and storytelling performances, as well as workshops, panels, and a micro-conference, all with accessibility measures in place:
    - Captions for videos
    - Auto-transcribed captions for live events
    - Full transcripts for all video and audio pieces
    - Alternative descriptions for all images
    - Screen-reader friendly text documents
    - ASL interpretation for all public, livestreamed events
  • The Digital Toronto Fringe Festival in July 2021 and the digital Next Stage Theatre Festival in January 2022 built on the learnings from the Fringe Collective and Next Stage Community Booster. All participants in these digital festival were required to present a minimum level accessibility measures, and were given support and resources to achieve this.
  • We returned to in-person festivals in July 2022 with the Toronto Fringe Festival. The Disability Collective was engaged to serve as the Accessibility Coordinators for the festival, assisting participants with their accessibility measures.