Ability Central makes grants to improve communications and information access for people who are Deaf and disabled. Since 2010, Ability Central has provided more than $11.5 million in support of 185 projects, serving more than 500,000 people with disabilities.
We value our grantees as partners and provide practical support in addition to our funding. We encourage the input of our partners through regular communication and grantee meetings.
Our 2023 funding cycle for Communication Access projects emphasizes innovative projects, training projects, and accessibility improvement for small nonprofits. We award our major grants on an annual basis. We also offer mini-grants with a month-long approval on a rolling basis year-round.
Ability Central only funds nonprofit organizations operating in the state of California.
Take a look at our funding categories to learn more.
2023 Communication Access Grants
Applications accepted May 31, 2022, through July 15, 2022
1. Innovation Projects
Our major funding encourages the implementation of innovative technologies, services, and solutions benefitting people with disabilities. Grant awards range between $10,000 and $100,000.
How do we define innovation?
Ability Central defines innovation as the development of a new concept into a valuable solution that expands access for people with disabilities when applied and scaled. We encourage innovation with the potential to impact people far beyond the initial study or pilot participants. We are currently not funding research projects or studies that are not yet ready to be implemented.
We prioritize projects that employ human-centered design by involving the perspectives of people with disabilities in all steps of the process. Planning and testing must include people with disabilities, and people with disabilities must be compensated.
As part of the grant requirements, grantees need to publicly share the results of their project to benefit the greater community by producing:
- Open-sourcing (making specifications of a device, app, or program available for public use or modification)
2. Training Communication Access Professionals
This priority focuses on the strategic training of professionals in the communications and information access fields. Professionals in these fields have the potential to impact many individuals over the course of their careers.
We strongly encourage train-the-trainer models and the creation of publicly available online training materials. We prioritize projects that include people with disabilities in their design and implementation. We also prioritize collaboration and exchange between organizational partners.
Examples of training projects we are interested in funding:
- Projects to train more interpreters who are Deaf
- Projects to train more DeafBlind Co-Navigators (formerly Support Service Providers, or SSPs)
- Projects to train more mental health service providers (Licensed Clinical Social Workers [LCSWs], counselors, etc.) to work with clients with disabilities
- Projects to train more organizational staff to make materials and meetings accessible and inclusive for professionals and clients with disabilities
We are not focusing our 2023 funding on AAC training because we are investing in an initiative to standardize communication partner training in the state of California.
Rapid Response Grants
1. Access Improvement Grants
Applications accepted July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023
Ability Central offers rapid response Access Improvement Grants on a rolling basis for organizations or projects serving people with communication disabilities.
These mini grants provide short-term funding ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 with a turnaround of roughly one month from application receipt. These rapid response grants aim to help smaller nonprofits (especially those with a budget less than $1 million) increase the participation of people with disabilities in their events and programs.
Examples of expenses covered by rapid response Access Improvement Grants:
- Staff accessibility training
- Audio description of materials
- ASL interpreters
- DeafBlind Co-Navigators
- Sensory or tactile experience rooms for socio-emotional learning
- Grant range: $1,000 – $5,000
- Rolling cycle; released July 1, 2022, and accepting proposals through June 30, 2023
- 4-week estimated turnaround for Ability Central to review applications
- We prioritize organizations with budgets less than $1M
- No match required