Decoding Access to Work for disabled people in the creative industries

What is Decode?

Decode is a partnership between Disability Arts Online and Cathy Waller Company which provides a vital service that empowers disabled creatives to navigate through the Access To Work application process.

Decode exists to support the Arts and Culture Sector to better understand and utilise Access to Work.

We provide one-to-one support for creatives, helping people to access essential equipment and support. This is key to enabling disabled people to start, continue and progress in their careers in the creative industries. 

Decode also offers training and consultancy to employers and staff to help them better understand how Access to Work can be utilised by the disabled people in their workforce.

Our aim is to accessibly share knowledge and know-how about Access to Work, so that together we can actively reduce the barriers disabled people face in our sector.

How can Decode help you?

Firstly, we have produced a beginners guide to Access to Work for the Arts and Culture Sector. We encourage you to explore this before anything else. There are audio, video, easy read and text formats available, with lots of resources and links to help you get to grips with how Access to Work can support you to work in a more accessible environment.

We also run webinars every four to six months on how to apply to Access to Work. There are two versions: one for freelancers and one for employers. If we have any coming up, you will find them in our events listings.

Support for Individuals

If you are an individual needing support with a new application, existing application or renewal, we run a waiting list system which you can sign up to via this simple form.

We only charge for our support through your current or new ATW grant, if appropriate. If at any time you decide to discontinue with our support, we will never charge you and we’ll absorb the costs.

Please note: We currently have three relationship managers who can offer support. There may be a wait before we can get to you. The current wait time is up to four weeks, if this changes we will update this page.

Support for Organisations

If you work for an organisation and would like to talk about the training and support we can offer you and your employees, or you need to troubleshoot a live application, please get in touch via this enquiry form.

Who is Decode?

The Head of Programmme for Decode is Cathy Waller. Cathy leads our webinars, training and oversees our team and works on a handful of live cases. Cathy also led the writing of the Guide to Access to Work for the Arts and Culture Sector in 2019 and 2024.

Trish Wheatley is the main member of the Disability Arts Online team working on Decode, co-leading on some webinars and consultancy. She also checks in with the team once a week and worked alongside Cathy to produce the Guide and its latest 2024 update. Cathy and Trish also advise on difficult cases and provide useful feedback to Access to Work’s policy team. Kate Stephens also works on our online content having previously been a relationship manager during the pilot phase of Decode.

Our relationship managers for Decode are Cath Cartman and George Murphy. They are currently taking on new cases having had the full training from Cathy in 2023. They both have a background in freelance work in the arts and are passionate about creating an accessible working environment for disabled people in our sector.

Four dancers in a studio. Two in the foreground sit posing on top of a table with a wheelchair and two dance together in the background