Open Call: Deaf and Disabled Writers’ Commissions for the 2024 Deptford Literature Festival


Spread the Word is pleased to announce that applications are now open for London-based deaf and disabled writers to apply for the 2024 Deptford Literature Festival Deaf and Disabled Writers’ Commissions. The deadline for applications is: Tuesday 7 November at 1pm. If you would prefer to see the information in BSL, you can here:
If you would prefer to listen to the information about the commissions in audio, you can here:

The commissions aim to showcase new work by three London based deaf and disabled writers and provide a developmental and profile-raising opportunity.

Who are the commissions for?

London based deaf and disabled writers aged 18+  who are writing poetry, fiction, narrative non-fiction or writing for performance.

The commissions are for deaf and disabled writers who are committed to developing their writing and to taking forward their writing careers.

By deaf and/ or disabled we mean people who have faced disablist and/or audist barriers. This includes: Deaf, deaf and hard-of-hearing people, blind and visually impaired people, people with mobility impairments, chronic illnesses, mental health conditions or experience of mental distress, and/ or learning disabilities, neurodivergent people, and people living with chronic health conditions or impairments.

We particularly welcome applications from deaf and disabled writers from the following communities: Black, Asian, Global Majority and Deaf BSL speakers.

About the commissions

Three writers will be commissioned to create a short original piece of work. This work can be entirely new or be developed from existing work which has not been published or produced.

The commissions have an open brief and there is no theme which the work has to respond to. Mentoring and development support will be given to support writers to realise their ideas alongside an activation budget.

Through the activation budget, each writer will be able to choose how they present their work at the Festival. For example: as a live reading, as a collaboration with another artist, in video or audio formats or a DIY publication. . Please note that the £500 activation budget is the full production budget and there is no further monies available for e.g.: a full stage production.

The commission development period will run from late November 2023 through to February 2024. The commissioned work will be launched at the 2024 Deptford Literature Festival on Saturday 16 March 2024.

An access fund is in place to make reasonable adjustments.

We are looking to commission writers who can show a clear idea of what they want to do for this piece of work, that is realistic within the timeframe and resources available.

Commissioned writers will receive:

  • £1,000 commission fee

  • Up to £500 commission activation budget

  • Two sessions with a mentor

  • One to one development and production support from Spread the Word

  • Commissioned work showcased as part of the 2024 Deptford Literature Festival (can be an in-person or online performance, a publication, a visual or audio piece etc. We anticipate that a performed piece of work will be approximately 10 mins duration.)

  • Take part in a panel discussion event as part of the Festival about your work, creativity and the process of being commissioned.

Commission judges 

The commissions will be judged by Ayesha Chouglay and Joe Rizzo-Naudi.

About Ayesha Chouglay: Ayesha is a writer and multimedia artist with a passion for storytelling. Her work often focuses on illness and disability, bringing emotion to overly clinical subjects, and opening up safe spaces for conversation. She is interested in the ways that disability changes our perception of the world, and works with imperfection to create new ways of looking.

She has shown her poetry and artwork at many exhibitions, including a Poetry Jukebox at Belfast International Arts Festival, an online exhibition titled Sick Artists Club, at Mr W et al, a celebratory event exploring art and disability in Hackney Wick, and in Deaf Experience, an online short film screening of work by deaf and hard-of hearing creators, organised by The Film Bunch. She enjoys working with other creative people, and was one of the photographers for Anahita Harding’s performance at the Tate Modern for WAIWAV. Her background is in Fine Art, and she feels that this encourages new perspectives within her writing.

About Joe Rizzo-Naudi: Joe Rizzo Naudi is a London-based writer and facilitator. In 2022 he was awarded a London Writers Award by Spread the Word and received an Arts Council England grant to develop literature and performance projects exploring cane use. His writing, film and theatre work has been exhibited at the Wellcome Collection, the BFI Southbank, Brixton House, Vault Festival, Rich Mix and the ICA. He has an MA in Creative & Life Writing from Goldsmiths College.

Commissions timeline:

  • Tuesday 7 November, 1pm: applications close

  • w/c 20 November: all applicants are notified with the outcome of their submission

  • Thursday 30 November: six shortlisted writers are invited to short online interview

  • December: three commissioned writers confirmed and contracted

  • December: set up meeting with Spread the Word; mentors confirmed; work begins on commissions

  • December – January: meetings with mentors and continuing work on commissions

  • February: commissions signed off and work produced

  • Saturday 16 March: commissions launched at the Deptford Literature Festival

Preparing to apply
If it is useful for you, you can view the application form questions and prepare your responses by downloading this draft application form:

How to apply 

Please submit your application via this Submittable link by Tuesday 7 November, 1pm:

Please note you will need to create a Submittable account to make your online application. This is free to do. If you are having any issues with this please contact [email protected]

Written, video and audio responses can be given. You will need to submit a sample of your work either in written English or video.


Download the postal entry form and enter by post. You can download the postal entry form here:
Deaf and Disabled Writers Commissions for Deptford Literature Festival 2024 Postal Entry Form

Send your completed postal application form along with your extract to: Deaf and Disabled Writers Commissions, Spread the Word, The Albany, Douglas Way, London SE8 4AG.

What happens after you’ve applied

We will read every submission and invite up to six writers to a short online interview on Thursday 30 November 2023.

Who to contact if you have questions

If you have any questions about the commissions, please contact: Laura Kenwright at Spread the Word, [email protected] 

If you have any questions about access, please contact: Laura Kenwright at Spread the Word, [email protected] 

Published 10 October 2023