Mission & History

Hands On’s mission is to provide access to arts and cultural programs for the Deaf and hard of hearing communities. We offer the information and services needed to ensure their active participation in New York’s vibrant cultural mainstream.

One of the only organizations of its kind, Hands On offers Sign Interpreted Performances in the not-for-profit theatrical arena along with information on Deafness and the arts across New York City and the country. Founded in 1982 with 6 interpreted performances, Hands On now averages 20-30 interpreted Broadway and Off-Broadway productions a year. Since its inception, Hands On has provided more than 500 interpreted performances at some of New York’s most prestigious theaters, including Roundabout Theater Company, The New Victory Theater, and The Public Theater.

In addition to interpreted performances, Hands On spearheads a theatre program for young artists in collaboration with The New Victory Theater. Hands On also established the Cultural Calendar of Events for the Deaf Community in 1994, the first and only comprehensive listing of cultural events for Deaf people.

Having earned a national reputation for providing high-quality interpreted theater, Hands On remains committed to serving their core audience of loyal and committed Deaf theater-goers, as well as making theatre accessible to the 75,000 Deaf signing people in the New York metropolitan area. As other NYC arts organizations continue to expand their programs to include Deaf individuals, Hands On serves as a trusted resource and provides direct marketing through their website and Cultural Calendar.

Hands On programs and services are supported in part by a grant from New York State Council on the Arts and many individuals in NYC and around the country.