Accessibility and the Arts

At the invitation of the Oklahoma Arts Council and the Mid-America Arts Alliance, I recently attended a workshop, “Accessibility in the Arts,” held at the National Archives in Kansas City.   This event, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, was extremely informative!

Here are some useful tips, tools and techniques for any museum, large or small.

From VSA Arts of Texas – “Best Practices to Achieve Barrier-Free Cultural Arts
Before you begin a marketing campaign that welcomes disabled patrons to your cultural events, your organization must clearly:

  • define what it hopes to accomplish with access services;
  • show how these services will benefit both your organization and its patrons; and
  • determine what services you’ll provide.

The best way to accomplish this is by networking with arts and access organizations. It’s also a good idea to talk with members of the disability community through focus groups and advisory committees.

From Nebraska Arts Council“How to Improve your Accessibility for Under$100″

  • Remove unsecured rugs
  • Provide an accessible resource table if counters are too high for those in wheelchairs
  • Ensure adequate signage
  • Make larger print options available
  • Use low glare finish paint
  • Be aware that many people have multiple chemical sensitivities which include scented soaps

From VSA Missouri“Access Tips”

  • Provide both “pdf” and “text only” versions of all materials on CD
  • Use sans serif fonts
  • Remind your staff not to turn their backs on people with hearing loss
  • Borrow a wheelchair, and travel routes yourself
  • Join disability listservs
  • Consider dietary restrictions when planning events
  • Host an open house for members of disability organizations
  • Invite service animal training schools to train at your facility
  • Entry doors should provide at least 32” clearance
  • Provide audio descriptions for blind visitors                                                                      – – — –
  • Make sure rest areas are at recommended and convenient distances
  • Install light switches in colors that contrast with walls
  • Use fabric and furniture to deaden echoes

For more  information on Accessibility in the Arts, here are a few more links:
http://www.kennedy-center.org/accessibility/education/lead/conference.html
http://www.nebraskaartscouncil.org/news_resources/resources/accessibility.html
http://www.nea.gov/resources/Accessibility/index.html

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