Imagine an Arizona where everyone can participate in and experience the arts. This goal of the Arizona Commission on the Arts can become a reality through the cooperation of the artists, arts organizations, arts educators, volunteers and supporters who comprise the Arizona arts industry.


Icons associated with accessibility

Estimates regarding the number of Americans with disabilities vary between 54 and 58 million. Of these, over 1 million reside in Arizona. Individuals may have various types and degrees of disability, and these may be temporary or permanent, and can affect anyone. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation and telecommunications. Because the Arts Commission receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the State of Arizona, its grantees are expected to be in, or working towards the goal of, compliance with this federal legislation.

National Resources

  • American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) – The American Foundation for the Blind removes barriers, creates solutions and expands possibilities so people with vision loss can achieve their full potential. As a national nonprofit, AFB is a leader in expanding possibilities for the more than 20 million Americans living with vision loss. AFB champions access and equality, and stands at the forefront of new technologies.
  • Art-Reach – Art Reach seeks to enrich lives by connecting underserved audiences with cultural experiences so that they may enjoy and benefit from the transformative power of the arts.
  • Community Access to the Arts  – Community Access to the Arts nurtures and celebrates the creativity of people with disabilities through shared experiences in the visual and performing arts. Our programs take place in healthcare, therapeutic, eldercare, educational, community, and cultural settings. We serve over 600 individuals with developmental, physical, emotional, and/or mental disabilities representing 38 different human service and educational organizations, as well as individuals living at home. Currently, the majority of our artists reside in Berkshire County, MA.
  • Cultural Access Network Project  – The Cultural Access Network Project is a co-sponsored program of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The Project provides a wide range of services and programs to assist theatres and cultural organizations in making their programs and facilities accessible to seniors and people with disabilities. Programs include the technical assistance and training, ADA planning; and a resource library.
  • Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disabilities (LEAD)A professional network focused on expanding the breadth and scope of accessibility services and programming across the country and around the world. LEAD accomplishes its objectives through an annual conference, an active communications network and resources generated by the LEAD network and maintained by the Kennedy Center.
  • National Arts and Disability Center (NADC) – The National Arts and Disability Center (NADC) promotes the full inclusion of audiences and artists with disabilities into all facets of the arts community. The NADC is a leading consultant in the arts and disability community, and the only center of its kind. Information is aimed at artists with disabilities, arts organizations, arts administrators, disability organizations, performing arts organizations, art centers, universities and arts educators.
  • National Endowment for the Arts/(NEA) Office for AccessibilityThe National Endowment for the Arts’ Office for Accessibility is the advocacy-technical assistance arm of the Arts Endowment to make the arts accessible for people with disabilities, older adults, veterans and people living in institutions. Information on Publications, Checklists and Resources; Laws and Compliance Standards; State and Regional Art Agencies Accessibility Coordinators; Arts and Healthcare; Creativity and Aging; and Careers in the Arts.
  • United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division/Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)Information and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Includes laws and regulations, design standards, technical assistance materials and enforcement.
  • VSA/Department of VSA and Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts – VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, was founded more than 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to provide arts and education opportunities for people with disabilities and increase access to the arts for all. With 52 international affiliates and a network of nationwide affiliates, VSA is providing arts and education programming for youth and adults with disabilities around the world.
  • Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF)WESTAF, a regional arts organization, is committed to making programs and services accessible to all communities, while serving a wide array of constituents through arts technology tools. In addition, WESTAF encourages all grantees and member states to ensure all programming is fully accessible.

Local Resources

  • Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACDHH) – Established in 1977, ACDHH serves as a statewide information referral center for issues related to people with hearing loss. ACDHH aspires to be a national leader in communication access, support services and community empowerment throughout the state. Its mission, in partnership with the public and private sectors is to ensure accessibility and improve quality of life for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind, persons with speech difficulties and their families.
  • Arizona Department of Economic Security Disability ResourcesA list of local resources including, assistive technology and ADA; the blind & visually impaired; deaf & hearing impaired; developmental disabilities; general and government resources.
  • Sun Sounds of Arizona -Sun Sounds bridges the information gap between current print media and people who cannot use it because of a disability. Its mission is the creative use of technology and talent to ensure that every disabled person has the opportunity to access the current and local information necessary to a self-directed, productive life.
  • VSA Arizona/ARTability – VSA Arizona is a statewide organization whose mission is to create an inclusive community where people with and without disabilities can learn through, participate in and enjoy the arts. VSA Arizona creates accessible arts opportunities for students and adults with disabilities throughout Arizona.

Publications

Download Design for Accessibility Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator’s HandbookDesigned to help organizations not only comply with Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, but to assist in making access an integral part of planning, mission, programs, outreach, meetings, budget and staffing. Copies of the book can be ordered through the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies web site or the publication can be downloaded at no charge in Portable Document Format (PDF).

  • Accessibility Planning and Resource Guide for Cultural Administrators – An online companion to Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator’s Handbook (2003). The Guide provides guidance to cultural administrators on how to achieve accessible and inclusive programming for everyone including individuals with disabilities and older adults. It is designed to help organizations not only comply with Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, but also to assist in making access an integral part of an organization, including its staffing, mission, budget, education, meetings, programs and beyond. This document takes these laws and principles and applies them to cultural service organizations and other arts and humanities groups in both the public and private sector.
  • Section 504 Self-Evaluation Workbook -This workbook is designed to assist grant recipients in evaluating the current state of accessibility of their programs and activities to disabled visitors and employees. It is intended to assist organizations in their efforts to: (a) comply with the Endowment’s regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, including the preparation of a self-evaluation of all programs, activities, policies and practices to determine areas of noncompliance, and (b) better understand the relationship between 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is designed to be used in conjunction with Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator’s Handbook.
  • Tip Sheet on the 2010 Revised Regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act – Revisions to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations in the Federal Register that update and amend some of the provisions in the original 1991 ADA regulations. These changes include revised accessibility standards, called the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards), which establish minimum criteria for accessibility in design and construction. They have a specific effect on cultural venues, such as theaters or museums. It is not intended to be comprehensive.
  • American Printing House for the Blind – The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) is the world’s largest nonprofit organization creating educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are visually impaired. APH provides materials in a variety of accessible formats, including Braille, large print, audio recordings, computer-readable formats and tactile graphics and includes a searchable database of other providers of alternative-format publications.
  • Beyond the AP Stylebook: Language and Usage for Reporters and Editors – In 1987, the Associated Press Stylebook first published a list of guidelines for writing about people with disabilities. Since then, the “Ragged Edge” has collected guidelines developed by disability organizations and distilled them into Beyond the AP Stylebook, a document containing general tips applicable to any media portrayal of disability, regardless of disability type or article focus.
  • New Mobility: Life Beyond Wheels – A colorful, award-winning lifestyle magazine, New Mobility encourages the integration of active wheelchair users into mainstream society with articles on health, advocacy, travel, employment, relationships, recreation, media, products and more. Ninety percent of its writers live with with disabilities, creating a vibrant culture of disability journalism, philosophy and advocacy within each monthly edition.
  • The Ragged Edge OnlineThe Ragged Edge (formerly Disability Rag) is a powerful voice from the disability rights movement, tackling difficult issues–such as appropriate language–that some other disability publications may avoid. Recognizing that the arts are an important means of communication within the disability community and with the outside world, the Edge regularly features book reviews, poetry and the works of major artists with disabilities.

Website Development

  • Disability Access SymbolsDownload the twelve symbols to promote and publicize accessibility for people with disabilities. These symbols advertise your accessibility to employees, customers, audiences, and anyone else who needs access to your building or offices. Examples of places you’ll want to promote your accessibility include: advertisements, newsletters, conference and program brochures, membership forms, building signage, floor plans and maps.
  • National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) – NCAM’s mission is to expand access to present and future media for people with disabilities; to explore how existing access technologies may benefit other populations; to represent its constituents in industry, policy and legislative circles; and to provide access to educational and media technologies for special needs students.
  • Usability.gov is the leading resource for user experience (UX) best practices and guidelines, serving practitioners and students in the government and private sectors.  The site provides overviews of the broad range of factors that go into web design and development. It also covers the related information on tools for making digital content more usable, useful and accessible. Usability Guidelines, research-based web design and usability guidelines that cover current trends and topics in digital communications, including but not limited to: responsive design, mobile strategy, applications (apps) and social media. Chapter 3: Accessibility provides accessibility guidelines, including how to comply with the Section 508.
  • Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) – Strategies, guidelines and resources to make the Web accessible to people with disabilities. WAI is part of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an organization that helps keep the Web open, free and accessible to all. Readers can learn about accessibility initiatives and access user tools. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which provide the basis for many accessibility tools available today.

Museum and Facilities

  • Art Beyond Sight: Handbook for Educators and Museums -A handbook takes about the process of creating accessible programming for people with visual impairments. These ideas can be applied to programs for people with a broad range of abilities to create as inclusive an environment as possible. Made possible by the MetLife Foundation and Institute of Museum and Library Services, NEC Foundation of America, The Renate, Hans & Maria Hofmann Trust and the New York State Council on the Arts.
  • Maintaining Accessibility in Museums – Regardless of size or income, most museums have legal obligations to provide and maintain accessibility for visitors with disabilities: Privately operated museums are covered as public accommodations under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); museums operated by state or local governments are covered by the ADA’s title II; and museums that receive Federal funding – whether they are covered by title II or title III — are also covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. A fact sheet from the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section.
  • Smithsonian Accessibility Program Resources – The Smithsonian Institution offers a number of resources for museums to help them ensure that their collections and exhibitions are accessible and welcoming to all audiences.
  • Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design – Exhibitions are complex presentations that convey concepts, showcase objects, and excite the senses. However, as museums recognize the diversity within their audiences, they realize that exhibitions must do more: exhibitions must teach to different learning styles, respond to issues of cultural and gender equity, and offer multiple levels of information. The resulting changes in exhibitions have made these presentations more understandable, enjoyable, and connected to visitors’ lives. The Smithsonian challenges its exhibition teams to invent such solutions and to share those findings with colleagues through this document.

Theatre/Performing Arts

  • Enjoying Theater and Film When You Are Blind or Have Low Vision – As part of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, several of the most popular television networks have made certain prime-time and children’s programs accessible to viewers with vision loss by adding video description. A wide range of cultural venues and activities now include adaptations for persons with disabilities, including blindness and low vision. Learn more about the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, which requires that smart phones, television programs, and other modern communications technologies be accessible to people with vision and/or hearing loss.
  • Making Broadway Accessible for the Disabled – The Theater Development Fund’s accessibility program offers assistance to theatergoers with physical disabilities, including  services for the blind or those with low vision, the deaf or hard of hearing and patrons who can’t climb stairs or need wheelchair seating.
  • AXIS Dance Company – AXIS Dance Company, one of the world’s most acclaimed and innovative ensembles of performers with and without disabilities, has paved the way for a powerful contemporary dance form called physically integrated dance.  The Company has toured extensively throughout the US and abroad. AXIS collaborates with world-class choreographers and composers; provides dance education for adults, youth and educators of all abilities  and socioeconomic backgrounds; and brings its outreach programs into schools, community centers, independent living centers, and to countless organizations seeking to learn more about dance, disability, and collaboration.
  • Coalition for Disabled Musicians (CDM) – The CDM is a Bay Shore, NY-based group of musicians with various disabilities who have developed creative ways to make music together. Some of their strategies have been technical; an “Adaptive Equipment” link on their site shows various stands that allow musicians to play instruments without supporting the weight of them. Other strategies include a “tag team” approach that allows musicians to spell each other when they become fatigued. Sound samples and profiles of the musicians are included on the site.
  • Full Radius Dance –  Full Radius Dance is a modern dance company that presents mature, choreographically complex works celebrating technique and physicality. The company’s focus is on skill and artistry; that some of the dancers use wheelchairs is secondary. The wheelchair may lend additional movement possibilities to the choreography, but is not the focal point of the work. Founded in 1990, Full Radius Dance, originally known as Dance Force, Inc. is one of only a handful of physically-integrated dance companies in the United States.
  • Infinity Dance Theater  – Infinity Dance Theater is a non-traditional dance company committed to expanding the boundaries of dance by featuring dancers with and without disabilities. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Kitty Lunn, who founded the organization in 1995, Infinity achieves parity in the world of dance while maintaining high standards of artistic quality. The company aims to inspire people with and without disabilities, encourage their artistic and other professional aspirations, and empower them through the organization’s educational and performance programs.
  • The Physically Handicapped Actors & Musical Artists League (PHAMALy)  – PHAMALy is a theatre group and touring company that performs throughout the greater Denver area. PHAMALy was formed in 1989 when a group of former students of the Boettcher School in Denver, Colorado, grew frustrated with the lack of theatrical opportunities for people living with disabilities, and decided to create a theatre company that would provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to perform. As a not-for-profit membership organization, PHAMALy is dedicated to producing traditional theatre in nontraditional ways.

Accessibility Resources for Educators and Administrators

  • Gallaudet University – Gallaudet has been around since 1864 and remains the only university in the world specifically designed to meet the needs of deaf and hearing-impaired students.
  • Helping Students with Visual Impairments – Guide with resources, tools and technology advancements to support students with visual impairments.
  • Resources for Accessible Teaching – Northern Illinois University (NIU) Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center has compiled information and resources for faculty regarding accessible instruction.

For questions or concerns related to the accessibility of arts programs or services. please contact Diana Udy at (602) 771-6534 or dudy@azarts.gov.