Arts Accessibility Resources

Arts and People with Disabilities

Tab/Accordion Items

Introduction to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in everyday activities. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability just as other civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. The ADA guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to enjoy employment opportunities, purchase goods and services, and participate in state and local government programs.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Office for Accessibility
The National Endowment for the Arts’ Office for Accessibility is the advocacy-technical assistance arm of the Arts Endowment, whose mission is to make the arts accessible for people with disabilities, older adults, veterans, and people living in institutions. The Office for Accessibility provides a variety of services to accomplish its goals, including:

Accessibility Planning and Resource Guide for Cultural Administrators
The Accessibility Planning and Resource Guide for Cultural Administrators is an online companion to the printed text Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator’s Handbook. The guide provides recommendations to cultural administrators on how to achieve accessible and inclusive programming for everyone including individuals with disabilities and older adults.

Brief Accessibility Checklist
NEA's Brief Accessibility Checklist is designed to assist arts and humanities organizations in performing on-site evaluations of their organizations’ policies, programs, services, and facilities. This process will help arts groups to plan, budget, and complete necessary access improvements to meet or exceed legal accessibility standards.

Section 504 Self-Evaluation Workbook
NEA's Section 504 Self-Evaluation Workbook is a longer, more thorough checklist designed to be used in conjunction with Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator’s Handbook.

National Arts and Disability Center
The National Arts and Disability Center is a project of the Tarjan Center at the University of California at Los Angeles. Its mission is to promote the full inclusion of audiences and artists with disabilities in all facets of the arts, and it is a leading consultant in the arts and disability community. NADC’s information is aimed at artists with disabilities, arts administrators, arts organizations, disability organizations and agencies, universities, arts educators, and students. The NADC website offers free resource directories and annotated bibliographies on a wide range of subjects, including

  • Careers in the arts
  • Funding resources
  • Assistive products and services
  • Marketing and publicity
  • Designing an accessible website

Maintaining Accessibility in Museums
This is another U.S. Department of Justice publication addressing the essentials of museum accessibility.

Association of Science-Technology Center's Digital Engagement for All: An Accessibility Toolkit for Museum Professionals
While oriented toward science and technology centers and museums, this toolkit is particularly notable for containing references on how to find advisors knowledgeable about disabilities and how to write an accessibility plan.

Making Theatre Accessible: A Guide to Audio Description in the Performing Arts
The guide’s contents include a brief history of audio description; rationales for audio-describing theatre from the perspectives of a member of the blind community, an audio describer, a theatre producer, and a regional theatre education and outreach director; outreach initiatives for audio description education; a step-by-step audio description program plan; appendices, including information resources, signage, and a sample describer’s contract; and a glossary of terms.

Web Content Accessibility and Guidelines
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 provides recommendations for access in web design. Created specifically for web developers, the WCAG offers strategies to increase website access for individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities. 

Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Design 
This design guide provides strategies and recommendations for developing accessible exhibitions. 

The Audio Description Project
ADP is specifically oriented towards the subject of audio description and its website includes information on technology, service providers, trends, and more. 

Disability Access Symbols
This site is an excellent resource for obtaining free standardized graphic symbols for publicity and advertising, both on the Web and in print.

VSA arts
With a mission of creating a society where all people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts, VSA arts both showcases accomplishments of disabled artists and offers education programs to increase disability awareness.

Southeast ADA Center
The Southeast ADA Center, located within the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, serves as the regional center for an accessibility network of state and local partners from eight Southeast states, including North Carolina. The Southeast ADA Center offers five core services to promote awareness about the Americans with Disabilities Act, accessible information technology, and the rights and abilities of people with disabilities:

  • Technical assistance
  • Training
  • Dissemination of information materials
  • Referrals
  • Public awareness activities

Alliance of Disability Advocates
While oriented primarily toward services for individuals, this Raleigh-based organization is the state’s expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Arts Access, Inc
A Raleigh-based organization whose mission is “making the arts accessible to people with disabilities.” Services include audio description, information, referrals, and an extensive website.

Arts Learning Community for Universal Access
The Arts Learning Community for Universal Access brings together arts organizations to "advocate for and improve access to the arts for people with disabilities". The website features upcoming events, participating organizations, and information about projects undertaken by participants. 

Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
The Division of Services for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing, part of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, offers a website that contains an online directory of licensed sign language interpreters available throughout the state, guidance on how to select an interpreter with the appropriate qualifications, general guidelines for coordinating interpreter services, and a list of agency resources by region.

Guidelines for Audio Describing Meetings and Presentations
This PDF document by Elizabeth Kahn offers guidelines for both presenters and organizations on how to handle the needs of visually-impaired members of your meeting audience.

Audio Description Associates
This firm offers a full range of audio description services, including helping arts organizations build AD programs. Examples are provided on the website.

Bridge Multimedia
Based in New York City, Bridge Multimedia is “dedicated to supporting all facets of universally accessible media.”

DASI: Descriptive Audio for the Sight Impaired of Western North Carolina
DASI provides Audio Description services in theaters throughout Western North Carolina free of charge. 

Media Access Group at WGBH
Arguably no one knows more about captioning and video description than the staff at the Media Access Group—the people who invented captioning and do the vast majority of professional audio description in the USA.

North Carolina Reading Service
Triangle Radio Reading Services offers "podcasts of publications and special programs exclusively for people with print or visual impairments". 

North Carolina Blumenthal Center for the Performing Arts
This Charlotte arts center’s accessibility page features links to PDFs describing the accessibility services available for each of the six Blumenthal theaters.

Denver Center for the Performing Arts
DCPA is the nation's largest not-for-profit theatre organization, offering programmatic and physical accessibility throughout. 

Durham Performing Arts Center
This state-of-the-art facility, which opened in 2008, incorporated services to people with disabilities from its inception.

Cape Fear Community College's Wilson Center
CFCC designed its facility with both audience and artist abilities in mind, featuring one-of-a-kind accessible control rooms and comprehensive guest services. 

The Kentucky Center
The Kentucky Center in Louisville has a national reputation for the broad range of accessibility services it provides for its patrons.

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The Kennedy Center is a leading example of supporting access for people with disabilities, with a full-time staff member devoted to accessibility. Its accessibility page also includes Resources for Arts Administrators.

Paper Mill Playhouse
You can request Paper Mill’s award-winning access brochure, Theatre For Everyone, free at (973) 379-3636, ext. 2666 or email

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This museum accessibility page includes a downloadable Accessibility Guide. Information about how to arrange a touch-tour for people who are blind or have low vision is also included.

Arts & Health at Duke
Formerly known as HAND, this is one of the oldest and most comprehensive arts-in-healthcare programs in the country, with extensive offerings in the performing arts, visual arts, and literary arts.

DooR to DooR
The DooR to DooR program schedules nearly 200 professional performing and visual artists annually to share their art in private rooms and public spaces at the University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine
Featuring one of the largest, nationally recognized arts and healthcare programs, UF’s Center for Arts in Medicine is housed in the College of the Arts. It features Shands Arts in Medicine programming, undergraduate and graduate level education, extensive research initiatives, and a toolkit for integrating art into healthcare institutions in rural communities.  

National Center for Creative Aging
The National Center for Creative Aging is dedicated to fostering an understanding of the vital relationship between creative expression and the quality of life of older people.

Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit
This online resource is designed for leaders and program staff in public, nonprofit, and for-profit arts and humanities organizations and institutions and in healthcare and aging services organizations, corporations, and institutions. It is intended to increase the expertise of those who direct existing community arts and aging programs and to give others in the community the tools to take the first step—and keep going.

UNC Asheville's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute 
The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNC Asheville is an award-winning, internationally-acclaimed learning community dedicated to promoting lifelong learning, leadership, community service, and research. Our goal is to enable our members to thrive in life’s second half.

Center for Creative Aging-North Carolina
Located in Greensboro, the Center for Creative Aging-North Carolina is an emerging non-profit organization dedicated to imaginative self-expression of all forms in the second half of life.

North Carolina Senior Games
In addition to of the traditional athletic competition, NCSG conducts SilverArts, “a celebration of the creative expression of seniors in North Carolina.” SilverArts, the only program of its kind in the country, unites the athlete and artist in a program that recognizes the similarities of both endeavors: discipline, dedication, and pride in one’s accomplishments. SilverArts provides a stage for the creative talents of visual, heritage, literary, and performing artists.