Artistic Discipline-Specific Challenges & Progress

VAPA for Students with Disabilities

VAPA: Visual and Performing Arts Framework

Accommodations for Student with Disabilities

Compiled by Jonn Paris-Salb 2016


Students with disabilities are not typically invited to participate in arts programs for general education students. The arts are as important to the school experience as is academics for some students. The important issue is that accommodations must be in place in order for some of the students to access the arts. When a student with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a student using a Section 504 Plan wants to participate the teacher or person in charge should review the IEP or 504 in order for the student to be included as mandated by law.









Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

TITLE I B (612)(a)(5) Least restrictive environment.--

(A) In general.--To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.,root,statute,I,B,612,a,5,

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

29 CFR Parts 1630, 1602 (Title I, EEOC) The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. It also applies to the United States Congress. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.

104.33 Free appropriate public education.

(a) General. A recipient that operates a public elementary or secondary education program or activity shall provide a free appropriate public education to each qualified handicapped person who is in the recipient's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the person's handicap.

(b) Appropriate education. (1) For the purpose of this subpart, the provision of an appropriate education is the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that (i) are designed to meet individual educational needs of handicapped persons as adequately as the needs of non-handicapped persons are met and (ii) are based upon adherence to procedures that satisfy the requirements of 104.34, 104.35, and 104.36.


Section 508

Section 508 establishes requirements for electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal government. Section 508 requires Federal electronic and information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public. An accessible information technology system is one that can be operated in a variety of ways and does not rely on a single sense or ability of the user. For example, a system that provides output only in visual format may not be accessible to people with visual impairments and a system that provides output only in audio format may not be accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some individuals with disabilities may need accessibility-related software or peripheral devices in order to use systems that comply with Section 508.

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Very Special Arts (VSA)

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. Each year, 7 million people of all ages and abilities participate in VSA programs, in every aspect of the arts – from visual arts, performing arts, to the literary arts.

Four principles guide VSA programs and affiliates:

• Every young person with a disability deserves access to high quality arts learning experiences.

• All artists in schools and art educators should be prepared to include students with disabilities in their instruction.

• All children, youth, and adults with disabilities should have complete access to cultural facilities and activities.

• All individuals with disabilities who aspire to careers in the arts should have the opportunity to develop appropriate skills.


Examining the Intersection of Arts Education and Special Education

Forum participants offered many specific recommendations for advancing the field at the intersection of the arts education and special education. For the purpose of this report, these recommendations are organized into two broad recommendations, both of which support access to current knowledge and promote the development of new knowledge that could reshape or refine current understandings, policies, and practices.

• Recommendation 1: Create a dynamic information hub / technical assistance center

• Recommendation 2: Establish a consortium of arts education and disability organizations to advance a shared national agenda and

Resources for Inclusion of People with Disabilities in the Arts

The Kennedy Center – VSA The website of VSA, the international organization for arts and disability has many resources for artists, teaching artist sand classroom teachers; calls for art; information about competitions and other opportunities; an artists’ registry and much more information. Their mission is to promote and provide equality in the arts for people with disabilities. They have affiliates in most of the states in the U.S. and internationally.


Inclusive Arts Education The wiki site of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Developed over a number of years under the leadership of William Pearce, the site contains specific information about the disabilities most common in a Pennsylvania classroom with techniques on how to adapt the classroom generally for students with disabilities. In addition, this excellent site also provides adaption ideas for each of the four artistic disciplines: Dance, Music, Theatre and Visual Art. Each disability is looked at individually in each discipline with suggestions that fit the needs of students with that specific disability. Many of these suggestions can be adapted for adults as well.


Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts The Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts is a national organization that works to provide advocacy for and education on inclusion in theatre, film, television and related media. They focus on race, culture and disability. Their website lists opportunities for performing artists, Opinion Pieces request from leaders in the field of diversity and inclusion, and other resources including an excellent glossary of disability terms on their Deal program pages.


UCLA - National Arts and Disability Center The National Arts and Disability Center at UCLA’s mission is to provide full inclusion for artists and audiences with disabilities in all facets of the arts. Their website lists organization in the U.S. and many other parts of the world that regularly include artists and audiences with disabilities. They also provide grants and many other resources for artists and for arts organizations.


Famous People with Disabilities

Knowing someone has blazed a path for you, makes that road more navigable. We all have heroes, mentors, and people we admire that secretly compel us to seek our goals and dreams. A disability is often used to refer to individual functioning, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual impairment, mental illness, and various types of chronic diseases. These lists are a constant work in progress and were created to prove that it is indeed possible to overcome the disability barrier. You will find in our various categories of disabilities men and women who have made a difference to the world including pictures and the names of many famous and well known people who have, or had these disabilities (often referred to as being crippled, handicapped, or having a handicap in past times.)

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Describing Art


ABS's Guidelines for Verbal Description: Verbal description is a way of using words to represent the visual world. This kind of description enables persons who are blind or visually impaired to form a mental image of what they cannot see. Verbal description has been used to make visual information accessible in film, television, and, more recently, in museums. In museums, verbal description may be used before, after, or during a standard gallery tour. Having a lecturer who can respond to particular questions and engage museum visitors in thought-provoking conversation is one way of providing descriptions of works of art.

• Standard Information: Verbal description starts with the standard information found on a museum's object label: artist, nationality, title, date, mediums, dimensions, and the custodian or location of the work.

• General Overview: Subject, Form, and Color

The basic object-label information is followed by a general overview of the subject matter and composition of the work. Generally, a coherent description should provide visual information in a sequence, allowing a blind person to assemble, piece by piece, an image of a highly complex work of art. First describe the explicit subject, that is, what is represented in the work.

• Orient the Viewer with Directions: Specific and concrete information is required to indicate the location of objects or figures in a work of art. A useful directional method is to refer to the positions of the numbers on a clock.

• Describe the Importance of the Technique or Medium: Sometimes, there is an important relationship between the implicit content and the technique or medium employed to make the work. Detailed information on these topics enables a blind viewer to understand the ways in which meaning, style, or both are generated from the materials. Technique and medium are functions of each other, and, typically, discussion of one must include the other.

• Focus on the Style:

When we talk about the style of a work of art, we are referring to the features that identify a work as being by a particular artist or school, or of a movement, period, or geographical region. Style is the cumulative result of many characteristics, including brushwork, use of tone and color, choice of different motifs, and the treatment of the subject.

• Use Specific Words: Clear and precise language is crucial to any good description. In describing visual art to a blind audience, you must be careful to avoid ambiguous and figurative language. The blind listener can take words very literally.

• Provide Vivid Details: After the general idea of the work is conveyed, the description should be more vivid and particularized. Describe pertinent details, and focus on different parts of the work.

• Indicate Where the Curators Have Installed a Work: Tell the blind viewer where the work is located in the institution. Include in your discussion a description of the gallery or sculpture garden where the work is installed, and mention the surrounding artworks. Describe how the work under discussion relates to these other works, as well as to the viewer and the surrounding space.

• Refer to Other Senses as Analogues for Vision: Try to translate a visual experience into another sense. Although blind viewers are without sight, their other senses, such as touch or hearing, enable them to construct highly detailed impressions of a work of visual art.

• Explain Intangible Concepts with Analogies: Certain kinds of visual phenomena, such as shadows or clouds, may be difficult to describe objectively. In the case of congenitally blind or early-blind individuals with no visual memory, it may be impossible to convey a sighted person's visual experience of certain kinds of phenomena. However, a well-chosen analogy can be just as effective. To construct a helpful analogy, choose objects or experiences from everyone's common experience.

• Encourage Understanding through Reenactment: Sometimes, no matter how precisely you describe the physical posture of a figure depicted in a painting or sculpture, the image that you see is not transmitted to the viewer. In these cases, you may want to give instructions that will allow the blind person to mimic the depicted figure's pose.

• Provide Information on the Historical and Social Context: As in any museum tour or art history lesson, you should provide information on the historical and social context of the works of art. Many visual artifacts, particularly those from non-European cultures, have ritualistic functions.

• Incorporate Sound in Creative Ways: In addition to reconstructing an historical or cultural setting, sound can serve an interpretive purpose. For instance, sound can be used as an auditory analogue for a work of visual art.

• Allow People to Touch Artworks: Providing an opportunity to touch three-dimensional works gives visitors who are blind or visually impaired an immediate, personal experience with an original work of art. Direct touch is the best way to explore an object. For conservation reasons, however, some museums require people to wear thin gloves made of cotton or plastic.

• Tactile Illustrations of Artworks: Most museum visitors want as much information as possible. Tactile diagrams are a very effective way of making visual art accessible. These diagrams are tactile illustrations of artworks, and they are essentially relief images.




The Art of Photography CEPA works with Autism Services, Inc. to develop classes that empower people by tapping into their natural artistic abilities. During a four-week program, students from Autism Services visit CEPA to learn about the art of photography. After looking at images and discussing the elements of art, they use digital cameras to explore their environment with those elements in mind. Once their photographs are taken, they learn basic graphic design techniques in our digital photo lab to creatively manipulate their images. Students also get an introduction to our darkroom with photograms. By placing objects onto photographic paper, exposing them to light, and then using photo chemistry, the print develops to magically reveal the image!


Blind with Camera Blind with Camera is an initiative of the Beyond Sight Foundation, a not-for-profit organization prompting the art of photography in people with visual impairment and building capacity around the “Disability” and “Non-Retinal” Art culture in India. It provides a platform for the visually impaired to share their “Inner Gallery” of images, their imagination and point-of-view of the visual world, giving them new voice about their unique experience, feelings, challenges and hopes


Blind Photographers’ Guild The Blind Photographers’ Guild is a small group of accomplished blind photographers. The Guild’s main goal is to place blind photographers and their work in the mainstream of visual culture. The group’s central premise is that blind photographers intrinsically operate at the ground zero of photography. Blind photographers by definition produce inherently conceptual photographs. The best among them make world-class work that explores the difference between true inner vision and mere outward sight.

Creative Arts Adaptations

There are relatively easy adaptations to the creative art program in order to make it accessible to students who are blind or visually impaired. While younger students typically participate in creative art within the classroom, most school age students take advantage of this time for an inclusive opportunity with typically developing peers.

Provide the students with verbal directions about all parts of the activity. When the student hears other students receive directed descriptions of the project, they will not only gain the advantage of hearing the communication for her own reinforcement, but the student will also realize that other students also need guided directions.

• Adaptations for Students with Low Vision: For students with low vision, present materials on trays of contrasting color and use materials that have good contrast in general. Use high contrast materials. Highlight outlines of pictures with a black felt tip pen, or color it is supposed to be colored. You may also want to help the student trace the outline and locate important features in the project. When gluing objects on paper, such as the triangle eyes of a jack-o-lantern, it may be helpful to show the student a finished model first, so that the student can see the end result. Encourage students to use their low vision devices to identify color words on crayons/markers and on worksheets.

• Art to Develop Cognitive Skills: The creative art area is another station that lends itself well to teaching concepts. Discuss likes and differences in textures and looks of art materials available; Discuss placing materials in and out of paint, glue, etc.; Discuss how thick and thin material is; Match art materials of the same texture; Discuss if art materials are hard or soft; Discuss if materials are rough or smooth; Discuss shapes of materials; and Discuss paint jars or glue bottles as being empty or full.

• Art to Develop Fine Motor Skills: Try finger painting with finger paints, shaving cream or pudding to promote finger sensitivity. Provide materials that provide firm input into the hands (squeezing play-doh or putty, play in water or beans, pulling on elastic bands, etc.) to promote tactual discrimination. Squeeze and mold clay or dough to develop hand strength. Practice tearing and cutting paper for arts and crafts activities to develop skillful hands.


3D Art


3D Art Projects

Materials; a few drops of food coloring or liquid watercolors, 4 Tbsp self-rising flour, 4 Tbsp salt, water, a paintbrush (or clear condiment bottles for squeezing paint), and glass or cardboard


• Make the microwavable puffy paint by mixing the flour, food coloring and salt. Add water to make a smooth paste.

• Pour the paint into the clear bottles and squeeze it onto the glass or cardboard in whatever design you wish. You can also use a paintbrush, but the more paint, the better.

• Microwave the painting. If you painted on cardboard, only microwave for 20-30 seconds. If you used glass, microwave for 1:30-2:00 minutes.


Student 3D Printing Designs Help Those with Disabilities Tackle Daily Tasks Part of the appeal of 3D printing is witnessing ideas come to life. As the technology becomes less expensive, more students are getting a chance to breathe life into their ideas.

The 3D printing company MakerBot recently showcased five 3D print designs from students on Thingiverse, its online community for 3D tinkerers.




Described Video


The Audio Description Project: Audio description is increasingly available for first-run movies, and more and more movie theaters are being built or renovated with the necessary equipment to offer the description track to patrons. This page will point you to more information about the process, the movies, and the theaters. A good source for finding described videos is CaptionFish.


Captioned Video


The difference between open and closed captioning: Video has played an important role in education for many decades. Now, in the form of computer-based multimedia, video is increasingly utilized in distance learning and other web-based educational applications. However, the audio portion of a video presentation is inaccessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing unless it includes captions. Captions are on-screen text descriptions that display a video product's dialogue, identify speakers, and describe other relevant sounds that are otherwise inaccessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Captions are synchronized with the video image so that viewers have equivalent access to the content that is originally presented in sound, regardless of whether they receive that content via audio or text. Captions are either open or closed. Open captions always are in view and cannot be turned off, whereas closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer.


Inclusion Films: Inclusion films gives adults with developmental disabilities their big break in Hollywood- And the real world. Innovative film school, Inclusion Films, trains adults with special needs for jobs in the entertainment industry through a vocational program that focuses on gaining independence and communication skills. Ray Martino was best friends with Joey Travolta, brother of John Travolta, growing up. Joey Travolta spent his early years as a performer and actor, and worked as a special education teacher turned director/producer before founding Inclusion Films in 2006. A year earlier Travolta produced a documentary Normal People Scare Me with an autistic teenager who acted as the movie’s director.

The Children’s Institute (TCI): At the TCI Film School in New Jersey, students are learning more than just the tools to make movies: they're learning career and social skills as well. TCI runs several schools in North Jersey for children, adolescents, and young adults with autism. The school, in addition to teaching film production and acting, has helped graduates with autism go on to find employment in the film industry. The six-year-old TCI Film School serves 35 students from their mid-teens to their mid-twenties, and received the New Jersey School Boards Association’s 2015 Innovators in Special Education recognition, the Daily Record reported.

Disability Film Challenge: The Disability Film Challenge is a 48 Hour short film competition that has been established in association with prestigious organizations such as the Media Access Awards and the HollyShorts Film Festival. It is a competition in which entrants are allotted two days to complete production of their entry into the competition. Among other prizes, winners will have their shorts screened at the Hollyshorts Film Festival in the famous TCL Chinese Theater. The film challenge's purpose is to motivate disabled and non-disabled film makers to be proactive in the film industry and to supply them with a means of exposure for themselves and their projects. On top of thematic and story rules, entries must include elements that, at the very least, acknowledge disability to create awareness of these unique stories that are not being told. Entries are strongly encouraged to include a disabled actor, director, writer, and/or producer.

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National Theatre of the Deaf

There is not a more striking example of the power of art to transform lives than The National Theatre of the Deaf. In 1967 when NTD began, Sign Language was seen as a stigma. The talents of deaf people were largely untapped. By placing Sign Language on stage, the National Theatre of the Deaf showed the world that Sign Language was a beautiful, powerful, visual language. Deaf people reached new heights as actors and were perceived in a new light, as intelligent, employable people worthy of equal rights. The National Theatre of the Deaf has been instrumental in opening up many other worlds for the deaf community. Captioned television, Telecommunication devices, Sign Language interpreters, bi-lingual, bi-cultural education are some of the benefits that have occurred because of the work the National Theatre of the Deaf has done. Through its art, the National Theatre of the Deaf has created profound social change. Through its art form, doors began to open for the deaf population at large. The magic of it all has been the National Theatre of the Deaf's remarkable ability to entertain and inform at the same time.


Theatre by the Blind (TBTB) Theatre was established in 2003 to provide performing arts programs and performances to Los Angeles community centers and schools. Theatre by the Blind, the country’s only theatre troupe composed entirely of blind actors, helps blind and visually impaired individuals become self-sufficient using theatre-based programs and original performances to help them to successfully navigate through today’s society. Each new program lasts approximately 6 months from start to finish. Scripts can be translated and printed into braille, but often the actors choose to tape-record their lines to practice at home. During rehearsals, a series of soft floor mats are pieced together to create a map of the stage that aids the actors in navigating the stage layout and memorizing the location of different set pieces.


Theater Companies Celebrating Actors with Disabilities: Diversity in casting extends beyond ethnicity, age, and gender orientation. These nine theater companies create opportunities for artists with a variety of physical, intellectual, and emotional disabilities, illuminating the human experience for actors and audience alike.


National Theatre of the Deaf: This Tony Award-winning theatre company has been touring the country for almost 50 years, and gives both deaf and hearing artists the chance to work side by side on accessible productions. Funded by the Department of Education during its original conception, the NTD performs full productions in American Sign Language while also incorporating spoken lines. The arts organization has brought ASL to thousands of audiences throughout the country—and has even made appearances on Sesame Street.


Detour Company Theatre: Based out of Phoenix, Arizona, Detour brings artists with developmental and certain physical disabilities together to make theater under the direction of a nurturing community of coaches. The company has a huge impact on the local community and beyond, performing shows like “Mary Poppins” to packed houses of fans.


Identity Theatre This NYC–based group of “differently abled” artists creates works that inspire discussion and exploration of the whole human experience. Its mission is to create more performance opportunities for professional actors with disabilities, both by putting a variety of actors on its own stage and by opening the minds of theatergoers at large.


Theater Breaking Through Barriers: Originally known as “Theater by the Blind” before altering its mission in 2008 to include actors with a wide range of disabilities, this Off-Broadway theater aims to show “the exuberance and independence as well as the challenges of lives lived with disability.” TBTB earns critical acclaim for its inclusiveness and its contributions to the New York theater scene.


Apotheta: Named after a pit in Ancient Greece where weak babies were said to be discarded, this New York–based theater company creates new plays that make the disabled experience visible. Inspired by the lack of “collective history” in the physically and mentally disabled community, Artistic Director Gregg Mozgala leads the charge in affecting change through theatrical performance.


That Uppity Theater Company: Known for innovative pieces that confront a variety of hot topics (gay rights, gender issues, and racial justice to name a few), this Saint Louis–based theater company began the “DisAbility Project” over 20 years ago to create more inclusion for artists with disabilities. The project now tours to various communities, sharing a message of openness and understanding with its audience.


InterAct Theater: Based out of the University of Minnesota, the InterAct Center is a “radically inclusive” not-for-profit company that gives voice to the disabled population and expresses the arts as essential to humanity. The center focuses on visual and performing arts, and creates full-time opportunities for artists with disabilities. InterAct’s theatrical component is ensemble–based, and produces fully staged new works along with smaller projects that are based on community collaboration.


Phamaly Theatre Company: Phamaly, which stands for the Physically Handicapped Actors and Musical Artists League, has been producing full-scale theater since 1990 and has had a major impact on the inclusion of handicapped artists nationally and internationally. The Denver–based company inspires audiences to “re-envision disability” through its high-quality plays and musicals, including this season’s “Fuddy Meers” (through Feb. 28) and “Taking Leave” by Nagle Jackson.


Deaf West Theatre: This Los Angeles–based theater company made history last year when its award-winning production of “Spring Awakening” moved from California to Broadway. The groundbreaking musical was the first of its kind on the Great White Way, pairing deaf and hard-of-hearing actors with hearing counterparts for a thoughtfully choreographed collaboration between spoken word, song, and American Sign Language.



DanceAbility®️ International: DanceAbility is a dance method accessible to all people. Classes focus on improvisation and creative movement and are designed to be inclusive of all people. As dancers gain experience, they can also move into choreography that celebrates individuality and relationships. Resources About and For Children with Disabilities


Dancing with Disability: A Look at the Infinity Dance Theater: Imagine you are taking a trip to the ballet. The lights and set are bright and colorful; the costumes and music are elegant and grand. The choreography is challenging but graceful, expressive, and meaningful. Every movement conveys a message and tells a story to the audience through the performers' bodies. How do you envision the dancers? Likely you're picturing them to be tall, slender, and attractive, able to move as lightly as a bird on delicate toes that must have superhuman strength.


Contrasting this stereotype is Infinity Dance Theater, a nontraditional dance company in New York City that features dancers with and without disabilities, including those in wheelchairs. Combining classical ballet with components of modern and jazz dance, the dance company was founded in 1995 by Kitty Lunn after a life-changing accident.

Lunn fell in love with dancing at the age of eight while watching the leading red-headed ballerina in the film The Red Shoes float gracefully across the screen. Once she began taking lessons, dancing took over her life: it became her passion, work, and identity. As a teenager, she danced in principal roles with the New Orleans Civic Ballet and later on joined the Washington Ballet in DC. She began rehearsing for her first Broadway production in 1987 when she suffered a horrible accident. Lunn broke her back and was told she would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Still, she was determined to return to dancing despite the disability.


Just participating in the class, however, proved challenging to Lunn—not because of her physical limitations but because of the attitudes of those around her. While Lunn was permitted by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to take the ballet class, she was not welcomed with open arms when she arrived. When transposing for dancers in wheelchairs, Lunn noted that it is important not to lose sight of what the dance looks like standing up. Watching her in a transposition technique teaching video next to two standing dancers, the parallel between the two styles becomes clear. It appears as though Lunn’s shoulders act as the waist; the arms are like legs, the elbows like knees, the wrists like ankles, and hands like feet. She uses her arms to replicate the same type of lines that the standing dancers create with their arms and legs.


Underwater Dance in a Wheelchair: Cultural Olympiad artist creates world's first self-propelled underwater wheelchair so she can perform under the waves. Sue Austin, from Devon, has been a wheelchair user since 1996 after contracting ME and has invented and helped create the world's first self-propelled underwater wheelchair with a team of diving experts. In the lead up to the Paralympic Games Ms Austin has staged a series of stunning underwater scuba performances called 'Creating the Spectacle!' to show off her underwater art.


Wheelchair Dancing - A partner dance competition and Dance-sport where at least one of the dancers is in a wheelchair. The physical benefits of wheelchair dancing include the maintenance of physical balance, flexibility, range of motion, coordination and improved respiratory control. The psychological effects of ballroom dancing are social interaction and the development of relationships.

• Duo-dance: Duo-dance features two wheelchair dancers together.

• Single-dance: Single-dance involves solo performances involving a lone wheelchair dancer.

• Group-dance: Group-dance involves wheelchair dancers and dancers who are able-bodied dancing in synchronized formation, as well as participating with free-style movements to the music.

• Combi-dance: Combi-dance integrates an person who is able-bodied with a dancer with disabilities and allows couples to participate in dances such as tango, waltz, slowfox, Viennese waltz, and quickstep. Other dances performed include Latin American dances such as cha-cha, samba, paso doble, rumba, and jive.


Physically integrated dance: The physically integrated dance movement is part of the disability culture movement, which recognizes and celebrates the first-person experience of disability, not as a medical model construct but as a social phenomenon, through artistic, literary, and other creative means. Adam Benjamin, author of Making an Entrance: Theory and Practice for Disabled and Non-Disabled Dancers (2002), has written about the perhaps unnecessary labelling of a dance performance as "integrated" or "inclusive" dance when advertising it to the public, calling it "a bit like a road sign warning the unwary theatre-goer of possible encounters with wheelchairs—it tells us that we can expect to see a disabled person on stage, which can only leave us asking, 'Is that really necessary? Part of the reason for this practice may be the breaking of a taboo for some audience members to see bodies in many conditions performing on stage, an event that may create astonishment, among other reactions..


Strategies for Working with Special Needs Students in the General Music Classroom: Adapted with permission from “The North Carolina Music Educator” Fall/Summer 2013

Music classes in today’s educational system have changed substantially. With the implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), educators are expected to see all students, with and without disabilities. Children previously not served by music educators are now being served. Many times a music therapist is hired to serve students with special needs; however, this is not the norm. Because most music therapists still need a teaching credential to get into the school system, a therapist is not always available and it becomes the responsibility of the music educator to include the special needs students.


Songs for Children, Teens and Adults with Special Needs: These special education songs are available from a variety of albums. Use these songs for reinforcing good behavior, staying active, assisting with transitions, encouragement, dance therapy, sign language, recognizing emotions, and teaching social skills.

• Songs that Reinforce Good Behavior

• Activity Songs for People with Physical Challenges

Songs that Assist in Transitions

• Songs for Children with Cognitive Challenges

• Dance Therapy Songs

• Songs that Teach American Sign Language (ASL)

• Understanding and Acceptance of Emotions

Teaching Social Skills

Everyday Routine Skills


Music Therapy: Coast Music Therapy Coast Music Therapy passionately strives to be best in serving one demographic in San Diego county: youth with special needs. Our staff of board certified music therapists direct their focus and apply their special knowledge to the distinct needs of learners with autism, developmental disabilities, neurologic impairments, and mental health challenges. Coast Music Therapy treatments draw from research-based techniques from the fields of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT).


The Full Pitcher Music Resources

We want to extend opportunities for everyone to create and share music so we do aim for maximum flexibility in our resources. In addition, we will do all we can to customize our materials to the special needs of someone with a disability. If we can't provide what's required, we will put you in touch with those who can.


Classical musicians with physical disabilities

This Website contains people who are blind, deaf, or have physical disabilities. Links provide biographies that include their disability, career, and legacy.


Careers in the Arts National Online Dialogue The following report outlines the results of the ePolicyWorks’ online dialogue, “Careers in the Arts.” Hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), this virtual event was held from Monday, June 6, 2016 through Sunday, June 19, 2016. The online dialogue invited key stakeholders to a virtual conversation on the progress that has occurred over the past 10 years to support employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the arts, including:

• Artists, arts managers, and other people with disabilities who are working or seeking work in the arts;

• People working for arts organizations, arts service organizations, and arts advocacy groups;

• Arts employers and arts educators;

• People working for disability service organizations and disability advocates; and • Policymakers at the federal, state, and local level.

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National Arts and Disability Center (NADC) The NADC is a leading consultant in the arts and disability community, and the only center of its kind. Our information is aimed at artists with disabilities, arts organizations, arts administrators, disability organizations, performing arts organizations, art centers, universities, and arts educators.


Down Syndrome in the Arts and Media DSiAM works with the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles and other Ds Affiliates across the U.S. to provide Casting Liaison for Talent with Ds and other developmental disabilities, Script Consultation, Visual Artist Referrals and Media Advocacy.


Hands On The mission of Hands On 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. Today, Hands On produces 20 to 30 interpreted performances annually, with a track record of over 500 shows to date. It maintains an active web site, which features its monthly Cultural Calendar, Resource Directory, and generates input from Deaf people around the world.


Inclusion in the Arts Inclusion in the Arts is the nation’s leading advocate for full diversity as a key to the vitality and dynamism of American theatre, film, and television. We promote authentic dialogue about race, culture, and disability that embraces the complexity of underlying social and historical issues and advocate for full inclusion of artists of color and performers with disabilities at all levels of production in theatre, film, television, and related media. Our work also extends to audiences, particularly those belonging to underserved and historically excluded communities. Principal programs include the Advocacy, Consulting and Information Program; the Disability/Accessibility Initiative, and the National Diversity Forum. Through these activities, Inclusion in the Arts has become the primary catalyst for and facilitator of increased diversity and inclusion on a national level.


VSA 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.


Amputees in Hollywood Our mission is the accurate portrayal of the amputee in the media, amputees in amputee roles in movies and on television, and the authentic representation of prostheses and the professionals who design and fit them.


The Apothetae The Apothetae is a company dedicated to the production of full-length plays about the “Disabled Experience,” focusing on newly commissioned works by both established and up and coming playwrights, and extant work featuring characters with disabilities or dealing with disabled themes. By making visible the human impact of disabled people throughout history, we believe empathy can be practiced, perceptions changed, and new communities forged through the collaborative and transformative power of the artistic process.


Phamily Theatre Company Phamaly’s mission is to inspire people to re-envision disability through professional theatre.


Theatre breaking Through Barriers TBTB is the only Off-Broadway theater, and one of the few theaters in the country, dedicated to advancing actors and writers with disabilities and changing the image of people with disabilities from dependence to independence.


Performing Arts Studio West provides professional hands-on individualized training, career management, and on-location support for performers with developmental disabilities working in film, television and commercials.


The Arts: Dance, Drama and Visual Arts For people with disabilities, participating in creative arts programs has not always been possible. Even today in more enlightened times, we don’t see the level of participation, or inclusion, in arts programs among young people with disabilities as we see in able-bodied children and teens. Slowly but surely, theater programs, visual arts classes, and dance troupes designed specifically for people with disabilities are providing an outlet for inventiveness and creativity.


Drama Class for Students with Developmental Disabilities Designed specifically for children with developmental disabilities, and planned in cooperation with VSA-NJ, an organization which provides a wide array of arts programming for children and adults with disabilities, this new class will include theater improvisation, storytelling, music, movement and visual art. The series will creatively address and include diverse learning styles and modes of communication. The drama class for children with disabilities is also open to their non-disabled siblings and parents or other caregivers.


Arts for All We offer services through creative programs including Adult Day activities, Out-of-School Time, and Summer and Winter Arts Camps. We are leaders in providing accessible art education, training and experiences for our community.


Creativity Explored Creativity Explored advances the value and diversity of artistic expression. We provide artists with developmental disabilities the means to create, exhibit, and sell their art in our studios and gallery, and around the world.


Society for Disabled Artists (SODA) People who become disabled suffer far more than just loss of physical mobility. Loss of livelihood, reduced self-esteem, curtailed social life and a sense of isolation are just some of the issues which have to be tackled. The Society for Disabled Artists (SODA) aims to help meet these needs. Most disabled people find that working with pen, pencil, brush, ink and paint, even if they have never done it before, is not only an absorbing pastime, but also a vital form of self-expression.


Mouth and Foot Painters Association From the beginning its members have had full control of their enterprise, which enables them to enjoy a secure livelihood despite severe disabilities and has given them a purpose in life. Many have achieved international recognition through work produced with brushes held by their teeth or clenched between their toes.


Disability Arts International Promoting increased access to the arts for disabled artists and audiences around the globe.

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YouTube videos highlighting the accomplishments of people with disabilities in the arts.


Visual Painting with His Foot 2:57

Mentoring artists with disabilities 7:37

The Works Art and Disability 1 Lee Hill 8:51

Disabled Afghan teen finds future in art 1:56

NIAD Center for Arts & Disabilities 3:44

Deaf Art 3:46

Painting in the Dark 2:48

Autistic Artist 5:17

Tools to Enable Kids with Disabilities to Paint 3:13

Photography & Film Indonesian disabled photographer 1:52

Photography for Severely Disabled 5:00

2016 Disability Film Challenge 5:43

Blind filmmakers 5:43

"Home" in ASL by Deaf Film Camp 3:49

International Deaf Film Festival 4:06

Joey Travolta's Inclusion Film Camp 2:28

Music Young Disabled Musicians Take Centre Stage 12:05

Aspiring Musicians with Disabled Hands 8:30

Disabled kid with Robotic Arm Plays Guitar 2:22

11-year-old, blind musician 6:54

Bolivian Child Musical Prodigy 3:23


Deaf teen is incredible musician 1:39

Dance Six Stories from Deaf and Disabled Dancers 8:00

Dance Motivation: DISABILITY 3:08

Strictly Wheels wheelchair dance 5:40

Tanner Dance -- Dancers with Disabilities 3:46

Disabled Leaders in Dance 7:46

Children Dancing Through Disabilities 1:59

Chinese blind-deaf artists 1:49

Theatre Talk Stoop featuring Marlee Matlin 6:14

Touch-ables' - deaf-blind actors perform 1:06

Actors With Disabilities Feel at Home 1:04

Double Act Disability Theatre 5:47

Deaf Artists & Theatres Toolkit DATT 5:39

Drama & Disabilities 7:30

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Idea No. 121