Want to learn more about the Arts, Education, and Disability?
Here are some resources to explore:
(Arts for All Nevada does not endorse any of the following links or information.)
ARTSEDGE: The National Arts and Education Network supports the placement of the arts at the center of the curriculum and advocates creative use of technology to enhance the K-12 educational experience.
Arts Education Partnership (AEP): A national coalition of 140 arts and education organizations that demonstrate and promote the essential role of the arts in the learning and development of every child and in the improvement of America’s schools.
Careers in the Arts: An online guide to practical art degrees.
Family and Caregivers Guide for the Disabled. An overview of the ways a family caregiver can make the caretaking process easier and more convenient for the people who have care and support needs and their caregivers.
Including Samuel: The Including Samuel project is built on the nationally acclaimed documentary film by Dan Habib about his son, Samuel. The project builds more inclusive schools and communities through curriculum, training, and outreach.
VSA, an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is the international organization on arts and disabilities with a wealth of information concerning the arts, disability and more. Arts for All Nevada is the Nevada state affiliate of VSA.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts/VSA resources listed here are designed to give educators and parents greater access to information on the relationship of arts, education, and disabilities, especially for children with disabilities. As a leader in arts, education, and disabilities, VSA has produced programmatic resources that have proved invaluable to educators and parents alike.
VSA Art Connect All-Professional Development Program for educators of students with disabilities provides 5 (five) or more instructional hours per educator to improve teaching skills for educators and learning outcomes for students with disabilities in the arts. This program prepares educators to improve arts education, arts integration, student engagement and academic achievement through the arts.
Arts for All Nevada’s programs trains Washoe County School District special and general education teachers focusing on integrating the arts into their year-round curriculum and middle, high school and other art teachers who work in mainstreamed and other settings focusing on disability issues including adapting equipment/materials and use of assistive devices/technology. General education teachers are also trained in integrating the arts into their curriculum and disability training as needed.
Whole Child Education: Members of the Whole Child community make a difference by advocating to ensure that every child is healthy, safe, engaged in learning and their community, supported by caring adults, and exposed to a challenging curriculum that includes arts, music, and other essential courses.
Definition of Disability – Medical/Social
Medical – Under this model of disability, an individual’s inability to join in society is seen as a direct result of their disability and not as the result of features of our society which can be changed.
Social – The social model has been defined by individuals who are disabled and feel that the medical model does not provide an adequate explanation for their exclusion from mainstream society – because their experiences have shown them that in reality most of their issues are not caused by their disability, but due to social and environmental barriers.
In this model, both the cause of functional limitation and the functional limitation within the individual itself are separated from external factors.
If individuals who are disabled are to be able to join in mainstream society, the way society is organized must continue to change. Removing the barriers which exclude people who have a disability can bring about this change. There are places similar to Breeze Disability Insurance which could help someone with a disability join in society with any financial worries.
Additional information: Disability definitions
Arts and cultural organizations need to maximize audience potential by ensuring that facilities and programs are accessible to all. The National Endowment for the Arts Office of Accessibility has created several tip sheets and guides. Access here. Here are some overall guidelines for individuals and organizations.
- Offer assistance if you wish, but do not insist. Always ask before you act, but do not help without permission. If you are not sure what to do, ask the person to explain what would be helpful.
- Focus on the abilities of the person, rather than on the disability. Be mindful that alternative ways of doing things are often equally effective. Encourage people with disabilities to be their own advocates.
- Be aware of limitations specific to a certain disability, but do not be overprotective. Do not exclude the person from participating in an activity just because you assume their disability would be a problem. Let them make the decision; do not lower your expectations. There is dignity in being able to take risks. Allow a person with a disability to fail just as you would allow any other person. No one succeeds all the time.
- Make sure that parking areas, restrooms, and buildings in which you provide services or conduct meetings are architecturally and environmentally accessible to all people. This is crucial to the establishment of a comfortable and equitable relationship with people with a disability. Get expert advice before making expensive structural modifications.
- Accessibility to the full range of services you provide is legally required. Review your programs and reading materials. Are they diverse enough to reach all levels of ability? Is the content accessible to people with hearing, visual, or learning disabilities? (e.g. audiotapes, audiovisuals, large print).
- Conduct outreach efforts to publicize your programs to people with disabilities. Allow time for them to become fully aware of your services and develop trust in your efforts.
- Ask a person with a disability to facilitate disability awareness training sessions with staff to promote positive attitudes. Locate materials and have it available for learning more about disability-related issues.
- Involve people with disabilities on advisory boards, planning committees, in positions of authority, and in the planning and presentation of all sponsored programs. Actively seek qualified persons with disabilities when hiring for staff positions.
- Assume responsibility for understanding the issues that affect people with disabilities. Learn more. Send for information from consumer and disability-related organizations, ask for their support and invite their representatives to speak at meetings.
Language Matters…Some Guidelines, summarized from an article written by Patti Digh
Most importantly, use the people-first rule: “the man who is blind” not “the blind man.”
Avoid terminology like “suffers from,” “afflicted with” or “victim of,” all of which cast disabilities as a negative. “Suffers from” indicates ongoing pain and torment, which is no more the case for most people with disabilities as it is for most people without disabilities. “Afflicted with” denotes a disease, which most disabilities are not. “Victim of” implies a crime is being committed on the person who has a disability.
Do not use “wheelchair-bound” or “confined to a wheelchair.” People see their wheelchairs as convenient modes of transportation, not prisons, and the “bound/confined” phrase belies the fact that many people with motor disabilities engage in activities without their wheelchairs, including driving and sleeping. The proper phrase is “uses a wheelchair.”
Use “disability” not “handicap.” The word “handicap” derives from the phrase “cap in hand,” referring to a beggar, and is despised by most people with disabilities. Other terms to avoid: “physically/mentally challenged” (who isn’t?) “cripple” and “crippled.”
Use “nondisabled” or “people without disabilities.” The terms “normal” and “whole” are inappropriate and inaccurate.
Most disabilities are not a disease. Do not call a person with a disability a “patient” unless referring to a hospital setting. In an occupational and physical therapy context, “client” is preferred.
Some diseases, by legal definition, are considered disabilities. Victimization imagery (“AIDS victims”) or defining the person by the disease (“she is a diabetic”) is still inappropriate. Use “person with diabetes” or “people living with AIDS.”
“Blind” refers to a total loss of eyesight; “low vision” or “visual disability” is more accurate for people who have some degree of sight. Avoid “non-sighted.”
People who consider themselves part of Deaf culture refer to themselves as “Deaf” with a capital “D.” Because their culture derives from their language, they may be identified as you would other cultural entities, i.e. “Asian-Americans,” “people with disabilities.”
For people with speech disabilities, avoid “mute,” “dumb,” or “speech impediment.”
Avoid “deformed,” “deformity” and “birth defect.” A person may be “born without arms” or “has a congenital disability,” but is not defective.
Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition that causes developmental disability. Use “person with Down syndrome.” Avoid “mongol” or “mongoloid.”
Mental disabilities include cognitive, psychiatric and learning disabilities and physical head trauma. Avoid “mentally retarded,” “insane,” “slow learner,” “learning disabled” and “brain-damaged.”
Cerebral palsy is a disability resulting from damage to the brain during birth that causes muscle coordination issues. Avoid “palsied” and “spastic.” This link directs you to a website with an adult who has cerebral palsy: https://www.cerebralpalsyguidance.com/cerebral-palsy/. Cerebral Palsy Group is another resource for families of individuals with cerebral palsy.
A seizure is an episode caused by a sudden disturbance in the brain. If seizures are recurrent, it is called a seizure disorder. Use “person with epilepsy” or “child with a seizure disorder.” Avoid “epileptic,” either as a noun or adjective.
Avoid “dwarf” or “midget.” Some groups prefer “little people,” but it’s best to use “person of short stature.”
Quadriplegia is a substantial loss of function in all four extremities. Paraplegia is a substantial loss of function in the lower part of the body. Use “man with paraplegia” or “she has quadriplegia.” Avoid “paraplegic” or “quadriplegic” as either a noun or adjective.
These suggestions may be helpful in planning arts activities, events or special programs for people with the following disabilities:
- General Disability
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Mental Illness
- Intellectual Disability
- Mobility Limitations
- Traumatic Brain Injury
Professional/Emerging Artists who have a disability
Arts for All Nevada plays an active role in the promotion and cultivation of emerging and established artists with disabilities by curating exhibitions for off-site spaces..
The Kennedy Center’s Artists’ Resources includes an extensive listing of links for
- Art Supply Stores
- Adaptive Tools
- Music resources
- Resources for Performers
- Advocacy organizations