Many disabled people cannot participate in the arts as audience or as practitioners unless certain basic access requirements are met. It is important to attend to issues such as communication, interpretation, staffing, planning and programming as well as ensuring good physical access. In Northern Ireland, the Arts Council has funded a study into the barriers to disabled people’s inclusion in the arts. The fabric of a building is not the only element to be considered in improving access for disabled people. For example, it can be easy to provide a designated car parking space or large print information. Consultation with local disability groups can reveal a wealth of information to help arts organisations provide services that are more inclusive. Ask people what format of information would suit their access requirements.
Having made access improvements it is important to tell people about the facilities you have available, for example using appropriate symbols in your publicity. Information on marketing to disabled people for arts organisations is included on the Arts Council of England’s website: www.artscouncil.org.uk.
The Arts and Disability Resource Pack, 2010
The Arts and Disability resource pack called Shift in Perspective (PDF, 1.43 MB) is the result of a partnership between the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, Arts Disability Ireland (ADI), Mayo County Council, the Irish Museum of Modern Art(IMMA) and South Tipperary County Council. It grew out of the partner organisations’ work to develop innovative approaches in high quality contemporary arts and disability practice, and to make arts venues more accessible to artists and audiences with disabilities. The material is based on three specific initiatives: the Arts and Disability Networking Pilot, the Altered Images exhibition, and an audio description and captioning programme for theatre. The resource pack aims to capture the learning from these initiatives and share its practical application with artists and all who work in professional and community-based venues, galleries, theatres and related arts organisations.