June 2021

Cultural Access and Inclusion

The Lehigh Valley is home to more than 87,000 people with disabilities.
By providing greater access to arts opportunities, organizations can expand their audiences and provide a catalyst for change in our community.

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Our Arts & Access Always program seeks to benefit people with disabilities in our community by providing them greater access to a wider array of arts and cultural experiences. The program is also designed to strengthen the capacity of cultural nonprofits to serve this community by providing informational support, training and specialized equipment, and programs and incentives to actively engage individuals with disabilities in our region.

Here at the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, we like to reference the phrase, "cultural accessibility is good customer service." By working to actively engage all audiences, you are on the path to being more inclusive and offering a valuable and accessible experience to all of your patrons.

Access is a civil right, and we need your voice. Join our network of service providers, arts administrators, consumers, and caregivers that work in collaboration to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Get involved with the Arts & Access Always program today by contacting our Program Administrator, Elise at

Enjoy our access-focused advocacy newsletter this month and find resources from our program, local organizations, and national organizations that are working to provide greater access to their audiences.

Elise Schaffer
Arts & Access Program Admin

Tara Henninger
Operations Manager

Lehigh Valley Arts Council

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Our Mission | Arts & Access Always

To engage all citizens in the Lehigh Valley, intentionally securing the participation of all abilities, regardless of physical, sensory, or cognitive limitation, both as audience members and/or providers in the dance, theatrical, musical, visual, literary, or media arts.

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Disability-Friendly Events Calendar

Our Arts & Access Always Program maintains an online calendar dedicated exclusively to disability-friendly events, right here in the Lehigh Valley! Filter by accommodation, topic, or artistic medium. Organizations are also welcome to submit their own disability-friendly events to be included in the calendar.

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People With Disabilities Belong

DFC's Affirmation of Belonging

The Disability Friendly Community of the Lehigh Valley has launched an awareness campaign, People With Disabilities Belong, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Belonging is important because it indicates equal participation. On July 26th, persons with disabilities also celebrate their coming of age politically. They are empowered by thirty years of experiencing the following:

▪ Challenging the parameters of the law
▪ Gaining perspective on how far they have come and where they need to go
▪ Building relationships, speaking out, and making their voices heard.
Challenging the parameters of the law
Gaining perspective on how far they have come and where they need to go
Building relationships, speaking out, and making their voices heard.

Please show your support for people with disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act by signing the Affirmation of Belonging pledge.

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Access in Your Organization

Are you interested in having us present to your board or organization about access to the arts and the options you have for embracing accessibility? Set up a meeting by contacting our Program Administrator!

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Arts & Access Always | Google Classroom

Are you interested in accessibility resources? Our program is also excited to share our brand new Google Classroom where you can find resources, connect with local arts administrators, and share information on arts and accessibility. You will need a Google account to check it out. We will also be offering a community networking group focusing on accessibility issues facing arts organizations – coming soon! Stay up to date with everything Arts & Access Always by subscribing to our email list!

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LOGO -- The Power of Story

One of the most universal themes in storytelling is the journey of self-discovery. Storytellers keep us connected to each other—our fellow passengers—through image and movement, story, and song. Read some clips from a few of our story submissions below, and check out our website for even more!


Kelsey Fowler and brother, Micah Fowler

Kelsey Fowler

My brother and I have been acting since we were 6 and 7 years old. Both experiencing different levels of “success” on Broadway and on television, we have seen first hand the impact of the stories we’ve had the honor to tell. Here’s just a glimpse…

My brother, Micah, was born with Cerebral Palsy. His initial diagnosis had him forever confined to a chair, forever speechless and forever in need of round the clock assistance. Completely “unable” and totally dependent. But my family refused to believe that that would be his life. The dreams and hopes we had for him were big, and he’s exceeded every one. Through his work as “JJ” on ABC’s Speechless, we’ve been able to represent those so often forgotten and give a voice to the voiceless. The arts are representation – representation leads to acceptance, and acceptance to inclusion. That’s what the arts mean to us.

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Artwork by C. Talley

Christine Talley

I’ve been an artist my entire life- pencil drawings, watercolor, fabric design, fractals, pastels, jewelry making, poetry and I’ve written my first novel, a romance/science fiction, “The Girl in the Bird,” available on Amazon.

Art has always been very important for me and sometimes I’ve even felt compelled to create. I’ve done some of my best work when I was hospitalized for my bipolar depression. I’d like people to know that folks with disabilities or mental illness are fascinating, valuable contributors to society.

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M. Dunwoodie with her work, "Non-sense"

Mary Ann Dunwoodie

When I lost my eyesight 13 years ago, I was devastated and ready to give up. I felt I had no purpose anymore. A friend got me some canvases and paints and encouraged me to give painting a try.

Painting has given me a second sight and I don’t feel depressed anymore. My dad was an artist who attended the American Art League school and was quite inspiring to me, and I also feel that it’s God inspiring me!


Two of the above-listed artists were part of our Champions of Inclusion Documentary last fall - MaryAnn Dunwoodie and Micah Fowler!
Visit our website to watch them in action!


Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator's Handbook

This comprehensive guide to all things access for arts administrators has been made available, free of cost, through the NEA. This resource is designed to help you not only comply with Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, but to assist you in making access an integral part of your organization's planning, mission, programs, outreach, meetings, budget and staffing. Access the pdf version here.


ADA Resources for Museums, Arts and Cultural Institutions

This extensive list of digital resources from all over the country covers topics from Guidelines to Accessible Exhibit Design to Effective Parks & Recreation Communication to Inclusive Recreation. Check out the full list from ADA National Network.

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Documentary-Based Curriculum

The documentary feature CRIP CAMP marks a historic moment in the mainstream representation of the disability experience.

The goal of this curriculum is to extend the knowledge and understanding of disability and of disabled people offered in the Netflix film CRIP CAMP.
Their bold collective vision is to support students, educators, and families in a welcoming conversation about the disability rights movement, power, ableism, and disability justice.

The creators of CripCamp hope as you read through this lesson plan you, too, may envision the possibilities in your homes, classrooms, and communities when guided by those most impacted. Read through the curriculum here.


AccessCheck Database

AccessCheck is your source for solutions and information on accessibility standards and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Managed by our local disability services center, the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living. Check out AccessCheck and their full wesbite for a diverse array of resources and programs.


Links to Independence

Resources from our local center for individuals in the Lehigh Valley community with visual impairments, Sights for Hope! Check out activity books for kids ages 5-11, information for people with visual impairments, and resources and tips for interacting with a person who has a visual impairment such as "How to Be a Sighted Guide." Visit their website for more!

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Arts Advocacy Page

Visit our website to view a compilation of resources and advocacy tips, as well as a contact sheet for legislators in the Lehigh Valley.

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June is Pride Month!

In commemoration of the Stonewall riots of 1969, Pride month is celebrated every June to recognize the struggles and achievements of the LGBTQ community throughout history around the world. While Lehigh Valley Pride events aren't scheduled until August, you can find LGBTQ+ resources at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and celebrate Pride Virtually with people around the county.

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The "Arts Advocate" is a bi-monthly e-newsletter published by the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. Stay in the loop! Conversations on the Arts cross many topics.
Subscribe to what you're interested in.

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