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We would love to answer your questions and learn how we can meet your needs related to the accessibility of our website, programs, and services. Please fill out this brief form and someone will follow up with you shortly.
Our Commitment to Accessibility
At Arts Midwest, accessibility ties into our values of equity, integrity and learning. We do not discriminate on the basis of disability in access to services or programs or in hiring and employment decisions. We work to meet our colleagues’ access needs and continue to improve the accessibility of our work and program environments. We believe that compliance to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is important. Further, we believe creating a culture of access and inclusion goes beyond the ADA.
We strive to embody accessibility in our attitudes, approaches, proactive planning, and design. Our staff bring curiosity and humility to this work. We focus on active learning, conversations, and the relevancy of our set and living goals, and want to be in a space of constant learning and adapting.
Our Commitment in Action
In planning our programs and events, we ask about accessibility needs and build accommodations into our plans and budgets. We want to create experiences that acknowledge and balance the needs of our communities. We strive to welcome many ways of participation, including:
- Offering hybrid and Zoom events
- Using live automated captioning
- Inviting spoken or written communication
- Assuming a diversity of movement, learning and communication when we gather
We can provide upon request, with advance notice:
- Alternative formats
- Auxiliary aids
- Human generated live captioning
- Translation services for non-English speakers
- American Sign Language interpretation
- Written materials in advance
- Assisted listening devices
- Other services necessary for everyone to be able to participate
Grants + Programs
- In May 2023, we launched the Midwest Award for Artists with Disabilities, an award that supports accessibility in the arts and celebrates the work of disabled Midwestern visual artists. We collaborated with Interact Center for the Visual and Performing Arts to shape the award guidelines, application, and panel process to be more accessible. As part of evaluation efforts, we sent community surveys to applicants and panelists to hear about their experiences and suggestions for the next round.
- As part of their agreement/contract with our organization, all grantees agree to follow the ADA and 504 regulations.
- In our grant applications, we ask about grantee accessibility efforts. This encourages grantees to prioritize and share their accessibility work and helps our panels prioritize funding accessible projects.
- Through our Grow, Invest, Gather (GIG) Fund grant, we prioritize projects that feature disabled artists and disability-centered organizations. A past example is Legacy Learning Boone River Valley’s artist-led animation workshop series for autistic young adults.
- For all grant applications, we use an online platform called SmartSimple, unless applicants request another route. SmartSimple has a dedicated Quality Assurance Team and a consultant who helps test usability on a quarterly basis.
- We’ve used other tools for grant applications. That’s looked like: filling out an adapted form in Microsoft Word, taking verbal responses, and providing materials in Braille, Large Print, or other formats with advanced notice.
- In our programs, like We the Many, we embrace process over product, close listening and inquiring about access needs throughout the collaborative and programmatic process with our partners and in communities.
Visit our Get Support page for more information on opportunities and getting involved.
- We launched a new and more accessible website in December 2022, and consulted with Chicago Lighthouse Project in the building phase.
- We began quarterly website accessibility audits and held brand accessibility trainings for all staff.
- We completed a 504 self-evaluation in September 2022.
- Diane Nutting, an accessibility in the arts consultant, led a two-part training with us in April of 2022.
- A few staff met with Americans Graphic Institute (AGI) to learn some best practices in digital and website accessibility.
- Following these sessions, nine of our staff took part in an internal access working group. We met monthly to collaborate on making our offerings more accessible. To support our ongoing learning, from April-June of 2023, we read and held discussions around the book “Demystifying Disability” by Emily Ladau.
- We share, develop, and update accessibility resources, ranging from tips on document accessibility to regional contacts for outreach.
Partnerships + Community
- We financially and informationally support our State Arts Agencies in their accessibility efforts and professional development.
- We worked with two disability-led/centered organizations on Ideas Hub pieces to share with our communities. (The Ideas Hub is a collection of free curated articles and tools. It’s intended to simplify complex topics and help creative leaders grow within their organizations).
- Disability Arts Online’s article Embracing the Social Model of Disability for Arts Organizations helps arts and cultural organizations gain a holistic view of disability and tips for building accessible programs and offerings.
- Scott Artley, Accessibility Program Director at Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, wrote Creating an Accessibility Plan for your Arts Organization. It outlines a do-it-yourself approach to plan for access that follows and goes beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- We connect with, learn from, and exchange tools with other regional arts organizations, and arts accessibility advocates through the Minnesota Access Alliance and Access/VSA International Network.
We will continue to shape, build on, and update our progress on the following goals. We will revisit these goals on a quarterly basis.
Six Months to Two Years:
- We will add additional questions to grant applications that aim to gain deeper insights into the accessibility of grantees’ organizations and proposed projects. This will support panelists in prioritizing accessible awards, and further encourage organizations to consider accessibility.
- Through ongoing check-ins, we will gain a better understanding of the accessibility experiences and needs of our communities, and how we can make our offerings more accessible.
- We seek to build relationships with and learn more about disabled artists and disability led and centered organizations in the Midwest, exploring potential partnerships and other ways of supporting their work and growth.
- We will engage with at least three advocates to facilitate accessibility focused professional development and resources for our staff, partners and program communities.