Accessibility Resources for the Arts

Below are some online resources compiled to assist SMAC-eligible groups in becoming more accessible to participants of all abilities. Resources are grouped according to topics, and in general we have tried to find resources specific to small arts organizations.

In addition to these online resources, SMAC offers:

  • Promotion of free trainings on accessibility topics virtually and within our region. Events will be listed on our Events Calendar, our opportunities news posts, marketed on our social media channels ( Facebook and Instagram ) and through emails. To get signed up for our email list, click here.
  • Grant programs that can assist organizations address a variety of projects related to accessibility, including (but not limited to) supporting arts programs designed for people with disabilities, purchasing adaptive equipment, or hiring a consultant to conduct an accessibility assessment and build an ADA Access Plan.
  • One-on-one assistance from SMAC staff to answer questions about accessibility planning, access services, and more. Contact us at or 800-622-5284 to start a conversation and see how we can help.

Minnesota’s Metro Regional Arts Council’s (MRAC) DIY ADA Access Planning Workbook

The DIY ADA Access Planning Workbook is designed for arts groups of any size, and works best with organizations that have with sustained activity and leaders working on a regular basis, but would still be useful for one-off projects wishing to consider accessibility as part of their early planning.

Minnesota’s Metro Regional Arts Council’s (MRAC) Checklists & Resources

The following are resources created by MRAC to assist with organizational planning for accessibility.

ADA Access Plans – samples from Minnesota arts organizations

An ADA Access Plan (or simply “ADA Plan”) describes an organization’s plan to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring that people with disabilities can fully participate in and enjoy the activities of the organization.

At SMAC, we believe an ADA Access Plan should:

  • Document the current access strategies of the organization (such as hosting activities in physically accessible locations and providing ASL interpretation upon request); and
  • Articulate the known accessibility barriers people with disabilities may encounter when attempting to access the organization’s facilities, programs, and services; and
  • Indicate a thoughtful plan (activities and timeline) to remove barriers to equal access, whether in the short-term or long-term.

At SMAC, we believe an ADA Access Plan is not:

  • Solely a nondiscrimination or accessibility policy.
  • Simply a list of current access strategies without plans to address additional barriers.

An ADA Access Plan will always be specific to a group and its needs, and may take many forms. A strong plan should be scaled appropriately to the organization’s size, population served, and experience with addressing accessibility. Above all else, it should be a useful roadmap to take action. The organizations listed below have agreed to make their ADA Access Plans available as examples of plans. Please note some of these are first-time efforts and all are constantly evolving, so consider these a snapshot of accessibility planning.

Additional Resources

These resources are ones we’ve found useful in our work at SMAC. We’ve tended toward providing resources that are tactical (you can take action on them right away), and have generally preferred non-commercial websites. Another excellent compilation of resources is available from the Minnesota Access Alliance on their MNAA Resources page. Please Contact Us if you have other resources to share or if you find a broken link.

General Introduction & Guidance

  • Accessibility in the Arts: A Promise and A Practice (Carolyn Lazard) – A general accessibility guide geared toward small-scale arts nonprofits. Presented in high-contrast large print text, and available as downloadable PDF and as an MP3 audio file.
  • Job Accommodation Network (JAN) – A resource focused on employment but full of helpful information to understand specific strategies to provide accommodations for all kinds of disabilities.
  • Crossing That Bridge: A Guide to Making Literary Events Accessible to Deaf & Hard-Of-Hearing (Morgan Grayce Willow) – A 70-page book. From publisher: “Though Crossing that Bridge specifically addresses organizers of literary events (such as poetry readings, author signings, and storytellings), it is also a useful toolkit for anyone who interprets or attends these events. Included are practical suggestions, explanations, diagrams, checklists, references, and resources guaranteed to help literary readings or events for deaf and hard-of-hearing run smoothly.”
  • Disability as Diversity Programming Toolkit (Southwest ADA Center Regional Affiliate – Arkansas) – A series of interactive presentations about various disability topics that can be presented to groups interested in exploring disability as part of their IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, & Accessibility) work.

Accessibility Assessments

Audio Description

  • Audio Description in a Couple Minutes (Rooted in Rights) – Quick video introduction to audio description (sometimes also called verbal description). Captions and transcript available.
  • Image Description Resources (National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH [NCAM]) – A comprehensive resource with guidance on how to describe images, including complex images like graphs. This resource is largely focused on education, but is applicable to all fields where image descriptions are used.
  • Cooper Hewitt Guidelines for Image Description (Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum) – In-depth guidance on image descriptions for artworks. This resource is most valuable for visual arts and other contexts in which the visual medium is the primary focus.


  • Caption in a Couple Minutes (Rooted in Rights) – Quick video introduction to captioning (sometimes also referred to as CART services). Captions and transcript available.
  • \Captioning/CART in the Performing Arts (Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning) – An introduction to captioning (how is it different from subtitles? what is closed vs open captioning?), and resources for companies offering technology solutions.

Disability Awareness


Language of Disability

Meetings & Events

Organizations with Additional Resources

  • ADA Minnesota – ADA Minnesota is a resource providing Minnesota citizens with disabilities, businesses, communities, government, universities and colleges assistance in implementing the ADA. It is the local chapter of the ADA National Network.
    • Great Lakes ADA Center – The Center provides information, materials, technical assistance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). ADA Minnesota is the local affiliate for this umbrella organization.
  • Simon Technology Center (PACER Center) – The Simon Technology Center is dedicated to making the benefits of technology more accessible to children and adults with disabilities. Individualize training and workshops on adaptive technology, a lending library, and online learning resources.

Promoting to Disability Audiences

  • Accessible Arts Calendar (Minnesota Access Alliance) – This is the go-to resource for arts and culture patrons with disabilities to find accessible arts and culture programming in Minnesota. Organizations can list their events that include access services to the calendar by creating an account and submitting an online form.
  • Disability Access Symbols – The Graphic Artists Guild provides a free package of downloadable logos to use in publicizing your activities to people with disabilities. Their page also explains what the symbols stand for and when it is appropriate to use each one.
  • Accessible Icon Project – An ongoing work of design activism promoting the use of an updated disability access symbol of a person actively using a wheelchair. This symbol is sometimes preferred to the image of a static person in a wheelchair. Download the symbol for free use.

Sensory Friendly Programming

Social Media

Ticketing & Seating


Virtual Participation

General Guides


  • Leading Accessible Virtual Programs (Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium) – A 90-minute webinar with strategies for making virtual events, meetings, and other activities accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Connecting Everyone: Creating Accessible Virtual Arts Programs (Seattle Cultural Accessibility Consortium)-  A webinar created by the Seattle Cultural Accessibility Consortium and hosted by Rooted in Rights. It features a slide presentation from Founder, Elizabeth Ralston on getting started with virtual accessibility and a moderated discussion by Kathy Hsieh of the Office of Arts and Culture with actors Mickey Rowe and Helen Marion.


  • Zoom Live Transcription – Information about captioning in Zoom. As February 2021, Zoom says it plans to release automated captioning (which it calls Live Transcription) to all users, and is available by request until then.
    • Rev Live Captions – Monthly paid Zoom app that automatically captions your Zoom meetings to make remote education and work more effective. Please note this does not work for Zoom’s webinar version.
  • How to Participate in the 5-13-20 Workshop (Seattle Cultural Accessibility Consortium) – A two-page document with tips on how to participate in the “Connecting Everyone” webinar listed above. These kinds of tip sheets are great to include in materials going out to participants ahead of time.

Accessibility at SMAC

For complete details about how we make SMAC’s activities available to people of all abilities, please visit Accessibility at SMAC.

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