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Symposium


  • Audio Description
  • ISL Interpreted
  • Speech to Text

Venue: Online

9–23 March 2021

Across three amazing afternoons of live presentations, the Symposium featured two Keynotes and five Discussion Panels.

With a programme headlining twenty-eight presenters and chairs, each session focused on one of seven topics reflecting the needs of the arts and culture sector. Two types of Networking Rooms also offered delegates the opportunity to meet and mingle with peers from all over the world.

Irish, British, and American Sign Language interpretation, speech to text (CART) was available and looping informational videos with audio descriptions kicked off each session.

Stay up-to-date on all future professional development opportunities and announcements by subscribing to our professional development newsletter here.

Day 1 – Tuesday 9 March

  1. Keynote

    Topic: Policy implementation

    Presented by Cymie Yeung, Manager of the Accessibility Office at the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong and chaired by Pádraig Naughton, Executive Director of Arts & Disability Ireland.

     

  2. Break & Networking

    The Networking Room Hosts for Day 1 were Hannah Goodwin, former Manager of Accessibility at MFA, Boston and Roger Ideishi, Director of Occupational Therapy and Professor of Health, Human Function and Rehabilitation Sciences at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC.

     

    Room question: How can we support others, across every level of your organisation, to make access for audiences with disabilities a priority and standard practice within your organisation?

     

     

  3. Panel 1 

    Topic: Organisational Buy-In and Training

    This Panel examined the approaches used to cultivate support for accessibility programmes and initiatives within an organisation while planning for sustainability.

     

    Many arts and cultural organisations are operating with limited resources and it can be challenging to cultivate organisational buy-in to develop and implement accessibility plans, policies, programmes and training.

     

    In this panel, delegates heard about the approaches used to ignite support for accessibility initiatives within internationally recognised theatre, museum and recreational institutions, ranging from large to medium in size, to an association addressing inclusion and access on a national scale.

     

    Each presenters also shared their training programmes in place and reflected on the areas of success and scope for improvement within their organisations.

     

    Chaired by Maureen Gilbert, Disability, intercultural, diversity and equality consultant, the panellists were:

    Maria Vlachou, Executive Director, Acesso Cultura | Access Culture.
    Lynn Walsh, a consultant with over 30 years’ experience in the cultural organisation world.
    David Bellwood, Access Manager, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
    Cathelijne Denekamp, Manager of Accessibility and Inclusion, Rijksmuseum.

     

     

  4. Networking

    Two types of Networking Rooms will be open for 20 minutes after the final session where delegates can meet and mingle with peers.

     

    The Networking Room Hosts for Day 1 were Hannah Goodwin, former Manager of Accessibility at MFA, Boston and Roger Ideishi, Director of Occupational Therapy and Professor of Health, Human Function and Rehabilitation Sciences at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC.

     

    Room question: In order to not go back to ‘normal’, but to go back ‘stronger’, what can we learn organisationally from virtual engagement? And what do we want to bring forward?

     

  5. Finish

Day 2 – Tuesday 16 March

  1. Panel 2 

    Topic: On Demand vs On Request Access

    This Panel delved into the design and implementation of inclusive programmes, accommodations, or services available on an ‘on demand’ or an ‘on request’ basis.

     

    Inclusive programmes, accommodations, or services include audio description, captioning (CART), sign language interpretation, assistive listening systems and relaxed performances and experiences in cultural settings. These can be made available ‘on demand’, meaning that access services are automatically available, or ‘on request’, meaning that access services must be requested in advance of a visit or performance.

     

    During this panel, delegates heard from a multi-dimensional facility, an established national institution, a small scale transformative production and the founder of See.Hear.Communication.Matters.

     

    Each panellist reflected on the access services they provide, how they approach the delivery of these services and the overall impact and demand from audiences with disabilities and beyond.

     

    Chaired by Louise Bruton, journalist, the panellists were:

    Betty Siegel, Director of VSA and Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
    Tina Childress, Founder of See.Hear.Communication.Matters.
    Evgeniya Kiseleva, Head of Interdisciplinary Projects Department, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.
    Jody O’Neill, actor and playwright of What I (Don’t) Know About Autism.

     

  2. Break & Networking

    The Networking Room Hosts for Day 2 were Diane Nutting, Accessibility and Inclusion consultant, and Eileen Bagnall, Executive Director, ARTabilityAz.

     

    Room question: How has COVID-19 shifted the need for and design of ‘on demand’ and  ‘on request’ accessibility services?

  3. Panel 3 

    Topic: Marketing and Audience Development

    This Panel reviewed the current and future trends and techniques used to connect with, include, cultivate and welcome new and existing audiences.

     

    Establishing strong lines of communication is vital for developing any audience but what are the effective formats and styles of communications that can make a difference when communicating with new and existing audiences with disabilities?

     

    In this panel, panellists spoke about best practice examples of marketing and audience development, be it through collaborations with venues and fellow arts organisations or national access schemes in the form of listings and discount entry for people with disabilities, their assistants and carers.

     

    Delegates also heard from audience development experts who described the needs and barriers currently facing audiences with disabilities and how the arts sector might overcome this on an organisational or city-wide scale.

     

    Chaired by Annette Nugent, Cultural Communications Consultant, the panellists were:

    Tara Byrne, Arts Programme Manager at Age & Opportunity and Festival Director of the Bealtaine Festival.
    Megan Merrett, Projects Administrator, HyntCreu Cymru.
    Fiona Bell, Client Relationships Director at thrive.
    John Orr, Executive Director of Art-Reach, Philadelphia.

     

  4. Break & Networking

    The Networking Room Hosts for Day 2 were Diane Nutting, Accessibility and Inclusion consultant, and Eileen Bagnall, Executive Director, ARTabilityAz.

     

    Room question: What are the current and future trends for connecting with and cultivating audiences in your organisation, your industry, and beyond?

     

  5. Panel 4

    Topic: Aesthetically Accessible Arts and Cultural Experiences

    This Panel explored the meaningful and effective ways of interweaving accessibility into productions, festivals and exhibitions by practitioners from across the globe.

     

    Embedding access provisions and services requires access to be interweaved / integrated into the creative process, with the intention to enable a deeper and richer experience. By introducing access into the creative process, artists must interrogate their work and explore meaningful ways of creating an immersive experience. Research has shown that this approach creates a more memorable experience for not just audiences with disabilities but everyone.

     

    In this panel, delegates heard from experts in the field of theatre, museums and festivals who each cater for audiences with varying needs. From audio description, sign language interpretation to tactical and universal design, each presenter examined the impact of going beyond access services to creatively embed a range of tools from the very beginning of the artistic process and by sharing their techniques and the tools used to enable these experiences to take place.

     

    Chaired by Robert Softley Gale, Artistic Director and CEO at the Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, the panellists were:

    Maria Oshodi, Artistic Director and CEO at Extant.
    Mindy Drapsa, Artistic Director at the Riksteatern Crea.
    Kate Fox, Access Manager at the Manchester International Festival.
    Sarah Schleuning, The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design and Interim Chief Curator, Dallas Museum of Art.

     

  6. Networking

    he Networking Room Hosts for Day 2 were Diane Nutting, Accessibility and Inclusion consultant, and Eileen Bagnall, Executive Director, ARTabilityAz.

     

    Room question: How do aesthetically accessible experiences impact the experience of the art form/exhibit/performance for both consumer/audience and artist? 

  7. Finish

Day 3 – Tuesday 23 March

  1. Keynote

    Topic: Leading Access

    Presented by Emmanuel von Schack, formerly Director of Access Programmes at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York chaired by Betty Siegel, Director of VSA and Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

     

  2. Break & Networking

    The Networking Room Hosts for Day 3 were Clíona de Bhailís, PhD Candidate at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP), NUI Galway, and Steve Daunt, Producer and Researcher, Newstalk.

     

    Room question: How can we advocate to ensure that funders take on board that access is an essential aspect of grant funded projects?

  3. Panel 5

    Topic: People with Disabilities Leading Change

    This Panel reflected on leadership roles and opportunities for people with disabilities and posed a closing question ‘where do we go from here?’

     

    How do we address diversity and inclusion of people with disabilities in leadership in arts and cultural organisations and institutions? And how can we remove the barriers to leadership and the workforce in general?

     

    The panellists openly offered their varied experiences of becoming a leader within arts and culture organisations or institutions. These leaders have all been part of driving change in arts, culture and disability and are leading by example on a national and international stage.

     

    Chaired by Beth Ziebarth, Director, Access Smithsonian, Smithsonian Institution, the panellists were:

    Ray Bloomer, Accessibility Specialist at the U.S. National Park Service.
    Morwenna Collett, Arts, Access and Inclusion Consultant.
    Alicia McGivern, Head of Education at the Irish Film Institute.
    Pádraig Naughton, Executive Director of Arts & Disability Ireland.

     

  4. Networking

    The Networking Room Hosts for Day 3 were Clíona de Bhailís, PhD Candidate at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP), NUI Galway, and Steve Daunt, Producer and Researcher, Newstalk.

     

    Room question: What are the challenges facing future leaders with disabilities in arts and culture?

  5. Finish

Every effort was made to make the Summit as accessible as possible.

Access services available at the Symposium included:

  • looping videos featuring audio descriptions of presenters and key information at the beginning of each session,
  • speech to text(CART) and Irish Sign LanguageAmerican Sign Language and British Sign Language interpretation for all presentations,
  • and all presenters were briefed to read all text aloud and visually describethe key content of all images and slides used.

Any additional access requirements or questions, could be directed to Síle Stewart,  former Event Manager by emailing and every effort was taken to accommodate any questions or requests.

Open for 20 minutes during the break and at the end of each day, the Video Networking Room provided delegates with the opportunity to engage by video and chat, while the Chat Networking Room provided delegates with the chance to connect, by chat only.

Key questions based on the sessions through the day were posed to the room to facilitate deeper discussions, knowledge sharing and continue the conversation beyond each session.

Delegates, presenters and the Room Hosts could access the Networking Rooms through the main lobby of the Symposium event platform on a first come, first served basis.

Audio Description for live performance is a live verbal commentary providing information on the visual elements of a production as it unfolds, from sets, props and costumes to actors’ facial expressions and movements across the stage.

Irish Sign Language (ISL) is the sign language used in the republic of Ireland. The language makes use of space and involves movement of hands, body, face and head. A sign language interpreter interprets what a person says or signs simultaneously, or immediately afterwards.

Speech to Text is a process of converting speech into text.