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  • ISL Interpreted
  • Speech to Text

Venue: Online

9–23 March 2021

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Registration is now open for our online Symposium!

Over the course of three days, Tuesday 9th, Tuesday 16th and Tuesday 23rd March 2021, this international online gathering of access professionals and advocates provides a forum to exchange ideas and discover new and innovative ways for your organisation to include and welcome everyone.

With presentations by the world’s leading access professionals and advocates, delegates will learn how to provide seamless, person-centred experiences in arts and culture.

In the interest of maximising participation and international engagement at the Symposium, we are offering heavily discounted ticket prices with one day passes for just €50 or all three days at €100!

All times advertised are in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Stay up-to-date on all future announcements by subscribing to our Summit 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.


  2. Break

  3. Panel 1 

    Topic: Organisational Buy-In and Training

    This Panel examines 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, we will hear 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 will also share their training programmes in place and will reflect on the areas of success and scope for improvement.


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

    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. Finish

Day 2 – Tuesday 16 March

  1. Panel 2 

    Topic: On Demand vs On Request Access

    This Panel delves 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 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, we will hear from a multi-dimensional facility, an established national institution and a small scale transformative production. Each will reflect on the access services they provide, their approach to delivering these services and the overall impact and demand from audiences with disabilities and beyond.


    Chaired by Louise Bruton, journalist, the panellists are:

    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

  3. Panel 3 

    Topic: Marketing and Audience Development

    This Panel will review 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, we will hear about best practice examples of marketing and audience development, be it through collaborations with venues and fellow arts organisations to national access schemes in the form of listings and discount entry for people with disabilities, their assistants and carers. We will also hear from audience development experts to better understand the needs and barriers currently facing audiences with disabilities and how we might overcome this on an organisational or city-wide scale.


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

    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

  5. Panel 4

    Topic: Aesthetically Accessible Arts and Cultural Experiences

    This Panel explores 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, we will hear from experts in the field of theatre, museums and festivals each catering for audiences with varying needs. From audio description, sign language interpretation to tactical and universal design, each presenter will explore 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 are:

    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. Finish

Day 3 – Tuesday 23 March

  1. Keynote

    Topic: Leading Access

    Presented by Emmanuel von Schack, Director of Access Programmes at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New York.


  2. Break

  3. Panel 5

    Topic: People with Disabilities Leading Change

    This Panel reflects on leadership roles and opportunities for people with disabilities and poses 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?


    This panel will offer 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 are:

    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. Finish

Every effort has been made to make the Summit as accessible as possible.

Access services available at the Symposium:

  • The Symposium will have speech to text (CART) and Irish Sign LanguageAmerican Sign Language and British Sign Language interpretation for all presentations.
  • All presenters have been briefed to read all text aloud and visually describe the key content of all images and slides used.

If you have any additional access requirements or have any questions, please contact Síle Stewart, Event Manager by emailing and we will do everything we can to accommodate you.

Summit moving online due to Covid-19

In consultation with our partners The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Office of VSA and Accessibility, we have made the decision to move From Access to Inclusion, an arts and culture Summit online as a series of virtual events From Tuesday 9th to Thursday 25th March 2021.

With continued concerns around Covid-19 globally and in the interest of maximising participation, international collaboration and learning in the field of arts and cultural access, we believe this presents us with an exciting opportunity to open up the conversation and broaden international engagement.

We will be communicating directly with delegates offering them the option to alter or re-book at no additional cost or cancel with a full refund.

Arts & Disability Ireland understands that situations may occur that require you to cancel your registration. Below details our cancellation and refund policy, and provides instructions on how to cancel a registration.

How to Cancel: To cancel your registration, email our Event Manager Síle Stewart at and provide your registration confirmation number, name, company, and the events you are registered to attend.

When Arts & Disability Ireland receive your cancellation notice we will process your request and send you an email confirming your cancellation.

Refund Policy
Registration Fees: Cancellations made more than 72 hours in advance of the scheduled event start time will receive a refund for any registration fees paid. Unfortunately, last-minute cancellations, less than 72 hours in advance of the scheduled event start time will not receive refunds. Also no-shows will not receive refunds.

Event Cancellation: Arts & Disability Ireland may choose to cancel an event for any reason. In this case our events team will notify you through your supplied email address or telephone number. Arts & Disability Ireland will refund all registration fees within 7-10 business days if the event is cancelled.

Sending someone in your place: If you cannot attend you are welcome to send someone in your place. EventCubes SecureSeat Technology means that only you can use the issued link and so advanced notification is required to update your booking but there will be no additional fee.

Please email our Event Manager Síle Stewart at and provide your registration confirmation number, name, company, and the details of the person attending in your place.

If the person attending in your place requires access services, we ask that you please email no less than 10 business days in advance of the event date.

Questions about our Cancellation and Refund Policies: If you have questions about our cancellation or refund policies, please email Síle at who will be happy to address them.

Note: Tickets may not be available on the day of the event and should be purchased in advance.


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.