On November 10, 2014, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council and the Lehigh Valley Partnership for a Disability-Friendly Community will co-host an exposition, Arts & Access: Celebrating Cultural Accessibility, at the Lehigh Valley Health Network, 2100 Mack Boulevard, Allentown, from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
The November 10th expo heralds the twenty-fifth anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act which occurs on July 26, 2015. The Lehigh Valley Arts Council and the Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community are planning a yearlong celebration next year to unite the entire community around creating a more inclusive region and expanding access to the arts for all people.
“Let’s remove barriers and open our doors to persons with disabilities,” says Randall Forte, Lehigh Valley Arts Council Executive Director. “It’s easier than you might think, and this event will give arts groups the help they need.”
Additionally, the 2012 U.S. Census data estimates indicate the number of non-institutionalized people with disabilities living in the Lehigh Valley is 81,000, or 12.7%, a figure that represents a significant number of potential new audience members for the cultural community.
Partnership member Jan Schwoyer sums it up best: “From my vantage point, the disability community is made up of people who have to do things differently. The arts community is a group of people who love to do things differently. These two groups were made for each other!”
Sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Health Network and Just Born, Inc., the November expo is free and open to the public. Featured guest, writer Shane Burcaw, will speak about his upcoming memoir, Laughing at My Nightmare, due out this October, and the importance of accessibility in the community. He writes an occasional column about life and disability in the Lehigh Valley in the Morning Call.
Exhibitors from local social service agencies and cultural organizations will be on hand to promote the consumer services and the specialized training they provide, including:
Empathy not Sympathy: Interacting Respectfully with People with Disabilities;
About Hidden Disabilities: Legal, Practical, and Human Considerations;
Audio-Described and Open-Captioned Performances.
Panel presentations will showcase recent collaborations between the cultural and disability communities that have extended access to the vision-impaired and to children with autism. Among the presenters are representatives from:
Center for Vision Loss
Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre
Arch of the Lehigh Valley
Act One, DeSales University Theatre
Lehigh University Art Galleries and Museum
If you are interested in getting involved, the Arts & Access planning committee meets on the first Monday of the month from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Please R.S.V.P. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Arts & Access Expo
When: November 10, 2014 / 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Where: Lehigh Valley Health Network, 2100 Mack Boulevard, Allentown
Randall Forte, Executive Director
Lehigh Valley Arts Council