Blog For All!
2016 Archive

Open Door Gallery at the Worcester Art Museum

Posted Monday December 19 2016 at 1:38 pm in Open Door Gallery

Art at Open Door Gallery Worcester

Adam R. Rozan, Director of Audience Engagement at Worcester Art Museum, writes:

One of the most important priorities at the Worcester Art Museum is to increase accessibility so community members of all abilities can discover the joy of connecting with art at the Museum.  I'm pleased to announce that an exciting new partnership with VSA Massachusetts, an affiliate of the Seven Hills Foundation, creates a new gallery space for artists with disabilities.  Called the Open Door Gallery at the Worcester Art Museum this bright area, overlooking the Stoddard Garden Courtyard from the Higgins Education Wing, provides a meaningful opportunity for these artists to show their works, while at the same time enhancing the Museum's offerings in the Higgins Wing.

The first exhibit, currently on view, is "Life Cycles", an exploration of the series of changes that take place in the life of an organism.  The featured works examine the nature and psychological vocabulary of this life cycle and its relationship to culture, history, tactility, material and artistic output.  The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular Museum hours.  Please enter through the Lancaster Welcome Center.

As part of the VSA MA/WAM partnership, participants also frequently visit the Museum galleries, where they find inspiration and connect further with the ideas and images from over 50 centuries of creative expression.  Increasing accessibility for people with disabilities increases accessibility and understanding for everyone.  We are proud and delighted to welcome VSA Massachusetts to the Worcester Art Museum and invite you to discover their amazing creative gifts in the Open Door Gallery at WAM.



Handmade Holiday Market - Now Thru Dec. 22, 2016. Reception - Dec. 8th 4-7pm

Posted Tuesday December 06 2016 at 06:18 am in Open Door Gallery

Jewelry by Millicent Holder

Shop this holiday season at the state's alternative craft and art market.  Handmade Holiday Market features scarves, jewelry, cards, original artwork, photos, and other gifts by local crafters and artists of all abilities!

Now Through December 22, 2016.

Artist Reception December 8th 4-7pm at the Open Door Gallery.



31 Nights of Light Event Honoring NTI

Posted Saturday November 26 2016 at 4:15 pm in News

31 Nights of Light Logo

December 3rd, 2016 is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities!  The Prudential Center in Boston will honor the National Telecommuting Institute (NTI) for their achievements in placing Americans with Disabilities in the workplace.

The gala event will showcase a series of music, art, autograph sessions, technology demonstrations and presentations by dignitaries.  One of the speakers is VSA's good friend Jon Sarkin who exhibited twice at the Open Door Gallery.

The event is free and open to the public, will be held in the Atrium of the Prudential Building on December 3, 2016 between 4:30-7:30 pm.  More information and detailed schedule is available at NTI's website.



Meet the Teaching Artist: Faith Johnson

Posted Saturday November 26 2016 at 3:16 pm in Education

Faith Johnson

I am a community artist who uses both individual and collaborative art making and mixed mediums to create and facilitate installation, 2D, 3D, interactive sculpture, and fiber based artwork.  I believe by engaging students in creative processes using a wide range of conventional and non-conventional materials students begin to see everything as having expressive potential.  My projects encircle content from the inside out, connecting the student first with self then in relation to community and the greater world and universe beyond.  Using these approaches helps students access their individual voice in relation to the greater whole while seeing everything around them as potential material and inspiration.  It is my hope that this invitation to engage creatively with the world unfolds into opportunities for students to become more deeply invested in themselves, their communities, and the world around them.

Currently, I am working with high school students through VSA Cool Schools.  The collaboration begins with meeting the teacher to get a clear understanding of their expectations and where their students are in terms of experience with art making techniques and materials.  I then build projects that first, meet the students where they are artistically and second, connect the projects to their academic goals.  Once I prepare a project I communicate directly with the teacher to ensure the success of the project and to create any adaptations needed before the class begins.  It is my hope that each student will have the opportunity to explore new materials, expand upon familiar techniques, and find new and exciting ways to express their creative light in the world.

Read More →

Second Annual Santa's Special Kids Event in Hopkinton

Posted Friday November 18 2016 at 5:45 pm in News

Santa's Special Kids

Semi-private event for children with special or mental health needs.
​Visit with Santa & Mrs. Claus
Professional Photo with Digital File
Caroling
Cookies & Hot Chocolate
​​Siblings and Families Welcome
Accessible, Quieter, Indoor Location
​Entirely Free

Saturday December 3, 2016 from 1:30 - 3pm
Golden Pond Assisted Living
​50 W. Main Street
​Hopkinton, MA 01748

Advance registration required
Space is limited



Open Captioned, Audio Described, and ASL Performances of "Something Rotten!"

Posted Wednesday November 16 2016 at 1:09 pm in Cultural Inclusion

Set in 1595, this hilarious smash tells the story of Nick and Nigel Bottom, two brothers who are desperate to write a hit play.  When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world's very first MUSICAL!

Something Rotten! is Broadway's big, fat hit!  (New York Post).

With its heart on its ruffled sleeve and sequins in its soul, Something Rotten! is The Producers + The Book of Mormon x The Drowsy Chaperone.  Squared!  (New York Magazine).

Open Captioned
Saturday January 21, 2017 at 2pm

Audio Described
Sunday January 22, 2017 at 1pm

ASL Interpreted
Saturday January 28, 2017 at 2pm

Tickets starting at $44
Look for and use the promo code at each link
All performances at Boston Opera House
539 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111



ASL Interpreted Live Performance of "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" at Boston Children's Museum

Posted Tuesday November 08 2016 at 9:32 pm in Cultural Inclusion

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Join Boston Children's Museum for a live performance of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" by Boston Conservatory students.  This 50 minute play celebrating courage and heroism is recommended for children ages 6 and up.

November 11, 2016  1:00pm  ASL-Interpreted
Free with paid Museum admission.

For more information, visit the Museum website or contact:
Saki Iwamoto, Health and Wellness Educator
Iwamoto@BostonChildrensMuseum.org
617-986-3697



Symposium on Art for Cultural Inclusion

Posted Thursday November 03 2016 at 11:01 pm in Cultural Inclusion

Art for Cultural Inclusion

Co-hosted by Arts Connect International and UMass Boston, this innovative symposium showcases the work of ACI's artists, local artists, as well as some of the talent of the UMass Boston community – through the lens of inclusion.  The symposium will feature important dialogues and different artistic workshops, all provided myriad local arts leaders.  The goal is to catalyze conversations on inclusion and address the cultural equity gap in our Boston community and beyond, by promoting cross-sector and multi-disciplinary approaches to building and supporting inclusive communities.

The day will include TEDx-Style presentations, panel discussions, artistic workshops across multiple disciplines, community yoga, and an artists' mingle for celebrations of life and inclusion.

November 22, 2016  12–7PM
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Boulevard
Campus Center
Boston, MA 02125

Sign up here.

If seeking accommodations please email marian@artsconnectinternational.org.



Outside the Lines Studio 4th Annual Haunted House

Posted Sunday October 23 2016 at 07:43 am in News

Outside the Lines Studio Haunted House

Our good friends at Outside the Lines Studio (OTL) are holding their 4th annual haunted house October 29, 2016 from 6-10pm.

Outside the Lines Art Director, Wallis Welsh:

"After three successful years of spooks and frights, we are hoping this year will be our biggest and best ever!  Each year, our artists work hard to design and execute an entirely handmade and live action haunted house.  This event is designed with inclusion in mind and includes many multi-sensory, accessible scares.  The event is open to the public and appropriate for all ages.  We ask for a $5-10 dollar donation that directly supports programming and supplies for our artists.  Coming in costume is encouraged!"

Outside the Lines is located at 70 Colby Street, Medford MA 02155.  Visit the OTL website for more information and directions.



Meet the Teaching Artist: K. Lee Mock

Posted Saturday October 22 2016 at 10:34 am in Education

K. Lee Mock

I am a visual artist, primarily working with drawing and painting media.  My studio and en plein air practice is both reactionary and reflective.  I observe the moving external world and bridge it to my internal world of emotions, memories, and wonders.  The art created becomes a documentation of my desire to express the motion and feeling of a conversation between my interior and exterior spaces.

I believe that by engaging in manipulation of materials, students can find their visual voice to express their reactions to the world around them - social or environmental.  Learners can also explore new imaginary places and possibilities together by sharing a creative and collaborative experience.  One of my joys in teaching is watching a group of students build a place-scape out of fabric, scraps of paper, cardboard, or found recyclables, and crafting a tangible place with imaginable possibility for story telling.

Read More →

Meet The Teaching Artist: Emily Frank

Posted Wednesday October 19 2016 at 4:23 pm in Education

Emily Frank sitting in a museum

Hello!  My name is Emily Frank, or Miss Frank, Frank, or Frankie to my students.  I am currently one of a few TAs working at the Henderson Inclusion School.  I work with lead teacher Jozeph Zaremba teaching visual arts to students in grades 6 through 12.  Not only am I new to VSA, but I am also finishing my BFA in Art Education at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.  I am lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to student teach for an entire year rather than a single semester, which is the "normal plan" at MassArt, and I am excited to be spending an entire year learning and growing with all our students.

Read More →

Seven Hills Foundation Presents AbilityFest 2016

Posted Wednesday October 19 2016 at 11:04 am in News

Walk!  Run!  Come Have Fun!
Join us at Institute Park in Worcester, MA!

On Sunday, October 23, 2016 join a diverse community of Seven Hills friends, families and supporters as we challenge and encourage each other to SEE, BELIEVE and ACHIEVE!

Seven Hills AbilityFest 2016 is the second annual event for our community to celebrate the abilities of children and adults with life challenges.  AbilityFest will provide an opportunity for community-wide fun through your participation in either a 5K road race or the 1-mile "Murphy Mile" walk – all during a festival of arts, music and inclusive activities.  Browse our vendors and exhibitors and take part in the interactive fun!  AbilityFest will be held on Sunday, October 23, 2016 at beautiful Institute Park in Worcester, Massachusetts.  The event opens at 10:00 am with warm-ups and the race and walk start at 11:00 am.  Bring your friends and join the fun and help celebrate the talents, hopes and dreams of ALL!  Walk-ins are welcome on race day, although t-shirt sizes will be first-come first-served.

For more information visit Seven Hills Foundation's AbilityFest website.



Meet The Teaching Artist: Abby Neale

Posted Monday October 17 2016 at 4:02 pm in Education

Abby Neale

I use art to help students investigate the world around them and imagine their own worlds.

When making art, students use the skills of observation, investigation, imagination, and creation.  I love drawing on eclectic inspirations, ranging from cartoons, to math, to contemporary art in my lessons.  Too often, we think about art as separate from their daily lives, as a teacher, I love identifying the artistic inspiration that surrounds us.

Read More →

Meet The Teaching Artist: Jodi Schmidt

Posted Monday October 17 2016 at 3:27 pm in Education

Jodi Schmidt

I identify most strongly as an Art Educator.  As an art teacher I use as many different visual techniques and mediums as possible to help students understand how things work, the process of making, and the world around them.  I believe that by engaging children in problem solving through art they can become more confident about their ability to tackle any problem and break things down into steps.  My experience includes doing this through a degree in teaching, full time work in the public school, time as the Executive Director of Extras for Creative Reuse, (formally ExCL, also known as the 'recycle center') listening to teacher's material needs, and three years with the Eliot School of fine and applied arts working as a teaching artist.  My undergrad education was at UMass Amherst with a BFA in Art Education.  I then pursued a master's degree from Framingham state in Education with a concentration in art.

Read More →

Paid Opportunity for Dancers of All Abilities

Posted Sunday October 09 2016 at 1:33 pm in Call For Artists

Dancers around a walker

Ellice Patterson of Boston Dance Alliance is looking to hire dancers of all abilities for an evening performance February 3, 2017 at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center titled "Abilities".  The theme of the show is the experiences of disabled dancers and their relationship to others (familial, romantic, etc) and the environment around them.

If interested, please email link to a video less than 5 minutes long showcasing technique and improvisational style, previous experiences if applicable, and contact information to ellicepatterson@gmail.com with subject "Abilities Audition".  Experience is welcome but not required.  Applications are due by November 1, 2016.  For questions, email ellicepatterson@gmail.com or call 781-465-4032.



Meet the Intern: Mia Branco

Posted Sunday October 02 2016 at 6:34 pm in News

Meet the Intern: Mia Branco

Hello, I’m Mia!  I grew up in Newton, MA and I have returned to my home state after spending the past 10 years working as an artist and an educator in Washington, DC.  I'm in the Arts in Education program at Harvard Graduate School of Education for Ed.M. 2017 class.

What are your favorite pastimes?
      "Live music, traveling, and laughing.  :)"

If you could be a cartoon character, who would you be?
      "I would be Louise from Bob’s Burgers.  She’s full of mischief, will power, and sensitivity - as well as having a stellar bunny ears hat."

You are trapped on an island.  What three items do you want to have with you?
      "Books, a guitar (and extra strings!!), and magic ice cream that never melts."

Do you have any uncommon talents or quirks?
      "I’m afraid of squirrels, I have never successfully used saran wrap, and I type very quickly with one hand."

What brings you to VSA?
      "The arts are an incredible tool for building an understanding of self and a connection to others, and I want to develop programming that allows everyone access to arts experiences that foster these skills.  VSA’s commitment to art, education, and inclusion is inspiring, and I’m very excited to work with Nicole and Aysha to learn about their development of the COOL Schools program as well as how to create programming that is accessible and celebratory of difference."

What are you doing during your internship?
      "I’m a Teaching Artist Fellow, and I will be supporting the COOL Schools program by attending classroom sessions, assisting with documentation, and maintaining communication between administrators and teachers."



Employee of the Quarter - Teaching Artist Tim Archibald

Posted Wednesday September 28 2016 at 2:55 pm in Education

Tim Archibald on stage Waving

Tim Archibald was named VSA Massachusetts' Employee of the Quarter for April - June, 2016.

Teaching Artist Tim has been a vital member of the VSA MA family for over 25 years, when he first started teaching music at the Henderson Inclusion School, then called the O'Hearn School, in Dorchester, MA.  He was instrumental in supporting the school's full-inclusion goals by making music learning accessible and engaging to students with a wide range of abilities, supporting family involvement efforts through performances, and creating an environment of joy and partnership in the school.  Thanks to his efforts, the school has become the highest performing elementary Boston Public School.  Tim has an uncanny ability to see each child and what he or she has to contribute and to create roles in which all can demonstrate their talents and abilities.  He has contributed immensely to the COOL Schools family of teaching artists, sharing valuable resources, ideas, and creativity.



2016 Artist Market at Boston Abilities Expo

Posted Thursday September 15 2016 at 06:24 am in News

Flower painting by Cristina Powell

VSA is again proud to sponsor the Artist Market at the 2016 Boston Abilities Expo.

Visit the Market to meet VSA artists and see a unique selection of beautiful fine art and crafts- including prints, paintings, textiles, and jewelry.

The expo and market are free to the public.

September 16-18, 2016
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center/Hall C
415 Summer Street, Boston, 02210
Friday and Saturday - 11am to 5pm
Sunday - 11am to 4pm



Disability and Intersectionality Exhibit - Opening Reception

Posted Tuesday September 13 2016 at 9:34 pm in Open Door Gallery

Painting by Ellen Mansfield titled Stop Waste

Ellen Mansfield, "Stop Waste", Paint on Canvas

Art has long been a powerful medium for individuals to convey messages and concepts that may otherwise be difficult to express.  Have you ever wondered how your individuality, your community, or your identity can be portrayed in artwork?  Have you ever thought about who and what is being represented in artwork, and how art can add to these conversations of social justice?

In partnership with the Open Door Gallery and the Disability Policy Consortium, the Disability & Intersectionality Summit curated this exhibit that sheds light on the theme Disability and Intersectionality.  The exhibit explores this theme through the creative works of artists with disabilities whose identities and artwork have also been shaped by their experiences of disability, gender, race, sexuality, age, or ethnicity.

"Intersectionality" examines how intersecting identities such as gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, religion, and age interact, and proposes that we should think of each element as inextricably linked with other elements in order to fully recognize an individual's identity.

The exhibit runs from September 1, 2016 - November 10, 2016Opening reception September 15, 2016 from 4-7pm.  More information at VSA's Open Door Gallery website.



Step by Step! Dance Class at Boston Conservatory

Posted Monday September 05 2016 at 8:18 pm in News

Young kids dancing

Now in its second session, this dance program for children on the autism spectrum teaches the basics of dance while incorporating social skills and the use of imagination and personal expression.  Children dance to live music in a relaxed, fun environment and received personalized attention from specially trained faculty. Parents/caretakers may stay during class time.

Step by Step! provides:
Dance skills including posture, coordination, spatial awareness, sequences and patterns, musicality and rhythm, music appreciation, live music, and
Life skills including social interaction (listening, following directions, eye contact, taking turns, team work), verbal skills, and use of imagination and personal expression.

Read More →

Five Tips for Supporting Teaching Artist Inclusive Practice

Posted Wednesday August 24 2016 at 3:49 pm in Education

Nicole Agois Hurel

By Nicole Agois Hurel, Ed.M., VSA Mass. COOL Schools Director
Reprinted from VSA International's Blog

Teaching Artists (TAs) bring incredibly rich resources and opportunities to inclusive learning settings.  However, they often receive less formal instruction and supports than other educators to meet the wide-ranging needs of their students.  VSA Massachusetts' COOL Schools Program piloted an Inclusion Support Initiative this year, which involved the development of the MICC Check for Inclusion, a self-assessment and coaching support tool to improve inclusive practice.  The tool provides a set of best practices under four categories: Materials and space, Instructional techniques, Collaboration and Classroom management.  It allows TAs to assess their practice in each area and provides a framework for targeted coaching support.  Based on the process we followed, here are five tips to support TAs to improve their inclusive practice:

1.) Create a system of training and support.  Developing a system (group meetings, one-on-one meetings, feedback mechanisms) that is consistent and predictable allows for meaningful discussion and sustainable growth.  Consider your staff and TA capacity when designing it.  The system will allow for reliability and focus, and will help you get a clearer idea of common growth areas and how you can best support them.

2.) Describe and model best practices upfront.  Setting expectations of what quality inclusive teaching and learning looks like upfront allows TAs to visualize those practices in their teaching and consider them in their planning.  Getting input from TAs during the process of naming and defining these practices is essential to keep them relevant and useful in their teaching.  Make sure these practices are articulated in a space TAs can access on a regular basis, such as a tool, website, or handout.

Read More →

Cool Cats Chorus - Seven Hills Foundation

Posted Saturday August 06 2016 at 10:23 pm in News

Cool Cats Chorus Sings With Sarah

Guest blog post by Sarah Tree of Seven Hills Foundation

My name is Sarah Tree, and I'm a board certified music therapist providing services to the Seven Hills Foundation of Worcester.  I visit six different Seven Hills locations in Worcester, Milford, and Devens.  Through group and individual music therapy sessions, we work on social, communicative, cognitive, and physical goal areas.  In addition, there are choruses and switch ensembles that prepare for occasional performances.

One of the more exciting projects we've been working on in our performing groups is the use of switch soloists for our choir at the Adult Day Health program.   The "Cool Cats Choir" is inclusive, providing music experiences for individuals with all levels of ability.  For some of our individuals, singing along in time to the music is difficult, due to disabilities which impact their verbal communication.  or these individuals, performing a solo without assistive technology would be difficult, if not impossible.  Through a program called "switch ensemble", which plays digital audio files in response to the activation of electronic switches, these individuals will be featured soloists during performances.



VSA Mass. COOL Schools Program Seeks Teaching Artists

Posted Monday July 18 2016 at 10:06 pm in Education

COOL Schools Logo

VSA MA COOL Schools Program
VSA Massachusetts promotes the involvement of people of all abilities in the cultural life our communities by developing arts-integrated programs in our schools, sponsoring exhibitions and performances by artists of all abilities, and helping families and communities understand and celebrate the transformative power of the arts.  The Creative Outlook on Learning (COOL Schools) program is our flagship education program that embodies this mission.

This collaborative model leverages the wealth of arts resources of teaching artists (TAs) with the curriculum expertise of classroom teachers in order to create an arts-integrated learning experience that supports students of all abilities as they experience content, skills, or concepts from the unique perspective found through the arts.  Students may include those with learning, emotional/behavioral, physical, or developmental disabilities and/or those with English language barriers.  While each program is designed specifically to meet the needs of the students involved, all COOL programs focus on the following four main goals, which are articulated during the planning meeting:

  • Students will increase artistic skills in a particular art form
  • Students will deepen understanding of a given academic subject area
  • Students will increase social or non-cognitive skills
  • Teachers will heighten their proficiency with arts integration
  • COOL Teaching Artist Job Description
    COOL Teaching Artists are passionate artists and educators with deep expertise in their art form and in integrating their art form with academic curriculum.  VSA MA COOL Schools seeks various teaching artists to create arts-integrated programs with teachers for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year in K-12 classrooms across Boston Public Schools.  Visual artists and musicians are strongly encouraged to apply.

    COOL Schools residencies vary in length from 10-36 weeks, with TAs providing instruction once per week.  Classes take place during the school day alongside classroom teachers and last from 45-60 minutes.  Depending on the number of COOL classrooms at a school, the TA may work with two to four classrooms in a day.  Teaching Artists are term employees and receive competitive rates, including paid training and planning.

    Read More →

    ASL-Interpreted Japanese House Tours - Boston Children's Museum

    Posted Sunday July 17 2016 at 3:42 pm in Cultural Inclusion

    Japanese House

    Take off your shoes, and step into an authentic silk merchant's home from Kyoto, Japan.  Visitors can experience Japanese family life, customs, ceremonies, art, architecture, and seasonal events in this 100-year-old house.

    Guided tours of the Japanese House are given to 20 visitors at a time and last approximately 15 minutes.  Free tickets are distributed at the entrance to the Japanese House on a first-come first-served basis.

    July 22, 2016  6:20pm - 7:40pm  ASL-Interpreted
    Free with paid Museum admission.  (Target $1 Friday Night after 5 pm.)

    For more information, visit the Museum website or contact:
    Saki Iwamoto, Health and Wellness Educator
    Iwamoto@BostonChildrensMuseum.org
    617-986-3697



    Access to Theatre Summer Institute

    Posted Monday July 11 2016 at 12:39 pm in Call For Artists

    Access to Theatre Selfie

    Do you want to be an actor, dancer, rapper, musician, poet, or visual artist?  Do you want to work with other artists and challenge yourself creatively?  Come express yourself in Partners for Youth with Disabilities' inclusive Access to Theatre Summer Institute!

    Who:  Teens and young adults of all abilities, ages 13-22

    When:  July 18th—July 29th, 2016 Monday thru Friday (9am - 3pm)

    Performances:  July 29, 2016.  Two at 1pm and 6pm

    Where:  Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts (539 Tremont Street)

    How:  Contact Deep Chinappa at 617-556-4075 x20 or dchinappa@pyd.org

    Cost:  $300 (Need-based scholarships available)



    Seven Hills Foundation Names Kathleen McNamara VSA's Employee of the Quarter for Q1 2016

    Posted Monday June 27 2016 at 10:51 pm in Education

    Kathleen McNamara with student

    Kathleen has been a teaching artist with the COOL Schools Program for the past three years.  She has provided quality, inclusive visual-arts programs to elementary school students with autism, in general education classrooms, and to high school students with intellectual disabilities.  Students have learned so much more than visual arts from Kathleen!  She has taught them how to collaborate, find and celebrate talents in each other, and trust in their own abilities.  Kathleen has also given her partner teachers a wealth of resources and ideas on how to integrate the arts to make their academic curriculum more accessible and engaging to their diverse students.  This past month, she worked hard to curate and contribute student artwork to the "COOL Ways to Play" artshow at the Boston Children's Museum.  Kathleen is an outstanding teaching artist who enriches the lives of the students she inspires.



    Annual Deaf & Hard of Hearing Family Event at Boston Children's Museum

    Posted Friday June 17 2016 at 09:15 am in Cultural Inclusion

    Boston Children's Museum Logo

    - Date: Saturday, Saturday, June 25, 2016
    - Admission: You must pre-register to receive discount admission.  All guests must pay admission at the Admissions Desk upon arrival.
    - Non members: $8 per person (half off regular admission price)
    - Members: Free
    - Registration required

    ASL Interpreted Programs:

        11 am: Magic show by Deaf magician, Steve Weiner
        There's nothing scary in Steve's show, but everything is geared towards comedy and fun tricks he has collected for the past 30+ years of his career!

        12 pm: Family Circle
        Bring your lunch and meet other families!  There will be resources, and the conversation is facilitated by Michelle Eisan-Smith, Ph.D from Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

        1:30 pm: KidStage show:

        2:30 pm: Dance workshops by Deafblind dancer, Kerry Thompson
        How do you dance if you cannot hear the music?  How do you dance if you cannot see?  Is salsa and merengue a food or a dance?  What is bachata?  Come find out as Kerry Thompson, a Deafblind dancer and Director for Silent Rhythms Dance, teaches us to think about music and dance in a different way through performances and workshops.

    Contact
    Saki Iwamoto, Health and Wellness Educator
    Iwamoto@BostonChildrensMuseum.org
    617-986-3697



    NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship

    Posted Tuesday June 14 2016 at 10:43 am in Education

    Tony Coelho

    Thanks to a generous contribution from NBCUniversal, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is proud to offer the NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship.

    In 2016 the NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship will offer eight (8) scholarships to 2nd year associate students; undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors; and graduate students with disabilities who are interested in pursuing a career in the communications, media, or entertainment industry.  Each recipient will receive $5,625 to help cover the cost of education at their current college or university.  The scholarship will be available for the 2016 fall semester.  The 2016 application is due July 1, 2016 by 5pm ET.

    This scholarship has been named in honor of Tony Coelho, a former United States Representative from California and the primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    Coelho was elected to Congress in 1978 and served for six terms until 1989.  During his terms, Coelho authored the original ADA, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.  By 1994, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 800,000 more people with severe disabilities were employed than when the ADA was first enacted, in large part thanks to the work of Coelho, his successors, and predecessors.

    Learn more and apply at the AAPD website.



    Blue Man Group Hosts Sensory-Friendly Show

    Posted Tuesday June 07 2016 at 05:26 am in Cultural Inclusion

    Blue Man Group Boston will be hosting a sensory-friendly show Sunday, June 26, 2016 at 11am, collecting donations at shows at the Charles Playhouse for Autism Speaks.

    Blue Man Group co-founder Phil Stanton on why this partnership is an important step:  "We've heard from many families affected by autism that their children responded to the Blue Man character in a very moving way.  We don't know the exact reason.  We can only speculate that it has to do with the Blue Men communicating in their own unique way — non-verbally, through visuals, touch and sound.  Their message often resonates on a deeper, more sincere level.  Once we knew that we could be helpful or provide an outlet for those affected by autism, we felt it was important to do more.  With our sensory-friendly shows, we want to create a safe and welcoming environment for individuals and families affected by this disorder, in the hopes that they can have an entertaining and joyful experience together."

    Slight modifications will be made including:

  • Reduction of sound and light levels at various moments during the performance.  Please note that while light levels will be reduced, strobe lighting is still used in the show.  Contact us for further information.
  • Sound reducing headphones or earplugs (depending on market) available upon request
  • Blue Men will limit the amount of "chair walking" and keep their approach to the audience more subdued
  • Calming environments in each theatre's lobby for families seeking a break from the excitement
  • More information.

    Purchase tickets.  Promo code: AUTISMSPEAKS.



    Huntington Theatre Company Presents "I Was Most Alive with You"

    Posted Wednesday June 01 2016 at 10:21 pm in Cultural Inclusion

    The Huntington Theatre Company presents a world premiere play by award-winning playwright Craig Lucas, "I Was Most Alive with You".

    "I Was Most Alive with You" is the first new play to be written specifically for an integrated cast of Deaf/deaf/hard-of-hearing and hearing actors that was originally conceived to incorporate a cast of shadow interpreters at a regional theatre.  Craig Lucas is also the first American playwright of his stature to write a play for Deaf/deaf/hard-of-hearing communities and he wrote the role of the main character (Knox) specifically for Russell Harvard (Spring Awakening revival on Broadway, Adult HW in There Will Be Blood, and Mr. Wrench in "Fargo") after seeing his performance in Tribes Off Broadway in 2012.

    Four shadow interpreters will be fully integrated into the play and will move in close proximity to the actors they are interpreting, allowing all audience members to focus on the action of the play together.  When only ASL is being used to communicate, text will be projected onto the stage.

    Now through June 26, 2016.
    Purchase tickets here.



    Inclusive by Design℠ Concert

    Posted Wednesday May 25 2016 at 06:10 am in Cultural Inclusion

    Blues guitarist and recent Berklee College of Music graduate, Noé Socha, opened for legendary New Orleans Bluesman Henry Butler presented in a format known as Inclusive by Design℠.

    Inclusive by Design℠ concerts are multi-art, multi-sensory events.  Music is selected with rich narrative and visual content that is interpreted by visual artist Nancy Ostrovsky creating a large mural live on stage.  All of the visual elements are represented for the entire audience through audio description, adding a strong language, even poetic, component.  The performance is also interpreted in American Sign Language, and everything that is said or spoken is also captioned and presented on an LED screen.  The end result is an engaging multi-disciplinary experience that allows people of all abilities, including those who may be Deaf or hard of hearing or blind or have low vision, to be fully engaged in a shared creative experience.

    Henry Butler is a five-time W.C. Handy "Best Blues Piano Instrumentalist" award nominee, Henry Butler knows no limitations.  Although blinded by glaucoma since birth, Butler is also a world-class photographer.  Playing piano since the age of six, Butler is a master of musical diversity.  A rich amalgam of jazz, Caribbean, classical, pop, R&B and blues influences, his music is as excitingly eclectic as that of his New Orleans birthplace.  Butler joined the IbD creative team in 2006 for a concert at the Gene Harris Festival and performed again in this format in 2009 at a concert hosted and recorded by WGBH.

    June 18, 2016
    Sheraton Hotel
    Dalton Street, Boston



    Placement Opportunity in UK for Disabled Person to Work as Arts Producer, Curator, or Administrator

    Posted Sunday May 15 2016 at 10:54 am in Call For Artists

    People viewing unlimited exhibit

    Unlimited is a program based in the United Kingdom which supports high quality, extraordinary art by disabled artists.  In partnership with the British Council, Unlimited is offering a professional development placement for a disabled person who is based outside of the UK and who is working or beginning to work as an arts producer, arts curator, or arts administrator.

    The placement aims to support the next generation of arts leaders and is a unique opportunity, offering a hands-on experience of the delivery of Unlimited as a commissioning and funding program.

    This opportunity is fully supported by a grant to cover financial expenses incurred and provide any access support.

    For full details and application, visit the Unlimited websiteThe deadline for applications is Monday May 23, 2016.



    Disability and Intersectionality Art Exhibit - Call for Art

    Posted Thursday May 05 2016 at 06:30 am in Call For Artists

    Logo

    Art has long been a powerful medium for individuals to convey messages and concepts that may otherwise be difficult to express.  Have you ever wondered how your individuality, your community, or your identity can be portrayed in artwork?  Have you ever thought about who and what is being represented in art work, and how art can add to these conversations of social justice?  If so, we urge you to submit your artwork.

    In partnership with VSA Massachusetts' Open Door Gallery and the Disability Policy Consortium, the Disability & Intersectionality Summit is curating an art exhibit that will shed light on the theme Disability and Intersectionality.

    The exhibit will explore this theme through the creative works of artists with disabilities whose identities and artwork have also been shaped by their experiences of disability, gender, race, sexuality, age, or ethnicity.  Artists with disabilities who are also people of color, and other marginalized voices are encouraged to submit their work to this call.

    Intersectionality: examines how intersecting identities such as gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, religion, and age interact, and proposes that we should think of each element as inextricably linked with other elements in order to fully recognize an individual’s identity.

    We invite artists with disabilities to submit 2D art work, or multimedia video for consideration in this upcoming Disability & Intersectionality Art Exhibit which will be hosted by VSA Massachusetts' Open Door Gallery from September 1 - November 12, 2016.

    Read an interview with Sandy Ho, the organizer of the Disability & Intersectionality Summit.

    Submission deadline is July 1, 2016Click here for full information.



    Jon Sarkin Exhibit "The Unchained Brain" at Open Door Gallery. Reception May 5, 2016 4-7pm

    Posted Wednesday April 27 2016 at 07:14 am in Open Door Gallery

    John Sarkin painting - photo by Jared Charney

    Photo by Jared Charney

    Jon Sarkin is a prolific, even compulsive, artist who creates elaborate drawings and paintings.  After a life-altering brain injury, Sarkin became obsessed with drawing.  As the images kept coming, the artist unearthed some of the dark and unknown places in his brain.  He cannot stop.  He doesn't want to stop.

    Sarkin's work has been exhibited in New York's Museum of Modern Art, New England's deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, VSA's Open Door Gallery in 2012, and is displayed in private collections throughout the world.

    Jon Sarkin - The Unchained Brain
    Open Door Gallery
    April 28 - July 29, 2016 9am - 5pm
    Reception May 5, 2016 4-7pm



    Boston's Museum of Fine Arts Program "Beyond the Spectrum"

    Posted Wednesday April 27 2016 at 06:43 am in Cultural Inclusion

    Students making art

    Boston's Museum of Fine Arts offers an artful healing program called Beyond the Spectrum specially designed for children ages 8-12 on the Autism Spectrum, including Asperger's Syndrome, accompanied by a parent or caregiver.  Upon arrival children will be divided into groups by age and/or needs.

    The Beyond the Spectrum program meets one Saturday per month from 10:30 am-12 pm.  Each class lasts an hour and a half and combines gallery exploration with an art-making activity.

    The next classes are May 7, 2016 and June 4, 2016. Visit the museum website for full information and to purchase the required advance tickets.



    ICA Seeks Performers for Heidi Latsky's "ON DISPLAY: A Movement Installation"

    Posted Wednesday April 20 2016 at 06:23 am in Call For Artists

    Dancers posing

    Heidi Latsky Dance and Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art are seeking a diverse and unconventional cast including people of all ages, with and without disabilities, to be a part of a movement installation entitled "ON DISPLAY: A Movement Installation".  ON DISPLAY was created in 2015 as part of the NYC celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  It is a living gallery focusing on the themes of inclusion and diversity.

    Performances will be on the Harborwalk outside the ICA June 11, 12, 18 and 19, 2016.  Performers need to be available between noon and 5:30 pm each day.  Training and rehearsal will be in the evening on Thursday June 9, 2016.

    No formal dance experience is required.  Movement installations will involve focus, stillness and structured improvisation.

    Interested participants are invited to a workshop conducted by Latsky at the ICA on Tuesday April 26, 2016 between 6 and 8 pm.  To register, contact Shane Silverstein at ssilverstein@icaboston.org.  Use the subject line "On Display" and include your name, email address, phone number and how you heard about the project.  Up to 30 performers will be identified from this workshop.

    About ON DISPLAY: A Movement Installation - Reverting the gaze is integral to disability culture and has been an essential part of The GIMP Project -- Latsky's body of work since 2006 that features both disabled and nondisabled performers.  Commenting on the experience of being watched, and society's obsession with body image, ON DISPLAY features human sculptures arranged like a deconstructed art gallery/fashion show.  The two themes of the event are inclusion and diversity: the multi-ethnic cast fulfills the easily identified notion of diversity, but the specific abilities of the performers emphasize the concept.  Dancers will pose throughout the space, choosing when – and when not – to make eye contact with audience members.



    Arts Connect International Recruiting for Artist-in-Residence Program

    Posted Sunday April 17 2016 at 1:02 pm in Call For Artists

    Artist Residency. What is your vision for inclusion?

    Arts Connect International launched it's applications for the 2016 - 2017 Artist-in-Residence program.  Do you have a vision for social change?  Do you know of great artist leaders who are using their art for social change?

    Take a look at this innovative program by visiting artsconnectinternational.org to learn more.  Applications are open until May 1, 2016 at midnight.



    Annual Conference: Teaching Music to Students on the Autism Spectrum

    Posted Sunday April 17 2016 at 12:39 pm in Education

    The Boston Conservatory will host its annual Teaching Music to Students on the Autism Spectrum conference April 29 - 30, 2016.

    An innovative program for public and private school music educators, "Teaching Music to Students on the Autism Spectrum" is a two-day conference that will address important topics such as:

  • Current Research in Autism
  • Strategies for Teaching Music to Individuals on the Autism Spectrum
  • How Autistic People Learn and Perceive Music
  • Working Effectively with Students on the Autism Spectrum and their Families
  • Featuring industry experts Alice M. Hammel, D.M.A., Lisa Pierce-Goldstein and Rhoda Bernard, Ed.D., with teaching demonstrations by music instructors from The Boston Conservatory Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum..  Teachers can earn 12 Professional Development Points (PDPs).

    More information and registration.



    Dew Jareanvai Art Reception at Dot 2 Dot Café

    Posted Sunday April 17 2016 at 12:01 pm in News

    Dew Jareanvai Artwork

    Our good friend Dew Jareanvai has an art exhibit titled "Nature's Voices" happening now at Dot 2 Dot Café in Dorchester.

    There will be an art reception April 21, 2016 from 7 to 9pm.  All are welcome.

    Dot 2 Dot Café
    1739 Dorchester Ave.
    Dorchester, MA 02124



    Kennedy Center Accepting Abstracts for Papers

    Posted Tuesday April 12 2016 at 06:34 am in Education

    Call for abstracts

    The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' Office of VSA and Accessibility is planning a third volume of Examining the Intersection of Arts and Special Education.  This collection of white papers will provide information on research and innovative or exemplary practices in teaching music, visual arts, drama, and dance/movement to students with disabilities.  A $1,000 per paper honorarium will be given to authors of selected papers.

    The deadline to submit abstracts is April 18, 2016 at 11:59 PM.

    More information and application from.



    Seven Hills Presents Comic Con

    Posted Friday April 01 2016 at 08:21 am in News

    Seven Hills Presents Comic Con - Cosplay Masquerade

    Seven Hills Foundation presents Comic Con - Cosplay Masquerade with trivia, music, photobooth, improv.  Costumes are highly encouraged.

    When:
    Thursday, April 7, 2016
    6:00 - 9:00 pm

    Where:
    Clark University
    Higgins University Center
    Tilton Hall (top floor)
    950 Main Street
    Worcester, MA

    RSVP:
    By April 6, 2016
    to Julia Harty - jharty@sevenhills.org
    or Dianne Young - dyoung@sevenhills.org
    508-796-1856

    $5 entry fee, $3 with student ID



    2016 ReelAbilities - Boston Disability Film Festival

    Posted Monday March 28 2016 at 7:25 pm in News

    Mark your calendars for this year's annual ReelAbilities - Boston Disability Film Festival, which starts on April 3, 2016 and ends on April 14, 2016.

    ReelAbilities strives for inclusion of all people and is dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with different abilities from a variety of communities.  All venues are wheelchair accessible.

    Highlights include:

    TransFatty Lives: At 30, Patrick O'Brien was TransFatty, a New York City DJ, internet personality, and filmmaker.  Then his legs started shaking.  Transfatty Lives takes you on an emotional roller-coaster into the dark heart of ALS.  As the director and star of his own documentary, Partick films every step of his debilitating journey for first diagnosis though paralysis.  Forcefully lacking in self-pity, he captures the emotion, humor, absurdity of life as he makes art, gets political, falls in love, fathers a son, and fights depression.  April 3, 2016 10:00 a.m., Showcase Cinema de lux Revere.

    The Way He Looks: Leo, a blind teenager is determined to leave Sao Paolo to study abroad-to the dismay of his best friend, Giovana.  But Leo's plans change when he is paired on a school project with Gabriel.  As the boy's interest in each other grows, Giovana begins to reveal her own feelings, growing increasingly jealous of Gabriel.  April 4, 2016 6:30 p.m., Emerson College, Boston.

    Read More →

    Boston Children’s Museum Symphony Play Day - ASL Interpreted

    Posted Sunday March 27 2016 at 9:52 pm in Cultural Inclusion

    Symphony players in front of Children's Museum audience

    Enjoy a day of musical discovery and play!  Explore classical music at various activities and performances across the Museum by musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, and From the Top.  There will be ASL interpreted performances and many other activities for you to explore the joy of music by using different senses!

    Performances and activities throughout the Museum from 11 am to 3 pm.  ASL Interpreted performances:
    - 1:45 Musical Storytime with New England Conservatory
    - 2:30 Boston Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet*

    *Tickets are limited and available at the Information Desk on a first come-first served basis.

    Sunday, April 3, 2016
    This program is free with paid Museum admission.
    For more information, visit the Museum website or contact:
    Saki Iwamoto, Health and Wellness Educator
    Iwamoto@BostonChildrensMuseum.org
    617-986-3697



    ASL Interpreted, Sensory Friendly, and Audio Described Performances of Peter Pan at Open Door Theater

    Posted Sunday March 27 2016 at 8:10 pm in Cultural Inclusion

    Peter Pan taking flight April 1-10

    Open Door Theater of Acton, MA presents Peter Pan April 1 through April 10, 2016.  While all performances are open captioned, special performances include:

    ASL Interpreted
    Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 2pm
    Tickets $12

    Sensory Friendly
    Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 12 noon
    Tickets $10

    Audio Described
    Saturday, April 9, 2016 at 7:30pm
    Tickets $12



    Open Captioned, ASL Interpreted, Audio Described Performances at Boston Opera House

    Posted Sunday March 27 2016 at 6:04 pm in Cultural Inclusion

    Broadway in Boston Logo

    THE SOUND OF MUSIC
    Open Captioned
    Saturday April 2, 2016 at 2pm

    THE SOUND OF MUSIC
    Audio Described
    Saturday April 3, 2016 at 1pm

    THE SOUND OF MUSIC
    ASL Interpreted
    Saturday April 9, 2016 at 2pm

    MATILDA
    Open Captioned
    Saturday June 18, 2016 at 2pm

    MATILDA
    Audio Described
    Saturday June 19, 2016 at 1pm

    MATILDA
    ASL Interpreted
    Saturday June 25, 2016 at 2pm

    Tickets starting at $44
    Look for and use the promo code at each link
    Audio Description by Laura Willis
    All performances at Boston Opera House
    539 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111



    Boston Creates - Town Hall Meeting

    Posted Monday March 21 2016 at 11:35 pm in News

    Boston Creates Logo

    After sharing the initial findings from the community engagement phase back in November, the Boston Creates team has been hard at work analyzing the data and refining the goals and strategies for the cultural plan.

    On March 28, 2016 at Bunker Hill Community College from 6pm to 8pm, the cultural planning team will share the goals and strategies of the cultural plan with the community.  Ultimately, these goals and strategies will form the overall framework for the cultural plan that will be complete in June 2016.  It is important that Boston's residents, communities, and organizations see themselves within the plan.

    Bunker Hill Community College is accessible by the MBTA Community College Station on the Orange Line.  There is parking available on site as well.

    RSVP at bostoncreates.eventbrite.com
    Bunker Hill Community College
    A3 Auditorium
    250 Rutherford Ave
    Charlestown, MA 02129



    Big Apple Circus - Circus of the Senses

    Posted Friday March 18 2016 at 9:40 pm in Cultural Inclusion

    From Boston Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities

    Big Apple Circus
    THE GRAND TOUR
    City Hall Plaza | Boston, MA
    March 24 - May 8
    Special Shows for Special Audiences

    Big Apple Circus has adapted an all-new show THE GRAND TOUR for audience members with special needs to create a joyful experience for all.  See high-flying acrobats, lovable clowns, the Wheel of Wonder, and more.  The adapted shows include the same world-class artistry with a shortened running time, additional services and accommodations, and specially trained staff to ensure a memorable day for you and your family or group!

    Circus of the Senses
    Wednesday, March 28 and Thursday, March 29, 2016 at 11AM
    Circus of the Senses is a 75-minute version of the Big Apple Circus specifically for guests with vision and/or hearing impairments.  We offer audio description via headset, ASL interpretation, Braille and large-type programs, and other services to provide an exciting multi-dimensional performing arts experience!  Tickets are $12.50 for individuals and $10 per person for groups of ten or more.

    Big Apple Circus Embraces Autism
    Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 11AM
    This 75-minute show has been adapted to create a joyful experience for people who are on the autism spectrum.  This performance features modified sound and lights, a calming center with coloring books and manipulatives, and specially trained staff and volunteers to improve the circus experience for our guests.  All tickets are half price.

    To purchase tickets, click on the links above.  Important Note - Big Apple Tickets are NOT Complimentary This Year!  For more information, please contact cos-autism@bigapplecircus.org or 646-616-6816.



    Museum of Science Community Partners Day

    Posted Sunday March 13 2016 at 2:00 pm in News

    Boy on floor looking at museum exhibit

    Join Museum of Science educators and local researchers March 19, 2016 as they explore the effects of brain chemistry on human behavior and health.  Learn how your brain changes throughout your lifetime — from adolescent brain chemistry to what happens during aging (including Alzheimer's).  Museum educators will host hands-on activities in the Hall of Human Life and throughout the Exhibit Halls.  Local scientists will display their own cutting-edge research on this fascinating subject.

  • Registered guests will receive up to 4 free adult and/or children exhibit hall entrances per reservation.
  • Guests can view the exhibits until 5pm, when the Museum closes.
  • Registered guests will receive a hand-stamp for Exhibit Hall entrance at the Community Relations registration table in the Museum lobby on March 19 between 10am and 1pm.
  • Register to attend here.
  • Registration ends March 17, 2016.


  • ASL Interpreted Boston Children's Museum Critter Day: Zooshows

    Posted Sunday March 13 2016 at 1:50 pm in Cultural Inclusion

    Squirrel monkey in the forest

    Discover animals large and small, feathered and furry, four-footed, two-footed and no-footed.  Celebrate all kind of animals.

    March 19, 2016  2;30 and 3:30 pm  ASL-Interpreted
    Free with paid Museum admission.  Free tickets distributed first-come, first-served one hour before each program.

    Kids ages 5 - 7.

    For more information, visit the Museum website or contact:
    Saki Iwamoto, Health and Wellness Educator
    Iwamoto@BostonChildrensMuseum.org
    617-986-3697



    Introducing Creativz.us

    Posted Sunday March 06 2016 at 3:19 pm in News

    Faces painted around building windows

    From the National Endowment for the Arts design staff.

    You are invited to participate in something new and important from the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Center for Cultural Innovation.

    INTRODUCING CREATIVZ.US

    It's a conversation about what artists and designers in the United States need to sustain and strengthen their careers.  As part of the NEA's 50th anniversary initiative -- Creativity Connects -- the research project highlights how the arts contribute to the nation's creative ecosystem.  CREATIVZ.US is being managed by our partner, the Center for Cultural Innovation, and supported by the Surdna and Doris Duke Charitable Foundations.

    Over the next few months CREATIVZ will publish a series of essays by a variety of artists, designers and arts thinkers.  You'll see a few there now.

    We want to include your voice!  What we've launched is not a summary of research findings, but rather an integral part of the research process itself.  Our goal is to hear from as many artists, designers, and support providers as possible.  A report will be published and available June, 2016.

    Here's how you can help.  Please share and join the conversation.  You can add comments to any of the essays on the web site or use your favorite social app to say something.  If you use social media, please use the hashtag #creativz so we see it.

    You can also share or follow CREATIVZ on Facebook and Twitter - @creativzus.

    We really want to hear from you and hope you'll be inspired to add your voice.



    Belly Dancing with Multiple Sclerosis

    Posted Tuesday March 01 2016 at 10:14 pm in News

    Anna Connors dancing

    By Sandy Alissa Novack.  Published in Spaulding Rehabilitation Network's "Disability Issues".

    Anna Connors was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2006. It affects her walking and balance, which can make dancing tricky, she says.  For the past six years, she has been learning belly dancing and performing with the Silver Moon Gypsies at local senior centers and other venues.

    Sandy Alissa Novack (SN): Do you notice any change in your mobility function and in the quality of life that is attributed to dance?

    Anna Connors (AC): Absolutely!  The fun quotient!  Just the pure joy of dance is incredible.  Generally, belly dancing's slower fluid motion is much more suitable for my condition.

    SN: What is your philosophy about exercise and movement?

    AC: Gypsy and I say the same thing, Use it or lose it, and keep moving!  As far as dancing, or anything else I do since being diagnosed with MS, my philosophy is to be flexible - not only body-wise but also on how I approach doing something.  I may not be able to do something the way I used to, so try to adapt.  There is always another way to take on a task, so I am creative.  Gypsy always allows me to adapt moves in our dances.  One of the dancers in our performing troupe is 82 years old.  She can't do fast spins and quick steps either, so we kind of pair up together and adapt those steps to work for us.  It really comes together and adds some visual interest.  We can ALL adapt.

    Read More →

    Nicole Agois Hurel named VSA Mass. Employee of the Year

    Posted Friday February 19 2016 at 6:05 pm in News

    Charles Washburn presenting Employee of the Year plaque to Nicole Agois Hurel

    Posted by Charlie Washburn

    Nicole Agois Hurel was honored recently at the Seven Hills Foundation Winter Wonder Fest as VSA Massachusetts' Employee of the Year.  There were many reasons to choose Nicole which includes:

    To recognize her accomplishment as a musician and teaching artist, and her contribution to understanding that by teaching through the arts we can create opportunities for people of all abilities to learn together.

    To celebrate her contributions to the International VSA Affiliate Network, and acknowledge her 11 years of service, and to appreciate her commitment to VSA Massachusetts and to making our recent affiliation with Seven Hills Foundation successful for both organizations and the people we serve.

    Congratulations on a richly deserved honor and thank you for the great work Nicole.
    VP and COO Charlie Washburn



    Catherine Thatcher 9/28/1961 - 2/10/2016

    Posted Wednesday February 17 2016 at 10:52 am in News

    Catherine Thatcher's Swirl Necklace

    Example of Catherine's jewelry.

    Catherine Thatcher passed away in her home February 10, 2016 from complications of Idiopathic Pulmonary Lung Disease which she lived with for over 15 years.

    Cathy was an active jeweler designing and producing her own artistic creations.  She participated as a former member of Gateway Arts in Brookline, Artists Beyond Challenges, Artists with Disabilities Task force through Mass Rehab and VSA Massachusetts where her jewelry was sold in the Open Door Gallery.  Cathy was a compelling speaker about her own experience with mental illness as a presenter for NAMI Massachusetts (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) educational program "In Our Own Voice".  She was passionate about educating people about mental illness.  Cathy will be remembered for her optimistic, generous personality, quick to laugh even at herself and an inspiration to all those around her of how to live with multiple challenges.  In lieu of flowers please donate to NAMI Mass: www.namimass.org

    Funeral from the Bell-O'Dea Funeral Home, 376 Washington St., Brookline.  Funeral Mass at St. Mary of the Assumption Church, 5 Linden Pl., Brookline 10:00 AM Saturday Feb. 20, 2016.

    A celebration of Cathy's life and reception will take place at 1550 Beacon Street at about 11:30 to 3 following the funeral mass.  Please feel free to wear any of Cathy's jewelry that you may have, bring stories and anything else you would like to share, including music.

    We will miss Catherine dearly.



    Free Online How-to Guides

    Posted Tuesday February 16 2016 at 10:38 pm in News

    Exceptional Lives How-to Guides

    Explore these free online How-to Guides for parents and caregivers of family members with developmental disabilities.

    The interactive step-by-step Guides provided by ExceptionalLives.org are designed with input from subject matter experts to help parents navigate the difficult and challenging processes associated with:

  • How to create an effective IEP
  • How to optimize your health insurance
  • How to access SSI
  • How to navigate guardianship


  • Cultural Access New England Workshop: "Engaging People of All Abilities Through Inclusive Digital Media"

    Posted Saturday February 13 2016 at 5:42 pm in News

    Digital Media

    Increasingly, cultural institutions are relying on their web sites, online and social media, and multimedia tour guides to welcome their visitors.  Hear how your digital assets and outreach can be fully inclusive to people of all abilities.  Top experts in the field will be sharing their knowledge, insights and tips, and will help you explore ways to create effective tools for audience engagement.

    Presenters include Brian Charlson, Director of Computer Training Services, The Carroll Center for the Blind and an expert in accessible media from NCAM, the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH.

    Presented by Cultural Access New England (CANE) - March 18, 2016 - WGBH - Cahners Conference Room

    To request American Sign Language or other accommodations please contact Saki Iwamoto Iwamoto@BostonChildrensMuseum.org when registering and before March 11, 2016.



    Call for Essays - Storytelling as a Strategy for Creating Inclusive Classrooms

    Posted Saturday February 13 2016 at 5:01 pm in Education

    Teacher Storytelling to Students

    Bank Street College of Education seeks to draw attention to the use of storytelling as a critical strategy for creating a new, expanded conversation about inclusive classrooms and school communities.  Submit essays that explore how disability, inclusion, and exclusion feel to those who are inside "inclusive" classrooms.

    For more info and submission guidelines, visit the Bank Street website.

    Manuscript due date is March 15, 2016.



    National Federation of the Blind 2016 Youth and Adult Writing Contests

    Posted Saturday February 13 2016 at 3:23 pm in Call For Artists

    National Federation of the Blind logo

    Now in it's 36th year, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) writers' division is accepting submissions through April 1, 2016 for youth and adult writing contests.

    Adult contests are: Short Fiction, non-fiction, stories for youth, and poetry.

    Youth contest are: Short fiction, poetry, and a new category called Federation History.  The youth contest is divided into three groups, determined by grade level – elementary, middle, and high school.

    For more info and complete rules, visit NFB's contest page.



    ASL Interpreted Animal Engineers at Boston Children's Museum

    Posted Saturday February 13 2016 at 2:54 pm in Cultural Inclusion

    Armadillo

    Kick off Engineering Week with this special program.  People aren't the only ones who can modify their environment.  Meet animals who dig and build to create homes, find food, and survive in the wild!

    February 20, 2016  10:30 am and 11:30 am  ASL-Interpreted
    Free with paid Museum admission.

    For more information, visit the Museum website or contact:
    Saki Iwamoto, Health and Wellness Educator
    Iwamoto@BostonChildrensMuseum.org
    617-986-3697



    Inclusion in Early Childhood Programs Webinar

    Posted Tuesday February 09 2016 at 3:42 pm in Education

    Ed Dot Gov Log

    On Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 3pm, the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services invite you to watch a Google Hangout for a discussion about inclusion in early childhood programs and why it matters to states, early childhood programs, families, and young children with and without disabilities.

    Click here to view the live event.

    If you have questions for the speakers prior to the event you can post them on Twitter at: #inclusiongov, or email: ECinclusion@ed.gov.



    The Arts in Early Childhood: Social and Emotional Benefits of Arts Participation

    Posted Sunday January 31 2016 at 3:09 pm in Education

    Children Dance in School

    The National Endowment for the Arts recently released a report entitled The Arts in Early Childhood: Social and Emotional Benefits of Arts Participation.

    The report is a literature review and gap-analysis of recent research about the arts' relationship to social-emotional benefits in early childhood.  Music-based activities, drama/theater, and visual arts and crafts were among the types of arts participation studied.  The review covers the period of 2000 to 2015.

    Read the report here.



    2016 VSA International Young Soloists Competition

    Posted Thursday January 28 2016 at 06:16 am in Call For Artists

    Calling all musicians with disabilities!  Are you between the ages of 14-25?  Are you interested in winning $2,500 and performing at the Kennedy Center?

    The 2016 VSA International Young Soloists Competition is accepting entries.  The competition is open to soloists and ensembles, domestic and international applicants, and musicians of all genres.  Winners receive $2,500, perform at the Kennedy Center, and participate in exciting professional development activities.

    For more information about the competition and to apply, visit kennedy-center.org.

    Application Deadline: February 10, 2016

    VSA, the international Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is dedicated to providing opportunities for people with disabilities, of all ages, across the globe with opportunities to learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts.



    Summit on Creativity & Aging in America Webinar

    Posted Tuesday January 26 2016 at 10:42 pm in News

    NEA's Art Works Logo

    A free webinar at 3pm February 3, 2016 to introduce the white paper from the Summit on Creativity and Aging in America, which was hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Center for Creative Aging in May 2015.  The summit brought together more than 70 experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the fields of healthy aging, lifelong learning in the arts, and design for aging communities.  The summit was a precursor to the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, which was part of a series of public forums, culminating in a White House event that addressed four major issues: retirement security, long-term services and supports, healthy aging, and elder abuse.  The webinar will cover the main findings from the summit, including opportunities for developing vibrant, healthy communities and services for older adults, as we look toward an unprecedented shift in our population in the coming years.  Speakers will include NEA Accessibility Director Beth Bienvenu, NCCA Executive Director Gay Hanna, and 2015 White House Conference on Aging Director Nora Super.

    You can listen to the webinar using your computer speakers or dial-in to 877-685-5350, participant code: 739587.  A presentation will be followed by a Q&A session.

    Register for the Webinar



    Vocal Ensemble for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum and Their Families

    Posted Friday January 22 2016 at 06:22 am in Cultural Inclusion

    Chorus Singers

    The Boston Conservatory is introducing the Inner Harmony Chorus, a new vocal ensemble for individuals on the autism spectrum and their family and friends.  Conducted by a team of graduate students from The Boston Conservatory's Music Education program, the chorus welcomes singers of all ages to participate.

  • Rehearsals take place Saturday afternoons for 75 minutes, beginning January 30, 2016
  • 10 rehearsals per semester
  • No auditions are necessary - all are welcome!
  • Any age individual can participate
  • Each semester concludes with a performance
  • The Boston Conservatory, 132 Ipswich Street, Room 106, Boston
  • Tuition: $150 adult, $75 children (per semester)
  • Scholarships are available for families who qualify
  • Learn more at bostonconservatory.edu/autism-chorus or contact:
    Rhoda Bernard, Ed.D.
    Director of Professional Education and Enrichment
    rbernard@bostonconservatory.edu
    617-912-9104



    Free VSA Webinars!

    Posted Wednesday January 20 2016 at 06:17 am in Education

    Webinar

    Lots of free webinars have been scheduled by the Office of VSA & Accessibility, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  All are welcome.

    Dance Across Cultural Paradigms with Bhangra—a Folk Dance from India
    Tuesday, January 26, 2016 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
    Presenter: Mala Desai
    More info and registration

    Creative Control: Arts, Self-Determination, and Student-led IEPs
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
    Presenters: Susan Oetgen, Naté Dearden, Mo Thomas, Eliza Derick
    More info and registration

    Poetry in Motion: A Poetry Dance Play for the Middle School Special Education Classroom
    Tuesday, March 8, 2016 3:00 PM - 4:15 PM
    Presenters: Jenny Seham, PhD, Nawal Muradwij
    More info and registration

    Read More →

    Boston Children's Museum Presents ASL-Interpreted Wingmasters

    Posted Wednesday January 13 2016 at 9:55 pm in Cultural Inclusion

    Red-Tailed Hawk

    Hawks and owls are amazing birds but aren't often seen.  This presentation will teach you about these winged hunters while you have a chance to take a really close look.

    Saturday, January 16, 2016 at 2:30pm and 3:30pm
    Free with paid Museum admission.
    For the safety of both humans and animals, this show is recommended for kids 6 and up.
    Tickets are limited and available at the Information Desk on a first come-first served basis.

    For more information visit Boston Children's Museum website or contact:
    Saki Iwamoto, Health and Wellness Educator
    Iwamoto@BostonChildrensMuseum.org
    617-986-3697



    Sensory-Friendly Performance of "Lollipops for Breakfast"

    Posted Wednesday January 13 2016 at 9:09 pm in Cultural Inclusion

    Bonnie Duncan performing puppet show lollipops for breakfast

    VSA teaching artist Bonnie Duncan performs a sensory-friendly version of her show "Lollipops for Breakfast" Sunday, January 17, 2016 at Charlestown Working Theater.

    Some of the adaptations for this performance include:
      -  ​A pre-visit social story and other preparatory materials for parents and children explaining what to expect from the performance.
      -  Glow sticks raised to share when a surprise will happen on stage.
      -  Reduction of the sound level and bright stage lighting.
      -  Low lighting in the theatre so families can see if they need to move around or exit the theatre.

    Sensory-friendly "Lollipops for Breakfast"
    Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 11am
    Charlestown Working Theater
    Buy Tickets
    More information
    Sensory-Friendly Prep Packet



    A Conversation: Advancing Inclusion in Our Schools

    Posted Monday January 11 2016 at 10:06 pm in Education

    Streamed live December 16, 2015.

    Focus on inclusion in our schools.  The National Parent Teacher Association, the Department of Education, and educators came together to discuss how we can make inclusion a core part of our classroom culture.  Examples were shared from across the country where the entire class benefited by including students with different learning styles.

    The next live streaming video focuses on Inclusion in Early Childhood Programs.  Watch it here January 14, 2016 at 3:30pm.

    Recommended resources:

    Guidance on Free and Public Education (FAPE) from the U.S. Department of Education, office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

    Special Education Toolkit from National Parent Teacher Association for families of newly diagnosed children with special needs explains how to get the best special education, services and resources available to them.

    Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit has an array of documents, policies and best practices to get you started on the right path.

    Every Child in Focus campaign aims to better support students with special needs.

    Unified Theatre's 4 Steps Towards Full Inclusion outlines steps to progress on your journey toward full inclusion for your child.

    Unpacking Inclusion offers a working definition of inclusion and ideas on how your child can learn to be inclusive in every day life.



    Reach 4 Real Adaptive Music Programs

    Posted Saturday January 09 2016 at 10:29 pm in Cultural Inclusion

    Reach 4 Real Adaptive Music Programs

    Reach 4 Real is a music & theater class that is sweeping the state with popularity!  Delivering adaptive music programs and theater classes designed specifically for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, students will collaborate to write songs in a pop/musical theater style, and then stage, choreograph, and deliver an exciting live performance for friends, family, and the general public.

    Winter sessions are beginning now.  Check the schedule for more details.



    Aysha Upchurch Named VSA Employee of the Quarter

    Posted Tuesday January 05 2016 at 07:10 am in Education

    Aysha Upchurch

    Aysha is the newest member of the VSA Massachusetts COOL Schools team, having joined this summer as Associate Director.  However, she is not new to the VSA family.  Last fall, Aysha interned as she pursued her Master’s Degree in Arts in Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  She brings over 10 years of experience as a dancer, educator, teaching artist, arts administrator and social change agent along with a passion for arts-integrated inclusive learning and a determination to see the program thrive and grow.  Her can-do attitude and contagious energy have already influenced the COOL Schools staff and teaching artist team to move forward with clear and bold goals.  We want to celebrate her strong start by recognizing Aysha as Employee of the Quarter!