Special Needs

Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts
The Alliance works to promote inclusive hiring practices and standards, diversity in leadership, and balanced portrayals of persons of color and persons with disabilities. The Alliance’s aim is to achieve a theatre, film, and television industry that accurately reflects our populace. Available online is the New Traditions magazine, a compendium of articles on diversity by playwrights, actors, and directors. Listening with an Open Eye includes information about deaf culture and American Sign Language for planning a production.

American Music Therapy Association
Web site of the American Music Therapy Association. Excellent site for anyone in search of a Music Therapist or a Music Therapist looking for a new position. Convention and membership information for clinics and seminars listed.

Americans for the Arts: At-Risk Youth
AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS is an “information clearinghouse with a 40-year track record of objective arts industry research, dedicated to serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate the arts.” On the page of the larger site, at-risk students are addressed with tools for partnerships in an after-school setting. Programs include Metropolitan Life Foundation YouthARTS Initiative

Association of Hispanic Arts
Promoting Latino arts and artists, the New York Association of Hispanic Arts (AHA) offers highlights of its quarterly magazine. Articles incorporate Latino music and film, Afro-Cuban and Afro-Puerto Rican folklore, and a Latina playwright’s journey. Information on opportunities, workshops, fellowships, and grants are available. LOLA Net (Latino On-Line Arts Network) offers a searchable database for artists and cultural organizations around the country.

Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists
A worldwide artists organization numbering about 500, AMFPA features a gallery with artist’s biographies, videos of working artists, and published articles about painting techniques. Information is available in multiple languages, including Spanish.

AXIS Dance Company
Education and outreach have been a part of AXIS Dance Company’s work in “integrated dance” that provides dance opportunities to all people, regardless of background, with and without disabilities since 1987. Residencies, performances, and classes are offered, as well as research papers on dance and disability. Video clips of eight of the company’s nearly thirty works are available. There is an alphabetical listing of dance companies that employ a similar philosophy.

Body-Mind Rhythmic Movement
This site sequentially teaches rhythmic body movements that can be expanded and combined into patterns. It has easy to follow directions and illustrations, allowing a teacher with little dance experience to sequentially teach rhythmic body movements to a young audience. Academic focus activities are offered that tie body movement in with both Language Arts and Mathematics.

CanTeach is a Canadian meta-site comprised of resources and links for elementary teachers. Of interest to teachers of special needs arts students is a “Theme List” of books about children with disabilities and illnesses. In “Elementary Resources,” author Dan Lukiv’s “Home-grown Publishing” describes a creative writing program called “Story Day.” Part Two has a complete description of the Story Day process, which can easily be adapted to a playwrighting format. The involvement of a diverse group of students within the classroom culture powers the production.

Creative Growth Art Center
The Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California, provides creative art programs, educational and independent living training, counseling, and vocational opportunities for adults who are physically, mentally, and emotionally disabled. Originally funded by the National Endowment, the Creative Growth Art Center was the first art gallery for disabled adults in the country. In-studio programs are available for different levels of art training. The online gallery features works of many artists and includes a biography of each. The Center’s artists have been internationally exhibited and published in several works, including The Boy That Time Forgot and Metamorphosis: The Fiber Art of Judith Scott. Metamorphosis and some of the artworks are for sale online.

Coalition for Disabled Musicians
Established in 1986, the Coalition for Disabled Musicians, Inc. (CDM) is a voluntary, nonprofit organization dedicated to enabling physically disabled musicians to pursue their musical dreams. The site includes a National Referral Service to facilitate contact between musicians and organizations with similar interests on a local level. CDM performs at schools and businesses inspiring students of all abilities. Sound samples are available for download. Merchandise, services, etc., do have charges associated with them.

Creative Alternatives of New York
Creative Alternatives of New York provides comprehensive therapeutic theatre workshops to populations with special needs. With a unique combination of theatre and modern group psychotherapy, CANY artists lead workshops and perform theater in shelters for the homeless, in family residences for single mothers and their children, in veterans hospitals, in troubled inner-city schools, and in alcohol rehabilitation centers. This site is a good place to start because the resources are somewhat limited.

Heart ‘n Soul
The musical theatre company is comprised of 14 performers with learning disabilities who work closely with 4 professional musicians. Members write their own music and lyrics and have devised and toured 10 full-scale musical productions across the United Kingdom and mainland Europe. Heart ‘n Soul outreach includes a television show, satellite workshops, and residencies.

Hoagie’s Gifted Education Page
The Webmaster from the Hollingsworth Center for the Highly Gifted has created Hoagie’s Gifted Education Page, especially rich in articles and links addressing special needs students. The section for Musically Gifted presents several important articles, including “Performing Arts Instruction for Exceptionally and Profoundly Gifted Children,” by Beth Wright, which is of interest to all teachers. There is a search function to access specific books and resources.

National Arts and Disability Center
The National Arts and Disability Center (NADC) is the national information dissemination, technical assistance, and referral center specializing in the field of arts and disability. The NADC is dedicated to promoting the full inclusion of children and adults with disabilities into the visual, performing, media, and literary arts communities. Its resource directories, annotated bibliographies, related links, and conferences serve to advance artists with disabilities and accessibility to the arts. The NADC is a project of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), University Affiliated Program. A search feature is available under Resources Calendar of Events to access performance information.

National Center for Accessible Media
The CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media is a research and development facility dedicated to achieving media access equality for people with disabilities. The site includes a search feature for theatres that screen current films with Rear Window® Captioning for deaf and hard-of–hearing students, and DVS Theatrical for blind and visually impaired students. Also of interest is The Personal Captioning Project that studied classroom application and learning benefits of creating one’s own captioned video. Materials available from the Center are a video, journal articles, and a handbook, Writing with Video: an Idea Book for Captioning in the Classroom.

National Forum on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities

ARTSEDGE, the National Arts and Education Information Network, hosted the online component of the first-ever National Forum on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities, which took place June 14-16, 1998. Online participants may still access the Forum’s Agenda, Daily Updates, Concept Papers, Keynote Addresses (many of which, along with panel discussions, have been audio- and video-streamed at this site), People (biographies of the presenters and authors), and Final Recommendations.

National Theatre of the Deaf
The National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) is an artistic haven for performing artists using American Sign Language where they can discover, develop, and enhance their talent. NTD is the premiere theatre company for the deaf artist, creating professional performing opportunities at first-class levels across the country and around the world. NTD Professional Theatre School (PTS) is the only professional theatre-training program for deaf people in America. The PTS Jr program is for talented deaf high school students. NTD also offers professional development programs which can be found under “The Actor’s Academy.”

National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped
The National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped (NTWH) provides the disabled community with the communication skills necessary to pursue a life in professional theatre and enhance their opportunities in the workplace. Since 1977, NTWH has been an advocate for persons with disabilities and offered a forum for dramatic literature on these themes.

New Horizons for Learning
New Horizons for Learning, the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington State site, features a special needs section which incorporates gifted students. Danny Deardorff’s song “Everyone is Differently Abled,” articles and books with integrated arts, and learning strategies are included. Of interest in the Boston Public Schools section is a description of Ron Berger’s public elementary in Shutesbury, Massachusetts that uses an arts-integrated, project-based curriculum.

P. Buckley Moss Foundation
Recognizing the need to promote and develop ways to integrate the arts into general and special education programs, the P. Buckley Moss Society established the Foundation in 1995. The Foundation’s mission is to increase public awareness and to develop and implement effective arts instruction for children with special needs. Information about annual conferences, national awards for teachers, post-secondary scholarships for students with disabilities, and a library of strategies is available to download.

Perkins School for the Blind
Famous alumna Helen Keller’s story is available, along with pictures and quotes from her autobiography. Music materials in braille, large print, and cassette formats are provided to library patrons through the National Library Service. A special centralized library for musicians with disabilities features a collection of more than 30,000 books, musical scores, and instructional recordings. Audio courses in guitar, recorder, accordion, piano, organ, and voice have been specifically developed.

The Coming Up Taller: Arts and Humanities Programs for Children and Youth At-Risk
Research and program descriptions are available from Coming Up Taller, a private sector patrons program with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. This is the fifth year of $10,000 awards to recognize and support excellence in arts and humanities programs that take place outside the school curriculum, beyond the classroom, and during non-school hours.

Theater Communications Group
In “We are not a Metaphor, A Conversation About Representation” moderated by Kathleen Tolan, disabled theatre artists challenge assumptions about what disability is and what it means. The text of the conversation is published by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), a national service organization for the American Theatre that exists to strengthen, nurture, and promote nonprofit American theatre. TGC Live involves online chats with theatre artists and cultural leaders, which may be a problem for student users.

Padraig Naughton, an Irish visual artist and teacher who is also visually impaired, explains his use of tactile references and his art works. Developed during his study in Craft Design Ceramics at the National College of Art and Design Dublin, these tactile references are roughly based on massage strokes as a form of mark making. The site includes his visit to Japanese schools, exhibits, and research.

Touch Compass Dance Trust
Touch Compass Dance Company, under the direction of Catherine Chappell, empowers people of all abilities to become role models for the community. The New Zealand company’s Web site includes images and reviews of current work, including aerial projects. Two instructional manuals are available: “This Moment” with Stanford faculty member Martin Keogh and “The Passage.” Each manual documents teacher-training intensives and includes exercises and skills.

VSA Arts
This is a comprehensive site relating to art and the disabled. Provides advocacy, information, and exhibition opportunities for special needs artists and students. In 1999, Very Special arts changed its name to VSA Arts. Now standing for Vision, Strength and Artistic Expression, VSA Arts is an international organization that creates learning opportunities through the arts for people with disabilities. The organization offers arts-based programs in creative writing, dance, drama, music, and visual arts.

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