Ten Steps to Accessible Cultural Programs and Orgnaizations


Step 1:  Know the Laws and How They Apply to Your Organization, Patrons and Audiences with Disabilities.

Section 504 and the ADA are standard legal requirements, which are intended to provide people with disabilities the same opportunity to be employed and enjoy your organization’s programs, services and facilities as people without disabilities. By law, all programs should be accessible. The four major requirements of accessibility laws are:

1.  Non–discrimination
2.  Equal opportunity (and the provision of any reasonable modifications, auxiliary aids or services)
3.  Basic standard of architectural access
4.  Equal access to employment, program, activities, goods and services.

Access efforts should not simply respond to legal requirements, but celebrate the positive benefits of full access to cultural activities, and the opportunity to serve and educate all segments of the public.


Step 2:  Provide Individuals with Equal Employment Opportunities

Accessible employment policies must be extended to the wide variety of employees involved in your cultural organization. This includes staff, board members, consultants, panelist, advisers, teachers/instructors and artists. Cultural organizations have a unique opportunity to provide leadership in non-discriminatory employment. When we recruit and involve people who have disabilities and older individuals, we are not only creating more inclusive communities, but heightening awareness among staff and constituents.


Step 3:  Designate an Accessibility Coordinator for Your Organization

Each organization should appoint a staff member to serve as its Accessibility Coordinator. The AC should help lead the organization in its efforts to comply with the ADA. Under the Arts Endowment’s 504 Regulations it is required that “a responsible official be designated to coordinate the recipient’s efforts in connection with Section 504”.


Step 4:  Create an Access Advisory Committee

An Access Advisory Committee can be an effective method to develop ongoing technical assistance for your organization.


Step 5:  Adopt a Policy and Establish a Grievance Procedure about Your Organization’s Commitment to Accessibility

Experience has shown that when access to services, programs, activities and employment are given a high priority, it is reflected in an organization’s mission statement, policies and guidelines.


Step 6:  Evaluate Your Organization’s Accessibility:  The Arts and Humanities Accessibility Checklist

A key administrative requirement of Section 504 and ADA regulations are for state agencies and cultural organizations that receive federal funds to conduct a self evaluation to identify barriers to accessibility. It is intended to serve as an education tool to identify barriers and create solutions. Click here for Checklist.


Step 7:  Develop an Access Plan  

Compliance with the Section 504 and the stipulations of the ADA should already have been accomplished (ADA effective 1/26/92). Remove barriers to existing facilities and assure that all new construction, renovation and alternations meet or exceed standards. Explain the methods that will be used to make access improvements.


Step 8:  Train Your Staff, Board, Panelist, Grantees and Constituents

Educated staff and board members heighten awareness, promotes integration of access issues into all aspects of the organization, and helps provide the support needed to move forward on access plans.


Step 9: Enforce 504/ADA Compliance within Your Organization 

Cultural organization should provide leadership by setting a good example that is evidenced in their policies, guidelines, plans, budgets, marketing, meetings, conferences, panels, community outreach and through inclusion of people who are disabled or older as staff, board, panelists and advisers.


Step 10:  Promote and Market Your Accessibility  

For patrons and visitors with disabilities the option to participate in a cultural event should be based on choice and not limited by lack of access.  Evaluate your marketing plan to see that it promotes your accessibility.


Resource for Access Information

VSA Nevada  (VSAN) is the only statewide source of participatory art programs for the 11% of Nevada’s population with some type of disability.
250 Court Street
Reno, NV, 89501
Voice/TDD:  775.826.6100
Fax: 775-337-6107