April/May 2018, Vol. 4, No. 3
RAISE The Standard Newsletter
Raising the Standard for Young Adults with Disabilities
Technical Assistance and Resources for RSA-funded
Parent Training and Information Centers

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
- Walt Disney

Whether you are an aspiring artist or just an art lover, there is no limit to imagination and creativity. A career in the arts –visual arts, music, dance, theater, perfrmance - can be hard, but for those with the drive and ambition, it should not be overlooked as a transition outcome.

Check out this YouTube video produced by Attitude as they explore a branch of the art world called “Outsider Art,” which refers to artists with disabilities who have had no traditional training. 
Some of the artists profiled have moved from “outsider” to “insider,” with work selling for thousands of dollars, and hanging in galleries and museums.

“Over time, the public moves from saying, ‘wow, this was made by a person with a disability’, to really looking at the art and seeing the contribution it makes to the contemporary art world.”
Comedy can be a powerful tool. Meet performance artist, actress and comedian Maysoon Zayid who uses the stage to help educate others, but warns her audience, “don’t you dare feel sorry for me.”

“Poems with Disabilities”

(2007) Enjoy this poem by Jim Ferris, an award-winning poet and disability studies scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been a musician, performance artist, director, playwright, and actor.
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Self-Employment for Artists with Disabilities

This 6-page guide produced by JAN, the Job Accommodation Network, offers a framework for artists with disabilities who are considering self-employment. Careers in the arts, more so than many other vocational paths, lend themselves to independent and self-directed employment. In fact, 63% of artists are self-employed.

There are many benefits to a self-employed career in the arts:

  • Ability to incorporate accommodations
  • Greater flexibility (e.g., workload, location, project-focused)
  • Autonomy and self-sufficiency
  • Option to work from home
  • Potential for creativity and entrepreneurial spirit
  • Investment in self
  • Engagement in meaningful work
  • Potential use of Social Security work incentives for increased financial stability

Transition To Employment:
Model Projects Fostering Careers in the Arts for Youth with Disabilities

VSA, The International Organization on Arts and Disability, has published this 288-page report detailing the work of six states in their efforts to help young people with disabilities explore career options in the arts. The report describes scores of model projects, and includes information on outcomes, impacts, and partnerships.

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Are You Ready for a
Career in the Arts?

1) Recognize your skills and abilities – Take an honest look at what you love to do and what you are good at. Are you willing to put in the work?

2) Research careers in the arts – Just because you like to draw does not mean your work will hang in museums and galleries. Artists can be illustrators for books and magazines, digital artists, medical or science illustrators, cartoonists, sketch artists for law enforcement or the courts, and more.

3) Get more training/schooling – Whether you are an actress, a painter, a musician or a dancer, it can be very helpful to go to a specialized training program to hone your skills. You will also get more experience and meet other creative people interested in the arts.

4) Network – Careers are built on networks. Your network consists of your classmates, teachers, family, friends, and mentors. These are people that support you and want you to succeed. Ask them if they know of any opportunities for you.

5) Learn from working artists - Meet people who are doing what you want to be doing. Meet them from a recommendation of a friend, at a social or networking event (openings, conferences etc.), and parties. Don’t hesitate to ask them about their experiences as an artist and how they got there.

6) Look for an internship – Volunteer or paid internships in a theater, gallery, museum, or non-profit institution can help you understand the business side of the arts. Students may want to consider working as a studio assistant for an artist to gain valuable experience and build a network.

7) Structure your time – Make sure that you continue to develop as an artist by practicing your craft, and studying other artists you admire. Go to plays, shows, dance performances, art openings and galleries to see what is happening in your field.
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The National Rosemary Kennedy Initiatives

The National Rosemary Kennedy Initiatives are competitive, nationwide contracts for arts organizations to provide transition to work and career development opportunities in creative careers, the arts, arts education, or arts management for youth with disabilities between the ages of 15-22. These programs include transition opportunities such as internships, apprenticeships, and pre-professional trainings that are designed to enhance the individual’s potential for arts-based employment or creative careers.

Disability and Theatre: A Practical Manual
for Inclusion in the Arts

This book is a step-by-step manual on how to create inclusive theatre, including how and where to find actors, how to publicize productions, run rehearsals, act in intricate scenes like fights and battles, work with unions, contracts, and agents, and deal with technical issues. This practical information is applicable to any performance level: children’s theatre, community theatre, regional theatre, touring companies, Broadway, and academic theatre. The book features anecdotal case studies that emphasize problem-solving, real-world application, and realistic action plans. A companion website provides additional guidelines and hands-on worksheets.

Arts Councils

Did you know that nearly every state has an Arts Council with an accessibility coordinator? Find yours here:

VSA, The International Organization
on Arts and Disability

ReelAbilites Film Festival

The Kennedy Center’s Resources
for Educators and Parents

The Kennedy Center’s Resources for Educators and Parents puts it all in one place, and provides lesson plans and cross-curricular instructional ideas to bring the arts into special education.

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National Dialogue on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities

A 2016 report issued by The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Arts and Disability Center summarizes the ideas and recommendations made by more than 400 participants from the arts and disability communities, in response to the key question posed - What ideas do you have to increase the career preparation and employment of people with disabilities in the arts? The online dialogue garnered more than 100 ideas, and nearly 600 comments in five main topic areas:

  1. challenges and opportunities for careers in the arts;
  2. education and job training for artists and arts administrators;
  3. identity, disclosure, and representation in the arts;
  4. disability-specific or arts-specific issues; and
  5. success stories and positive change.

National Summit on Careers
in the Arts for People with Disabilities

The National Endowment for the Arts convened a National Summit on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities in 2010. There, leaders presented a study that looked at careers in the arts for people with disabilities. The study found that at each step in the development of an artistic career—from initial aspiration, to formal training and education, to ultimately undertaking a career in the arts—people with disabilities face low expectations, lack of access, and overt discrimination. Inadequate health insurance and fear of losing existing benefits remain very real barriers. In addition, they were often expected to volunteer their work or accept low pay.
The NEA issued a report from the Summit, which includes general recommendations, along with specific recommendations for different disciplines such as performing arts, creative writing, and visual arts. The overriding theme was full inclusion and access, helping to ensure that people with disabilities are engaged and valued in all aspects of the arts.

From the report: “Discriminatory admissions practices and lack of accommodation continue to keep many artists from getting professional training. Arts educators need training about disability accommodations, technology, and alternative art forms. Study participants agreed that mentors are critical to career development. Mainstreaming, however, can sometimes also be an obstacle, particularly for artists with disabilities, as there is a lack of familiarity in the mainstream concerning what is culturally specific to the disability community. Study participants observed that the disability art and culture movement has not achieved the political profile of other minority arts communities.”

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June 25, 2018
RAISE Summit 2018
Lake Buena Vista, FL
This event is offered at no charge. To register, go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fourth-annual-raise-summit-2018-tickets-42764751523

June 26-28, 2018
APSE Conference
Lake Buena Vista, FL. To register, go to:  http://apse.org/2018-national-conference/

July 16-21, 2018
Association on Higher Education and Disability
(AHEAD) 2018 Conference
Albuquerque, NM.
To register, go to: http://ahead.org/
Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

The Raise Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.
Executive Editor:
Peg Kinsell
Visit our Website:
RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.
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RAISE is funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance to, and coordination of, the 7 PTI centers (RSA-PTIs). It represents collaboration between the nation's two Parent Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and the seven Regional PTACs.