Cultural Facilities

Access to museums, theaters, the performing arts and other cultural facilities is important to people with disabilities of all ages as well as to older adults who also may need physical and sensory accommodations. As the program at the Museum of Modern Art has shown, even individuals with Alzheimer’s can benefit greatly from exposure to art.

Open Doors Organization (ODO) is an active proponent of access to the arts and is a founding member and sponsor of Bodies of Work, a Chicago disability arts organization. For many years, ODO has worked closely with the Chicago Children’s Museum, providing staff training as well as assistance with ADA compliance and development of inclusive programming.

A major portion of each ODO Easy Access guide is devoted to the accessible programs and facilities offered by the city or area’s cultural facilities. The information is gathered by onsite inspection, which means that ODO staff have audited more than 100 theaters, museums, performing arts spaces and art galleries in Chicago and another 40 in Springfield, IL. During each visit, recommendations are made to fine tune accessibility and further improve the experience for patrons with disabilities.

In 2009-2010, under a grant from the Chicago Community Trust, Open Doors Organization offered an Inclusive Arts and Culture Program (IACP) aimed at improving accessibility and outreach in its home city. More than forty cultural facilities participated in the program’s five workshops, held at such institutions as the Victory Biograph Theatre, the Notebaert Nature Museum and the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Participants could also request an ODO accessibility audit and possible inclusion in Easy Access Chicago. Among the guest speakers were Jay Cardinali of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and Betty Siegel, director of accessibility at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. To learn more, see the Inclusive Arts and Culture Program Invitation.

Open Doors Organization is a founding member of Chicago Cultural Accessiblity Consortium (CCAC), a volunteer-run group that provides monthly professional development workshops for cultural administrators.

ODO Arts and Culture Services

  • Staff training
  • Video production
  • Marketing and outreach strategies
  • Inclusive program development
  • ADA compliance reviews
  • Web accessibility analysis

Please call us at 773.388.8839 or email Katy O’Reilly to discuss your specific needs.

Cultural Resources

Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium – Access calendar, Archived workshops, Resources

National Endowment for the Arts – Accessibility Publications

Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator’s Handbook – National Endowment for the Arts

The Kennedy Center: Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD)

LEAD Resources – Tip Sheets, Books, Videos and Webinars

VSA Arts

Access and Opportunities: A Guide to Disability Awareness – VSA Arts guide available on VSA Vermont website.

Arts Access Made Easy – VSA Arts

Accessible Best Practices – Association of Science and Technology Centers

National Arts and Disability Center

Victory Gardens Theatre Access Project

The MOMA Alzheimer’s Project: Making Art Accessible to People with Dementia

Art Education for the Blind: Art Beyond Sight

Handbook for Museums and Educators – Art Beyond Sight

Disney’s Technology for Visually Impaired Guests Earns National Award

Smithsonian Guidelines For Accessible Exhibition Design

Universal Design and Exhibit Development – Museum of Science, Boston

Expanding Your Market: Maintaining Accessibility in MuseumsADA Business Connection

Project Access: National Database of Accessible Cultural Institutions

See also Business Resources