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The Art of Inclusion – Seven Steps

A Guide to Developing and Delivering Accessible and Inclusive Programs within Arts and Cultural Organizations

April 27, 201627 April 2016

Diversity and equity

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Originally developed for the art education experiences provided by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, this guidebook outlines “seven steps to accessible and inclusive programs” that can be “beneficial to both audience and institution”. The guide emphasizes that accessible programs are “more than physical facilities”, and inclusive programs are “more than sharing a space”.

The seven steps are:

  1. Define goals.
    • This step involves identifying a target audience and understanding its needs, as well as understanding and pursuing best practices.
  2. Develop partnerships.
    • The guide notes that “collaboration and partnerships contribute to the success of building inclusive programs” when organizations have similar goals “of partnering for accessible program development”.
  3. Assess the target audience and required work environment.
    • Arguing that “understanding your audience is the foundation of designing an accessible program”, this step involves developing an understanding of the characteristics of the individuals an organization wishes to reach, including “behavioural, cognitive, physical, learning, mobility, audio, and visual needs, and the ways to create a safe atmosphere for all”.
  4. Design program content.
    • This step may involve training staff, creating a program outline and activities, creating visual schedules, understanding logistical issues, and working to overcome challenges. The guide argues that “trial and error is the best teacher” in this regard.
  5. Promote the program through various accessible means.
    • Promotional items should respect the needs of the target audience, including appropriate terminology, text, and visuals.
  6. Deliver the program.
    • The guide encourages organizations to consider the best ways of engaging their target audience, instructor leadership characteristics, possible allergies, and potential transition issues between activities.
  7. Evaluate the program and share results with other organizations.
    • This step helps answer key questions such as “What defines the success of your programs? How do you measure this success? What challenges or factors contributed to this? What would you change in future programming?” In order to evaluate programs, the guide suggests obtaining feedback from participants, staff members, volunteers, and instructors. The guide also recommends sharing the results with other cultural organizations and the public.

The many appendices to the guide provide templates and tools for use in creating, designing, delivering, and evaluating accessible and inclusive programs. The guide concludes that “art has proven to be an engaging tool for those who live with challenges to gross and fine motor skills, communication skills, behaviour, mobility, learning, and adaptability.”

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