Letter from the ORMACO Arts Accessibility Advisory Council

The mission of Ohio Regional Music Arts Cultural Outreach (ORMACO) is to make music, arts, and culture accessible to all, with a focus on underserved, disadvantaged and rural populations.

In 2019, ORMACO reached out to several disability related organizations to create an Arts Accessibility Advisory Council to support its mission and increase collaboration for removing barriers to the arts for people living with a disability.

There are many barriers to inclusion at events for people with disabilities who no longer live at home and depend on others for support. Some of those include:

  • Transportation: Individuals depend on service providers to drive to events, who are less available weeknights and weekends, when many events are held. Funding for transportation is also a challenge, which comes from limited Medicaid dollars.
  • Costs: Many people with a disability live on a fixed monthly income, which covers food, housing and provider services. Entertainment is often not an affordable option. Reduced ticket or free events are important.
  • Venue: Not only does a venue need to be physically accessible, it also helps to review a venue for its accessibility to individuals with intellectual disabilities. Are the staff trained to help navigate the event? Is there a designated quiet area if a break is needed? Are there seating options near the door if someone needs to leave?
  • Engagement: Is the event prepared to support understanding and engagement? There are many ways to prepare individuals to better understand where they are going and what to expect about the performance, which can reduce anxiety and increase success.

The Council is pleased to present its first collaborative project, a “Resource Hub” of materials that help address – and hopefully remove – some of these barriers.  Many of these barriers we cannot address alone, as they are part of a disjointed funding system that is still catching up to inclusion in a community-based setting.

We urge our Ohio leaders to recognize that inclusion must be supported at all levels, across the lifespan, to ensure the many gifts of cultural activities are accessible to all.

Members of the Arts Accessibility Advisory Council

Celeste Bajorek – Chair
Medina County Board of DD

Laurie Cramer
Autism Society of Greater Akron

Beth DeBellis
Midwest Community

Dianne DePasquale-Hagerty
Medina Creative Housing

Matt Meuer
The Society

Lisa Taunt
The Society

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