The universal language of the arts elicits emotion, reflection, and wonder; but more importantly, it serves to define ourselves and make sense of the world. A fulfilling life involves the human need for creative self-expression and aesthetic appreciation. Exposure to the arts and culture empowers people with disabilities to see themselves beyond their own limits. Participation in the arts in an inclusive setting promotes awareness, which fosters acceptance and social inclusion.
Compared to their peers, individuals with neurological disorders or developmental disabilities, such as autism, have not experienced the same access to cultural institutions. Recent growth of inclusive education in arts disciplines has demonstrated the interest, talent and potential of individuals on the spectrum. Sensory-friendly and autism-friendly events are multiplying across the globe. In France, however, adapted programming and inclusive workshops in museums, theaters and concert halls is often non-existent or limited to children.
Arts for All Ways is a French non-profit association which aims to make culture accessible to everyone.
Ambition: provide the keys to access the arts and cultural heritage
- Enhance the overall experience in cultural spaces for people with developmental disabilities and autism, young and old, French or foreign, verbal or not, savants or with cognitive delay.
- Collaborate with cultural institutions to imagine and develop visual supports, inclusive arts education workshops, human resources, and innovative projects.
- Facilitate inclusion of neuro-divergent people within the neuro-typical population via culture and the arts.
- Address the challenges of people on the autism spectrum and make accommodations for sensory, communication, and social/emotional needs.
- Broaden the concept of universal accessibility to reduce social and environmental barriers that may cause behavior, anxiety, and other reactions.
- Disseminate information, nationally and internationally, about accessibility at cultural institutions and national heritage sites in France.
- Change perceptions. Creating opportunities to explore, connect, and share allows us to see how much we have in common, rather than how we are different.
What we do: make cultural spaces autism-friendly
Autism-friendly accommodations respond to the specific needs of the diverse autism community. To achieve this ambition, Arts for All Ways proposes to:
- Create visual, multi-sensory, and interactive supports using universal design principles to prepare for a visit; to make cultural spaces, transitions, and social interactions more predictable; and to foster inclusive participation in a meaningful way.
- Put in place “sensory-friendly” and “autism-friendly” cultural events.
- Recommend adaptations to the environment to make sensory stimuli tolerable and propose supports to help people with hypersensitivities adjust.
- Increase awareness and understanding of the autism spectrum among staff at cultural venues; provide information to recognize difficulties that may arise and how to offer effective assistance.
- Recruit and train volunteers to accompany visitors/spectators with intellectual and developmental disabilities and facilitate inclusion through the arts and culture.
- Develop relationships with financial partners supportive of arts and autism, as well as cultural organizations, to give us the means to achieve our mission.
The website for Arts for All Ways is currently under construction. In the meantime, feel free to contact me via Frog & TED with questions, comments, and support, or leave a message below.