What a phenomenal launch of the Arts & Access celebration this weekend!  More than 150 proud celebrants attended the launch party at Good Shepherd’s Health & Technology Center last Friday, while two local theatrical performances accommodating people with visual and hearing loss, both “Rapunzel” and “Hello Dolly,”  sold out!

After nearly eighteen months in development, more than 30 cultural organizations have teamed up with social service agencies to create a schedule of more than 40 performances,  exhibitions, film screenings, public meetings and lectures  through June 2016, to intentionally reach people with disabilities and their families and friends.

There are sensory friendly performances for children with autism; art exhibitions for people with visual loss that allow for a tactile exploration of a 3-D image of that art work; “See the Music, Hear the Art,” is an American Sign Language interpreted workshop for K-12 students with hearing loss.  They will experience the vibrations of Chamber musical selections performed by SATORI while artist Bill Christine paints his emotional responses to the music.

There is really so much to be proud of! The scope of Arts & Access and the breadth of support speak to the power of the arts to bring people together. Check out the new web portal, ArtsandAccess.org, to learn more about the upcoming schedule of accessible events. Sign the Pledge to commit to full implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Pledge! On!” The Miracle Movers cheer for pledging to support access for all.

This weekend we celebrated the beginning of a new relevance to a community that includes all people. If we want to transform the Lehigh Valley into a more inclusive region moving into the future, let’s use this celebratory year as an opportunity to listen and learn from each other. There is much to talk about, and more barriers to remove.

As advocates, we are stronger together.

by Randall Forte, Lehigh Valley Arts Council Executive Director

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