ADAPT Community Network joined the Museum, Arts, and Culture Access Consortium (MAC) panel to discuss virtual access to cultural programming for people with disabilities. MAC is an organization that strives to increase access to New York City’s cultural institutions for the disability community. The pandemic has led to the transition from in-person events to virtual access for many theater productions and art programs. The panel is part of the Mapping Virtual Access Together project that focuses on cultural institutions’ virtual access practices throughout the pandemic. “I felt it was important to hear from those experiencing the shift in virtual programming, says Bojana Coklyat, Consultant at MAC.
Two people supported by ADAPT, Debra Maher and Nishwani Lachhman, participated in the panel and shared their views on the topic. Debra shared her perspective on accessing theatre events, and Nishwani spoke about creating and experiencing art in a virtual space. Both Debra and Nishwani regularly participate in art and theatre programming here at ADAPT and were excited about the opportunity to be a part of this event. “It was a lot of fun,” says Nishwani. “I was a bit nervous at first, but it was a lot of fun,” Debra adds.
The audience contained a mix of people who work in the field of access, including educators, artists, and leaders in NYC cultural institutions who got the opportunity to gain insight from the users’ perspective. “Before the event, we did not unpack how the shift from in-person to virtual affected the users of the accessible programming,” Bojana continues. “The event created a space for the disabled audience members to join the discussion. We talked about timing as access, being seen and heard, and the want for access to be an option instead of compliance.”
“I like the virtual programs. It allows me to participate in more art and theater programs throughout the day from home,” says Nishwani. Debra, a member of our comic book club and theatre program, loves this capability of virtual productions. “I miss the in-person interactions, but now I can rewatch my performances,” Debra says, “and get to meet new people from around the city and the world through the virtual programs.”
Before the pandemic, we only offered in-person sessions. We now provide virtual programming to ensure people supported can have access to the sessions while our Day Hab locations are closed. “We have received feedback on how much easier it is for people with disabilities to access multiple virtual programs in the comfort of their homes without having to travel from one location to another,” says Peter Cobb, Director, Community Outreach.
“It’s crucial that Cultural Institutions get the opportunity to receive direct feedback from people with disabilities on the accessibility of their programs. The feedback that they will hopefully use to expand access at their organizations,” says Shaniece Frank, Assistant Director, Community Outreach.
ADAPT sponsors various programs and services for adults, such as classroom learning, creative expression, community outings, and many more. Learn more about our Adults Learning and Community Connections Programs.