ABLE Assembly: Arts Better the Lives of Everyone 2021 | Theme: Intersectionality, Disability, and Arts Education ABLE Assembly: Arts Better the Lives of Everyone 2021 | Theme: Intersectionality, Disability, and Arts Education

ABLE Day 1

Saturday, April 10, 2021

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Keynote Presentation: Intersectionality and The Social Model of Disability: Reframing Educational Practice
Emelyne Bingham
Emelyne Bingham
Vanderbilt University, Senior Lecturer

“My mother thought being a woman and an engineer was an intersection that would work for me. But a roundabout path of failures, successes, and self-discoveries led me to an entirely uncharted path, complete with newly-found intersections.”  ~ Emelyne Bingham, conductor, educator, and autism self-advocate.

Using both research and personal experience, Bingham examines the use of the social model of disability in conjunction with intersectionality as a powerful approach to reframe existing practices in arts education. Implications are discussed in terms of educator satisfaction, student success, and social justice.

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Pre-recorded 20 Minute Session: Act for Advocacy
Wendy Duke
Wendy Duke
The Center for Applied Drama and Autism | Theatre on the Spectrum, Co-Founder | Program Director

“Act for Advocacy” is an applied drama workshop to help people learn to advocate for themselves and others. Drama games and exercises provide a useful way for people of all abilities to learn the skills they need to assert their rights and the rights of those around them. This workshop provides a safe and judgment-free space to share experiences of discrimination. Act for Advocacy empowers participants, by acting out real-life scenarios using improv and Theatre of the Oppressed techniques. Injustice can take many forms from landlords ignoring tenants' rights, to someone deliberating damaging a student's artwork, or an individual is made to feel that they have no talents or gifts to share with the world at large. Until these issues are uncovered and addressed, arts learning and quality of life will be hindered. In this hands-on workshop, audience members will be invited to "act for advocacy" with our company.

Looking to dive deeper into the content of the session? Check out these supporting materials:

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Pre-recorded 20 Minute Session: At the Intersection of Culturally Responsive Teaching and Universal Design
Celia Watson
Celia Watson
Boston Ballet, Community Education Coordinator
Alicia Greene
Alicia Greene
Boston Ballet, Assistant Program Director

Using the framework of Boston Ballet’s Adaptive Dance Program and Education and Community Initiatives, we will explore how the practices of Culturally Responsive Teaching and Universal Design intersect to create an inclusive dance experience. We will examine the definition of culture, and how each of us can examine our own cultural lens and build awareness of broader social contexts. We will then connect these strategies to universal design, and explore through program design and instruction how to provide multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement to all abilities and cultures.


Looking to dive deeper into the content of the session? Check out these supporting materials:



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Pre-recorded 20 Minute Session: Engaging Teens In Conversations of Race and Disability Through Theatre: Developing an Action Plan for your High School Drama Club or Local Youth Theater Company
Tara Mansour
Tara Mansour
Westwood Public Schools, Occupational Therapist

Are you involved with youth theatre? Do you want to develop a student culture that embraces anti-racism, anti-ableism and anti-oppression? This presentation will support youth leaders to develop a multisensory approach for teens to address social inequalities through the performing arts. Theatre provides a platform to tell stories that challenge convention, spark conversation, provoke thoughts and spotlight the emotions is us all. Nicholas Hartlep discusses the power of storytelling and its powerful and persuasive ability to unlearn beliefs that are commonly believed to be true (2009). In this session, we use performance art as a means to engage young minds in discussion and provide strategies for exploring the layers of subordination that exist based on gender, class, race, disability, immigration status and other social identities. Where can you begin? Join us on the journey of bringing the conversation about intersectionality and injustice to your local drama club or youth theatre program.

Looking to dive deeper into the content of the session? Check out these supporting materials:

Additional Resources

- EDT
Pre-recorded 20 Minute Session: Teaching is Activism! Implementing the Arts as Catalyst to Accessing a Deeper Understanding of Equity and Our Universal Interconnectedness
Adam Goldberg
Adam Goldberg
NYC Schools PS-177, Music Teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator

Please allow me to share my journey through a year of uncertainty and how the ever-present power of music led my students and I to revelation and celebration!

The upheavals of this year created opportunities for my students and I to find deeper meaning. Teaching homeroom remotely, I found ways to connect my lessons with common themes through music; addressing today’s most critical social issues in accessible and relatable ways.

Using musical and video examples in class, the Arts, Science, ELA, History and Social/Emotional Learning unified to bring a deeper understanding of the devastating human actions causing climate change disasters. A culminating video will be shown illustrating how music served as the catalyst to student learning.

Our clss is now exploring the Monarch butterfly and its deep connections to Mexican Culture, History, Science, and climate change. More music will be introduced as well. Further projects related to the recent and ongoing protests for social justice will also be implemented.

 This school year, through its many trials, has brought so much opportunity for personal learning and growth. What’s around the corner? I don’t know! But I’m looking forward to the opportunity to share my learning with you!

Note: If unable to view video due to YouTube restrictions, use this link for alternate viewing method: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1l2N6RylF6twgPd3lgMNFzBCHJaNSikuz/view?usp=sharing


Looking to dive deeper into the content of the session? Check out these supporting materials:

Additional Resources

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Pre-recorded 20 Minute Session: When They See Us : Intersectionality and Ableism in Special Education
Aliza Greenberg
Aliza Greenberg
Learning Spring School, Arts Enrichment Coordinator
Alyssa Liles-Amponsah
Alyssa Liles-Amponsah
Temple University, Associate Director of Diversity Initiatives and Community Engagement

This session will engage participants in discussion around the intersections of ableism and racism in special education. Using Talila A. Lewis’ definition of ableism we will explore the ways in which the arts and special education might devalue disabled students of color through systemic issues and how we, as individual educators, can work to break down those systems.  By recognizing and celebrating the intersectional identities of all students we move the needle towards more thoughtful and culturally relevant teaching. Led by social justice educators focused on race and disability, the session will explore how ableism and racism work against students with disabilities in our education system, and then offer action steps that arts educators can take in their teaching practice, curriculum creation, interaction with students, and advocacy to begin to break down these systems and operate within a justice centered framework.

Looking to dive deeper into the content of the session? Check out these supporting materials:

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Pre-recorded 20-minute Session: A DisCrit Perspective on Music Education: Considerations for Intersectional Change
Erika Knapp
Erika Knapp
Michigan State University

The way teachers engage with dis/ability and race in their classrooms is often linked to their underlying belief systems and substantial evidence connects teacher beliefs and perceptions to the reification of hegemonic norms (Annamma, 2015b; Heroux, 2013). One contributing factor is a systemic cultural incongruence between teachers and students of color and those with dis/abilities, which solidifies deficit perspectives (De Matthews & Serafini, 2020). The majority of the teacher workforce is white and able-bodied and “lack prolonged, ongoing interaction with people of color and therefore develop misinformed, deficit social and cultural perspectives of racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse students” (Warren, 2015, p. 573). Music education is not immune to this and educators need to consider how they might be contributing to this problem.

DisCrit, or Dis/ability Critical Race Theory, is a theoretical framework that combines dis\ability studies and critical race theory to examine how “race and ability are socially co-constructed and interdependent” (Annamma, et al., p. 5). Using DisCrit as a framework, this session explores issues in music education such as pre-service teacher education, curriculum design, and instructional materials to suggest ways music education programs might make changes towards greater equity for students.

Looking to dive deeper into the content of the session? Check out these supporting materials:


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Pre-recorded 20-minute Session: Figure On Diversity: Benefits of Life Drawing and Representation in Arts Education
Angela DeCarlis
Angela DeCarlis
Figure on Diversity, Founder and Director

The artistic practices of Figure Modeling and Life Drawing each come with benefits, particularly regarding positive body perception. Models report attitudes which demonstrate their own "corporeal empowerment," and studies suggest that these advantages can be reaped second-hand, through the practice of drawing a model.

But who has access to these benefits? In Boston, the figure modeling community is comprised predominantly of white, cisgender, thin/athletic, and able-bodied models. This is a problem not only for art students who do not share physical affinity with models, but also in terms of representation more broadly. By limiting the bodies seen in artwork and in our students' education, we are reinforcing the harmful idea that only some bodies are aesthetically worthy of representation.

 Through workshops designed to increase figure modeling's accessibility to people belonging to marginalized demographics, we hope to expand the reach of modeling's benefits to everyone in the classroom, and beyond.

Looking to dive deeper into the content of the session? Check out these supporting materials:



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Pre-recorded 20-minute Session: The Importance of Anti-Ableist Perspectives in Preservice Art Education: Faculty and Student Perspectives
Jenna Gabriel
Jenna Gabriel
Virginia Commonwealth University, Arts in Education Consultant | Special Education Specialist
Anh Ha
Anh Ha
Virginia Commonwealth University, Preservice Teacher

This session, led by a VCU Art Education instructor and student, will explore the potential of an undergraduate course to develop anti-ableist mindsets and practices in preservice art teachers. The session will provide an overview of the syllabus, which draws on art education, special education, and critical disability studies works in addition to practical application exercises. Participants will learn how to apply a critical lens in examining and reimagining their own lessons from an anti-ableist perspective. Presenters will provide a brief history and critique of how students with learning disabilities are supported within the arts education landscape, as well as practical and anti-ableist strategies that may prove to be effective when working with students with ADHD. In addition to a discussion of future implications, instructional strategies for both preservice teachers and K-12 students will be provided--making this session useful to current faculty and practicing arts teachers alike.

Looking to dive deeper into the content of the session? Check out these supporting materials:

Additional Resources

- EDT
Live Day-Ending Synthesis Session

Session Agenda: 

  • Welcome/Intro from Creative Generation Facilitator
  • Keynote Address
  • Transition to Discussion/Intro Guests from Recorded Sessions
  • Open Discussions