Accessibility at 3Arts:

If you have questions about visiting or contacting 3Arts or have any accessibility questions, please contact Mesha Arant at or 312.443.9621.

Annual 3Arts Awards Celebration:

Over time, as we have learned more about the needs of our audiences and the artists we support, we have added new access services to our annual 3Arts Awards Celebration. The following are offered as a rule, whether virtual or in-person:

  • American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation.
  • Assisted Listening Devices (may be dependent on venue).
  • Audio description: live narration of visual elements onstage, conducted by a trained professional over headphones.
  • Captioning for all videos.
  • CART Services (Communication Access Real-time Translation): instant translation of the spoken word into English text using a stenotype machine, notebook computer, and realtime software. Translations are projected onscreen.
  • Large print programs.
  • Personal assistants: a group of individuals are trained and ready to assist.
  • Wheelchair seating: we select the location for any in-person 3Arts Awards event based upon the availability of ample wheelchair seating and access to the stage.

    Note: Building accessibility into our event has resulted in a very welcoming vibe, as well as in an audience that reflects the diversity of Chicago. Our experience also prompted us to go a step further and evaluate the accessibility of our website and online materials.

Video Captioning on our Website:

3Arts Awards videos dating to our first year are now fully captioned. We opted to create our own captions in order to avoid mistakes made by screen readers. As of 2016, all 3AP (3Arts Projects) videos are fully captioned. These videos are hosted on YouTube, which provides automatic captions using voice-recognition software. However, this service needs to be turned on and often produces errors, so we now manually edit and republish the captions using a built-in editing tool that YouTube provides. We have installed HTML coding into our site that forces these captions on at all times, rather than requiring viewers to click on the closed captioning tool (CC) embedded in the video module. We found this to be a fairly easy and cost-effective solution to ensuring that all 3Arts videos are captioned and accessible whether the service is required or not.

Access Services:

Below is a selection of sources for access services and information that we hope will help you augment your own efforts.

ASL (American Sign Language) Interpretation:

Audio Description:

  • Alt-Text as Poetry: an introduction with resources on alt-text, an essential part of web accessibility that provides a written description of images (for anyone!) but is especially useful for people who are blind, low vision, or have certain cognitive disabilities.  
  • Audio Describers / BIPOC Providers: this recorded online presentation welcomes a panel of guest speakers who explore the importance of representation and cultural sensitivity, and discuss how the lived experiences of audio description providers can impact the accessibility of content.
  • Describing Your Image: a fun video tutorial by artist Andy Slater on image descriptions, including examples and tips. 
  • How to Create Audio Descriptions: a handy, step-by-step guide that includes examples. 
  • Victor Cole: Chicago-based freelance audio describer for events and meetings. 


Transcription Services:

  • c2 Inc: provides live performance captioning at live theatrical and cultural events. 
  • Efficiency Reporting: provides real-time captioning and speech-to-text transcription services (also known as "CART" services).

Video Captioning:

  • Amara: website service that allows you to caption your own videos for free, or have them transcribed and captioned for you.
  • Ava: a live captioning service through a mobile or web-based app.
  • Captioning Key: detailed guidelines and best practices for captioning videos.
  • CaptionSync: website service that provides closed captioning and transcription services for a fee.
  • YouTube: if you host your videos on YouTube, you can turn on their automatic subtitling. YouTube uses voice-recognition software, so the automatic translation can be inaccurate. However, you can manually edit these and republish the corrected versions. This is what we do to subtitle videos on the 3Arts website.

More Resources:

The best (unsolicited) advice we can offer you is to talk to people who are in the know about accessibility and disability culture. It was through a process of asking questions and asking for help that 3Arts developed our accessibility plan. 3Arts is also happy to be a resource.

#AccessThat: online guide on how to make digital content accessible, organized by Rooted in Rights. 

Access Acting Academy (A3): resources, trainings, and casting opportunities for blind, low vision, and visually impaired actors. 

Access Living: national nonprofit headquartered in Chicago that provides practical, direct support, and services to thousands of Chicagoans with disabilities each year, while also serving a broader national constituency through aggressive advocacy and public policy efforts.

Access Toolkit for Artsworkers: a UK-produced resource for artworkers that provides guidance on how to plan, produce, and exhibit accessible art projects including information on access riders, financial planning, slow production, display, and creating an acceessible workspace. 

Accessible Social: a free accessibility resource hub for social media users that includes introductions to creating video and image descriptions and formatting text for social media.

Accessibility in the Arts | A Promise and a Practice: an accessibility guide geared toward small-scale arts nonprofits and the potentially expansive publics these organizations serve. Written by Carolyn Lazard, commissioned by Recess, and edited by Kemi Adeyemi. 

All Senses Go: a Chicago-based, multi-service company that helps media producers (and others) create accessible media and events. They offer consulting services including workshops, captioning, describing video, event accessibility, and media production/programming.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): official website about this federal law overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice (updated Nov 2022).

Bodies of Work (BOW): a consortium of four programs at three Chicago organizations that share a commitment to disability artistry, academics, and activism. Their collective mission is to serve as a catalyst for the development of disability art and culture that illuminates the disability experience in new and unexpected ways. The BOW consortium consists of:

Captioning Key: detailed guidelines and best practices for captioning videos.

City of Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities: resources, services, and alerts for residents and visitors with disabilities.

Crip Crap Media: media about disability, by and for disabled people. Consulting services support people in the media, art, and theatre realms creating disability-friendly media. 

Cultural Access Collaborative (CAC): formerly known as Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium, CAC facilitates a dynamic community of cultural administrators and people with disabilities to remove barriers in Illinois cultural organizations. A volunteer-run group of cultural administrators and representatives from the disability community in Chicago, CAC represents theaters, museums, orchestras, park centers, zoos, and other cultural organizations across the state of Illinois.

  • Access Calendar: list of all accessible programming offerings, including theater performances, touch-tour exhibits, autism-friendly events/performances, and more.
  • Resources: comprehensive resources page that offers a variety of access-related, downloadable documents and links.

Disability Benefits 101: an online resource that provides tools and information on employment, health coverage, and benefits (as of 2023, currently available for 10 U.S states, including Illinois).

Disability Cultural Center (University of Illinois at Chicago): offers public programs, discussion series, arts-based workshops, and one-on-one support. They provide an Accessibility Resources & Guides page on their website. 

Disability Justice Resource Directory: an open source, evolving directory of disability justice tools, resources, and best practices, curated by Creating Freedom Movements. 

Disability Lead: a network of people with disabilities who use their power to create an equitable and inclusive society, including through an Emerging Leaders Institute (application based), networking, professional development, and more.

Disability Resource Center (University of Minnesota): tips on creating accessible and inclusive meetings or events. 

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF): a leading national civil rights law and policy center directed by individuals with disabilities and parents who have children with disabilities. 

Disability Thinking: weekly blogpost about disability life, ideas, identity, culture, commentary, and politics.

Disability Visibility Project: online community dedicated to recording, amplifying, and sharing disability stories and culture.

Easy Access Chicago: online brochure highlighting accessible information for venues in Chicago.

Equip for Equality: nonprofit organization that administers the federally mandated Protection & Advocacy System for the state of Illinois, serving as a legal advocate for people with disabilities and as an independent watchdog.  

Great Lakes ADA Center: provides customized training, expert assistance, and dissemination of information with the goal of helping to achieve voluntary compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

How to Make Exhibitions and Art Events Accessible: selection of guidelines and resources compiled by Art in America (June 2020).

Medicare Eligibility for People with Disabilities: introduction and resource guide from Medicare Plans|Patient Resource Center.

Mental Health Support (Bri Beck): a counseling practice specializing in disability affirming mental health support not only for individuals within the disability community (and their loved ones), but for organizations who wish to learn more about disability affirming care and anti-ableist practices. 

Mental Health Support (Unspoken): a Chicago-specific guide to resources and connections for mental health support (regularly updated, as of August 2022).

On the Move: a Belgian-based international organization that provides information on cultural mobility, including open calls, funding guides, resource lists, reports, and research for artists and organizations in the disability movement. 

National Disability Institute: a national nonprofit commited to financial education and emowerment fo rpeople with disabilities. 

National Disability Rights Network (NDRN): national network of nonprofits for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Provides a state listing (for Illinois, see Equip for Equality). 

National Endowment for the Arts: publications, checklists, and resources, including a 2020 guide on how to help ensure accessibility of virtual events for people with disabilities.

National Open Captioning Initiative (by Theatre Development Fund, TDF): sponsorship opportunity for regional theatres to offer open-captioned performances.

Reinventability Accessibility Services: recommended vendors and links to various accessibility services. 

The Kennedy Center: their Accessibility Office focuses its efforts on accessibility services for patrons and visitors with disabilities; professional development for cultural administrators; and career opportunities in the arts for people with disabilities.

WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind): credited as the most understandable source for online accessibility, WebAIM empowers organizations to make their web content accessible to people with disabilities. They provide accessibility training, accessible site certification, technical assistance, and other resources.

  • WAVE: an evaluation tool that will check any website for accessibility issue, identify them, and provide instructions on how to correct them.

World Institute on Disability (WID): advances the inclusion, rights, and justice of people with disabilities with the design and delivery of whole community solutions. WID brings together knowledge and skills to give customers world-class consulting, training, and technical assistance services.