National accessible arts directory

Local councils keen to promote art venues and activities for deaf and disabled people can now use a newly developed national directory of accessible arts called Choose Art.

A collaboration between Arts Access Victoria and a web developer specialising in accessibility,  it was launched in October during the Meeting of Arts and Cultural Ministers and is backed by each state and territory arts body.

Accessibility software lets users select, for example, a screen reader audio player, change fonts or background colours, translate an entry or magnify it.

They can then find art near them by filtering fields including the type of artform and accessibility options such as wheelchair access, accessible toilets, or Auslan.

Gaelle Mellis, Choose Art’s Project Manager, said there’s much local councils can do.

“Register as a promoter to spread the word about accessible arts programs and events you are presenting, and tell arts and cultural organisations in your council area about Choose Art so they can promote their accessible and inclusive programs, events and opportunities,” she said.

“Most importantly, spread the word throughout all of your community to promoting the value of arts and culture that supports diversity and inclusion.”

The Choose Art site was built on a pilot project, ARTfinder Victoria, which was developed in response to the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“Art and culture are not only reasonable and necessary in everyone’s life it is also a human right,” Ms Mellis said.

“Not being part of current cultural and recreational opportunities not only means missing out on a cultural feast – it means missing out on huge social opportunities and social inclusion.

“We wanted to change that.

“Importantly, we wanted to provide a national platform where Deaf and disabled people could exercise choice in identifying accessible and inclusive opportunities for themselves within arts and culture.”

The site was researched, co-designed and developed in about a year, and built by Freerange Future.

“For us this usually means creating sites following all the best practice accessibility standards so that individuals can engage with the site using whatever browser customisation, screen reader or other tools they’re comfortable with.,” Managing Director, Nick Crowther, told ALGA News.

“The approach with Choose Art was different in that as well as following all those standards, we decided to incorporate a range of accessibility tools directly into the site that overtly provide all the flexibility and functionality that people might require.

“In looking for the best way to enrich Choose Art’s range of accessibility features, a shortlist of tools were compiled together with Arts Access Victoria.

“They took the lead in assessing their usefulness and we evaluated them from a technical perspective. “Recite Me has been very successful in Europe and their software’s capabilities and useability made this the best choice.”