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Grants and Services of the West Virginia Commission on the Arts

West Virginia Division of Culture and History


Accessibility Policies and Resources

Our commitment

A universal or inclusive environment of the arts is one that is useable by everyone, people with and without disabilities and people of all ages. It is an environment with buildings and grounds, communication systems, and programming that are useable by everyone. Why? It’s the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires organizations to make their programs, services, activities and employment accessible to qualified persons with disabilities. Why? It’s an opportunity. A universal environment is more than accessibility. It is usability. It is not a response to an individual’s special request. It is an organizational asset.

Universal planning makes choices that recognize that we are all different, that we have different ways of doing things and that we have different preferences about how we access information and how we communicate. It creates an environment where programs and exhibits are chosen to reflect a commitment to being part of an inclusive community. The West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts have such a commitment.

The WVDCH/WVCA expect West Virginia arts organizations and schools to take responsible steps to assure that their facilities and programs are accessible to all citizens and to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Go to to know more about the law.

What you have to do

All grant requests to the WVDCH/WVCA will require you to address Accessibility/ADA thoroughly. The requirements for organizations receiving state and federal funds are the same regardless of whether the building is owned, rented, or leased.

Here are the forms you need:


Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Assurance Form asks you to tell us if your facility and programs are in full compliance or that you are not but you have a plan to achieve compliance.

Diversity and Accessibility Questionnaire asks you to tell us what you do in your community or school to make sure everyone is included.

Transition Plan or Interim Transition Plan asks you to detail your plan for compliance.

If you have a Transition Plan on file, submit the Interim Transition Plan with your application. If you do not have one on file, submit the full document with your application. All organizations will be required to submit the full document every three years regardless of when the initial plan was submitted. All grant applications submitted in 2005 (FY2006), 2008, 2011 etc. require the full plan.


Diversity and Accessibility Questionnaire asks you to tell us what you do in your school to make sure everyone is included.

The expectations for quality accessible programs are the same for schools and arts organizations. Schools are urged to use the Transition Plan as a tool to improve awareness and promote accessibility. It is not required as part of the grant application

Grant recipients must be ready to accommodate a person with a disability even if there is no perceived present need. In the process of ensuring nondiscrimination, 504 requires certain actions that must be taken regardless of the presence of a person with a disability who might benefit. This does not mean that arts organizations must provide specific program accommodations when there are no people with disabilities present — materials in Braille or sign language interpretation, for example. The principle means that the organization must place itself in the position of being able to provide accommodations in case requests are made in the future. Organizations should make advance preparations for program accessibility.

WVCA asks each applicant to describe efforts to improve programmatic and physical access in its organization as a means to evaluate the degree to which it is proactively working on these issues. WVCA is not, however, in the position to determine whether an applicant is in compliance with any State and Federal laws governing this subject. A WVCA grant should not be interpreted as an opinion on that organization’s compliance with its legal obligations. Each organization is responsible for complying with all applicable laws, rules and regulations.

Here’s how we can help

Resources we can send you:

Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator’s Handbook, introductory handbook offers guidance on how to accommodate and include everyone in your arts programs.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Questions and Answers, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division employment, public accommodations, resources.

Disability Access Symbols Project, Graphic Artists Guild Symbols intended to help advertise your access services.

Guidance on How to Write and Speak About People with Disabilities and Older Adults and Guidelines for Reporting and Writing About People with Disabilities

NEA/Research & Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, Guidelines to language and portrayal, preferred terminology.

Universal Design Bibliography, Universal Designers & Consultants for the NEA book resources.

Environmental Modifications for the Visually Impaired - A Handbook, compiled by: John Duncan/NEA. Standards, suggestions and comments, orientation aids, further reading and resource organizations.

A Few Practical Tips for: Print Legibility and Low Vision, Lighthouse News. Practical tips.

Working with a Sign Language Interpreter, NEA. Suggestions when giving a museum tour.

National Forum on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities, The Kennedy Center/NEA. Final report; focusing on education and training, money and jobs.

The Arts and Older Americans, Monographs, National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies. Articles addressing how the arts can be involved in the age shift.

Arts and Aging Resource List, NEA

Section 504 and ADA Resource List, NEA

ADA Information Services, U.S. Department of Justice. Telephone numbers and Internet addresses of federal agencies and other organizations that provide information and informal guidance in understanding and complying with ADA.

Organizations that Assist Artists with Disabilities, NEA

Community Theatre is Accessible Theatre, AACT Spotlight. Article written by Celia M. Hughes, Executive Director, Access Arts Austin.

Theatre Classics, The League of Historic American Theatres. The Americans with Disabilities Act: What it Means for Your Theatre by Gary Hautaluoma.

Performing Arts Resource List, NEA

Visual Arts Resource List, NEA

Accessible Exhibition Design, Smithsonian Accessibility Program, Office of the Provost. Smithsonian Guidelines.

Part of Your General Public is Disabled, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education by the Smithsonian Institution Press. A handbook for guides in museums, zoos, and historic houses by Janice Majewski.

Museums and Technology: Universal Design of Web Sites, NemaNews/Fall 1996

Applying the ADA to the Internet: A Web Accessibility Standard, Cynthia D. Waddell, JD ADA Coordinator, City of San Jose, CA.

Making Your Web Site Fully Accessible, NEA Presentation by David Low, Webmaster, NEA

Resources we can loan

Accessible Temporary Events: A Planning Guide, NC State University. Resource book provides information to assist planners and participants in making temporary events accessible to people with disabilities. You can purchase a copy from the ADA Information Center at

ADA Technical Assistance CD-ROM, U.S. Department of Justice. Includes ADA regulations, information, standards, technical assistance manuals and publications.

Other Resources

WV Division of Culture & History
WV Commission on the Arts
Accessibility Coordinator
Phone: 304/558-0240, ext. 145
TDD: 304/558-3562

National Endowment for the Arts
Office for AccessAbility
Phone: 202/682-5530
TTY: 202/682-549

US Department of Justice
ADA Information Line
Phone: 800/514-0301

The National Arts & Disability Center
Phone: 310/794-1141

VSA arts
1300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202/628-2800
TTY: 202/737-0645

ADA Information Center/Mid Atlantic Region
451 Hungerford Drive, Suite 607
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: 800/217-0124 V/TTY

Statewide Center for Independent Living
P.O. Box 625
Institute, WV 25112-0625
Phone: 304/766-4624 V/TDD

Accessibility Grievance Procedure

If a person with a disability believes that a facility or program funded by the WVCA is inaccessible, they are encouraged to communicate the grievance to the sponsoring organization. If an acceptable response is not received within two weeks, contact the Director of Arts.

Each grievance reported to the Director of Arts will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Possible WVCA actions include:
• Send staff to work with the organization on accessibility. Involve people with disabilities from the local community in an effort to increase the organization’s accessibility.
• Withhold any remaining WVCA funds due the organization for the rest of the fiscal year.
• Request return of funds already granted for the current fiscal year.
• Deny future grant requests.

In all cases, organizations with pending grievances will be denied funding unless they can demonstrate to the WVCA that they are working toward compliance with the current accessibility standards.