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'Arts Access for All': Hjemkomst Center to offer arts education focused on people with disabilities

The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC), located at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, has just launched "Arts Access for All," a new monthly educational series focusing on improving access to and inclusion in the arts for people with disabilities. (Submitted photo)

The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County (HCSCC) is excited to announce a new monthly educational series focusing on people with disabilities in the arts. The series is titled "Arts Access for All" and it aims to improve accessibility and accommodations in the area by highlighting etiquette, best practices, and arts inclusivity.

Each monthly session will be held over lunch on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at the Hjemkomst Center's Elm Room from noon to 1 p.m. The sessions are brown bag, or bring your own lunch, but meals may also be purchased from the Hjemkomst Center's Rex Café.

The presentations will focus on the material as follows:

• Feb. 15: Rachel Stotts, Assistant Professor and Clinical Supervisor from MSUM, will present on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Her 19 years of experience as a mother, teacher, and leader in the field will bring us perspective on the common misbeliefs and the wide range of differences among people with ASD. She will demonstrate accommodations developed by her students for an art exhibit and explain why arts organizations need to implement accommodations into their programming.

• March 15: Jesse Shirek, Vision Rehabilitation/Assistive Technology Specialist and Accessible Web Design Consultant, will discuss specific accommodations needed for people with vision loss. Drawing from his multiple years of experience as a teacher, artist, and leader in the field, as well as his own vision impairment, Shirek offers a unique expertise on the importance of high contrast, eliminating visual clutter, and how to best create an environment in arts organizations that is most user-friendly for patrons with vision impairments.

• April 19: Paulette Wood, Program Director for Vocational Training Center, will help us understand the perspectives of people with cognitive disabilities. She will teach attendees how to best prepare people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for a positive visit to a theater production, musical performance, or museum exhibition. Wood has 39 years of experience in the field of cognitive disability, having worked in 4 states and holding leadership positions in both residential and vocational services.

• May 17: Jeanne Kolo-Johnson, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Specialist/Certified ASL Interpreter from the State of Minnesota, will present on proper etiquette, communication, accommodating people with hearing loss in arts organizations, and Deaf culture. Kolo-Johnson has several years of experience working with the Deaf community, by advocating for communication access, providing training for service providers, and working directly with consumers who have hearing loss.

More presentations are forthcoming. This activity is funded in part by a grant from Minnesota Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage, made possible from an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature. To RSVP or request accommodations, please contact HCSCC consultant Sherry Shirek at (701) 781-3055 or sherrybeth7@gmail.com or HCSCC Communications Coordinator Davin Wait at (218) 299-5511, ext. 6733, or davin.wait@hcsmuseum.org.

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