Leadership in the Arts at the Institute on Disabilities, Temple University

Institute on Disabilities, Temple University

Since 2011, the Institute on Disabilities has engaged in a creative exploration of the arts as an extension of its advocacy with and for people with disabilities. The Institute’s Media Arts & Culture (MAC) programs address persistent questions in the disability community and make use of art’s power as a connector across systems. Our MAC programming includes archival preservation; public performance; support for emerging artists with disabilities; and partnerships with local, national and international cultural organizations to ensure inclusive and accessible practices.

Notable projects include:

A Fierce Kind of Love

A Fierce Kind of Love is an original play written by Suli Holum, directed by David Bradley and performed by artists with and without disabilities. The Philadelphia Daily news called Fierce a transcendent, modern, and startling performance of humor and poignancy, outrage and sweetness. It leaves you with a more expansive, beautiful understanding of what it means to be human.” The play premiered in Philadelphia in 2016; it was remounted in March of 2019 and was recently awarded the Kimmel Award for Accessible Experience by ArtReach.

A group of people of varying abilities, ages, races are on stage. Some sit and some stand. One man has a guitar. Two of the people have their arms around each other. The front row of the audience is slightly visible.
A woman wearing a National Theatre lanyard hold up the Smart Caption Glasses to her eyes in amazement

Smart Caption Glasses
In 2019, the Institute partnered with the National Theatre of Great Britain and People’s Light to bring Smart Caption Glasses to the US for the first time. Smart Caption Glasses project a synchronized transcript of a play’s dialogue and sound from the production directly onto the lenses of Epson smart glasses, providing an always on captioning solution for people who are Deaf or experience hearing loss. Lightweight and entirely customizable, Smart Caption Glasses provide a radical departure in how open captioning is delivered.

Visionary Voices

Visionary Voices is a collection of oral history interviews with the leaders of Pennsylvania’s Intellectual Disability Rights Movement. The collection includes stories from advocates, self-advocates and family members who took great risks to ensure the safety and freedom of people with disabilities in Pennsylvania. From the Right to Education, to the closing of institutions and the move toward self-determination, Visionary Voices documents the Movement that led to widespread reform in Pennsylvania and across the US.