Cultural Access New England Logo

Cultural Access New England (CANE) was founded to advance access to cultural facilities in New England for people with disabilities of all types.  CANE defines accessibility broadly, to include programmatic, architectural, physical, communication, attitudinal and other forms of access.  CANE takes as a basic tenet that increasing accessibility for people with disabilities increases accessibility for everyone.

Upcoming Events

Accessible Social Media
Thursday, April 7, 2022 3:00 - 4:30 pm

The role of social media in cultural institutions has become critical in how we engage with visitors and audiences, especially when our doors are closed. How do we ensure what we are sharing reaches visitors and patrons with disabilities? Accessibility should be a priority on these digital platforms.

Cultural Access New England invites you to join us in a community conversation with social media users, experts, and content creators who will share tips and techniques for keeping our social media accessible, understandable, inclusive, and engaging.

Facilitated by the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM).

The conversation will take place on Zoom. A link will be sent after registration.

Cost: Free

Access: Auto-generated captions will be available. For other access needs or preferences, or to request ASL interpreters or CART, please email Saki Iwamoto at

Click Here To Register


Prior Events

Reimagining Cultural Access in New England - CANE Town Hall
Thursday, September 30, 2021

Join CANE and peer arts and culture organizations at a virtual Town Hall to talk about advocacy, alignment, and actions! How has Access (as a practice and a principle) been impacted by the pandemic? How can we keep the "A" in DEAI (Diversity, Equity, "Access" and Inclusion) work? Where do we see success and what are the current challenges?

Gather with your peers for networking and brainstorming. Engaging our community empowers us all!

Emergency Planning and People with Disabilities
May 1, 2020
The Link Room @ The Link, 255 Main St 8th floor, Cambridge, MA 02142

The library has flooded. A person is screaming in the lobby. A windstorm knocks out all the lights. Spyware has infected the donor database. There’s a 3 alarm fire next door.

Each of these scenarios (and more) might strike a note of fear into directors and front line staff, but responding to an emergency situation should not be an unanticipated event. We all know preparedness is key, but are we including the needs of people with physical or cognitive disabilities in our preparation?

Cultural Access New England (CANE) invites you to attend a panel discussion on Emergency Preparedness with a focus on people with disabilities, including plans, policies, and frameworks. Inform yourself and empower your organization. An overview on the types of emergencies that could prevail at your institution will be discussed, and some human resources and tactical strategies will be shared.

"Welcome to Our House: Access in Historic Houses and Museums"
October 10, 2019
The Mount, Edith Wharton's Home, 2 Plunkett Street Lenox, MA 01240

Making Historic Houses and Museums welcoming, inclusive and accessible for all may seem daunting. Utilizing multi-sensory approaches, Universal Design principles, “Know-before-you-go” information, and assistive technology can help provide options for the rich variety of patrons coming through your front door. Join us for a morning workshop and discussion that centers adaptive thinking and active learning within the spectacular spaces of The Mount in Lenox, MA. Fundamental information and best practices will be shared, next steps will be developed!

The Mount is a National Historic Landmark and cultural center that celebrates the intellectual, artistic, and humanitarian legacy of Edith Wharton, one of America’s greatest authors. Wharton wrote over forty books in forty years, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Age of Innocence. The Mount is now a year-round cultural center providing programs and exhibits for over 50,000 visitors annually. The 55 acre property includes the Main House, three acres of formal gardens, the Stable, and extensive woodlands.

"What? When? How? A Community Conversation on Accessible Information Design . . ."
March 28, 2019
WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston

What are the challenges/opportunities when addressing information design?  When should you consider asking for help?  How do you reconcile aesthetics and comprehension?  From business cards to weekly blogs, let's examine the effective practices of designing marketing collateral, exhibit signage, style guides, and digital graphics.  Using real life examples of the good, the bad, and the obtuse, join your colleagues in workshopping the information landscape that includes licensure, lighting, and logos.

"Verbal Description in Museums Training Session"
May 18, 2018
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Staff and volunteers who lead tours in exhibit based institutions are welcome to join an all-day training session.  Break for lunch 12:30 – 1:30.  Training covers the basics of describing visual objects and environments through information, exercises and discussion.  We will also address planned vs. spontaneous description and multi-sensory engagement with description.  Participants should leave the workshop with basic information to "take home" and strategies for practice.

Note that the MFA is open on Friday evenings and you are welcome to stay in the Museum after the workshop.

"Community Engagement"
April 9, 2018
Museum of Science, Boston

Sometimes the rush to diversify audiences and build capacity in our institutions can result in "one-off" programs or events that don't have a lasting impact on our audiences.  How can accessible events and programming build long-term relationships with patrons?  A panel discussion highlighting methods and systems that have worked - and those that haven't - will be followed by a group discussion.

After the workshop, participants are invited to explore accessibility features in exhibits throughout the museum with staff from CANE.

"Hands-On Training Session for NCAM's Free CADET Software"
December 7, 2017
WGBH Studio in the Boston Public Library and Newsfeed Cafe

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) at WGBH has developed free downloadable captioning software, the Caption and Description Editing Tool (CADET V 2.0), that allows users to easily and affordably produce high-quality caption files that are compatible with any media player and any web browser.  CADET can also be used to generate audio-description scripts.  CADET enables schools, government agencies, colleges and universities, and non-profits to affordably provide captions with their video content.  Captions benefit a broad audience, including people who are deaf or hard of hearing, those for whom English is not a native language, and those who rely on captions in situations where the volume cannot be turned on or up.

Please plan to join us at WGBH's studio in the Boston Public Library for a free CADET training session and Q&A with the experts who developed it.

For the most effective training experience, we would suggest the following:

  - Download CADET in advance of the training session.
  - Download a brief media clip to your desktop for experimenting before, during, and after the training session.  NCAM often uses Sintel, an open-source movie, for demonstrations and training.

Free and open to the public, this event will be captioned using Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) services.

"Train the Trainers Workshop: What Do You Need to Know?"
November 17, 2017
Massachusetts State House, Boston MA

Cultivating staff awareness is an organization's first step toward building accessible practices and programs.  This workshop will address general ADA guidance, tools and technologies, experiential enhancements, language, attitude, and etiquette.

- Charles Baldwin, Program Officer, Universal Participation Initiative, Massachusetts Cultural Council
- Hannah Goodwin, Manager of Accessibility, Museum of Fine Arts Boston
- Carl Richardson, State House ADA Coordinator

"The Accessible Performance Pipeline: an Academic Assessment"
November 6, 2017
The Loft at Berklee, Boston MA

Mass Cultural Council's Universal Participation Initiative (UP), Cultural Access New England (CANE), and the Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs invite you to participate in a discussion on the professional pipeline for artists with disabilities pursuing careers in entertainment and media.  The conversation with local artists, activists, and educators will be moderated by Howard Sherman, director of the Arts Integrity Initiative at the New School for Drama, New York City.

Can the schools, conservatories, and universities of the Commonwealth respond to the data that indicates young artists with disabilities need accessible environments, mentor cultivation, leadership development, and professional representation?

Could the Commonwealth play an integral role in developing accessible performance pipelines that facilitate changes in practice at high schools, community centers, youth groups, and performance venues?  And as the skilled student pool increases, are employers in film, television, news, advertising, theater, and interactive media ready?

Please join us if you work at a college or university for admissions, recruiting, career services, campus life, human resources, or disability services.  Please join us if you are an artist, educator, director, designer, playwright, poet, dancer, choreographer, musician, composer, singer, actor, comic, manager, technician, or craftsperson interested in working at the intersection of performing arts and disability.  Please join us if you are interested in developing proactive steps toward inclusive policies and equitable opportunities within the creative arena of media, entertainment, and communications.

"Performing Arts and Disability: Leadership, Inclusion, and Training"
March 13, 2017 at Boston University

As part of the AXIS Dance Company Residency at Boston University March 13-18, 2017, CANE is pleased to co-sponsor this symposium featuring regional arts leaders and artists.  The symposium will include a panel discussion, break out sessions, and a closing reception.  This will be a time for us to collectively explore issues, resources, advocacy, progress, and next steps in advancing disability inclusion in the performing arts.

Panelists include:
Keith Jones – Poet, President & CEO of SoulTouchin' Experiences
Judith Smith – Founder & Directer – AXIS Dance Company
Yo-El Cassel – Assistant Professor, Movement at Boston University
John Killacky – Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
Beth Peters – Director, Actor, Educator

Moderated by:
Charles Washburn – Vice President and COO, VSA Massachusetts

"Access 101 for Walking Events"
January 25, 2017
Boston Society of Architects, Boston MA

Looking to develop street experiences that are better for everybody?  In this session we will cover the basics for pedestrian-based tours and events; effective communication, intentional planning for a variety of participants, and some practical tools for ensuring hospitable inclusion of visitors with disabilities.

"Beyond the Basics of Access"
November 9, 2016
New England Museum Association Conference, Mystic CT

Explore new approaches to meeting the needs of diverse audiences, with a focus on senior citizen, veteran, and immigrant/refugee populations.  Explore how inclusive website design, audio/multimedia tours, and universal design can open up your museum.  Consider how to create policies and procedures that give you a good base for customer service and a foundation on which to build inclusive programs.

Maria Cabrera - Supervisor Community Relations, Boston Museum of Science
Nora Nagle - ADA & 504 Coordinator, Boston Museum of Science
Hannah Goodwin - Manager of Accessibility, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

"Inclusive Museum Programs for School Groups"
October 17, 2016
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston MA

Do you wish you had more tools for engaging students with a wide range of abilities and disabilities during school programs?  CANE welcomes museum staff and volunteers who work with school groups to a conversation about making the museum setting work for everyone.  This session will include tips for pre-visit conversation and materials, an overview of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and a small group discussion about how you can make your own programs more inclusive.

Session leaders:
  - Saki Iwamoto, Health and Wellness Educator, Boston Children's Museum
  - Nicole Agois, COOL Schools Director, VSA Massachusetts
  - Katherine Gilliland, Docent Manager, JFK Library

"Disability Awareness for Non-Profit Organizations"
September 14, 2016
Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, New Bedford MA

Join us for a presentation about cultural access, universal design, and the various access services and resources.  You'll hear guest speakers and have the opportunity to explore and share what disability awareness means for your organization.

  - Charles J. Washburn, Vice President Seven Hills Foundation and Chief Operating Officer of VSA Massachusetts
  - Charles Baldwin, Program Officer, Massachusetts Cultural Council, UP Inclusive Design Initiative
  - Maria Cabrera, Maria Cabrera. Supervisor, Community Relations. Museum of Science, Boston, and a Board member at the New England Museum Association.

September 14, 2016 Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, New Bedford MA

September 14, 2016 Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, New Bedford MA

"ACCESS: Steps Forward to Inclusion"
May 16, 2016  Providence Children's Museum

How do we look at our institutions and the barriers that prevent full inclusion?  Is meeting ADA compliance satisfactory?  Do you think people with disabilities don't attend your programs?  Is it always about money?

Addressing policy and the need for institutional buy-in, Cultural Access New England (CANE) will facilitate a lively discussion for cultural organizations wanting to go beyond regulatory requirements and broaden community outreach, develop strategic plans, and create inclusive environments.  Information regarding regulations and resources will be present in a workshop designed to support the Executive Director AND the Volunteer.

Charles Baldwin, Program Officer, UP Inclusive Design Initiative, Massachusetts Cultural Council
Saki Iwamoto, Health and Wellness Educator, Boston Childrenbs Museum
Nora Nagle, ADA and 504 Accessibility Coordinator, Museum of Science

"Engaging People of All Abilities Through Inclusive Digital Media"
March 18, 2016    WGBH - Cahners Conference Room

Increasingly, cultural institutions are relying on their web sites, online and social media, and multimedia tour guides to welcome their visitors.  Come hear how your digital assets and outreach can be fully inclusive to people of all abilities.  Top experts in the field will be sharing their knowledge, insights and tips, and will help you explore ways to create effective tools for audience engagement.

Presenters include Brian Charlson, Director of Computer Training Services, The Carroll Center for the Blind and an expert in accessible media from NCAM, the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH.

Brian Charlson, Director of Technology for the Carroll Center for the Blind

"Access . . . It's Not As Scary as You Think!"
October 15, 2015  Peabody Essex Museum

Many museums, historic sites, and other cultural organizations are just starting to understand the necessity of access within their institutions.  This introduction will include an exploration of myths and realities surrounding people with disabilities and will strengthen your comfort level enabling you to better serve this audience.  An overview of access services, practical tips, scenarios, and legalities of the Americans with Disabilities Act will arm you with tools to make it work!

"Deaf & Hard of Hearing Sensitivity Training"
April 29, 2015  Providence Children's Museum

Learn about deaf culture and communication tips for interacting with deaf and hard of hearing people.  Conducted by the RI Commission on the Deaf and Hard Hearing.  You are welcome to join this special presentation to Providence Children's Museum staff and volunteers by RSVPing to

"Understanding Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders"
April 9, 2015  Providence Children's Museum

Learn about the needs and concerns of children on the autism spectrum and discuss ways to support them as visitors to the Museum.  Conducted by The Autism Project.  You are welcome to join this special presentation to Providence Children's Museum staff and volunteers by RSVPing to

"Round Tables Around the Town"

Follow-up to the discussions of the last CANE workshop, "Creating a Welcoming Space for Visitors Who Are on the Autism Spectrum".  Continuing the small group conversation by asking questions, sharing program ideas, and exploring resources that make your cultural institution more accessible for visitors who are on the autism spectrum.

September 18, 2014 - Museum/Exhibition based discussion at Museum of Fine Arts.

September 22, 2014 - Performance/Theater based discussion at Wheelock Family Theatre.

"Creating a Welcoming Space for Visitors who are on the Autism Spectrum"
June 13, 2014  Museum of Science, Boston

A conversation with cultural institutions about welcoming visitors on the autism spectrum and their friends and family.  The session will include a keynote address by Lisa Jo Rudy, writer, consultant and parent of a child on the autism spectrum.  Lisa Jo has worked with cultural institutions in New England to create quality experiences for visitors who are on the autism spectrum.

Following the keynote, representatives from area institutions will share their experiences developing programming for visitors.  The panel will include Boston Children's Museum, Wheelock Family Theatre, Open Door Theater, Museum of Fine Arts - Boston, and Museum of Science - Boston.

"An Introduction to Audio Description:
Making your Cultural Program and Experience Accessible
to People who are Blind or Have Low-Vision"
December 12, 2013  Wheelock College

Cultural organizations can use audio description throughout their programs to make the experience more meaningful and engaging to people who are blind, have low vision or experience other barriers to text.  This workshop will familiarize participants with various approaches that cultural organizations are using.  We will share examples of audio description in live theater, recorded tours and live gallery settings.  You will have the opportunity to explore with experienced colleagues how audio description might work for your organization.  While you will not leave with all the skills you need to start providing audio description, you will have a list of the resources you will need and a vision for how to proceed.

"Historic Preservation & Accessible Design"
Dr. David Bonnet, RIBA, FRSA
November 19, 2013  Massachusetts State House

David Bonnett is a consultant architect with a background in both local authority and private practice.  In 1994 David completed his Research Degree (Ph.D) on "Design Effectiveness for People with Severe Disabilities".  This, as well as his personal knowledge of disability, has made David a leading figure on the subject.  He has worked on a wide range of projects including the Roundhouse in Camden, Tate Britain, Royal Festival Hall, King's Cross Station, Ashmolean Egypt Galleries, Sir John Soanes Museum, Sadler's Wells Dancehouse.

David Bonnett Architects was established in 1994 in response to the demand for his particular experience and skills as Architect-Access Consultant.  Following expansion, the practice was reformed as David Bonnett Associates (DBA) in 2001.  DBA is now one of the leading access consultancy practices in the UK, working on significant projects and with many of the major architectural practices in the UK and Europe.

Sponsored by the Bureau of the Statehouse and Institute for Human Centered Design.

95th Annual New England Museum Association Conference
"Who Cares?: Why Museums are Needed Now More Than Ever"
November 14, 2013 Newport, RI

Accessibility presentations by CANE steering committee members:

9-10:30am: "Access . . . It's Not as Scary as you Think"

Many museums, historic sites, and other cultural organizations are just starting to understand the necessity of access within their institutions.  This introduction will include an exploration of myths and realities surrounding people with disabilities and will strengthen your comfort level enabling you to better serve this audience.  An overview of access services, practical tips, scenarios, and legalities of the Americans with Disabilities Act will arm you with tools to make it work!
- Maria Cabrera - Community Relations Supervisor, Museum of Science, Boston
- Katherine Gilliland - Docent Coordinator, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
- Charles Washburn - Executive Director, VSA Massachusetts

11am - 12:30pm: "Access . . . The Next Step."

Know the basics of Access?  Want to create a more inclusive environment?  Address the needs of older visitors?  Support all students in school groups?  In "What's next", through interactive presentation and discussion, participants will have the opportunity to explore approaches to the above, and more.  What do website design, architectural code and universal design have in common?  How to create policies and procedures that give you a good base for customer service?
- Nora Nagle - ADA & 504 Coordinator, Museum of Science, Boston
- Hannah Goodwin - Manager of Accessibility, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- Larry Goldberg - Director, Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH (NCAM)

"Websites and Accessibility" Webinar: Lunch with NEMA
Conversation Lead by Nora Nagle, ADA and 504 Accessibility Coordinator, Museum of Science

Have you been told that your website is not accessible?  Or that you need to make sure that your website is accessible?  Do you have absolutely NO IDEA what that even means?  Then this is the webinar for you!  Sponsored by the New England Museum Association, the discussion will focus on the different ways that people with different disabilities access the internet, and what makes some websites usable and others not.

This webinar will focus on the BASICS of website accessibility and how to make your website perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust for as many users as possible.  This will not be about programming languages or platforms, but rather the approach that one needs to take in order to examine your website for its accessibility and what to do in order to improve it.

Presenter Nora Nagle is the ADA and 504 Accessibility Coordinator.  Prior to joining the Museum of Science, she was the 2010 Gopen Fellow at the Institute for Community Inclusion. She is Vice-President of the Visually Impaired and Blind computer Users' Group (VIBUG) and is on the Board of the Massachusetts Assistive Technology Loan Program, on the Community Advisory Board for WGBH, and is a member of Cultural Access New England.

CANE Open Meeting, Massachusetts State House
Friday, October 18, 2013

Have you attended a CANE workshop in the past? Do you want to make your institution more welcoming to visitors with disabilities?  Cultural Access New England is here to serve you.  Join CANE for an Open Meeting for current and new members.

The Open Meeting will include a continental breakfast; discussion about a new Massachusetts Cultural Council accessibility initiative; resource tables for accessibility information; and a chance to share how CANE can help you meet your access goals.

Resource tables will include: Accommodations for People who are Blind, Low Vision, Deaf or Hard of Hearing; Basic Accessibility Etiquette; Universal Design and information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and Universal Design for Learning.

Event attendees seated at tables  More event attendees seated at tables

Lisa Wong of the Massachusetts Cultural Council speaking at a podiem flanked by Charles Washburn of VSA Massachusetts and an ASL-interpretor

Arts and Recreation Webinar Series

September 25, 2013 - "Sensory-Programs at Work"

September 18, 2013 - "Strategies for Welcoming People with Autism and Other Sensory Sensitivities"

July 10, 2013 - "Transition Planning: The Dynamic Process for Parks, Recreation and Tourism"

May 22, 2013 - "Program Access in Parks, Recreation and Tourism"

"Successfully Accessible" Webinar Series

March 26, 2014 - "Make Your Online Marketing Accessible"

June 26, 2013 - "Training Your Staff: Dos and Don'ts"

May 22, 2013 - "Planning a Successful Visit for Wheelchair Users and Mobility Issues"

April 24, 2013 - "How to Plan a Successful Visit for the Sight Impaired"

March 27, 2013 - "How to Plan a Successful Visit for the Hearing Impaired"

January 23, 2013 - "Access on a Shoestring and Knowing What You Need"
Access and Download Presentation
Access and Download Transcript

"Making Your Theatre More Welcoming to People with Disabilities"
Wheelock Family Theatre, December 6 2012

How do we understand the culture of expectations regarding patronage at a performance venue when making our venues accessible to all members of our society?  If inclusion is the goal, why are some groups opting for a separate event?

A candid conversation about making our performance venues more welcoming to people with disabilities.  Geared toward administrators, producers, managers, operations staff, guest services personnel, front of house staff.  Institutional policies and procedures; ADA regulations; venue vs. producer responsibilities; and the goals of universal access are reviewed.

Workshop Handouts:
Ten Commandments of Box Office Etiquette
Facts To Know About Interpreters
General Usher Guidelines
Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Serving Patrons with Learning Differences
Front of House Tips for Patrons who are Blind or with Low Vision
Evaluation Form

2010 ADA Regulations and the Arts: Focus on Ticketing
Updated ADA Regulations and Ticketing Webinar

"Websites, Multimedia and Social Media - Accessible to All"
WGBH Studios, October 4 2012

More than ever, cultural institutions are relying on their web sites, online and social media and multimedia tour guides to welcome their visitors.  Your digital assets and outreach can be fully inclusive to all, including people with disabilities.  Presenters: Geoff Freed, Director of Technology Projects and Web Media Standards, Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH (NCAM); Brian Charlson, Director of Computer Training Services, The Carroll Center for the Blind.

If you are interested in a copy of Geoff Freed's PowerPoint presentation, send a note to

Geoff Freed Reviewing Powerpoint Presentation  Event Attendees Around Conference Table

Event Attendees Around Conference Table  Event Attendees Around Conference Table

"ADA Compliance . . . and Beyond"
Massachusetts State House, May 11 2012

What's the latest update on ADA regulations which affect cultural institutions; how can you go beyond basic ADA compliance to become more welcoming and inclusive to all visitors?  Presenters: Carl Richardson (Mass. State House); Kathy Gips (N.E. ADA Center at IHCD).

Carl Richardson

"Train the Trainers"
Museum of Fine Arts, March 16 2012

An in-depth session on welcoming visitors with disabilities, for people in cultural institutions managing and supervising frontline staff.  Speakers include Charles Baldwin (Wheelock Family Theater), Hannah Goodwin (MFA), Bonnie Kaplan (VSA), Nora Nagle and Maria Cabrera (Museum of Science).

Event Attendees  Presenter and Panalists

Event Attendees  Event Attendees