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Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability header

Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability

2014 Conference and Training - Chicago, IL
August 2014

Join us for LEAD® 2014

The LEAD® conference continues to be the one place where leaders and newcomers in the field of access to the cultural arts for individuals with disabilities and older adults can meet and mingle with peers, learn about the latest technological advances, get the straight talk on legal issues, and contribute to the collective knowledge base of how to reach and engage audiences, patrons, and visitors of all ages and abilities.

  • Basic to Advanced: No matter what level of experience you have, there’s always something to learn. The building blocks will give newcomers the tools and information they need to develop a successful accessibility program while the discussion groups and advanced track address accessibility for the most experienced.
  • Facilities to Programs: Sessions and discussions will cover all aspects of accessibility from the built environment to programs and communication.
  • Legal Obligations & Customer Service: Learn about relevant laws and regulations and explore accessibility from the customer service and business case perspectives.
  • Networking: Engage in conversations with colleagues who are enthusiastic about accessibility and eager to share their insights and learn from others.

Please join us in Chicago to continue the dynamic dialogue to share exciting ideas and explore new and innovative ways to welcome everyone through the doors of our organizations.


About our Partners

Illinois  Arts Council Agency Illinois Arts Council Agency

The Illinois Arts Council Agency serves the people of Illinois through grants and services that support Illinois' arts sector, advance arts education and foster creativity and working artists. For more information, please visit

Arts Alliance Illinois

Arts  Alliance Illinois: Give Voice to a Creative State

Arts Alliance Illinois is the state's leading voice for the arts and arts education, uniquely combining advocacy, research, and collaboration to advance a creative and culturally vibrant state. For more information, visit

Chicago Children's Museum

Chicago  Children's Museum

The mission of Chicago Children's Museum is to improve children's lives by creating a community where play and learning connect. CCM is the only cultural institution in the city dedicated to young children and the important adults in their lives. Playful experiences, including more than 15 interactive exhibits, tap into how kids learn, and engage them at an early age so they develop a lifelong love of learning. For more information, visit

Great Lakes ADA Center

Great Lakes ADA Center

The Great Lakes ADA Center is a member of the ADA National Network and serves the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. The Center provides a variety of services including hosting numerous webinar and distance learning programs that promote voluntary compliance with the ADA in collaboration with external entities including but not limited to the LEAD program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, U.S. Access Board, National Center on Accessibility, U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and the Accessibility Committee of the Chief Information Office (CIO) within the Federal Government. The Center, along with its counterparts is recognized nationally for its contributions to increasing the knowledge and understanding of the ADA. For more information, visit

Steppenwolf Theatre Company


As a leading regional theater Steppenwolf Theatre Company contributes to Chicago's status as a vibrant place to live, work and visit and is a proud cultural ambassador for this global city. Recognizing its responsibility to the Chicago community, Steppenwolf is committed to ensuring access to broad and diverse audiences, including those with hearing, visual and mobility disabilities. For more information, visit

Who Attends LEAD®?

Whether your organization is big or small, your programming is indoors or outside, or if you come from a performing arts center, art gallery, zoo, museum, theater, or park, the networking and information offered at LEAD® can help you improve accessibility for all of your patrons and visitors.

LEAD® provides professional development for:

  • Accessibility Managers and Coordinators
  • Box Office and House Managers
  • Outreach and Education Coordinators
  • Patrons and Visitor Services Managers
  • Facilities and Operations Managers
  • Exhibition Designers
  • State and Local Government ADA/504 Coordinators
  • Marketing and Audience Development Directors
  • State Arts Commission/Council Accessibility Coordinators

Conference Highlights

Here are just a few of the sessions and opportunities on the program! Visit the conference schedule page for more information.

Subject to change.

  • The Basics

    This series of sessions is designed for those who are new to accessibility or who need a refresher on the building blocks of a successful accessibility program. Presenters will cover everything from physical access to planning; programmatic access to marketing.

  • Doing Access Justice: Legal Issues for Arts Administrators

    Always one of the most popular sessions at LEAD®, this forum is a dynamic, participant-driven Q&A session with experts from the U.S. Department of Justice and Disability Business and Technical Assistance Centers.

  • Curbside Assistance on the Road to Accessibility: Accessibility requirements and resources for state and federal grantees

    State and federal agencies offer unique partnership and funding opportunities, but with these opportunities come added legal and fiscal requirements, including compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. In this interactive workshop, state arts agency (SAA) accessibility coordinators and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) staff will help workshop participants navigate the state and NEA grant application processes, the legal requirements for accessibility, and the resources available for cultural organizations. After a brief panel presentation and group discussion, attendees will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with SAA and NEA representatives in a "meet your arts agency" session.

  • Exhibition Accessibility in the 21st Century

    Museum experiences in the 21st Century are changing rapidly as our institutions seek to become more participatory, experimental, immersive, and technology-based.  Innovative new exhibition forms may require equally innovative approaches to accessibility, to ensure that visitors with disabilities aren't left behind as museum practice moves forward. This Insight session will use examples from contemporary art and science museums to spark a large-group discussion about changing exhibit formats and new approaches for access and inclusion.  Join us to share your own examples and help generate a working list of principles, guidelines, and recommendations to better address these challenges at our home institutions.

  • Website Accessibility Consultations

    Registration Fee: $25
    Space is limited.
    Meet one-on-one with an expert on accessible web design and get practical, useful recommendations on how to make your website more accessible.  Not the web developer for your organization? No problem! During the consult, you'll receive a detailed report that you can take back to your IT department. Sign up when you register!

  • Pecha Kucha

    This is your opportunity to talk about new, current, or recent accessibility-related projects or initiatives!  These talks are short and sweet – each presenter will get four minutes max! – to share the work that they are doing with everyone at the conference.   Sign up when you register!


Registration Eligibility and Rates


Not all registrations will be accepted. Space is limited and preference will be given to paid staff at cultural arts organizations or cultural arts service or government agencies who are directly responsible for making programs and facilities accessible to people with disabilities. The Kennedy Center reserves the right to decline registrations. In the event that registration is declined, the Center will issue a refund for any fees collected.

Discounts and Scholarships

Team Registration Discounts:

If your organization sends more than one person to the full conference, the registration rate drops to $200 per person! Please Note: The team registration rate is only available to staff members of arts or cultural organizations; arts or cultural service agencies; university or college arts or arts administration program staff; and federal, state or local government employees.

Illinois Arts Council Agency Scholarships

Scholarships are now available through the Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA)! Applicants are required to be Illinois not-for-profit organization staff at cultural arts or cultural arts service organizations, or government agency staffs who are directly responsible for making programs and facilities accessible to people with disabilities. For more information, please contact Encarnacion Teruel at

Scholarships for Students:

Graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in arts administration/management or museum studies programs can apply for a scholarship to attend the LEAD Conference at a reduced rate of $125. If accepted, student registration would include access to sessions beginning at 1:00 p.m. Monday, August 4; all day Tuesday, August 5; and all day Wednesday, August 6. Additional fees apply for pre-conference and capacity building workshops as well as the Awards Dinner and any other special events.

To apply, please send a statement of interest along with your name, contact information, name and location of your university or college, degree expected, and area of study to

Applications must be received by June 30, 2014.

Registration Rates:

Conference: August 4 - 6

Includes access to sessions Monday, August 4 at 1 p.m. through Wednesday, August 6; breakfast and lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday; and one ticket to the LEAD® Awards Dinner on Wednesday, August 6.

  • Student Scholarships: $125 per individual (Application required. See Scholarship section for complete details)
  • Arts/Cultural Organization Staff: $220 per individual or $200 per team member
  • Federal/State/Local Government Staff: $220 per individual or $200 per team member
  • College/University Arts or Arts Administration Staff: $220 per individual or $200 per team member
  • Arts Service Agency Staff: $220 per individual or $200 per team member
  • Non-Profit Disability Service Organization Staff: $550
  • For-Profit Disability or Arts Service Organization Staff and Consultants: $750
Pre-Conference Workshops

Workshops will be offered concurrently on Sunday, August 3 and Noon on Monday, August 4. Dates and times are subject to change. See above for details.

  • $90 per person per workshop
Capacity Building Workshops:

Registration fees are per person.

  • Developing Audio Description Skills (Two-day Workshop): $550
  • Difficult Description: $275
  • Developing Multisensory Strategies to Engage All Audiences: $275

Accessible Travel

Here are a few links to help you plan your trip to Chicago:


Conference Hotel Information

We are pleased to host LEAD® 2014 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. Conference rates have been arranged. To receive these rates, reservations must be made by July 15, 2014. If making your reservation via phone please ask for the Kennedy Center LEAD Conference rate or use the promo code listed below. Rates do not include tax. A limited number of rooms are being held so reserve immediately!

When reserving hotel rooms online, please utilize the Special Requests box, under the Optional Information section, to request accessibility accommodations.

Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers
301 East North Water Street, Chicago, IL

Other Hotel Options

Some nights at the Sheraton are already sold out. Below is a list of alternative hotels that are close to the Sheraton that you may wish to book with. Please note that transportation will not be provided. Rates and available may change, please contact hotels directly for more information. These hotels do not offer a LEAD conference rate.

Embassy Suites Hotel Chicago - Downtown/Lakefront
511 N Columbus Dr, Chicago, IL 60611 (0.2 miles from Sheraton Hotel)

Doubletree by Hilton Chicago - Magnificent Mile
300 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611 (0.4 miles from Sheraton Hotel)

InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile
505 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611 (0.3 miles from Sheraton Hotel)

W Chicago-Lakeshore
644 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611 (0.6 miles from Sheraton Hotel)

Swissotel Chicago*
323 E Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601 (0.2 miles from Sheraton Hotel)

Hyatt Regency Chicago*
151 E Upper Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601 (0.4 miles from Sheraton Hotel)

*Please note – These hotels are very close to the Sheraton but the shortest route between them do require walking up or down steps. There is an accessible route but it is circuitous. These hotels are not recommend for attendees in wheelchairs or with limited mobility.


Contact Us

Voice (202) 416-8727