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Resources for Educators and Parents

The resources listed here are designed to help educators and parents gain more useful information on the relationship of arts, education, and disabilities, especially for children with disabilities. As a leader in arts, education, and disabilities, VSA has produced programmatic resources that have proved invaluable to educators and parents alike.


Students with Disabilities and the Core Arts Standards: Guiding Principles for Teachers

A set of guidelines for teachers that addresses the needs of students with disabilities while following the National Core Arts Standards. Visit for the complete standards, additional inclusion guidelines, and resources within each arts discipline. Published in 2014.

2013 VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education—Exemplary Programs and Approaches

A collection of ten articles describing exemplary graduate and applied programs, innovative practices, and models for partnerships. This publication provides readers with some of the most current exemplary practices and expertise representing a range of arts education disciplines: drama, visual arts, music, and dance. Published in 2014.

The Intersection of Arts Education and Special Education: Exemplary Programs and Approaches

A publication of eight articles by leaders in the intersected fields of arts and special education. The articles include philosophical discussions and descriptions of exemplary university pre-service programs, instructional programs, and teaching strategies. The book can be downloaded in its entirety, or by individual article. Published in 2012.

2012 Examining the Intersection of Arts Education and Special Education: A National Forum - Proceedings and Executive Summary

Leaders working at the intersection of arts education and special education met in July 2012 to explore successes and issues and make recommendations for a new national agenda that would positively impact the education of students with disabilities in and through the arts. The proceedings report on their recommendations. Published in 2012.

Transition to Employment: Model Projects Fostering Careers in the Arts for Youth with Disabilities

A publication featuring model transition to employment programs in the arts developed and implemented by six VSA state affiliates for students and youth with disabilities interested in pursuing careers in the arts, arts administration or arts education. Published in 2012.

Arts Education and Special Education Bibliography

An annotated list of journal articles and books pertaining to work at the intersection of arts education and special education. Updated November 2012.

The Contours of Inclusion: Inclusive Arts Teaching and Learning

This publication shares strategies, tools, and case studies on the developmental process of including students with disabilities through the design of varied, flexible arts learning options in standards-based, arts integrated curricula. Published in 2010.

2010 International VSA Education Conference Proceedings

A comprehensive resource of papers presented at this conference, which gathered scholars, educators, artists, and administrators from around the world to explore effective strategies to improve the quality of learning through standards-based arts education focusing on three areas: 21st-Century Learning Skills, Inclusive Education, and Pathways to Employment. Published in 2010.

Taking Notice: Through the Lens 400 KB

A monograph describing an artist-in-residence program conducted in three schools in Rhode Island, Florida, and Kentucky to teach photography, artistic expression, and self-awareness to young adults with and without disabilities. Published in 2001

Lesson Plans

Visual Arts Teacher Resource Guide PDF Visual Arts Teacher Resource Guides

These free, downloadable guides are created to assist educators and parents in exploring the idea of self-portraiture with their students. The guides will includes lesson plans which apply principles of Universal Design in order to make the plans accessible to students of all abilities.

The Artistry of Water

A cross-disciplinary resource designed for grades 6-8 that builds critical thinking skills and makes connections between the visual arts and science-specifically, the study of water and the work of artist Gregory Burns.

Writing Spotlights

Short literary works with discussion questions and writing activities by authors with disabilities, designed to stimulate dialogue, promote language arts skills, and raise disability awareness in the classroom.

A Portrait of an Artist-Scientist

An educational kit including student magazine, vodcast, and teacher guide that introduces connections between art and science through an exploration of heredity, DNA, and the artwork of Mark Parsons.

Let Your Style Take Shape

Provides educators with suggestions for creating inclusive educational environments and provides teachers with cross-curricular lessons that meet national standards for math and the visual arts.

Let the Light In 480 KB (to receive a printed copy contact us.

An Introduction to Writing Poetry in Inclusive Settings

Real Stuff that Matters 456 KB (to receive a printed copy contact us.

An Introduction to Journal Writing in Inclusive Settings

Opening Up the Sky 1.05 MB (to receive a printed copy contact us.

An Introduction to Creative Writing and Bookmaking in Inclusive Settings

Playwright Discovery Award Teacher's Guide 640 MB

Playwriting supports core subjects, reinforces 21st century learning skills, and helps students discover their creative potential. This newly revised guide shares teaching strategies and exercises that have proven successful in developing students' playwriting skills.

Start with the Arts

Start with the Arts at Home

An educational resource that uses the arts to assist young children, including those with disabilities, in exploring themes commonly taught in early childhood classrooms in the home setting.

Start with the Arts

An instructional program for four, five and six year-olds that uses the arts to assist young children, including those with disabilities, in exploring themes commonly taught in early childhood classrooms.