skip navigation | accessibility
The Kennedy Center

VSA Intersections:
Arts and Special Education Conference
A Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program

2019 Conference — Irvine, CA

Preconference Workshops:
October 25-26

October 27-28

Join us!

Every year, the VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference provides professionals in the intersecting fields of arts education and special education the opportunity to share current information in research, practice, programs, and policy, and serve as a leading catalyst for change. Through innovative, thought-provoking, and interactive sessions, attendees build new skills, transfer knowledge, network, and, ultimately, help to shape the best practices to educational experiences for students with disabilities learning in and through the arts.

Registration is open for the 2019 VSA Intersections Conference in Irvine, CA!

Register now!

teachers-making a triangle with thier arms

Who attends?

VSA Intersections provides professional development for:

  • General and Special Educators
  • School-based Arts Specialists
  • Teaching Artists and Museum Educators
  • Curriculum and Instruction Professionals
  • Arts Education Program Administrators
  • School Administrators and Central District Staff
  • University Faculty and Researchers
  • Undergraduate and Graduate Students

VSA Intersections does not address professional development for artists with disabilities or accessibility considerations for arts and culture institutions. For resources for artists with disabilities, please visit the VSA Programs page. For information on accessibility in cultural arts institutions, please visit the LEAD Conference Page.

Why attend VSA Intersections?

Here are just a few reasons why VSA Intersections is the largest and most-respected conference on arts learning for students with disabilities:

  • One-of-a-kind professional development. VSA Intersections is unique in the education field: no other conference specifically addresses the learning needs of students with disabilities in arts-based and arts-integrated instruction while welcoming professionals from school and community settings.
  • A community of practice. Learn with educators and leaders from across the country to share ideas, ask questions, and build new connections so you don't have to be an island in this work.
  • Access to experts. The Kennedy Center engages leading experts in the field to present at the conference, and uses innovative model programs as "case studies" to learn from.
  • Hands-on learning. VSA Intersections offers experiential learning opportunities that allow you to learn by doing. Conference sessions will get you up on your feet to try out new strategies, and preconference workshops offer an even deeper learning experience with extended time to learn new tools!
  • Networking opportunities. VSA Intersections offers numerous networking opportunities during the conference and at evening receptions, offering you informal opportunities to connect with like-minded peers.
  • Tools to implement. Every session has a direct and intentional tie to practice, meaning you'll leave VSA Intersections with tools and strategies you can begin using as soon as you return to your setting.
  • Something for everyone. VSA Intersections has sessions and workshops for beginners and the more experienced. It doesn't matter what your background or knowledge level is — we have sessions for you.

Session Information

The 2019 VSA Intersections conference Call for Proposals is now closed. Information on conference sessions is listed below.

All VSA Intersections conference sessions:

  • Approach the arts and special education from an education equity and civil rights perspective,
  • Provide practical information about how students with disabilities learn in and through the arts,
  • Actively engage participants through discussion and/or hands-on activities,
  • Propose relevant learning objectives that can realistically be accomplished within the activities, time, and format proposed,
  • Empower educators and leaders in a variety of educational settings, including academic classrooms, school-based art or music rooms, teaching artist residencies, universities, afterschool programs, and community-based arts organizations, and
  • Target new, mid-career, and/or seasoned professionals.

Session Topic Areas include:

  • Identity, Intersectionality, and Responsive Pedagogy: Develops cultural competency and responsive practices for supporting students with disabilities who are, for example, also English Language Learners or have experienced trauma, or students with multiple disabilities (for example: 2E, Deaf Plus)
  • New Research: Presents findings from new studies or pilot programs exploring arts learning for students with disabilities
  • Arts Integration: Provides practical strategies for utilizing the arts in academic classrooms
  • Differentiation Strategies within Discipline-Based Arts Instruction: Explores approaches to teach students with specific disabilities content in art form (music, drama, visual art, dance) instruction
  • Administrator Focus: Addresses issues of particular concern to school and program administrators, such as program design, teacher training/assessment, and collaboration between schools and arts organizations

Session Types

  • Breakout Sessions: 60-minute sessions offered concurrently during the conference October 27 and 28. All sessions must include an interactive component that will engage adult learners and can be offered in several formats:
    • Lecture with Q&A — These sessions provide practical tips and resources or present new research that attendees can use to improve instruction of students with disabilities in their setting. Presenters must include time for questions.
    • Panel Discussion — These sessions offer multiple perspectives on or approaches to a single topic. Proposals must include presenters from more than one organization and a moderator who will ensure that panelists each have an opportunity to present. Presenters must include time for questions.
    • Experiential Demonstration -These hands-on sessions are designed to teach participants a tangible skill. Presenters must devote a significant amount of session time to activities allowing participants to practice and refine the skills introduced during the session.
  • Workshops: 2.5 hour in-depth, hands-on professional development workshops addressing a specific topic related to the arts and special education. A limited number of workshops will be offered either October 27 or 28.

To view more information, including a full schedule of sessions, please visit the conference website.

Registration Information and Rates

Registration for the 2019 VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference is now open! You may register via the conference event page.

Registration Rates:

The conference registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, and access to all conference sessions Sunday, October 27 and Monday, October 28.

Registration Type Before
June 30
August 31
August 31
Full Conference Registration $250 $300 $400
1-Day Pass $150 $180 $280
Team Rate* $225 $225 n/a
Student Full Conference $200 $200 $300
Preconference Workshop Varies by workshop Varies by workshop Varies by workshop

*A team is made up of 3 or more individuals from the same school or organization registering at the same time. $225 is the per person rate.

Hotel Accommodations

The Kennedy Center's VSA Intersections team is pleased to announce that the 2019 VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference will take place at Hotel Irvine! Hotel Irvine is conveniently located to John Wayne Airport, and has many attractions on-site and nearby. A discounted room block is available for VSA Intersections attendees.

Hotel Irvine

17900 Jamboree Road
Irvine, CA 92614
(877) 615-2137

The standard room prices are occupancy-based, and are offered to VSA Intersections attendees at the discounted rates of $159 for singles/doubles, $179 for triples, and $199 for quads. All rooms will have either a king or two double beds.

Book your hotel room online!

VSA Intersections attendees may now reserve their discounted hotel rooms online. Please go to their web site to be taken to the Passkey reservation site.

  • If reserving an accessible hotel room online, please check the “accessible” box on the guest information page located under the “other options” section. Please indicate any accessibility accommodations in the “additional requests” text box.
  • To book reservations by phone, call 1-888-230-4452.
    • If booking by phone, please make sure to mention to the agent that you are with the block reserved for The Kennedy Center or VSA Intersections Conference.

Amenities include:

  • Complimentary internet access in guest rooms, restaurant, lounge, and pool
  • 24-hour fitness center
  • Borrow-a-bike program and nearby exercise trails
  • Pool, which includes cabanas and a wet bar
  • Accessible rooms are available

Please note that these special rates are only available Monday, before 5 p.m. on Monday, September 30, 2019. Some amenities such as free internet access may only be complimentary if booked under our conference block. Reservations at this rate are limited - we encourage you to book as soon as possible. For more information about the hotel, visit the hotel website at

Connect with Us