Ability Arts

Who we are....

Ability Arts is an educational, vocational, and entrepreneurial program for individuals with a disability that provides opportunities to create, exhibit and sell art.

Ability Arts is an art program that specializes in serving and supporting individuals with a variety of abilities thereby more fully participating, expressing and fulfilling passions as artists within our community.

Art is the common language and physical and intellectual barriers are secondary. All perspectives are encouraged, while supports to fully access these talents are provided. (These may include interpreters, 1:1 staff, and adapted equipment.)


  • All people are creative, given a supportive environment
  • Creative expression fosters personal growth
  • Self-worth, a sense of purpose, and community are essential for all people
  • Visual art is language everyone can speak
  • Disability is not a boundary
  • Art is a viable career path


Classes are held at the River Gallery School of Art. A variety of mediums are explored led by profession artists/teachers, and materials are of the highest quality.


Ability Arts class has brought calmness out of the various clients who can feel stressed or overwhelmed at home or in the community. The class allows peers of similar disabilities to get together and interact and to share their interests in arts. Without this class, most of them may end up staying at their homes in isolation with no ways to express their creative thoughts or feelings. This class has been a huge asset to them and to our community.

-Patrick Harris, ACCESS Director

I am the parent of a 21 year old deaf, multiply handicapped son. He is only able to work part time due to his disability. This means he has lots of free time on his hands. His deafness also hinders his ability to socialize freely. Art has always been an interest of his because it is something that can be done alone. Ability Arts has given him a way to pursue his interest but also encourages his social skills. Since joining the class, I have seen his art abilities grow but also as importantly, I've seen him become more social. He is proud of the art he creates and loves showing it off. This program has not only helped his skills, but his self esteem. He feels like he has something in common with the others who are able to attend. It is so nice that he has this sense of belonging. There is so little available for adults with disabilities. I am so happy that Ability Arts is available to my son and to others.

-Jane McDougall, Parent and Para-educator

Several Deaf clients from the ACCESS program attend the Ability Arts program and they love to learn many different crafts. They show their amazing art to their families, friends and their agencies! They are so proud to explain how to make it, and they also give them as gifts for birthdays and holidays.

-Kathleen Achilles, Para-educator, Staff Support, and Deaf Alumni of Austine School for the Deaf


Support for Ability Arts comes from student tuition, an annual appeal, foundational grants, and community volunteers. We thank those that help with time, talent, and resources- you've made this program strong for 2 years!

Please think of Ability Arts programming when making your annual philanthropic contributions. We are always looking for funding for our meaningful program.

For any information about Ability Arts, please contact:

Director: Robyn Weisel
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