Our Origin Story

Project Access NYC is the local platform of Project Access for All, a working group formed in 2009 at the suggestion of Kareem Dale, former Special Advisor to the President on Disability Policy. The coalition is comprised of staff members from major museums, arts organizations, government funding agencies, and foundations who came together at the White House to formulate new strategies to advance cultural accessibility on a national level; and Art Beyond Sight (ABS), a New York-based nonprofit with nearly 30 years of experience making the arts more inclusive of people with disabilities. Its founding partners include the American Association for State and Local History, the American Association of Museums, the Association of Science - Technology Centers, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. In 2010, Matthew Sapolin, then Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) asked ABS to team up on projects that would adapt the Project Access for All ideals to the vibrant cultural scene and diverse population of New York City. Project Access NYC was born. Since that date, PANYC has sponsored or co-organized many influential citywide events and programs to further its mission of cultural access and inclusion for all New Yorkers, including:

  • Best Practices for Inclusion in the Arts (May 2013) – The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), then led by Commissioner Kate Levin, joined MOPD, ABS, and PANYC in inviting cultural organizations from across the city to this all-day symposium hosted at the Museum of Modern Art.
  • Opening the Digital Doorway (October 2014) – Project Access NYC and ABS put together several professional development workshops for museums, hosted at the Morgan Library and focusing on making technology in cultural settings more accessible to all.
  • ADA25NYC (2015) – In collaboration with MOPD, DCA, ABS, and numerous other disability advocacy organizations and service providers, Project Access NYC is helping to organize the New York City celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Check out the ADA25NYC website and the PANYC newsroom for more information.