Welcome to DARTS: The Go To Site for Arts and Special Education

To DARTS Members:

The Division of Visual and Performing Arts (DARTS) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC ) invites your input in order to make DARTS an informative and interactive division and strengthen our work with people with exceptionalities by exchanging our successes, strategies, and struggles. Art educators and special educators are invited to send the editor, Jane Burnette (meljmay2017@gmail.com), your ideas, questions, conferences dates and topics to publish on this site, post on the FB page https://www.facebook.com/groups/cecdarts/, submit proposals to state and national conferences, attend conferences, become a DARTS Ambassador for your state by contacting Lexi Soboleski (lexisoboleski@gmail.com). Lots to do and many ways to contribute.

Thank you for your interest. Spread the word. Together we empower our students.

Lynne Horoschak
DARTS President

The Kennedy Center Seeks conference session proposals for VSA Intersections 2018: Arts & Special Education Conference

August 7 – 8, 2018 in Atlanta, GA   Application deadline: November 20, 2017

Visit The Kennedy Center VSA Intersections website for full details!


The latest volume of VSA's Professional Papers is out!

The Office of VSA and Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is thrilled to present this third volume of VSA’s Professional Papers SeriesVSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Exemplary Programs and Approaches.

Across art form, disability, educational setting, and age group, these papers address best practices, model programs, and rigorous research. The authors represent master teachers whose decades of classroom service provide us with important insights about collaboration to improve instruction, university faculty preparing the next generation of arts and special education teachers, community-based educators, researchers, and more. Together, this volume presents practices and approaches that make good on the promise of our field: to support the meaningful engagement and learning of students with disabilities in and through the arts.


 P. Buckley Moss: Thankful for Her Teachers

When I was a child, I was very excited to go to school.  I wanted so much to be like my older sister Mary, who was a model student.  However, when I got there, I found that what I thought was going to be so much fun and so easy was something entirely different.  I was born in 1933, and at that time no one knew what dyslexia was, let alone the many other forms of learning differences.  It wasn’t until many years later, when I was grown and had children of my own, that I discovered I am dyslexic.

I tried so hard to learn how to read and write, but the letters and the words just didn’t make any sense.  I often felt out of place in the classroom, and I would escape into my own imaginary world, drawing pictures of the stories and adventures taking place inside my head.  This would often lead to a visit to the principal’s office, followed by lectures and drama at home.  Thankfully, my Grandfather Buckley had faith in my abilities and was always encouraging.



Facilitating pARTicipation with Adapted Repurposed Tools

Deborah B. Schwind, M.Ed., OTR/L

Judith Schoonover, M.Ed., OTR/L, ATP, FAOTA

Loudoun County Public Schools

Every student can create with the right tool for the job!  Universal Design for Learning principles stress multiple means of engagement, representation, action and expression.  With simple modifications, it is possible to ensure that all students can be engaged, and express themselves through art.  Adaptations, modifications, and (very) low tech assistive technology (AT) supports can be used and customized to improve access to art with easily found materials.  Based on their experience providing support in art classes, two occupational therapists designed simple Adapted Repurposed Tool (ART) kits that can be put to immediate use. Everyday materials and dollar store delights were used along with traditional resources to develop a workshop for educators, paraprofessionals, and related service providers to support inclusive environments and participatory experiences for all students during art instruction.

The art room is a unique setting for students with disabilities as they can be successful and can actively engage not only with the materials but also with their peers.  "Learning through the arts" and not just learning in art can be quite powerful.  In the general education classroom, there are right and wrong answers.  During art instruction in the classroom or the art room, there is not a right or wrong answer when completing a project, since it is designed around self-expression.  For students with disabilities, participating in a class where they can express themselves without being incorrect can build self-esteem and foster independence.

Inclusion with typical peers in the art room allows for socialization and active engagement.  The benefits influencing academic achievement include development of



Special Music Education

Alice-Ann Darrow

Special music educators are typically trained to teach music knowledge and skills to students with disabilities in the general school population. The primary purpose of music education programs for students with disabilities is to actively involve them in meaningful music experiences that develop music concepts and skills appropriate to the students’ individual functioning level. Music education may be provided through general music classes for elementary grades, music appreciation and music theory for upper grades and music performance classes such as band, orchestra and chorus. Special music educators typically have a background in special education or music therapy, and have expertise in instructional strategies for teaching students with a wide variety of disabilities. Students with disabilities are taught in their self-contained classrooms or in inclusive music classes offered in the school music curriculum.

Special music education goals follow the music standards set for all students. The standards emphasize conceptual understanding in areas that reflect the actual processes in which musicians engage. The standards cultivate a student’s ability to carry out the three artistic processes:

CreatingStudents need to have experience in creating, to be successful musicians and to be successful 21st century citizens.

Performing Students need to perform – as singers, as instrumentalists, and in their lives and careers.

Responding – Students need to respond to music, as well as to their culture, their community, and their colleagues.

Research in inclusive school settings supports music’s effectiveness with students who have a wide variety of disabilities. Special music educators may also address social and behavioral goals with their students, as well as use music to support the general education curriculum.To find out more information about special music education, please visit the  National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and International Society for Music Education (ISME) websites shown in the right column of this page.

Although there are no degree programs in special music education, a number of universities, such as Florida State University, Wichita State University, and James Madison University offer certificate programs or specialized study programs in special music education. In addition, NAfME regularly offers pre-conferences on teaching music to students with disabilities that precede their annual National Inservice Conference. 

Links to Related Arts Organizations


 Following are links to the websites of national and community organizations concerned with the arts and special education. Indented titles lead you to papers describing how these organizations are involved with the intersection of special education and the arts.



Volume 3 of Intersections: Exemplary Programs and Approaches Professional Papers Series is now available on the Kennedy Center website at http://education.kennedy-center.org/pdf/Professional_Papers_Vol3.pdf


National Art Education Association (NAEA)

      Special Needs in Art Education, Juliann B. Dorff

The American Art Therapy Association (AATA)​

      Adaptive Art and Art Therapy, Susan Loesl

Helen Keller Art Show--University of Alabama at Birmingham

       Slide Show of Helen Keller Art 



The American Dance Therapy Association   (ADTA)

The National Dance Education Organization  (NDEO)


The American Music Therapy Association  (AMTA)

    Music Therapy in School Settings, Mary Adamek

International Society for Music Education (ISME)

The National Association for Music Education (NAFME)

    Special Music Education, Alice-Ann Darrow

Boston Conservatory Autism Program 


The Education Theatre Association   (ETA)

The North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA)


The Arts for All Abilities Consortium


Philadephia Museum of Art

Warhol Museum


Volume 3 of Intersections: Exemplary Programs and Approaches Professional Papers Series is now available on the Kennedy Center website at http://education.kennedy-center.org/pdf/Professional_Papers_Vol3.pdf
Volume 3 of Intersections: Exemplary Programs and Approaches Professional Papers Series is now available on the Kennedy Center website at http://education.kennedy-center.org/pdf/Professional_Papers_Vol3.pdf
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Reprinting Articles

Feel free to reprint our articles, but please give credit to the authors and to DARTS. The content is to be printed in its entirety; additions, deletions or changes in the text, title or illustrations may not be made

Format for citations:  Author's Last Name and initials. Title of article. Reprinted from the DARTS website (date), http://www.community.cec.sped.org/DARTS.