ABLE Conversation: Disability, Language, and Arts Education

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Event Dates
David Friend Recital Hall (DFRH)
921 Boylston Street
United States

The Berklee Institute fo Accessible Arts Education (BIAAE) is delighted to announce the 2022 ABLE Conversation: Disability, Language, and Arts Education, which will take place as a hybrid, flexible event on Saturday, November 19, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET. This event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.

  • ASL interpretation will be available at the event.
  • Remote attendees will be able to use the live transcription function of Zoom.
  • At the request of the presenters, the event will not be recorded.

Featured Keynote Speaker: Brooke Ellison

Brooke Ellison

On September 4, 1990, when she was 11 years old, Brooke Ellison was hit by a car—an accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down and dependent on a ventilator. In 2000, Ellison graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University. In 2002, she published a book, Miracles Happen, which subsequently was made into a movie, directed by Christopher Reeve. Ellison continued her education by graduating from the Harvard Kennedy School with a master’s degree in public policy. In 2006, she ran for New York state senate. Ellison is a Ph.D. and an associate professor at Stony Brook University in New York. In 2011, she was granted an honorary degree from Rutgers University, and in 2014 she was chosen to be a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. In 2017, she joined the board of directors of the New York Civil Liberties Union. In 2018, Ellison was chosen to be a Truman National Security Project political partner. In 2020, she was appointed to the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission.

Featured Keynote Speaker: Emily Ladau


Emily Ladau is a passionate disability rights activist, writer, storyteller, and digital communications consultant. She is the author of Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Named one of the best books of 2021 by NPR and a 2021 Booklist Editors’ Choice, Demystifying Disability is an approachable guide to being a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people, with actionable steps for what to say and do (and what not to do), and how you can help make the world a more inclusive place.

Ladau's career began at the age of 10, when she appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street to educate children about her life with a physical disability. A native of Long Island, New York, she graduated with a B.A. in English from Adelphi University in 2013 and now serves on its board of trustees. In 2017, she was named one of Adelphi’s 10 Under 10 Young Alumni. In 2018, she was awarded the Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2022, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism honored her with their Disability Advocate of the Year Award, and the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities honored her with the Frieda James Advocacy Award.

Ladau provides communication and social media strategy consulting as well as editorial services for multiple disability-related organizations and initiatives. She is the digital content and community manager for the Disability and Philanthropy Forum, an emerging philanthropy-serving organization committed to expanding disability inclusion. Previously, she served as the founding editor-in-chief of the Rooted in Rights blog, a platform dedicated to amplifying authentic narratives on the disability experience through an intersectional lens. Ladau’s writing has been published in The New York Times, CNN, Vice, and HuffPost, and she has served as a source for outlets including PBS NewsHour, NPR, Vox, and The Washington Post. She has spoken before numerous audiences about disability, including Microsoft, Comcast/NBC Universal, the U.S. Department of Education, and the United Nations. She cohosts The Accessible Stall podcast, a show that dives into disability issues. Central to all of Ladau’s work is harnessing the power of storytelling as a tool to engage people in learning about disability.

About the ABLE Conversation Symposium

The ABLE Conversation Symposium is an exceptional professional development opportunity in the field of arts education and individuals with disabilities, bringing together educators, artists, researchers, policymakers, school administrators, program administrators, and students to share best practices, explore new research, and learn from each other. The symposium includes presentations, performances, and opportunities for facilitated discussion. We aim to move the conversation forward, and we want you to join us.

Clips of the introductory remarks and the discussion panel from the 2021 ABLE Conversation symposium can be viewed below.