ABLE Assembly 2022

The Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs (BIAESN) is delighted to announce the 2022 ABLE Assembly: Arts Better the Lives of Everyone conference, which will take place online April 9 and 10, 2022, from 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET.

You can view the conference schedule here.

We are partnering with Creative Generation to offer the conference, which will include:

  • live, synchronous keynote presentations;
  • recorded breakout sessions;
  • performances by artists with disabilities; and
  • live panel discussions. 

In addition, all 2022 conference registrants will receive admission to the BIAESN Digital Learning Series, which comprises 12 monthly webinars and workshops with hands-on teaching strategies. The series will take place monthly from May 2022 to April 2023.

This conference is open to the public.


Synchronous sessions will be live-captioned and American sign language–interpreted. Asynchronous sessions will be captioned.

Please register by April 6, 2022.


Cokley Resized

Featured Keynote Speaker: Rebecca Cokley, First Disability Rights Program Officer at the Ford Foundation

Rebecca Hare Cokley is an American disability rights activist and public speaker who is currently the first disability rights program officer at the Ford Foundation. She previously served as the executive director of the National Council on Disability and as the director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, where she worked on disability policy.

Creating Spaces So Everyone Can Participate
This conversation will center on how no single oppression exists in a silo. Concepts of allyship and accompliceship will be discussed and as well as opportunities to examine how we can show up for each other in authentic and genuinely helpful ways. 

Featured Keynote Speaker: Adrian Anantawan


Adrian Anantawan holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music, Yale University, and Harvard Graduate School of Education. As a violinist, he has studied with Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and Anne-Sophie Mutter, and his academic work in education was supervised by Howard Gardner. His career highlights include performances at the White House, the United Nations, and the Olympics, and playing for Christopher Reeve, Pope John Paul II, and the Dalai Lama. Anantawan has performed extensively in Canada as a soloist with the Toronto, Nova Scotia, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Montreal, Edmonton, and Vancouver orchestras, and also played recitals at the Aspen Music Festival and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. He helped create the Virtual Chamber Music Initiative at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, which brings researchers, musicians, doctors, and educators together to develop adaptive musical instruments for young people with disabilities to play in a chamber music setting. He is also the founder of the Music Inclusion Program, aimed at having children with disabilities learn instrumental music with their typical peers. From 2012 to 2016, he was co-director of music at Conservatory Lab Charter School, receiving a ONEin3 Impact Award for his work in 2015 from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Anantawan is also Juno Award nominee, a member of the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, and was awarded a Diamond Jubilee Medal from Queen Elizabeth II. Anantawan currently serves as chair of music at Milton Academy and as artistic director of Shelter Music Boston. He continues to perform, speak, and teach around the world as an advocate for disability and the arts.

Music Inclusion for All: Evolution and Adaptation

Oftentimes, people with disabilities find the greatest challenges they face are the preconceived attitudes and biases of those around them. In an educative setting, this can lead to passive forms of discrimination, such as exclusionary practices, lowered expectations, and even unwanted sympathy. Not only do these practices limit the ceiling of development for the individual of a disability, they also limit an individual’s contributions to society. Attitudes of inclusion can also be challenged within a classroom setting—critics propose that students with disabilities are not adequately served unless they are separated from the classroom, working with specialists who are able to attend to their specific needs.

Adrian Anantawan, who was born missing his right hand, faced many of these exclusionary practices growing up, not only in the music classroom but in society at large. However, through the support of unique individuals across multiple disciplines, he was able to play the violin, beginning a journey that would lead him to perform at the White House, for the Dalai Lama, and at the Olympics. Anantawan will share the lessons he learned along the way of how to create inclusive practices at the intersections of music, education and disability, with the goal of lifting the ceiling of human potential for all.

About the ABLE Assembly

The ABLE Assembly is an exceptional professional development opportunity in the field of arts education and special needs, bringing together educators, artists, researchers, policymakers, school administrators, program administrators, and students to share best practices, explore new research, and learn from each other.