You are here

IDEA Cafe: Disability Inclusion at Gardens: A Participatory Workshop on Best Practices

Test your accessibility knowledge while hearing first-hand accounts of people who have come together at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) to create more inclusive experiences for visitors. Join advisors, consultants, and staff from BBG, to learn about practical steps that public gardens can take to welcome people with disabilities. Through a trivia game format with interview segments, this workshop will highlight case studies from BBG’s multi-year effort that has engaged disability advocates and advisors in the development of staff training workshops, accessible wayfinding tools, resources, and more. At the end of the workshop, participants will reflect on and share their efforts to advance disability inclusion at gardens across the country. 

Resources mentioned in the webinar:

ASL interpretation provided by Cathleen Markland and Sandra Romero-Cañas.


Kate Fermoile, Director of Interpretation and Exhibitions at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has worked for over 20 years in NYC cultural organizations creating interactive exhibitions and programs for visitors of all abilities. At the Garden she tells stories about the plants and gardens through signage and a tour program. Along with talented colleagues, she oversees the Expanding BBG’s Welcome Program. She previously served as the VP for Exhibits and Education at the Brooklyn Historical Society and as the Director of Education at the Tenement Museum where in 1996, she started the museum’s first Access Department. 

Ansel Lurio, who holds degrees in American Studies from Columbia and Museum Studies from SUNY Oneonta, is an accessibility consultant who has imparted his expertise on projects for a number of institutions, including the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Historic House Trust of New York City, and Wave Hill. He is the ADA Chair at Westchester Disabled on the Move, an independent living center and was Communications Chair at the Museum Access Consortium. 

Joanne D’Auria, HortAbility LLC, is a horticultural therapist using plants to engage adults and youth with disabilities.  During her 12 years at Brooklyn Botanic Garden she worked on accessibility initiatives and developed the Seasonal Highlights Memory Tour for visitors with dementia and their caregivers. Joanne served as a steering committee member of Museum Arts Culture Access Consortium (MAC) and is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Horticultural Therapy Network.

Cindy VandenBosch, Founder and President of Turnstile Tours & Studio, a Brooklyn-based tour company and consulting practice. Working in partnership with local nonprofits, Turnstile has designed and offered more than 60,000 visitors with in-depth experiences that explore the infrastructure, people, and places that maintain, sustain, and nourish New York City. Cindy and her team at Turnstile Studio also consult with organizations on their interpretive planning, training, and accessibility capacity-building efforts, with a client roster that includes Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Historic Hudson Valley, and Storm King Art Center. Cindy is a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competences by the International Association of Accessibility Professionals and is learning American Sign Language in her spare time. She serves on the Accessibility Advisory Committee of the Historic House Trust of NYC, the Advisory Board of the Street Vendor Project, and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Travel Unity, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing inclusion and diversity in the travel and tourism sectors.

Andrew Gustafson, Vice President of Turnstile Tours & Studio, loves sharing how the city works, especially its waterfront, industry, and infrastructure. Originally from New Haven, Connecticut, Andrew studied history and geography as an undergraduate at Middlebury College and political geography at the University of Colorado-Boulder graduate school. In addition to developing and leading tours, he consults with cultural institutions on operations, interpretation, and accessibility, and he oversees knowledge management for Turnstile, maintaining the archive, library, oral history collection, and blog. Andrew previously lived in Moscow and Irkutsk, Russia, where he studied and worked as a reporter, editor, and translator for a number of media outlets. After moving to New York, he worked at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a worldwide network of museums and historic sites that use difficult histories to promote positive social change, coordinating their programming in the former Soviet Union. Andrew is a member of the New York Council Navy League, American Institute of Architects (Allied Member), and the US Naval Institute, and he serves on the Advisory Board of the Street Vendor Project.

Introductions by: Briana Berkowitz, Professional Development Assistant, American Public Gardens Association


Media Types