A.B.L.E. was founded on the belief that “everyone is A.B.L.E. to connect, to contribute, and to create.”

By promoting practices that place participants with disabilities in the spotlight, and giving them ownership over their experiences, A.B.L.E.’s work strives to shift societal preconceptions about disability, and build more inclusive, empathetic communities

Inclusion and representation are at the heart of the work we do every single day. And while our mission is founded on building opportunities for the underrepresented, the recent events that have encouraged a national reckoning around race have served as a reminder that we can do more. 

It is impossible to meaningfully work against ableism without also confronting the many intersecting societal prejudices that marginalize and oppress others.

Disability doesn’t discriminate. Anyone from any race, class, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation may also have a disability. That puts A.B.L.E. in a unique position to build bridges between communities. We recognize our responsibility to ensure our work represents and reaches people of diverse backgrounds and lived experiences. 

To that end, we are challenging ourselves to push harder – in our leadership, in our staffing, and our programming – to nurture dialogue, encourage diverse perspectives and connect across our differences to elevate the work that we do.

How We’re Building a More Diverse and Inclusive A.B.L.E. 

As we continue to expand our programs over the next few years, our approach to diversity, inclusion and equity is founded upon three core tenets

  1. Diverse Leadership 

    We commit to recruiting and retaining diverse leadership to our Board of Directors and our staff leadership who reflect the lived experiences of our participants – including individuals who identify as different races, ethnicities, gender expressions, sexual orientations and abilities.

  2. Diverse Voices 

    The disability community is beautifully diverse, and we welcome program participants who can share their varied voices and lived experiences on the stage and screen. As we work with our actors to develop their confidence and skills, we want them to see people like them in the classroom. We commit to working with diverse artists on all levels - from our volunteers, to guest artists, to teaching staff - and to examining and removing barriers that may prohibit individuals from working with A.B.L.E. This will include creating employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. 

  3. Diverse Partnerships

    We commit to seeking new venues, contractors, and outreach partners that will allow us to reach new audiences and participants. We are grateful for the relationships we have built on the northside of Chicago that have allowed our programs to grow. As we continue to expand, we will forge new relationships with organizations and service providers, specifically looking towards businesses based in the south and west sides where creative opportunities have historically been scarce. 

Accountability & Transparency

As part of A.B.L.E.’s pledge to encourage a more diverse and inclusive organization, we will provide regular updates on how we’re tracking against these goals. We will continue to add to and update these goals regularly, at least on an annual basis. 

We pledge to listen. If you would like to contribute to this conversation, click the button below to contact our DEI Committee. 

At the beginning of every rehearsal, our ensembles recite our ensemble pact: 

We are an ensemble. We have to work together and support each other. We will listen, focus, respect each other, try our best, and have fun. 

We make the same pledge to our community. Because we believe that everyone is not only A.B.L.E., but worthy of opportunities to share who they are and all they are A.B.L.E. to do.


We are continuing our own learning and have been informed by the principles and demands outlined by We See You WAT and Community Centric Fundraising among others. As part of our anti-racist efforts, our teaching team has compiled a list of resources for our actors, caregivers, and community members to help you learn and reflect about race at home.