1981 was the International Year of the Disabled Person and this event reflected a growing awareness of the extent to which disabled people were excluded from enjoying or working in the arts. Although operating with limited resources from a tiny office in North London, Artsline was born with high ambitions, energetic determination and an unfailing commitment to best serve the needs of the whole disabled community.
Artsline's principle aim was to increase participation in the arts by disabled people of all ages and to provide them with accurate information about access to arts and cultural events in London.

Artsline took on an educative and motivating role targeted specifically at those who were least likely to use the existing facilities. It was equally concerned with changing attitudes to the needs and aspirations of minority groups in relation to the arts and to encourage arts providers to meet needs previously ignored.