OIPO Disability Abstracts: Disability Arts and Culture

This is a preliminary literature review of disability arts and culture, inclusive of the fine arts, film, music, exhibitions, drama and performance, cultural life and spaces, disabled artist experiences, art education, and more.

Updated 4/17/2024

Acton, K., Czymoch, C., & McCaffrey, T. (2021). Collaborating on Togetherness and Futurity in Disability Arts [Video]. In K. Brown, F. Cervera, K. Iwaki, E. Laine, & K. van Baarle (Eds.)., Collaborative Research in Theatre and Performance Studies [Joint Special Issue with the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism]. Global Performance Studies, 4(2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.33303/gpsv4n2a10.

“Access is one of the ways in which disability arts brings people together. Therefore, this video models audio description and captioning. Audio description is the practice of representing the visual through words (Snyder), providing access to Blind, low vision and neurodivergent people, whose brains function in ways that are outside society definitions of normal (Walker). Captioning interprets sounds, including language, through written words, providing access to Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing and neurodivergent people by making sound visual (Zdenek). In doing so, we hope to share some of the ways access can bring people together.”

Acton, K., Czymoch, C., & McCaffrey, T. (2021, Fall). Collaborating on togetherness and futurity in disability arts. Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, 36(1), 195-121. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1353/dtc.2021.0028.

Kelsie Acton, Christiane Czymoch, and Tony McCaffrey met online through the Performance and Disability Working Group of the International Federation for Theatre Research in July 2020. Over the past six months, we continued to discuss our very different disability arts contexts. But we found ourselves asking similar questions about being together. How can we be together? What are the dangers of togetherness? What is the future for disabled artists—all disabled people—in a world where the pandemic has heightened the threat a eugenic, ableist society poses for disabled people? We have no answers. What we instead offer is collaborative thinking in-process, drawing upon theorists such as Mingus (2017), Puar (2009), Yergeau (2017), Bowditch and Vissicaro (2017) and Māori concepts of koha (gift) and mana (honor, respect, right to personhood) as applied to performance. These conversations inform this annotated transcript. As access is an essential part of being together in disability culture, our transcript includes visual description and plain language summaries of each section of the conversation.

Artpradid, V. (2022). Integrated and inclusive. In M. Reason, L. Conner, K. Johanson, & B. Walmsley (Eds.), Routledge Companion to Audiences and the Performing Arts. New York: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003033226-36.

This Short explores how prevailing definitions of the terms ‘integrated’ and ‘inclusive’ dance reinforce the disabled/non-disabled binary and can become a limitation for dance artists, particularly when they are positioned within these categories and not the broader field of dance. However, as a form of artistic communication that creates spaces where artists and audience members engage the politics of corporeality together, the practices can resist, question and stretch the art form and ways of understanding the phenomenon known as disability. Thus, integrated and inclusive dance have the potential to expand and democratise social categories through their capacity for social inquiry.

Attias, M. (2020, Summer). Exploring the implications of Melanie Yergeau’s neuroqueer for art education. In C. N. Wolfgang (Ed.), Queering Art Education [Special Issue]. Visual Arts Research, 46(1), 78–91. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5406/visuartsrese.46.1.0078

Yergeau’s concept of neurological queerness disrupts dominant cultural expectations of prosocial behaviors in the classroom, questioning how intention and sociality operate to remove the voices of neurodiverse individuals. Considering haptic engagement and material investigation in the arts classroom as potential sites for neurodiverse rhetorics to emerge challenges art educators to think about what access means within the classroom environment, as well as the narratives they ascribe to students’ asocial or antisocial behaviors. The neurologically queer have their own rhetorics of expression, which, if permitted to emerge within the arts classroom, create possibility for agency and expression. Art is a powerful rhetorical tool for self-advocacy and legibility, as it demonstrates what cannot be expressed through prosocial means. Counter-rhetorics of art and art making dismantle normative assumptions that privilege speaking and writing.

Backhausen, E., Wihstutz, B., & Winter, N. (2023). Out of time? Temporality in disability performance [Routledge Series in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Theatre and Performance]. London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003271154.

Out of Time? has many different meanings, amongst them outmoded, out of step, under time pressure, no time left, or simply delayed. In the disability context, it may also refer to resistant attitudes of living in “crip time” that contradict time as a linear process with a more or less predictable future. According to Alison Kafer, “crip time bends the clock to meet disabled bodies and minds.” What does this mean in the disability arts? What new concepts of accessibility, crip futures, and crip resistance can be staged or created by disability performance? And how does the notion of “out of time” connect crip time with pandemic time in disability performance?

The collective volume seeks to respond to these questions by exploring crip time in disability performance as both a concept and a phenomenon. The book tackles the topic from two angles: on the one hand from a theoretical point of view that connects performance analysis with crip and performance theory, on the other hand from a practice-based perspective of disability artists who develop new concepts and dramaturgies of crip time based on their own lived experiences and observations in the field of the performing and disability arts.

The book gathers different types of text genres, forms, and styles that mirror the diversity of their authors. Besides theoretical and academic chapters on disability performance, the book also includes essays, poems, dramatic texts, and choreographic concepts that ref lect upon the alternative knowledge in the disability arts.

Bailey, S. (2021, September). Entangled bodies. Art Monthly Issue 449,  9-12.

Taking a recent curatorial project, ‘Activating Captions’, as a departure point, Stephanie Bailey considers the ways in which artists and audiences are marginalised by definitions of disability that derive from an ‘ideology of the abled’ and asks how, through greater understanding and shared experience, we might achieve real intersectionality.

Britton, L., & Paehr, I. (2021). MELT: Con(fuse)ing and Re(fusing) Barriers. In C. U. Andersen & G. Cox (Eds.), Refusing Research [Feature Issue]. APRJA, 10(1), 70-82. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7146/aprja.v10i1.128188 

In Con(fuse)ing and Re(fusing) Barriers, we activate the practice of coalescing to discuss and propose trans* and neuroqueer ways of refusing access barriers and normative expectations. Drawing from trans* feminism, crip technoscience, embodied experiences and our arts-design practice as MELT, we attend to ritual making as a crip and trans* site of resistance. Rituals are activated throughout the text as practices that reduce access barriers, change habits, slow things down, or enact community rites of passage. We refuse (as in: fuse again) and confuse (as in: reconsider assumptions) separability, and trace how materials unfold in our arts-design experiences: concrete and errors become soft, rituals disorder normative space, and cosmic rays embrace neuroqueer understandings of computing. This text is an invitation to share and embrace rituals and refusal as interrelated modes that can make space for other worlds.

Bunch, M., Chan, J., & Lee, S. (2022). Access Aesthetics [Special Issue]. Public, 33(66).

“Our focus is access aesthetics, a political aesthetics that arises at the scene of a vibrant crip arts movement. Rather than conceiving of access as an accommodation to include people with nonnormative bodyminds in mainstream spaces and experiences, access aesthetics transforms such spaces by centring crip ways of sensing, perceiving, and knowing. The foundational premise is an understanding of disability that goes beyond both pathologizing models that define disability as lack and liberal approaches that seek to make current systems more accessible. Rather, disability is an expected, generative, variable aspect of human experience; a complex, embodied, and interdependent orientation in the world, a site of intersecting oppression and a movement for justice. Access aesthetics advances a prefigurative, justice-oriented understanding of access based on social transformation rather than assimilation to normative systems. It incorporates access as integral to the concept and execution of art. This issue on access aesthetics was initiated as a follow-up to PostScript, an online series on accessibility, disability, and digital publishing, hosted by Public Access in October 2020. This series brought a critical disability lens that viewed accessibility as integral to digital publishing. This issue includes many of the contributors to PostScript (p. 7).”

Content in this issue includes an introduction and the following contributions:

Busselle, K., Kaplan, E., & Yates, S. (2022). The ethics of care in pedagogy and performance: Intersections with disability justice, intimacy work, and Theatre of the Oppressed. Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 37(1), 13-28. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1353/dtc.2022.0012.

This article argues that an applied ethics of care practice is central to the work of addressing the patriarchal and racist practices embedded within both professional and educational theatre spaces and their protocols and policies. Many theatre faculty in both the classroom and in rehearsal spaces encounter students’ trauma(s), but often lack the tools to adequately guide students down from that trauma once it has been activated. In this article, Kate Busselle, Erin Kaplan, and Samuel Yates theorize what ethics of care in theatre and performances spaces might look like when creating systems and structures to protect students from future harm, address potential trauma in the moment, and mitigate the damage incurred from past experiences. Building from the foundations of feminist ethics of care theorists such as Virginia Held, Lisa Tessman, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, the authors share strategies for establishing ethical care processes to safeguard students in the classroom and in rehearsal spaces.

Cameron, C. (2007, October). Whose problem? Disability narratives and available identities. Community Development Journal, 42(4), 501–511. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/cdj/bsm040.

In this article, the author demonstrates that contemporary cultural disability discourses offer few positive resources for people with impairments to draw upon in constructing positive personal and social identities. Examining the emergence of the Disability Arts Movement in Britain, consideration is given to alternative discourses developed by disabled people who have resisted the passive roles expected of them and developed a disability identity rooted in notions of power, respect and control. It is suggested that these alternative discourses provide an empowering rather than a disabling basis for community development and community arts practice and should be embraced by workers in these fields.

Carlson, L., & Murray, M.C. (Eds.). (2021). Defining the boundaries of disability: Critical perspectives. New York: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780367855086.

This ground-breaking volume considers what it means to make claims of disability membership in view of the robust Disability Rights movement, the rich areas of academic inquiry into disability, increased philosophical attention to the nature and significance of disability, a vibrant disability culture and disability arts movement, and advances in biomedical science and technology.

By focusing on the statement, “We are all disabled”, the book explores the following questions: What are the philosophical, political, and practical implications of making this claim? What conceptions of disability underlie it? When, if ever, is this claim justified, and when or why might it be problematic or harmful? What are the implications of claiming “we are all disabled” amidst this global COVID-19 pandemic? These critical reflections on the boundaries of disability include perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, law, and the arts. In exploring the boundaries of disability, and the ways in which these lines are drawn theoretically, legally, medically, socially, and culturally, the authors in this volume challenge particular conceptions of disability, expand the meaning and significance of the term, and consider the implications of claiming disability as an identity.

It will be of interest to a broad audience, including disability scholars, advocates and activists, philosophers and historians of disability, moral theorists, clinicians, legal scholars, and artists.

Cavazos Quero, L., Iranzo Bartolomé, J., & Cho, J. (2021). Accessible visual artworks for blind and visually impaired people: Comparing a multimodal approach with tactile graphics. In J. Dong Cho (Ed.), Multi-Sensory Interaction for Blind and Visually Impaired People [Special Issue]. Electronics, 10, Art. 297. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10030297

Despite the use of tactile graphics and audio guides, blind and visually impaired people still face challenges to experience and understand visual artworks independently at art exhibitions. Art museums and other art places are increasingly exploring the use of interactive guides to make their collections more accessible. In this work, we describe our approach to an interactive multimodal guide prototype that uses audio and tactile modalities to improve the autonomous access to information and experience of visual artworks. The prototype is composed of a touch-sensitive 2.5D artwork relief model that can be freely explored by touch. Users can access localized verbal descriptions and audio by performing touch gestures on the surface while listening to themed background music along. We present the design requirements derived from a formative study realized with the help of eight blind and visually impaired participants, art museum and gallery staff, and artists. We extended the formative study by organizing two accessible art exhibitions. There, eighteen participants evaluated and compared multimodal and tactile graphic accessible exhibits. Results from a usability survey indicate that our multimodal approach is simple, easy to use, and improves confidence and independence when exploring visual artworks.

Chandler, E. (Ed.). (2019). Cripping the Arts in Canada [Special Issue]. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 8(1). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15353/cjds.v8i1.

Disability arts are political. Disability arts are vital to the disabled people’s movement for how they imagine and perpetuate both new understandings of disability, Deafhood, and madness/Mad-identity and create new worldly arrangements that can hold, centre, and even desire such understandings. Critically led by disabled, mad, and Deaf people, disability art is a burgeoning artistic practice in Canada that takes the experience of disability as a creative entry point.

Contents in this special issue include an introduction and both articles and creative works:

Chandler, E., Aubrecht, K., Ignagni, E., & Rice, C. (Eds.). (2021). Cripistemologies of Disability Arts and Culture: Reflections on the Cripping the Arts Symposium [Special Issue]. Studies in Social Justice, 15(2).

“The contributors to this special issue participated in the Cripping the Arts Symposium, a conference held in January 2019 at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, Canada, that brought together key stakeholders in disability arts, including artists, curators, academics, arts council officers, and other members of the disability community. Through panels, keynotes, workshops, artistic programming, as well as less formal ‘hallway conversations,’ communities came together to engage in dialogues about how Deaf and disability arts and activism changes how we experience art, culture, and digital transformation, as well as the ways our culture contributes to, if not  leads to, the achievements of disability rights and justice movements” (pp. 173-174).

This special issue features an introduction and the following articles:

Chandler, E., & Johnson, M. (2021). Reflections on crip imitations as cultural space-making. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 15(4), 383-399.

The article reflects on the complexities of deploying imitation as a performance theme within disability arts. The authors are animated by disability arts curator Amanda Cachia’s 2019 exhibition, Automatisme Ambulatoire: Hysteria, Imitation, and Performance, which showcased disabled and nondisabled artists exploring the cultural dynamics of imitation through the performing arts. The article begins by considering how imitation enacts proximal familiarity with difference by discussing disability simulation activities, actor training systems, and forms of cultural appropriation. A disability studies framework is employed to consider how artists engage imitation as an element of disability aesthetics. The analysis is developed in conversation with four examples of disability performance—Helen Dowling’s Breaker, Claire Cunningham’s tributary, Sins Invalid’s performance An Unshamed Claim to Beauty, and Jess Thom’s rendition of Samuel Beckett’s Not I. The article posits that by enacting imitation as a performance theme, disabled artists resist notions that imitation is reserved for bodies read as “neutral,” and attend to how imitation brings disability artists into a complex dynamic of political relationality.

Chandler, E., Johnson, M., Gold, B., Rice, C., & Bulmer, A. (2019). Cripistemologies in the city: ’Walking-together’ as sense-making. In S. Springgay & S. E. Truman (Eds.), Walking in/as Publics [Special Issue]. Journal of Public Pedagogies, 4, 82-96. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15209/jpp.1177.

In this article, we take up works of disability artists whose practices engage with the act of walking/traversing as a method and form of sense-making. Specifically, we take up two performances by blind theatre artist Alex Bulmer—May I Take Your Arm? (2018) and Blind Woman in Search of a Narrative (2018-2020) —in which walking, specifically ‘walking-together,’ is embedded as both a performative element and an integral mode of inquiry. We think about what Bulmer’s works, along with works by Carmen Papalia and Arseli Dokumaci, teach us about knowing and being known through an urban landscape, creating a ‘cripistemology’ (McRuer & Johnson, 2014) that builds on David Serlin’s (2006) notion of ‘disabling the flâneur.’ Throughout this arts-based inquiry, we suggest that Bulmer advances a practice of ‘cripping the flâneur’ (Campbell, 2010) as she demonstrates how we might come to know ourselves, our cities, our neighbours, and blindness through the epistemological vantage-point of blindness.

Collins, K., Jones, C.T., & Rice, C. (2022). Keeping Relaxed Performance vital: Affective pedagogy in the arts. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies 16(2), 179-196. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3828/jlcds.2022.14.

Relaxed Performance (RP) has emerged as an arts-based praxis implemented across sectors in response to disability and other justice-seeking communities’ desire to access the arts. Across Turtle Island (North America), RP is becoming the “gold standard” for accessible performance arts, as sector norms evolve to demand accessibility and inclusion, prompting a desire for RP training in higher education. The upswell of interest raises concerns that RP is at risk of becoming an increasingly sought-after pedagogical commodity whose vitality could be co-opted in the interests of standardization and universality. Taking up RP as a justice-driven arts intervention, the article argues for maintaining RP’s vitality in the face of access standardization. Drawing on RPs at three universities, the article describes the affective potential of non-standardized and crip theory-informed RP now and in the future.

Collins, A., Rentschler, R., Williams, K., & Azmat, F. (2022, March). Exploring barriers to social inclusion for disabled people: Perspectives from the performing arts. In O. B. Ayoko (Ed.), Ostracism, Bullying and Psychological Safety [Special Issue]. Journal of Management & Organization, 28(2), 308-328. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/jmo.2021.48.

Although the potential of arts to promote social inclusion is recognised, barriers to social inclusion for disabled people in the arts is under-researched. Based on 34 semi-structured interviews with disabled people and those without disability from four arts organisations in Australia, the paper identifies barriers for social inclusion for disabled people within performing arts across four dimensions: access; participation; representation and empowerment. Findings highlight barriers are societal, being created with little awareness of needs of disabled people, supporting the social model of disability. Findings have implications beyond social inclusion of disabled people within the arts, demonstrating how the arts can empower disabled people and enable them to access, participate and represent themselves and have a voice. Our framework conceptualises these four barriers for social inclusion for disabled people for management to change.

Conroy, C. (Ed.). (2009). On Disability: Creative Tensions in Applied Theatre [Special Issue]. Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 14(1).

“This journal has broken the habit of having special editions: there is nothing special about disability, only concerns that are urgent, vital and central to the area of applied theatre and drama. The work of disabled scholars and scholars of disability, disabled practitioners and makers of theatre with and for disabled people needs a creative space to articulate and explore the tensions between us all. The short pieces, provocations and practitioner statements interrupt the process of the research articles, and, without any claim to being representative, they serve to interject some of the distinctive perspectives and experiences of this vast and contested area. It seems to me that the work of disabled people has the potential to shift the paradigms of reception and production, politics and aesthetics, mainstream and margins, and so this themed edition is an attempt to foreground some of the patterns that produce this expectation” (p.

Cripps, J. H., Witcher, P. E., & Yousouf, H. (2022). Signed music and deaf musicians: A follow-up dialogue between Youssouf, Witcher, and Cripps [Forum]. Theatre Research in Canada, 43(2), 266-275. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3138/tric.43.2.f01.

This forum focuses on a journey in understanding and appreciating signed music as a performing art from deaf musicians. Signed music is an emerging inter-performative art form that includes lyrical and/or non-lyrical musical performances connecting to the culture of deaf people who communicate through signed languages. This forum follow-ups with the three signed music deaf musicians who participation in the Partition/Ensemble 2020 Conference, which was held in Montreal, Quebec, in the summer of 2020, and was organized by the Canadian Association for Theatre Research and the Société québécoise d’études théâtrales. Deaf musicians from around Canada convened in this plenary to discuss how they used their creativity, research, and scholarship to produce signed music works. The follow-up dialogue, in which Youssouf, Witcher, and Cripps participated, discusses their paths with new projects. They responded to three different questions: 1) What have we learned from the plenary? 2) Are there any new signed music pieces? If yes, expand on your piece; and 3) Are there any new works related to signed music (mentorship, research, etc.)? If yes, expand on your new work.

El-Sheikh, T. (Ed.) (2020). Entangled bodies: Art, identity and intercorporeality. Wilmington: Vernon Press.

Organ transplantation is a medical innovation that has offered the potential to enhance and save lives since the first successful procedure in the 1950s. Subsequent developments in scientific knowledge and advances in surgical techniques have allowed for more efficient and refined procurement, minimal surgical complications, and increased success rate. However, procedures such as organ transplantation raise questions about the nature of our relationship with our own bodies; about our embodiment and personal and corporeal identity.

This book is comprised of academic essays, personal reflections, and creative writing from researchers and artists involved in an ongoing collaborative art-science project about the experience and culture of heart transplantation. The writings and reflections included discuss embodiment, what it means to inhabit a body and define oneself in relation to it, including struggles with identity formation; set in both clinical and private spaces.

The uniqueness of this volume consists in the authors’ aim of connecting the specific experience of heart transplantation to the more widely shared experience of relating to the world and one another through the body’s physical, perceived, and imagined boundaries. Such boundaries and the commonly held beliefs in personal autonomy that are associated with them are a subject of ongoing philosophical and scientific debate. What’s more, the resources of art and culture, including popular culture, literature, historical and contemporary art, are extremely useful in revising our views of what it means for the body’s boundaries to be philosophically ‘leaky.’

Following the discussion initiated by contributor Margrit Shildrick, this book contributes to the field of inquiry of the phenomenon of embodiment and inter-corporeality, the growing body of literature emerging from collaborative art-science research projects, and the wider area of disability studies. This book will be of particular interest to those with personal, scholarly, and creative interests in the experience of transplantation, or illness in general.

Evans, R. (2022, Winter). Taut threads, spanning ambivalences: Lessons from disability arts practitioners about how to make sense of arts-based social change. FIELD Issue 20. La Jolla, CA: The Department of Visual Arts, University of California, San Diego.

In this essay, I unpack the idea of “good” and “bad” practice in the disability arts by focusing on two disability arts ensembles within the frame of arts-based social change. The bond between art and social change owes much of its ideological heritage to the community art movement, with Owen Kelly noting in his seminal Community, Art, and the State that community art should “be an active force for change.” [1] Originating in the 1960s, proponents of the community art movement seek to free art from the power systems of the art world, which often manifest in galleries and museums, theaters and concert halls. [2] Community artists have been successful in this respect. Today, art is in hospitals, community centers, care homes, prisons, parks, the street—art is “in community.” Similarly, art in these settings is not only made by professional artists—it is made by anyone, though often with guidance or encouragement from professional artists. [3] In other words, the art world’s spatial and relational boundaries have become strikingly porous in the past half-century or so.

Ferri, D., Leahy, A., Šubic, N., & Urzel, L. (2022, November). Implementing the right of people with disabilities to participate in cultural life across five European countries: Narratives and counternarratives. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 14(3), 859–878. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jhuman/huac035.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a ground-breaking treaty that constitutes persons with disabilities as holders of rights and active members of society, and encompasses civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Article 30 of the Convention provides for the right of persons with disabilities to participate in cultural life. The importance of this provision lies in its detailed normative content, and also in that it sheds a light on the need for appropriate policies and practices that enhance cultural participation of persons with disabilities. By investigating the extent to which Article 30 of the Convention has been implemented across five European states (Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden), this article identifies common narratives and counternarratives related to the realization of the right to participate in cultural life. It adopts a socio-legal approach and a blended methodology combining desk-based and empirical research. It contrasts official narratives, which highlight good practices and steps taken to improve access to culture, with counternarratives that reveal a fragmentary approach to cultural participation of persons with disabilities, persisting barriers, limited recognition of artists with disabilities, and the perpetuation of stigma and stereotypes.

Graeme-Cook, A., Graeme-Cook, C., Waitt, G., & Harada, T. (2023). Doing disability activism through the embodied experiences of creative practice: participating in a community art exhibition. Cultural Geographies. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/14744740231201407.

Creative practice is frequently being deployed in research by cultural geographers. This article explores one such deployment, centering on a participatory community art exhibition titled ‘Wheelability’. The exhibition was organized by non-disabled geographers for people who use powered mobility devices in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Australia. The article illustrates the distinctive contribution art can make to disability mobility justice. It uses the personal stories and mobile creative expressions of one co-researcher and their carer to explore how engaging in creative activities provides opportunities to understand the emotional aspects of everyday mobility challenges and what emotions can do. Thinking through the emotional geographies of a mobile form of creative practice allows us to illustrate how dominant social norms are confirmed, ruptured, and reconfigured by the co-researcher. In conclusion, we discuss the implications of creative practices for conducting geographical research that promotes justice for individuals with mobility disabilities.

Green, K. R. (2022). Dis/ability arts and systemic innovation in the UK and Sweden. Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 13(3), 366-389.  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/19420676.2020.1788122.

This paper explores the normative and epistemic effects of dis/ability arts organisations in the UK and Sweden, when theorised as systemic innovations. Using an aesthetic philosophy of kynicism, this paper identifies disruptive potential in three case-study organisations within the settings of health, social care, and the arts. Data from interviews and/or presentations with managers from Moomsteatern (SE), Teater Interakt (SE), and Breathe Magic (UK) is analysed within a ‘social model’ of dis/ability, and finds the existing discourse of innovation inadequate. The resulting discussion identifies validations of the speech, expertise and bodily autonomy of persons of dis/abilities within hybrid organisational settings.

Hadley, B. (2022). A ‘Universal Design’ for audiences with disabilities? In M. Reason, L. Conner, K. Johanson, & B. Walmsley (Eds.), Routledge Companion to Audiences and the Performing Arts. New York: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003033226-14.

Understanding of how to create inclusive performance experiences for spectators with disabilities remains nascent in research, policy and practice. In this chapter, I survey the state of knowledge in this field – or, as it turns out, fields, given that specialist knowledge of sign language interpretation for d/Deaf spectators, audio description for blind spectators and relaxed performance for neurodiverse spectators has developed separately, without intersection. I then investigate recent efforts to create inclusive aesthetics that incorporate accessibility features into performance work, as an integral part of the aesthetic, rather than as interpretations, captions or descriptions alongside the work. I examine why this ‘Universal Design’ approach has been embraced with enthusiasm, both by disabled producers and spectators and by non-disabled producers and spectators. I consider the benefits and the potential drawbacks of a ‘Universal Design’ approach – if, paradoxically, the aestheticisation of access features prevents them from fulfilling their conventional access purpose and/or makes producers think conventional access features are no longer required now that a ‘Universal Design’ ostensibly meets the needs of all spectators. Consolidating to date disconnected accounts into a coherent analysis of current approaches to practice for the first time, I identify key recommendations – in particular, engaging disabled artists and allies who have lived experience of disability aesthetics and culture before and during as well as after a performance’s creation – to support future research, policy and practice in the field.

Hadley, B., & McDonald, D. (Eds.). (2018). The Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture, and Media. London: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781351254687.

In the last 30 years, a distinctive intersection between disability studies – including disability rights advocacy, disability rights activism, and disability law – and disability arts, culture, and media studies has developed. The two fields have worked in tandem to offer critique of representations of disability in dominant cultural systems, institutions, discourses, and architecture, and develop provocative new representations of what it means to be disabled.

Divided into 5 sections:

  • Disability, Identity, and Representation
  • Inclusion, Wellbeing, and Whole-of-life Experience
  • Access, Artistry, and Audiences
  • Practices, Politics and the Public Sphere
  • Activism, Adaptation, and Alternative Futures

This handbook brings disability arts, disability culture, and disability media studies – traditionally treated separately in publications in the field to date – together for the first time.

It provides scholars, graduate students, upper level undergraduate students, and others interested in the disability rights agenda with a broad-based, practical and accessible introduction to key debates in the field of disability art, culture, and media studies. An internationally recognised selection of authors from around the world come together to articulate the theories, issues, interests, and practices that have come to define the field. Most critically, this book includes commentaries that forecast the pressing present and future concerns for the field as scholars, advocates, activists, and artists work to make a more inclusive society a reality.

Hadley, B., Paterson, E., & Little, M. (2022). Quick trust and slow time: Relational innovations in disability performing arts practice. International Journal of Disability and Social Justice, 2(1), 74-94. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13169/intljofdissocjus.2.1.0074.

In the last decade, the field of Disability Arts has been recognised as a powerful source of aesthetic innovation. Yinka Shonibare has described it as ‘the last remaining avant-garde movement’ (Bragg, 2007), where artists with lived experience of disability produce new combinations of form, content and politics, which engage spectators in provocative reflections on the way we relate to each other in the public sphere. Despite a range of policies, plans, protocols and funding programmes to support disabled artists and collaborations between mainstream producers and disabled artists, the statistics – at least in our context in Australia – suggest most disability art still occurs outside and alongside an industry that struggles to include these artists. In this article, we draw upon findings from a series of workshops with disabled artists around Australia, conducted as part of the ARC funded Disability in the Performing Arts in Australia: Beyond The Social Model project – known colloquially to its collaborators and participants as ‘The Last Avant Garde’ project (https://lastavantgarde.com.au) – to propose a new approach. We find that while provision of logistical access (ramps, hearing loops, interpreters) and ideological access (stories, characters, discourse and language) is critical, so is methodological access, which embodies disability culture in training, rehearsal and production processes. Disabled artists use crip culture, along with relational space and time to negotiate what happens in disability arts and culture production practices and work through desire, fear, vulnerability and reciprocity to rapidly establish trusting collaborations. It is inclusion of disability culture relationships and concepts, as much as ramps and inclusive language, that makes a practice feel safe for disabled artists – and this, we argue, is what the mainstream sector has to learn and what the disability arts sector has to teach about improving the inclusivity of the creative industries.

Hadley, B., Rieger, J., Ellis, K., & Paterson, E. (2022). Cultural safety as a foundation for allyship in disability arts. Disability & Society. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2022.2067468.

The practice of allies – the non-disabled producers, directors, curators and facilitators who support the work of disabled arts and media makers – has not been subject to dedicated analysis. In this article, we argue that cultural safety, respect, and trust is a precursor to good allyship in the creative industries. We outline factors that influence feelings of safety or non-safety for disabled arts and media makers, and the way the legacy of the medical model makes it difficult for many arts and media workers to appreciate and enact enablers of safety as part of an allyship relationship. Education through reports and training sessions is not enough to ensure would be arts allies can establish cultural safety. What is required, we argue, is direct experience of how disabled artists and long-term allies enact cultural safety through the disability space, time and relational concepts central to disability arts, culture, and aesthetics.

Hammel, A., & Hourigan, R. (2022). Poverty, race, disability, and intersectionality and participation in the arts: Needed policy changes for the future. Arts Education Policy Review. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10632913.2022.205973.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, in 2016 about 1 in 5 children in the United Stated lives in poverty (19%). Students in our music classrooms and ensembles do not begin life from the same starting line. They come from homes and communities that are vastly different. The intersections of poverty, disability, racial inequity, disability, and trauma are inextricably linked in their daily lives. This article will examine these issues and offer suggestions for future policy and practice decisions in the arts.

Holfeuer, K. (2022). Access intimacy and disability aesthetics in I Wanna Be With You Everywhere. Women & Performance. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0740770X.2022.2078274

This review examines the aesthetic, social, and political force of access intimacy as it emerges in three performances that took place during the 2019 multidisciplinary festival of disability performance, I Wanna Be With You Everywhere. By examining the access aesthetics present in Kayla Hamilton’s Nearly Sighted/unearthing the dark, Jerron Herman’s Relative, and performances of Protactile poetry by John Lee Clark and company, I argue that these performances investigate the ways in which access aesthetics fosters access intimacy by creating ways to dwell in disability without centering disability-as-identity.

Jerreat-Poole, A., & Brophy, S. (2020). Encounters with Kusama: disability, feminism, and the mediated Mad art of #InfiniteKusama. In J. J. Zhao (Ed.), Global Queer Fandoms of Asian Media and Celebrities [Special Issue]. Feminist Media Studies, 21(6), 905-922. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2020.1770313.

The 2018 exhibition “Infinity Mirrors” at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto, and the accompanying social media phenomenon #InfiniteKusama, harnessed the myth of the “mad genius” who “overcame” hardship in its celebration of the life and work of artist Yayoi Kusama, yet veered away from a nuanced engagement with disability, madness/mental illness, and access. Desiring a crip version of the artist and psychiatric user/survivor, we take up Marta Zarzycka and Domitilla Olivieri’s call to mobilize the feminist potential of affective encounters in digital spaces, generating an analysis of our mediated interactions with Kusama’s persona and artwork at the cultural sites of the art gallery, Instagram, and Twitter. While the physical and digital extensions of the exhibition tried to elicit participation in normative and normalizing ways, critically crip moments of productive tension ruptured the smooth lines of power and ideology in the institution. Through a series of personal reflections we showcase the potential for “affective encounters” between bodies in spaces to disrupt ableist and sanist norms.

Jones, D. R. (2022). Reclaiming disabled creativity: How cultural models make legible the creativity of people with disabilities. In Thematic Section: Creativity, Music, and Poetry. Culture & Philosophy, 28(4), 491-505. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1354067X211066816.

The field of creativity studies underrepresents—even excludes—creators who have disabilities. The underrepresentation partly reflects an approach that pathologizes disability. Disability as a pathology or marker of ineligibility makes the contributions of people with disabilities invisible or illegible to creativity research. However, disability operates as a marker of membership in a larger disability culture. Considering disability and creativity as cultural phenomena locates a means for including disabled creators in creativity studies. Cultural models describe creativity in terms of groups sharing values, experiences, and resources. People with disabilities participate in subcultures (e.g., deaf communities) and/or larger cultures (i.e., disability culture). Disability cultures encapsulate shared experiences and values as well as resources. In the following article, I pair three propositions from cultural creativity models with evidence from creators with disabilities to demonstrate that (a) members of disability culture experience the world in ways that generate creative expression, (b) encountering a world designed for abled bodies incites the creativity of disabled people, and (c) disabled and abled people collaboratively create. However, not all methodological approaches effectively include creators with disabilities. Qualitative approaches suit best when the researcher practices reflexivity and allows creators with disabilities the right to manage their own representation within the project.

Jones, C. T., Collins, K., & Rice, C. (2022). Staging accessibility: Collective stories of Relaxed Performance. Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 27(4), 490-506. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13569783.2022.2029388.

On the premise that performances and writing can be staged, and that no staging is ever innocent, we tell two unresolved, wonder-oriented phenomenological stories of Relaxed Performances (RP) that reveal ‘affective trouble’: the delivery of a ‘cripped’ fashion show at a university and a church-based ‘relaxed’ choir performance. We compose these narratives from the perspectives of eight participants in collaboration across three universities in Ontario, Canada. These RP moments reveal insights into disability arts as an emotive challenge to so-called proper comportment and introduce new, politicised elements of wonder about what it means to strive for accessible performance.

Jones, C. T., Johner, R., Lozhkina, A., & Walliser, R. (2022). Voice, communication technology, disability, and art: An interdisciplinary scoping review and reflection. Disability & Society. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2022.2114883.

This article describes findings of a transdisciplinary scoping literature review process that acknowledges assistive technology-users’ contributions to disability arts by clarifying the key concepts of ‘voice’, ‘communication technology’, ‘disability’, and ‘art’. Driven by the early stages of a participatory research project involving young disabled artists, the literature search was carried out between April 2019 and August 2019. The studies selected for this review (n = 14) were analyzed through a thematic narrative approach, which revealed seven overlapping themes that reflect the inseparability and transdisciplinarity of the key concepts. Later consultation with young disabled artists based on this literature review prompted changes in our research process. We conclude that nuanced research related to voice, communication technology, disability, and art is better situated in the radical expression of artists themselves, rather than in formalized research labs and codified studies such as that which housed this inquiry.

Jones, C. T., Weber, J., Atwal, A., & Pridmore, H. (2023). Dinner table experience in the flyover provinces: A bricolage of rural deaf and disabled artistry in Saskatchewan. In N. Changfoot, E. Chandler, & C. Rice (Eds.), Rethinking Artful Politics: Bodies of Difference Remaking Body Worlds [Special Issue]. Social Sciences, 12(3), 125. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci12030125.

“Dinner table experience” describes the uniquely crip affect evoked by deaf and disabled people’s childhood memories of sitting at the dinner table, witnessing conversations unfolding around them, but without them. Drawing on 11 prairie-based deaf and/or disabled artists’ dinner table experiences, four researcher-artivist authors map a critical bricolage of prairie-based deaf and disabled art from the viewpoint of a metaphorical dinner table set up beneath the wide-skyed “flyover province” of Saskatchewan. Drawing on a non-linear, associative-thinking-based timespan that begins with Tracy Latimer’s murder and includes a contemporary telethon, this article charts the settler colonial logics of normalcy and struggles over keeping up with urban counterparts that make prairie-based deaf and disability arts unique. In upholding an affirmative, becoming-to-know prairie-based crip art and cultural ethos using place-based orientations, the authors point to the political possibilities of artmaking and (re)worlding in the space and place of the overlooked.Disability

Kafai, S., & Ramirez, J. (2023). Disability Justice, Community, and Performance. In J. C. Davidson & A. Jones (Eds.), A Companion to Contemporary Art in a Global Framework [ Wiley Blackwell Companions to Art History]. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119841814.ch23.

As disabled, Mad, queer of color scholars, Shayda Kafai and Jennette Ramirez arrive to this discussion of disability performance art with activist and liberatory aims. We look back to recent events where the state and public sphere sought to erase us through Ugly Laws, which sanctioned police violence and limited the movement of disabled bodies in public spaces. To redirect the ableist stare, to interrogate the power dynamics of public space, we offer the activism of Sins Invalid, a San Francisco-based disability justice performance project, as balm, as a strategy led by disabled, queer, and transgender of color artist-activists. Throughout our journey exploring how Sins Invalid intentionally politicizes performance, community teaches us disability justice principles have the capacity to resist normative and ableist expressions of embodiment, space, and time. In this article, we explore how crip and Mad bodies commandeer the stage to create spaces of agency and crip beauty.

Kaya, G., Mathieu, C., & Sépulchre, M. (2022, May-August). Disability and arts education: From unequal participation to opportunities for innovation. In A. L. Tota & A. De Feo (Eds.), Arting Education: Reinventing Citizens of the Future [Feature Issue]. Scuola democratica Learning for Democracy, 2(2022), 261-278. DOI: https://DOI.org/10.12828/104553.

To promote human flourishing throughout society, opportunities for arts participation must encompass all citizens. A primary means to promote this is arts education and activities for schoolchildren. Equal opportunities for participation are currently not enjoyed by students with disabilities. In a population-based and cross-sectional study carried out on a 2016 public-health survey including 27,395 students with and without disabilities in the Swedish region of Skåne, it is found that all categories of students with disabilities experience some degree of diminished participation across six different arts activities. Students with ADHD/ADD and dyslexia suffer consistent diminished participation across all six activities, while students with other disabilities are ‘compensated’ for lesser participation in some activities by overrepresentation in other activities. This suggest that all students with disabilities are subject to external perspectives about what is appropriate for them, based on perceptions about their impairments and, possibly, combined with gender. Finally, it is argued that disability invites us to broaden our views of who can engage in various art forms, under which premises and how arts can be taught. This opens ‘opportunities for innovation’ in arts education drawing on the basic impulse of the arts: to continuously look beyond boundaries and facilitate emancipatory expression.

Kelly, C., & Orsini, M. (Eds.). (2016). Mobilizing Metaphor: Art, Culture, and Disability Activism in Canada [Disability Culture and Politics]. University of British Columbia Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.59962/9780774832816

Mobilizing Metaphor illustrates how radical and unconventional forms of activism, including art, are reshaping the vibrant tradition of disability activism in Canada, challenging perceptions of disability and the politics that surround it.

Mobilizing Metaphor illustrates how radical and unconventional forms of activism, including art, are reshaping the rich and vibrant tradition of disability mobilization in Canada – and in the process, challenging perceptions of disability and the politics that surround it.

Until now, research on Canadian disability activism has focused on legal and policy spheres and overlooked how disability activism is as varied as the population it represents. Mobilizing Metaphor combines contributions by artists, activists, and academics (including an insightful concluding chapter by renowned disability scholar Tanya Titchkoksy) with rich illustrations and photographs to reveal how disability art is distinctive as both art and social action.

As the contributors sketch the shifting contours of disability politics in Canada and show how disability oppression is not isolated from other prejudices, they challenge us to re-examine how we enact social and political change.

Kuppers, P. (Ed.). (2021). Disability arts and culture:Methods and approaches. Bristol, UK: Intellect.

This collection offers insight into different study approaches to disability art and culture practices, and asks: what does it mean to approach disability-focused cultural production and consumption as generative sites of meaning-making? International scholars and practitioners use ethnographic and participatory action research approaches; textual and discourse analysis; as well as other methods to discover how disability figures into our contemporary world(s).

Chapters within the collection explore, amongst other topics, deaf theatre productions, representations of disability on-screen, community engagement projects and disabled bodies in dance. Disability Arts and Culture provides a comprehensive overview and a range of case studies benefitting both the practitioner and scholar.

Leahy, A., & Ferri, D. (2022). Barriers and facilitators to cultural participation by people with disabilities: A narrative literature review. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 24(1), 68–81. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16993/sjdr.863.

Article 30 of the UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities obliges States Parties to ensure accessibility of cultural goods, services and heritage and to adopt measures enabling persons with disabilities to utilize their artistic potential. However, people with disabilities experience barriers to engagement in cultural life as audiences and as creators. This article presents a narrative literature review that classifies barriers and facilitators to cultural participation identified in previous studies. It does so under five headings: (1) lack of effective/adequate legislation, policies and legal standards; (2) lack of funding and/or of adequate services; (3) negative attitudes; (4) lack of accessibility; (5) lack of consultation with, and involvement of, persons with disabilities in cultural organisations. This provides a novel contribution to the state of art by synthesising findings from different yet related fields. It forms the basis for future multi-method research addressing barriers to participation in culture.

Levy, S., & Young, H. (2020). Arts, disability and crip theory: Temporal re-imagining in social care for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. In K. Ljuslinder, L. Vikström & K. Ellis (Eds.), Cripping Time – Understanding the Life Course through the Lens of Ableism [Special Collection]. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 22(1), 68–79. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/sjdr.620.

People with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) are some of the most marginalised in society and are perceived to lack agency. This paper contests such a narrative, presenting findings from an innovative project in Scotland, UK, exploring the impact of artists working collaboratively with people with PMLD and their formal carers. Art is conceived as a social practice, a process, an embodied aesthetic and sensory experience that takes place between individuals. Theoretically, the paper adopts an original approach, combining crip theory, the capability approach and social pedagogy to re-imagine and re-position people with PMLD. The year-long qualitative study used data from reflective diaries (n = 111) and semi-structured interviews (n = 9) with artists, carers and management of a day centre. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of these shared experiences was used. The results reveal an unsettling of prevailing norms and creative ways of doing and experiencing social care that is relational.

Martins, C., & Ferreira, C. (2022). Accessibility as far as the eye can see: An accessible film festival. In M. Pilar Castillo Bernal & M. Estévez Grossi (Eds.), Translation, Mediation and Accessibility for Linguistic Minorities [Arbeiten zur Theorie und Praxis des Übersetzens und Dolmetschens Band Vol. 128] (pp. 69-83). Berlin: Herstellung durch Frank & Timme GmbH.

“Multilingualism and linguistic diversity are two defining concepts of the 21st century and they stem from the previous century’s struggles for equality, accessibility and inclusion. For cinema, the fight was to make films as inclusive as possible, by means of different mediation strategies, such as audiodescription (AD) for the visually-impaired, subtitling for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (SDH), as well as sign language interpreting (SLI).

In view of this, the present paper has a two-fold aim: we wish to identify and describe the film festivals that are concerned with accessibility to persons with disabilities, either as a topic or as an approach to mediation, while, at the same time, we intend to report on the Portuguese Accessible Film Festival, whose first edition was held in 2019.

In terms of structure, our paper is divided into three parts: the first where we discuss the notion of linguistic diversity and, particularly, the role of Audiovisual Translation (AVT) in cinema and the concept of minority groups, specifically those with impairments; the second focusing on the presence of accessibility and disability in film festivals around the world, which resulted from a documental research; and the last reporting and describing the two editions of our Accessible Film Festival (AFF), so far a unique experience in Portugal. At the end of the paper, we intend to reach some tentative conclusions” (p. 69).

Maxwell, H., Darcy, S., Grabowski, S., & Onyx, J. (2022, November). Disability and the arts: Inclusive practice for health and wellbeing. In H. Maxwell, R. McGrath, J. Young, & N. Peel (Eds.), Exploring the Leisure – Health Nexus: Pushing Global Boundaries (pp. 33-51). CABI Open Access. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1079/9781789248166.0002.

“In this chapter we demonstrate how the inclusion of PWD in the arts produces individual, social and health benefits” (p. 33).

McAskill, A., & Watkin, J. (Eds.). (2022, Spring). Intersections of Allyship, Action and Artistic Access [Special Issue]. Canadian Theatre Review, 190.

“Our goal for this issue, which grew out of our three-year interdependent co-convening of the Canadian Association for Theatre Research’s Disability, Performance, and Pedagogies Working Group, is to centre Deaf and Disabled people’s experiences of Canadian theatre and performance” (p. 5)

This issue features an editorial and the following articles:

McRuer, R. (2023). Disability art on lockdown: Access and intersectionality in a pandemic. In J. C. Nash & S. Pinto (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Intersectionalities (pp. 357-366). London: Routledge. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/b23279-38.

Disability justice is a concept developed by artists and activists who are disabled and queer, Black, Indigenous, people of color. This chapter presents a reviews of Nunez’s pre-pandemic work followed by his reinvention of that work on lockdown. Nunez’s process as an artist entailed literally crossing borders and arriving in New York and discovering disability community. Nunez’s play with and within a range of motions, and his valuing of an expansive understanding of disabled temporalities suggests for another crip mode, crip pacing, that has been legible in his work and others’ on lockdown.

Mondelli, M,. & Justice, J. (2023). Aesthetic In-Access: Notes from a CripTech Metaverse Lab. Leonardo 2023; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1162/leon_a_02491.

“Metaverse” technologies, such as spatial audio, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR), present new possibilities for disabled artists. To explore how artists use metaverse technologies – as well as the frictions that inhibit access – the authors describe the events of “CripTech Metaverse Lab,” which invited a cohort of disabled artists for a three-day workshop featuring metaverse experiences and a speculative design lab. Observing how participants creatively navigated these encounters, we introduce “aesthetic in-access” as a shared praxis developed by disabled users that transforms barriers to access into artistic expression. In doing so, we outline a metaverse future that centers disabled expression and joy.

Mühlemann, N., Widmer, C., & Schmidt, Y. (2023). Cripping hybrid futures. In M. Felton-Dansky, S. Ilter, R. Mosse, N. Tecklenburg & C. Gil Vrolijk (Eds.), Hybrid Futures: Theatre and Performance in the Post/Pandemic Anthropocene [Special Issue]. International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, 19(1), 12–26. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14794713.2022.2162279.

In this collaboratively written article, we argue that disabled performers have long since questioned notions about physicality, subjectivity, temporality and spectatorship on stage that are currently being revisited in the debate on ‘hybrid’ theatre practices during the pandemic. Disability performances, as well as hybrid theatre formats, which are now booming due to the lockdown experience, provoke discussions and discursive negotiations about what theatre is, should be and for whom, and explore boundaries of the art form. Based on these arguments, we will examine the concept of hybridity, in order to critically explore the debate on hybrid theatre in relation to disability performance practices, using the examples of the internationally recognised performing artists Neil Marcus and Sins Invalid, and challenge notions of sustainability within that discourse. We endby asking what demands a hybrid future would need to meet to accommodate the diverse realities of non-normative bodyminds.

Myers, C. (2019). On the complexity of cripping the arts. Canadian Art, 12.

“In the wake of Bill C-81, ‘an act to ensure a barrier free Canada,’ and the Canada Council’s accessibility and equity research initiatives, the attention to deaf, disability and mad arts is growing. The aim, now, is for organizations to realize commitments to accessibility by developing methods of inclusion that are as creative as their programming. Rather than simply accommodating these artists and audiences, organizations have the opportunity to “crip”–that is to disrupt–the way they think about language, time, representation and even budgeting. What are the futures of these bodies and what can we learn from them?”

National Endowment for the Arts. (2016). Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities: National Online Dialogue Brief. Washington, DC: Author.

“What ideas do you have to increase the career preparation and employment for people with disabilities in the arts?” This question was posed to participants in an online discussion hosted by the NEA in partnership with the National Arts and Disability Center (NADC) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in June 2016. Using ODEP’s ePolicyWorks online dialogue platform, this conversation engaged 390 participants representing artists, arts administrators, arts organizations, arts educators, arts employers, and disability organizations, who shared feedback from their own experiences and offered ideas about how to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities in the arts. This brief provides a summary of these ideas and recommendations for the field. A final report can also be found on the ePolicyWorks website.

National Endowment for the Arts. (n.d.). Careers in the Arts Toolkit. Washington, DC: Author.

“Every day, people with disabilities add significant value and talent across the spectrum of arts careers. They are performers, visual artists, teaching artists, cultural workers, administrators, and more. Yet, historically, people with disabilities have not had access to the same career opportunities as people without disabilities. Reasons for this range from inaccessible facilities to disability benefit earning limitations to misconceptions about the skills and talents of people with disabilities. Through a variety of initiatives, the National Endowment for the Arts has worked to bridge this inequity, for the benefit of not only people with disabilities, but also America’s arts institutions and their patrons.

In this spirit, the Careers in the Arts Toolkit empowers individuals with disabilities to explore arts careers and access resources to support their success. It also educates arts employers, educators, and grantmakers about the critical role they play in fostering disability inclusion and the resources available to help them successfully do so.”

On the Move. (2021, November). Time to Act: How lack of knowledge in the cultural sector creates barriers for disabled artists and audiences. The British Council, On the Move, and Europe Beyond Access, with support from the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

Spanning 42 countries, Time To Act provides the first transnational evidence that lack of knowledge in the mainstream cultural sector is a key barrier preventing disabled artists and arts professionals participating equally in European culture.

Onyx, J., Darcy, S., Grabowski, S., Green, J., & Maxwell, H. (2018). Researching the social impact of arts and disability: Applying a new empirical tool and method. Voluntas, 29, 574–589. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-9968-z.

This paper has a twofold focus: to establish a method of assessing the potential social impact of arts and disability projects and to apply this method to ten such projects. It does so by using a newly developed ‘ripple’ model that conceptualises social impact in terms of the development of active citizenship on the part of all participants over time. The model identifies ten factors (programme activity, welcoming, belonging, programme social values, individual social values, programme networks, individual networks, skills and creativity, programme wider social impact, and individual wider social impact) which evolve through four progressive stages. The original model is empirically adapted for application to arts and disability projects. Qualitative data were collected in the form of interviews, surveys and media reports across ten case studies, each representing a major arts and disability project offering a professional outcome for an external audience. The qualitative data were coded to provide a simple scoring tool for each case. The results support the application of the model in this context. Furthermore, findings indicate three critical conditions which enable projects to generate considerable positive social impact beyond the individual; ensemble in nature; project embeddedness; and networks and partnerships.

Content of this special issue includes:

Penketh, C., & Adams, J. (Eds). (2019). The Biopolitics of Art Education [Special Issue]. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 13(3). DOI: https://doi.org/10.3828/jlcds.2019.19.

“This issue of the Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies offers a timely opportunity for an extended discussion of current practices at the intersection of art education and disability studies, a discussion that has the potential to further practice and theory in both domains. Art education has an obvious role in the development of our understanding of culture and is like all forms of education, shaped by explicit as well as implicit processes of cultural production. Literary and cultural disability studies have considerable potential for enabling us to understand the relationships among disability culture, and society at a deep ideological level that impacts on art education at a curricular level and into arts practice. The articles in this special issue further the argument that art educators are particularly well placed to respond in creative and innovative ways to potentially restrictive normative practices and rigid assessment regimes at the heart of disabling school practices. Emerging in these articles are highly reflective insights from disabled and nondisabled art educators working in compulsory and post-compulsory sectors and who acknowledge disability as a creative source” (p. 247).

The issue includes an introduction and the following articles:

Pickard, B. (2021, October). Undergraduate creative arts students’ perceptions and attitudes toward disability: Advancing a critical disability studies informed curriculum. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 20(2), 141-161. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/adch_00036_1.

This study reports on the unanticipated findings of a small-scale, evaluative research project. Further to a pilot iteration, a cohort of undergraduate art students engaged with an immersive, inclusive arts curriculum informed by critical disability studies. Students’ perceptions and attitudes about disability were recorded at the outset and conclusion of the pedagogical project, through a qualitative questionnaire. Thematic analysis was employed to surface patterns in the cohort’s responses at both points in their learning journey. While the findings evidenced the anticipated shift from individualized perspectives about disability to an increasingly social, interactional perspective, the full extent of the medicalized gaze and internalized ableism at the outset of the study was unanticipated. This realization has been influential in developing the pedagogical approach and the framing of the content taught, and has exemplified both the potential and the need to learn about disability, disablement and diversity through art education.

The author reflects on hir coming to identify as physically and cognitively disabled, making performance work concerning these identities and communities, the influence of Sins Invalid’s projects, challenges of securing arts funding while immigrating to Canada, and the activisms of developing disability-centred arts in smaller cities, of bridging ‘professional’ and ‘community arts,’ of increased training for disabled theatremakers onstage and offstage, and of amplifying improvements in working conditions industry-wide. Sie also discusses challenging paradigms of disabled relationships to desire and consent, of simplified narratives and conventional modes of staging our theatre, and hir goals for prioritizing work co-developed in local communities that experiments and explores.

Pinney, F. (2022, December). Neurodivergent-affirming therapeutic arts practice. Journal of Creative Arts Therapies, 17(2).

As a neurodivergent therapeutic arts practitioner, I explore the impact of double empathy in creating dissonance within/when companioning people I work with. This leads me to accepting my bias around working with my own neurokin. Reflections on a philosophically collaborative approach explore three neurodivergent-affirming therapeutic art practice sessions that include education on Autistic culture and norms. Images and descriptions offer insight into how art therapy supports the understanding, acceptance and affirming of neurodivergent identity within this relationship. I then reflect on the positive impact on self-expression and social engagement when the double empathy problem and ableism are overcome.

Rice, C., Bailey, K. A., & Cook, K. (2021). Mobilizing interference as methodology and metaphor in disability arts inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry, 28(3-4), 287-299. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/10778004211046249.

This article interrogates the limits and possibilities of interference as methodology and metaphor in video-based research aiming to disrupt ableist understandings of disability that create barriers to health care. We explore the overlapping terrain of diffractive and interference methodologies, teasing apart the metaphorical-material uses and implications of interference for video-makers in our project. Using the digital/multimedia stories created and an interview as research artifacts, we illuminate how interference manifested in disabled makers’ lives, how interference operated through the research apparatus, and how the videos continue to hold agency through their durability in the virtual realm. Drawing on feminist post-philosophies of matter (Barad) and use (Ahmed), we argue that the videos disrupt the gaze that fetishizes disabled bodies, thereby interfering with cultural-clinical processes that abnormalize disability. The research apparatus interfered with makers’ subjectivities yet also brought people together to generate something new—a community that creates culture and contests its positioning as marginal.

Rice, C., Dion, S. D., & Chandler, E. (2021, Spring). Decolonizing disability through activist art. Disability Studies Quarterly, 41(2). DOI: https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v41i2.7130.

This paper mobilizes activist art at the intersections of disability, non-normativity, and Indigeneity to think through ways of decolonizing and indigenizing understandings of disability. We present and analyze artwork produced by Vanessa Dion Fletcher, the first Indigenous disability-identified Artist-in-Residence for Bodies in Translation (BIT), a research project that uses a decolonized, cripped lens to cultivate disabled, D/deaf, fat, Mad, and aging arts on the lands currently known as Canada. We begin by setting the context, outlining why disentangling the disability, non-normativity, and Indigeneity knot is a necessary and urgent project for disability studies and activisms. Drawing on Indigenous ontologies of relationality, we present a methodological guide for our reading of Dion Fletcher’s work. We take this approach from her installation piece Relationship or Transaction?, which, we argue, foregrounds the need for white settlers to turn a critical gaze on transactional concepts of relationship as integral to a decolonized and an indigenized analysis of disability and non-normative arts. We then centre three original pieces created by Dion Fletcher to surface some of the intricacies of the Indigeneity/disability/non-normativity nexus that complicate recent discussions about recuperating Indigenous concepts of bodymind differences across white supremist settler colonial regimes on Turtle Island (North America) that seek to debilitate Indigenous bodies and lives. We intervene in these debates with reflections on what might be created—and what we might learn—when the categories of Indigeneity and (Western conceptions of) disability and non-normativity are understood as contiguous, particularly focusing on meaning-making within Dion Fletcher’s developing oeuvre.

Richardson, J. E., & Keifer-Boyd, K. (2020). Art Education and Disability Justice [Special Issue]. Research in Arts and Education, 2020(4). 

“As guest editors, we are pleased to introduce this special issue of the academic journal Research in Arts & Education (RAE) derived from papers presented at the 2nd International Conference on Disability, Arts and Education held at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 3–5 October 2019 (see https://www.dsae2019.com/)…. [the conference and papers in this special issue] engage with all forms of art, arts education, and arts-based research that advocates for first-person accounts of disability, disability identities and cultures, as well as addresses institutional, systemic, and societal barriers to disability justice.”

Articles in this special issue include:

Riegel, C., & Robinson, K. M. (2023). Interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, and health humanities: Eye tracking, ableism, disability, and art creation. In C. Riegel & K. M. Robinson (Eds.), Health Humanities in Application [Sustainable Development Goals Series] (pp. 175-193). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-08360-0_8.

This chapter examines a transdisciplinary research project that develops eye tracking hardware and software for the purpose of art creation. Interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity are defined in relation to the development of the health humanities as a field that inherently draws from multiple disciplines. Transdisciplinary research is seen to transcend disciplinary boundaries and to integrate community collaboration as a mode that is geared to addressing social challenges. Eye tracking art creation relies solely on eye movements to create art on digital screens and thus has implications for individuals with limited mobility. Disability is defined in relation to ableism, which is the discriminatory practice of enforcing a corporeal norm. We discuss how technology development that has implications for individuals with disabilities, such as ours, must resist ableist tendencies to attempt to solve disability as a problem that requires a cure. Thus, we frame our research project that has as its goal the development of tools that provide the enjoyment of art creation above all.

Sarkar, J. (2021). Bodies and expressions: Exploring the aesthetics of disability performance art. In How Bodies Matter [Special Issue]. Tête-à-Tête: Journal of French and Comparative Literature, 1, Article 6.

“This paper examines how the bodies of disabled performance artists challenge the system from the stage by pushing back against the barriers of normativity. Disabled performance artists call out cultural expectations and objectification, which troubles issues of ableism. Drawing on Jasbir Puar’s theory of assemblage, which deindividualizes agency, this essay interrogates how the aesthetics of disability performances invite the audiences to accept rather than reject unfamiliar physical forms. Using Tobin Siebers and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson’s concept of disability aesthetics, the paper challenges the particular inclination to equate normalcy with beauty. Drawing examples from disability performance art, the paper examines the representation of freakishness and its exhibition in Western societies, demonstrating how public displays of extraordinary bodies facilitated the definition of cultural distinctions as natural. Disability performances recreate the scenes of disability in such a way that the normative viewer requires a sort of justification after encountering a disabled body. This brings to the forefront the existence of social hierarchies and power relationships. The presence of the performance artist on the stage questions the dynamic relationship between the performer and the audience and results in the act of staring. The disabled body summons the stare, and the stare mandates the story. The essay focuses on how the disabled body, which had been isolated and confined in institutions for long, is emerging out of the boundaries of academic study and into the streets, stages, and daily lives of the nondisabled.”

Sayre, D. N. (2022, September). Care work and social justice in creative arts therapy: Putting queer performance theory and disability justice in conversation with drama therapy. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 80, 101940. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2022.101940.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased existing health disparities for the LGBTQIA2S+ community, reducing (or eliminating) access to healthcare through traditional pathways and increasing the value and necessity of community care. Putting queer performance theory in conversation with disability justice frameworks allows for exploration of how the creative arts therapies – and drama therapy specifically – can adapt to meet the emerging needs of marginalized populations. Situating drama therapy within a queer disability justice lens can support drama therapists in reclaiming the most revolutionary aspects of drama therapy theory and principles. Contrasting clinical and community-based approaches to drama therapy via autoethnography, limitations of the medical model of mental healthcare are interrogated while offering examples of alternative approaches to providing care rooted in activism and community organizing.

Schroeder, F., & Lucas, A. (2021). Distributed participatory design: The challenges of designing with physically disabled musicians during a global pandemic. Organised Sound, 26(2), 219-229. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355771821000261.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has been an extraordinary situation. Social distancing has impacted the vast majority of people, reorganising society, physically separating us from friends, family and colleagues. Collectively we found ourselves in a distributed state, reliant upon digital technologies to maintain social and professional connections. Some activities can translate unabated to a digital medium, with benefits, such as the convenience inherent in many online shopping and banking services. Other activities, particularly those which are socially engaged, including inclusive music-making or design, may need to be re-framed and re-thought due to the absence of in-person contact.

In Northern Ireland, the Performance Without Barriers (PwB) research group works with disabled artists from the Drake Music Project Northern Ireland (DMNI) to identify ways in which technology can remove access barriers to music-making. Since disabled people are experts in their unique lived experience of disability, they must be involved in the design process, an approach known as participatory design. At the end of 2020, many of us are still adjusting to the new normal, only beginning to understand the impact of distributed digital living. In this article, we examine how the socially engaged work of PwB has been affected, changed and adapted during the pandemic throughout 2019 to 2020, expanding ideas of distributed creativity to the notion of distributed design. The authors formalise the concept of socially engaged distributed participatory design, an approach that classifies PwB’s current research activities in the area of accessible music technology design and improvised musicking. Consideration is given to the impact the notion of ‘distribution’ has on degrees of participation.

Smith, G. (2021, April). Chronic illness as critique: Crip aesthetics across the Atlantic. Art History, 44(2), 286-310. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8365.12559

A growing body of theories proposes rethinking chronic illness as a position from which to analyse and resist neoliberalism. Interest in these ideas has been steadily growing in the art world, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States. Following on from a period of renewed institutional engagement with the politics of identity, this phenomenon also reflects the rise of ‘crip theory’ as an intersectional discourse that purports to offer insights beyond the traditional remit of disability studies. With the recent politics of austerity responsible for insolvency, dispossession and vulnerability on a mass scale, some even propose thinking of the present at large as ‘crip times’. Others caution against galleries and museums turning real people living with disabilities into a Zeitgeist. This essay explores these debates in relation to the work of Carolyn Lazard and Jesse Darling, two artists based on opposite sides of the Atlantic, who take a contrasting approach to the representation of sickness and vulnerability.

Symeonidou, S. (2019). Disability, the arts and the curriculum: Is there common ground? European Journal of Special Needs Education, 34(1), 50-65. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2018.1435012.

This paper reports on the findings of a study that sought to examine firstly, the themes expressed in the art of disabled people in Greece and Cyprus and in interviews with these artists, and secondly, the ways that such art can serve the school curriculum. To this end, an electronic archive of the life stories and art of interest was analysed. The findings suggest that both the art and the interviews cover issues that are directly related to disability, and issues of general interest. A detailed analysis of two cases seeks to provide an in-depth understanding of the relevance of disabled artists and their work within the curriculum. The discussion focuses on issues emerging from the analysis, such as the potential of this art to enrich the school curriculum and promote inclusive education, and identifies the study’s contribution to the international literature about disability, the arts and the curriculum.

Viscardis, K., Rice, C., & Myktitiuk, K. (2018). Difference within and without: Health care providers’ engagement with disability arts. Qualitative Health Research, 29(9). DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732318808252.

Re•Vision, an assemblage of multimedia storytelling and arts-based research projects, works creatively and collaboratively with misrepresented communities to advance social well-being, inclusion, and justice. Drawing from videos created by health care providers in disability artist-led workshops, this article investigates the potential of disability arts to disrupt dominant conceptions of disability and invulnerable embodiments, and proliferate new representations of bodymind difference in health care. In exploring, remembering, and developing ideas related to their experiences with and assumptions about embodied difference, providers describe processes of unsettling the mythical norm of human embodiment common in health discourse/practice, coming to know disability in nonmedical ways, and re/discovering embodied differences and vulnerabilities. We argue that art-making produces instances of critical reflection wherein attitudes can shift, and new affective responses to difference can be made. Through self-reflective engagement with disability arts practices, providers come to recognize assumptions underlying health care practices and the vulnerability of their own embodied lives.

Watkin, J., & DeGrow, D. (2022). Theatre is Not Built for Equity: Considering Intersectionality and Disability in Theatre Practice and Design [Forum]. Theatre Research in Canada, 43(2), 287-297. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3138/tric.43.2.f03.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for theatre organizations to reflect, observe, and consider the practices they have in place for access and care throughout their spaces and processes. How can this moment produce more care-full theatre spaces that work interdependently and excitedly to navigate the needs of the communities they serve? This article will combine the frameworks of disability justice, universal design, and value-explicit design to offer a new outlook that can be applied to the redesign of theatre spaces in Canada that make primary use of proscenium and thrust stage orientations. These concepts add to previous scholarship on access and intersectionality by demonstrating how current disability theatre practice in Canada can directly guide the design and use of theatre spaces in Canada. Further, they will respond to the need for a significant reconsideration in the way theatre spaces are used in Canada, as few companies prioritize accessibility beyond what is legally required of them.

Watson, K., & Hiles, T. W. (Eds.). (2022). The Routledge Companion to Art and Disability. New York: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003009986.

The Routledge Companion to Art and Disability explores disability in visual culture to uncover the ways in which bodily and cognitive differences are articulated physically and theoretically, and to demonstrate the ways in which disability is culturally constructed.

This companion is organized thematically and includes artists from across historical periods and cultures in order to demonstrate the ways in which disability is historically and culturally contingent. The book engages with questions such as: How are people with disabilities represented in art? How are notions of disability articulated in relation to ideas of normality, hybridity, and anomaly? How do artists use visual culture to affirm or subvert notions of the normative body? Contributors consider the changing role of disability in visual culture, the place of representations in society, and the ways in which disability studies engages with and critiques intersectional notions of gender, race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality.

This book will be particularly useful for scholars in art history, disability studies, visual culture, and museum studies.

Weinert-Kendt, R. (Ed.). (2021, March 26). Disability and theatre [Feature Issue]. American Theatre (Digital Edition). New York: Theatre Communications Group.

“The concept of disability justice, which infuses and animates some of the stories in the bustling new package on Disability and Theatre we’re proud to publish today… has become widely embraced as a way to name and center the intersecting oppressions of multiply marginalized populations, including the disabled, Black and Indigenous populations, people of color, queer and trans and gender nonconforming folks, immigrants, and the poor. As the theatre field reckons with the demands of We See You, White American Theater and other accountability movements, it is crucial not to lose sight of the intertwined struggles for equity and inclusion waged by and on behalf of the most vulnerable and historically excluded.”

Wexler, A. (2022). An anti-ableist framework in art education. In M. Hafeli (Ed.), Brave Spaces and Next Practices: Reimagining the Preparation of Art Educators [Special Issue]. Art Education, 75(1), 30-35. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00043125.2021.1984797.

“I argue that in art education, unlike other subjects, educators can use the visual arts to advance anti-ableism. The purpose of this article is to acknowledge that art education practices rarely take advantage of this possibility” (p. 30).

Wexler, A., & Kallio-Tavin, M. (Eds.). (2019, December). Art Education and Disability Studies [Special Issue]. IMAG #8. São Salvador, Viseu, Portugal: The International Society for Education Through Art (InSEA).

“Welcome to IMAG #8. This issue is inspired by the recent work in disability studies and the arts, still in its nascent stage in most countries. We were particularly inspired to form the call for essays of this issue based on the work of Mia Mingus, a well-known disability activist and disabled adoptee from Korea, who encourages the notion that the disability identity does not exist in isolation, but rather coexists with other identity markers, such as sexuality, class, gender and race, as well as the social and political impacts of societies—the ubiquitous “inequalities of socioeconomic and racial structures” (Connor, 2016, p. 496). Disability activists insist on their inclusion with other marginalized and oppressed identities, since they believe that oppression is what they have most in common within the highly diverse disability category. In this issue the guest editors advocate for a less restricted discourse about disability beyond the “multi-layered establishment” of special education (p. 494). As David Connor suggests, in a democratic society alternative ideas to established practices deserve attention. The art educators and artists in this issue offer a variety of ways these ideas can take place in the classroom, the studio, the community center, or on the stage. The authors also explore how art practices can help to inform knowledge of society and its institutions, which often are based on normative values and practices…. The authors in this issue reflect the vibrancy of an international disability arts community by shifting the art made by the disabled artist from a form of inclusive education or therapy to an important cultural contribution.”

Winter, N. (2023). Aesthetics of pain, fatigue, and rest: Working methods of chronically ill artists within disability-led performances. In A. Bê & E. Sheppard (Eds.), Chronic Illness and Representation [Special Issue]. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 17(2), 233-250. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3828/jlcds.2023.17

The article examines different aesthetics of chronic pain, fatigue, and rest by focusing on three performances by chronically ill artists: Rachel Bagshaw’s The Shape of the Pain, Raquel Meseguer Zafe’s A Crash Course in Cloudspotting and Ania Nowak’s Inflammations. Weaving together curatorial practice, performance analysis, and crip theory as well as bringing lived experiences of chronic pain and fatigue in conversation with critical readings of chronic illness within disability studies, the article aims to investigate the potential of crip aesthetics in disability arts by exploring chronic illness as what Carrie Sandahl calls a “representational conundrum” in disability performance and the representation of disability in general.

Zhuang, K.V. (2021). The included: Disability-led arts within inclusion in Singapore. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 15(4), 471-487.

A culture of inclusion pervades Singapore, one where disabled bodies are marked and folded into life by the state and its associated agencies. The effect of this inclusion has been the production of a new figure of disability, or what I call the included. In the midst of this inclusion, the disabled-led production of And Suddenly I Disappear: The Singapore ‘d’ Monologues in May 2018 marks a key milestone. The article considers the deployment of disability within the production and how it resists hegemonic representations of disabled people in Singapore. Particular consideration is given to the production’s orientation toward the disabled subject and the following questions: How is disability mobilized with and against this climate of inclusion? How is the disabled body deployed to resist hegemonic and ableist constructs of disability within inclusion, where disabled bodies are included because they are regarded as productive subjects of the nation-state? What kinds of productive tensions exist between the included and the disabled subject?