Inclusive Curriculum & Showcasing Artists with Disabilities

Make your curriculum more inclusive by showcasing a diverse representation of artists and art in your classroom.

Inclusive Curriculum & Showcasing Artists with Disabilities
  • Planning
  • Teaching
  • Liberated Learning Environments

Inclusive Curriculum & Showcasing Artists with Disabilities

Try This Flag Try

To focus on Artistic Equity and embracing disability as part of the aesthetic, art making, or artistic experience, and including disabled artist’s art, voices and experiences at all levels, rather than as adjacent to the artistic experience or as something “special”.

Try This Flag Try

Include art created by artists with disabilities and showcase disabled artists.

Try This Flag Try

To change the narrative of disability arts from “special,” or work the artist created by “overcoming” their disability, to an integral part of our cultural narrative, artistic expression, and the art form’s canon.

A more democratic and productive notion of inclusion must include the perspectives of disabled people in curriculum through art, narratives, and terminology that convey inclusion as equitable, not ‘special.’”

– Karen Keifer-Boyd, Disability Justice

Inclusive curriculum goes hand in hand with Universal Design for Learning (UDL), as we focus on multiple entry points for students to access and express their learning, there should also be multiple representations of art and artists. Your curriculum content should showcase art and artists from different cultures, genders, classes, sexualities and with differing abilities.

Inclusive curriculum supports students’ abilities to empathize, connect, and collaborate with a diverse group of peers, builds a sense of belonging, and raises the awareness of all students.

Contextualization

  • Be transparent around the cultural and historical context in which the content was developed.
  • Acknowledge and discuss the potential limitations of any materials you are sharing. This can help students see how and why you chose particular material.
  • Avoiding or neglecting the context can alienate students and imply judgement or importance.

Celebrate Intersectionality and Diversity and Avoid Stereotypes

  • Focus on content that allows students to see themselves and others reflected in a positive way.
  • Ensure material does not perpetuate stereotypes.  If the artwork is engaging a stereotype as part of their content, support students in joining the critical conversation the artist is engaging.
  • Celebrate the intersectionality of artist’s identities.

Check out the related GIVE Resource: Intersectionality of Disability and Other Identities.

  • Abilities Dance Boston uses dance as a tool for intersectional disability rights in the greater Boston area and beyond with a performing company and community engagement.
  • Alice Sheppard (she/her) is the Artistic Director of Kinetic Light, as well as a choreographer and dancer.
  • AXIS Dance Company collaborates with Disabled and Non-Disabled Artists to create virtuosic productions that challenge the perceptions of dance and disability.
  • Candoco Dance Company is an inclusive dance company based in the UK which performs and teaches across the world.
  • CRIPSiE (The Collaborative Radically Integrated Performers Society in Edmonton) is an Edmonton based collective of artists that include people who experience disability and their allies.
  • DanceNYC ‘s Disability. Dance. Artistry. initiative aims to advance inclusion and access to the art form for disabled people.
  • Dancing Wheels is a professional, physically integrated dance company uniting the talents of dancers both with and without disabilities.
  • Full Radius Dance is a physically integrated modern dance company based in Atlanta.
  • Heidi Lasky Dance is an NYC based physically integrated company, creating daring work with people with disabilities since 2006.
  • HUMAN GEOMETRIC – Sadeck Waff and dancers for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
  • Jerron Herman (he/him) is an interdisciplinary artist creating through dance, text, and visual storytelling.
  • Kayla Hamilton is a movement artist, producer, and educator.
  • Kinetic Light Dance creates, performs, and teaches at the nexus of access, disability, dance, and race, working in the disciplines of art, technology, design, and dance.
  • Krishna Washburn is a dancer, choreographer and the artistic director and sole teacher of Dark Room Ballet, a pre-professional dance curriculum designed for the educational needs of blind and visually impaired people like herself.
  • Lindsay Eales is a dancer and choreographer. Her art practice includes Mad, disability, and crip performance, and integrated dance choreography.
  • NEVE (they, them & he, she, him, her) is a multidimensional, multidisciplinary terpsichorean artist of the stage, street, field, stream, and screen.
  • Perel (they, them, theirs) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is centered on disability and queerness as they relate to care, consent, sexuality, and personal and historic trauma.
  • Purple Fire Crow aka Antoine Hunter is an African American, Indigenous, Deaf, and disabled choreographer, dancer, actor, instructor, speaker, producer, and Deaf advocate.
  • Rodney Bell (he/him) Tainui is the Waka Rodney Bell descends from. He has been dancing professionally since 1995.
  • Simone Botha Welgemoed is a member of Bovim Ballet, from Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Stop Gap Dance Company create exhilarating dance productions for national and international touring. We employ disabled and non-disabled artists who find innovative ways to collaborate.
  • The Wild Zappers With a powerful combination of American Sign Language, music and dance, the Wild Zappers focus on the beauty. They promote cultural and educational awareness through entertainment within deaf and hearing communities.

Literary Arts Artists & Companies

  • Alice Wong (she/her) is a writer, Disability Activist, Media Maker, Consultant, & Founder and Director of the Disability Visibility Project® (DVP).
  • Douglass Ridloff (he/him) is a poet who creates American Sign Language poetry and performs at ASL Slam.
  • Disability Horizons Magazine  is an online disability lifestyle publication that aims to give disabled people a voice.
  • Eli Clare (he/him) weaves hope, critical analysis, and compassionate storytelling together in his work on disability and queerness, insisting on the twine of race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability.
  • Imani Barbarin (she/her) writes from the perspective of a black woman with Cerebral Palsy. She Specializes in blogging, science fiction, and memoir.
  • Jen Deerinwater (Jen, Jen Deerinwater) is a bisexual, Two Spirit, multiply-disabled, citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and an award-winning journalist and organizer.
  • Johanna Hedvah (they/them) is a Korean American writer, artist, and musician, who was raised in Los Angeles by a family of witches, and now lives in LA and Berlin. 
  • John Lee Clark (he/him) is a DeafBlind poet, essayist, translator, and a leader in the Protactile movement.
  • Keah Brown is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. She is the creator of #DisabledAndCute.
  • Khadijah Queen (she/her) is a multidisciplinary writer and visual artist. Queen is ​the author of six books, most recently Anodyne.
  • Kiilu Nyasha (she/ her) is a revolutionary artist, activist and journalist in the liberation struggle for over 35 years. A former Black Panther, she is a radio and newspaper journalist who has done much to keep political prisoners in the public eye.
  • Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled femme writer, organizer, performance artist and educator of Burgher/Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/Roma ascent.
  • Leroy Moore (he/him) Leroy F. Moore Jr., an African American writer, poet, community activist who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
  • Marcy Angeles is a Nednhi Apache & Guamares band of Chichimeca Disabled Two Spirit Artist, Writer & Musician from Southern New Mexico.
  • Mia Mingus is a writer, educator and trainer for transformative justice and disability justice. She is a queer physically disabled Korean transracial and transnational adoptee raised in the Caribbean.
  • Miss Jacqui is a Spoken Word Artist (all things creative arts, all things accessible and inclusive).
  • Rebekah Taussig is an educator, writer and author of the memoir in essays, Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body
  • Robert Jones, Jr. is a Writer, Author, Thought Leader, & Intersectional Activist.
  • Sami Schalk (she/her) is a writer whose interdisciplinary research focuses broadly on disability, race, and gender in contemporary American literature and culture.
  • Seanan Forbes (they/them), a disabled, trans interdisciplinary artist, is a writer, poet, performer, photographer, and visual artist. Seanan’s storytelling work incorporates physical theatre, aerial arts, puppetry, and mask work.

Media and Moving Image Artists & Companies

  • Alison O’Daniel is a visual artist and filmmaker. She is Deaf/Hard of Hearing and explores access and complex embodiment.
  • Disabled List is a community-driven project that collects and analyzes Disability representation in media and advertising.
  • Christine Bruno (she/her) is a Director and Disability Inclusion Consultant. “Disability is not an acting skill but a lived experience.”
  • Christine Sun Kim (she/her) uses performance, video, drawing, writing, and technology to reflect on her experiences as part of the Deaf community and to comment on the social and political operations of sound.
  • Danielle Peers (they/them) is a community organizer, an artist, and an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta. They are the co-founder KingCrip Productions & CRIPSiE (Collaborative Radically Integrated Performers).
  • The Easterseals Disability Film Challenge is a weekend-long filmmaking contest, originally launched in 2014 by actor, now also ESSC Board Member, Nic Novicki.
  • James Rath (he/him) is a legally blind filmmaker and YouTuber.
  • James (Jim) LeBrecht (he/him) is a filmmaker, sound designer and mixer, author, screenwriter, and Disability rights activist with over 40 years of experience.
  • Jason DaSilva is a director, producer, writer and disability rights activist best known for the Emmy Award winning documentary, When I Walk and the user-generated database of accessible locations AXS Map.
  • Kiah Amara (she/they) is an actor, producer, UPM, and fierce disability inclusion advocate. She strives to create and support the stories of Disabled Artists, especially Queer Disabled Womxn.
  • Krip-Hop Nation is a worldwide association of artists with disabilities.
  • Lauren “Lolo” Spencer (she/her) is a disability lifestyle influencer, creates content showcasing her navigating life as a woman in a wheelchair.
  • Marilee Talkington is an actor, artist, writer, director, creator, educator, consultant, disability advocate and activist.
  • Nasreen Alkhateeb (she/hers) is an award winning cinematographer whose work illuminates historically excluded voices, and normalizes intersectional storytelling. 
  • Navild Acosta (he/him) is a multi-medium artist and activist based in Brooklyn, NY who builds immersive work centering the intersecting identities of Blackness, transness, queerness, and disability.
  • Rachel Handler (she/her) is an Actor and Filmmaker.
  • ReelAbilities Film Festival is the United States’ largest film festival dedicated to showcasing films by, or about, people with disabilitie
  • Rodney Evans (he/him) has been making award-winning films and videos that explore the convergence of race, class, sexuality, and history in the lives of African Americans and/or LGBTQ+ individuals for over twenty years.
  • TJ Cuthand (he/him) is a filmmaker, performance artist and writer who makes short experimental narrative videos and films exploring Queer identity and indigeneity. He is a disabled, trans man of Cree and Scots descent.
  • Thomas Reid is the creator Reid My Mind podcast, stories and profiles of compelling people impacted by all degrees of blindness and disability
  • Tourmaline(she/her/hers/they/them/theirs) is a filmmaker, writer, and activist, whose work highlights the capacity of Black Queer/Trans social life to impact the world, while living what is simultaneously an invisible— and hypervisible— existence.
  • Yo-Yo Lin 林友友 is a interdisciplinary media artis.. She often uses video, animation, live performance, and lush sound design to create meditative ‘memoryscapes.’

Music Artists & Companies

  • 4 Wheel City Is an entertainment organization started by Namel “Tapwaterz”Norris and Ricardo “Rickfire” Velasquez, two talented hip-hop artists and motivational speakers in wheelchairs due to gun violence.
  • Al (Albert) Hibbler (he/ him) is a pop/jazz singer and was the first African American to have a radio program in Little Rock (Pulaski County).
  • Ann Wilson is an American musician & lead singer and songwriter of the rock band Heart. She wrote in her autobiography, Kicking and Dreaming, “When I sang, it was the only time she didn’t stutter.”
  • Billy McLaughlin (he/him) is a guitarist and composer.
  • Bree Klauser is an Actress, Singer, Voiceover Artist, and Songwriter who happens to be born legally Low Vision.
  • Brian Wilson is a member of the Beach Boys.
  • David Byrne is best known for his work with the Talking Heads.
  • Gaelynn Lea (she/her) Violinist and Singer. In addition to performing and recording, Gaelynn also does speaking engagements about Disability Rights, finding inner freedom, and accessibility in the arts.
  • Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton (he/him) is a jazz musician who sings and plays banjo, guitar, piano, fiddle, harmonica, Cajun accordion, and the bones (percussion).
  • Johnnie Mae Dunson (she/her) is the mother and the grandmother of the blues. She was one of the first woman blues drummer, a singer and also wrote 100’s of blues songs.
  • Lee Abramson is known for pioneering the art of using adaptive speech technology to create music. Abramson fused complex layers of piano, bass, drums, and synths with the aid of a live band and a computerized speech program called ModelTalker.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven is a classical music composer and musician.
  • Ray Charles (he/him) is an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer. Charles was blinded during childhood due to glaucoma.
  • RAMPD RAMPD’s mission is to amplify Disability Culture, promote equitable inclusion and advocate for accessibility in the music industry. RAMPD connects the music, entertainment and event industries to a fast-growing global network of established music professionals with disabilities.
  • Stevie Wonder is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer.
  • Toni Hickman (she/her) is a best selling author and music artist, an ordained minister, a holistic health practitioner,  and a surviv0r of 2 brain aneurysms & a stroke.
  • Tony Enos is two-time Native American Music Awards Nominee, and HIV positive pop artist, singer/songwriter, producer, electrifying live stage entertainer, and activist.

Theater/Performance Artists & Companies

  • Ali Stroker (she/her) is the first actress who uses a wheelchair for mobility to appear on a Broadway stage, and to be nominated for and win a Tony Award.
  • Anita Hollander (she/her) is an actor who lost her leg in 1977 to cancer, and has gone on to have a successful career in New York and regional theatre.
  • The Apothetae is a company dedicated to the production of works that explore and illuminate the, “Disabled Experience.”
  • Barak adé Soleil (he, they) is an award-winning dance, theater and performance artist, curator, and facilitator.
  • David Harrell is an international award-winning actor, speaker and disability advocate.
  • Deaf West Theater Company is a company committed to innovation, collaboration, training, and activism. Deaf West is the artistic bridge between the Deaf and hearing worlds.
  • Debbie Patterson is the Artistic Director of Sick + Twisted Theatre and multi-faceted theatre maker.
  • Diana Elizabeth Jordan is an award winning actor, a producer, director, a speaker-storyteller, artist educator and disability inclusion activist.
  • Drag Syndrome is a Drag collective featuring highly addictive queens & kings with Down-Syndrome
  • Lusi Faiva (she/her) is a performer and creator with Cerebral Palsy of Samoan and European descent who has some great different communication abilities.
  • Lynn Manning (he/him) is an award-winning poet, playwright, actor, and former World Champion of Blind Judo based in Los Angeles.
  • Mat Fraser (he/him) is an award-winning and nominated, internationally known disabled actor, writer, and musician. His written work deals with the social construct of disability.
  • Maysoon Zayid (she/her) (Arabic: ميسون زايد‎) is an actress, comedian, writer, and disability advocate.
  • Micha Fowler is an actor and public figure most known for his work on ABC’s Speechless.
  • Michelle Banks (she/her) is an award-winning actress, writer, director, producer, choreographer, motivational speaker, and teacher from Washington, DC.
  • Mickey Rowe (he/him) is an actor, director and public speaker; now highly sought after both nationally and internationally as the first autistic actor to ever play any autistic character in a professional performance setting.
  • Miriam Nilofa Crowe (she/her) identifies as limb different and is a New York-based lighting designer for theatre, dance and live music.
  • National Disability Theatre employs professional theatre artists who create fully accessible, world-class theatre and storytelling; changes social policy and the nation’s narrative about disability culture; and provides a guiding model in accessibility for the arts and cultural sector.
  • National Theater for the Deaf has a long and rich history as a proud national and international performing arts organization performing in all fifty states in the U.S., in thirty-three countries, and on all seven continents throughout the world.
  • Omnium: A Bold New Circus creates family circus entertainment with a diverse and multi-abled cast —inclusive of all and accessible to all at every performance.
  • Pelenakeke Brown (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist. Her practice spans art, writing, and performance.
  • Patty Berne (she/her/hers/they/them/theirs) is the co-founder, executive and artistic director of Sins Invalid, a Disability justice-based performance project centralizing disabled artists of color and queer and gender non-conforming artists with disabilities.
  • Phamaly Theatre Company’s mission is to be a creative home for theatre artists with disabilities; to model a disability-affirmative theatrical process; and to upend conventional narratives by transforming individuals, audiences, and the world.
  • Rance Nix is an entertainment personality that does it all from television/film/theatre, stand up comedy, improv, hosting events, to radio DJing.
  • Lauren Ridloff is an American actress. She’s known for her 2018 Tony-nominated performance in Children of a Lesser God, and as Connie in the The Walking Dead. She is also known as a former Miss Deaf America (2000 – 2002), as Lauren Teruel.
  • Ryan Haddad (he/him) Ryan J. Haddad is an actor, playwright, and autobiographical performer with cerebral palsy. His acclaimed solo play Hi, Are You Single? was presented in The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival and continues to tour the country.
  • Ryan O’Connell is an writer, actor, director, comedian, LGBTQ activist, and disability advocate.
  • Samuel J. Comroe is a stand-up comedian. His comedy is made up of the trials and tribulations of living with Tourettes Syndrome since being diagnosed at age six and observational material based on his life experiences.
  • Shannon DeVido (she/her) is an actor and comedian who’s made television appearances in Difficult People and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.
  • Theater Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB) is an Off-Broadway theater organization dedicated to advancing artists and developing audiences of people with disabilities.
  • Tim J. Lord (he/him) is a playwright. As a native of the Midwest and a member of the disability community he tells stories of people and communities who are often overlooked on our stages and strives to illuminate ignored and underrepresented perspectives.
  • Tellin’ Tales Theatre exists to create a bridge between children and adults with disabilities and those without disabilities through the nurturing and innovative performances of people’s personal stories.
  • Wry Crips is a Disabled Women’s Theatre Group.

Visual Arts Artists & Companies

  • Alx Velozo is a sculptor and performance artist. Their installations and performances combine cultural imaginations of illness, sensation and legibility.
  • Amy Oestreicher was an artist, writer, and influential speaker whose work is rooted in inspiration and built to be eclectic.
  • Andy Slater (he/ his) Andy’s work focuses on advocacy for accessible art and technology, Alt-Text for sound and image, the phonology of the blind body, spatial audio for extended reality, and sound design for film, dance, and digital scent design.
  • Aislinn Thomas (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes video, performance, sculpture, installation, and text. Many of her recent projects respond to access and disability
  • Anna Berry (she/her) is best known for her dramatically fragile paper sculptures.
  • Beth Wilson is a neuro-diverse digital visual artist.
  • Carmen Papalia (he/ him) Carmen Papalia is an artist who uses organizing strategies and improvisation to address his access to public space, the art institution, and visual culture.
  • Carolyn Lazard (they/them/theirs) is an interdisciplinary artist working in video, sculpture, text, and performance to engage the aesthetic and political dimensions of consent, care, and dependency. Working from the material conditions of chronic illness, their work animates the productive incapacity of crip life.
  • Damilola Idowu, illustrator of the book, The Wiggle Woshers and their Stolen Hearts, Dami, has ASD, and learning difficulties and a rather lovely ability to draw beautifully.
  • Dane Capo (he/him) is talented painter who was diagnosed with epilepsy at 10 months old and found to have autism at age five.
  • Dialogue Social Enterprise creates immersive exhibitions and workshops to foster empathy and openness towards other ways of living, cultures, and values.
  • Emilie Gossiaux (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist based in New York City.
  • Eugenie Lee (she/her) Interdisciplinary artist with a focus on medical science, persistent pain, and disability
  • Ezra Benus is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and curator.
  • Frida Kahlo (she/her) was a Mexican painter known for her many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico.
  • Haley Morris-Cafiero is a photographer and associate professor at the Memphis College of Art.
  • Horace Pippin (he/him) started making drawings on wood panels ten years after his discharge from 161st French division in World War I.

 

  • Jeff Thomas (he/him) is an independent curator and photographer who deals, in examination of his own history and identity, with issues of aboriginality that have arisen at the intersections of Native and non-Native cultures in what is now Ontario and northern New York state.
  • Jen White Johnson (she/ her) Jen’s work explores the erasure of black disabled children in digital and literary media.
  • Kase2 (he/him) who was also known as King Kase 2 and Case2 was a graffiti writer and was largely involved with the hip-hop movement which was shown in style wars.
  • Kemi Yemi-Ese is a Nigerian-American therapist and visual artist.
  • Lindsay Abromaitis-Smith (she/her) is an artist, writer, and healer living with ALS.
  • Liza Sylvestre is a multimedia artist, professor, and co-founder of the initiative Crip*: Cripistemology and the Arts.
  • NIAD is a progressive art studio for adult artists with developmental disabilities.
  • Naim Jain is a teen visual artist with autism.
  • Nancy Rourke is an internationally-known Deaf artist and ARTivist.
  • Park McArthur is an artist who works in sculpture, installation, text, and sound. McArthur is a wheelchair user whose work uses this position to inform her art
  • Riva Lehrer (she/her) is an artist, writer, and curator who focuses on the socially challenged body and those who experience stigma due to cultural devaluing. Lehrer’s work aims to transform the way that variant body/minds are seen in mainstream culture and in turn, the way we see ourselves.
  • Robert Andy Coombs is a photographer whose work explores the intersections of disability and sexuality. 
  • Shannon Finnegan is making work about accessibility and disability culture, including the Alt-text as poetry project.
  • Sky Cubacub (they/them/theirs) is a non-binary queer and disabled Filipinx human from Chicago, IL. Rebirth Garments is their line of wearables for the full spectrum of gender, size, and ability.
  • Stephen Wiltshire (he/him) is an autistic artist who draws detailed cityscapes from memory.
  • Vincent van Gogh (he/him) was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art.
  • Yayoi Kusama (she/her) was born in Nagano Prefecture. She is an avant-garde sculptor, painter, and novelist.
  • Yinka Shonibare (he/him) is a UK based multimedia artist who marries content and form. He uses form as a vehicle to say what you need to say.

External Resources