Water ripples outwards in rings with a splash at the center. The water is the color of a rainbow. Text reads # Ripple Effect



We are collecting the answers to this question under the hashtag #RippleEffect. A big thank you to Kayla Hamilton, Kat Holmes, and Madison Zalopany for being our first three to reflect and share. Do you have a #RippleEffect story you would like to share? Please email lisa@disabilitydanceworks.com.

Kayla leans against a blue wall as she smiles at us. Her hair is in shoulder length dreads and her eyes are twinkling. Photo by Travis Magee

KAYLA HAMILTON. Photo by Travis Magee.

Being exposed to disability arts via my mentor Alice Sheppard has helped me see myself and my work in new ways. Being exposed to disability arts has made me rethink my work and creative process in terms of how I’m making my art accessible, specifically to low vision, visually impaired, and/or Blind persons.

From a creative perspective, I’ve moved away from a starting place that was rooted in the body into a starting place using more descriptions. I have become more engaged in exploring how to enter the work from a feeling, non-verbal and audible language, and/or textures. It has made me more thoughtful and aware of how I’m teaching and describing things to my school students as well as my dancing peers.

Because of my exposure to disability arts, I’ve found myself more present in other sensory ways — as well as a heightened awareness of the nuances of daily tasks. It has led to current explorations of surveillance, using lighting as a creative partner — not just as a layer on top of something that already exists, and also discovering risks in the creative process. – Kayla Hamilton

Kayla sits in the dark illuminated in neon green lines around her face, arms and legs.

Kayla wears an LED lighting hooded jumpsuit in her piece Nearly Sighted/unearthing the dark.


Kat Holmes, a multi-racial woman with short wavy platinum blond hair, looks directly at you with a slight smile. Photo by Sennia Kyle.

KAT HOLMES. Photo by Sennia Kyle.

“Close your eyes. Take a breath. Notice your body.” This is the invitation extended by Lisa Niedermeyer at the start of Kinetic Light’s performance of DESCENT. It’s more than a moment of mindfulness. It’s priming my nervous system, resetting it for what’s to come. All of my nerves fire and misfire in concert with the performance as it unfolds. The sounds of the dancers interacting with each other and the iconic ramped stage, turning gravity into a character in its own right. Michael Maag’s lighting plays with my sense of balance and I find that it’s shifted to a new place each time I remember to breathe. I become acutely aware of all the ways my body, my brain, might be considered outside the range of “normal.” Ways that are mostly invisible to other people. Here, in DESCENT, they are also dancers, making the experience perfectly mine.

This invitation is now my daily practice. Priming those billions of nerves that zap within me and power me through my day. Before important moments in my work, I stop and notice my body. With disorienting or disruptive events, I close my eyes and let all those electrical currents move through me like dancers and light. With each new breath, that DESCENT recenters my gravity so I can continue to move towards whatever’s next. – Kat Holmes

The book cover design for Mismatch is black and white with a circle made with a paintbrush with many different textures.

Kat Holmes is Director of User Experience at Google, Founder of Mismatch.design, and Author of Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design (pictured here).

Madison, a cis gendered white woman with ash blonde hair, gives a small smile to the camera. She is wearing a bright red blouse and is surrounded by nature.


I attended a talk where Alice spoke about all the amazing work Kinetic Light put into creating audio description for their performance of DESCENT. Kinetic Light envisions the use of audio description as part of the artwork itself, rather than an accommodation retrofitted into the performance. This idea of access being built into the artwork is a culture shift; the burden of accessing information and pleasure from the artwork is moving from the individual with a disability to a socialized experience between artist, institution, and audience members. Kinetic Light’s innovations challenge me to think critically not only about the artist’s responsibility of creating access, but the key disability aesthetic access creates within a work of art.

The experience made me reflect on my own work as a painter. What does it mean to make an accessible painting? What might make a painting as pleasing to touch as it is to look at? And how does it remain true to the medium? – Madison Zalopany

Madison 's painting of a cootie catcher is being stroked by a well manicured hand. Photo by Debra Lutz.

Tactile detail of a painting by Madison Zalopany. Photo by Debra Lutz.


Kayla Hamilton
Madison Zalopany