Presenter: Dr. Fred Kersten



TMEA/TI:ME 2009 Conference-San Antonio

February  11-14, 2009


  Presentation online at:

Handout provided at Presentation

Research Resources


This presentation examines opportunities for accommodation and inclusion of students with exceptionalities in the music classroom through utilization of music technology. Visually Impaired, Physically Handicapped, and Hearing Impaired are areas of exceptionality that will be considered.  Software, examples of ongoing research, current projects and various commissions in action will be explored as part of the presentation.  


Envision Possibilities!  Bias Dictates Actions Many students with disabilities on college campuses never realize their potential, as they are never seen. At times we tend to focus of the generic status quo we see each day. Music Technology is doing wonders for  individuals with exceptionalities and providing opportunities for performance and participation in distance education and classroom music activities.

Physically Handicapped

The Drake Music Project
Based in England, The Drake Music Project provides opportunities for disabled musicians of all ages and abilities to explore, compose, and perform music.
Using specialist and adapted music technology, Drake Music enables disabled children and adults who are unable to play conventional musical instruments to compose and perform. The project illustrates possibilities for disabled and non-disabled artists to be able to perform together.  

Performance by Charlotte White--Charlotte White, St Roses School, Stroud, plays using a MIDI sensor with her head as well as two switches with her thumbs.  Her other interests include mouth painting, and photography. She has  a goal to work as a music therapist upon graduation.    Her newest achievement is AWESOME! Click Here to share this!

Adaptive Use Music Instrument Software   
This software, with the addition of a webcam, allows individuals to use head movements in composition and performance of  music. A demonstration on the Deep Listening site illustrates how the software works. Additionally, RPI has developed a program using similar software that
allows physically challenged students with severe physical disabilities to create music by using their heads. Information is at:;_hbguid=96411d65-0eec-4278-b39d-bdb1bddf9b92

Assistive Technology Controllers for Music 

Yamaha WX-5 Wind Controller.                                                                            
Developed by Ruud van der Wel– Netherlands, Breath Therapy and Musical Breathing Exercises (respiratory therapy) utilizing the WX-5 assist Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and Muscular Dystrophy.
Band performance is also a possibility as transcriptions to accommodate timbres will allow parts to be covered as well as providing participation. Online Teaching Suggestions, MIDI and Audio File Accompaniments are available on a dedicated page  

Headbangers--software developed by Jon Adams  from Brayton School at the Massachusetts Hospital  allows students  to sound notes and vocals with whatever movement they can best make -- a squeeze of the hand, tap of the finger or a bang of the head.


Cochlear Implant--stellar new direction for deaf /hh present hearing of speech and eventual hearing of "full" spectrum music. The trick now is to optimize the system for music. Getting the pitch and frequency of music is difficult.  Wireless is also a challenge. One idea is to link the external ear piece with the MP3 player through Blue tooth. So far, the results are promising, and Samsung is seeking FDA approval A good source for information on this topic: "An mp3 player for the deaf. "

Digital Hearing Aid Algorithm Development

Evelyn Glennie  Outstanding Deaf Percussionist
*Excellent essay by Evelyn on perception of sound by a deaf musician. 

Blind/Visually Impaired

What is JAWS? JAWS for Windows is a powerful accessibility solution that reads information on your screen using synthesized speech. JAWS provides many useful commands that make it easier to use programs, edit documents, and read Web pages. With a refreshable Braille display, JAWS can also provide Braille output in addition to, or instead of, speech. An array of versatile features and customizable options lets you tailor JAWS for your individual needs and preferences.

Jsonar is a set of JAWS scripts that enables users of this audio screen reader to use Sonar professional music recording software.

Lime Aloud works with  JAWS as part of GOODFEEL  software.  With Lime Aloud, you can navigate through a musical score using standard cursor keys. Your PC plays each note or chord and verbally describes related annotations such as accents, staccato marks, lyrics and ties via the JAWS screen reader software.

Toccata (notation and import software) imports MIDI, MUSIC XML, and NIFF (Notation Interchange File Format) as well as functioning independently as a notation editor. Exports in Braille, to printer, and to Toccata notation files.

Additional Music Transcribing Software 

Accommodation Keyboards for Blind and Visually Impaired Students

Assistive technology on your Mac, PC

Practical  Suggestions