About the project
Music may seem like an ideal field of work for blind and partially sighted people. The myth that all blind people are good at music nevertheless has some truth, in that we can develop heightened awareness, attention to detail, and deep listening skills. However, the barriers to transitioning into meaningful music-related employment as a blind or partially sighted person are many and significant.
Recent research by RNIB and Opinium showed that only 3% of the UK general population could think of a professional blind or partially sighted musician who had started their career in the past 10 years. Despite improvements to other areas of inclusion across the industry, there is a clear need to support emerging blind and partially sighted musicians, and to create pathways that allow their talent to shine through.
The field of Music and Sound is vital to many blind and partially sighted people, especially those who wish to study, perform, create, or record music or undertake various kinds of audio engineering, such as radio, podcasting, or sound design. However, there are still major barriers to equality in this sector, despite advances in technology, that prevent people from fulfilling their potential in education, employment, or leisure. Some services, assistive technologies, and resources do exist, but are not well-linked, nor always up to date.
Sound Without Sight’s mission is to develop connected and sustainable solutions to equip blind and partially sighted musicians and audio engineers with the skills and knowledge they need to progress through education into employment in their chosen fields with competence and confidence, and to engage fully with their chosen leisure activities, using accessible and current methods. We intend to maximise connections between existing specialist expertise and mainstream opportunities, and to develop services where gaps are identified.
Our Focus Areas
We will support the blind and partially sighted community to access:
- Audio production: recording, editing, mixing, etc.
- Music notation: reading and composing, obtaining accessible scores, screen access technologies, etc.
- Performance: instrumental, vocal, speech; individual or group; beginner or professional.
How will ‘Sound Without Sight’ support these areas?
We believe the first step is to create an online hub, which will bring together all existing information and expertise around the topics in one place, joining the dots and filling in gaps where necessary. No single person is an expert across every one of these areas, so our knowledge hub will be community driven. New posts and edits will be sent through for approval by our editorial team to ensure quality.
Our team will also curate solution-focused content to showcase our community, highlighting the work of inspiring musicians and audio engineers who have a range of sight impairments: from partially sighted people who use minor but ingenious adaptations to improve accessibility in their field, through to blind people who use assistive technology to create and perform.
The website will encourage collaboration within the community and between music and audio technology developers, providing a platform to share information and directly consult the sight-impaired userbase to streamline the implementation of accessible design.
1. Showcase the work and achievements of sight-impaired people in audio and music roles: from partially sighted people who use minor but ingenious adaptations to improve accessibility in their field, through to blind people who use assistive technology to create and perform.
We will share the work of: performers, composers, sound designers, producers, sound engineers, audio editors, broadcaster engineers, radio hosts, mastering engineers, audio programmers, research and development, sound artists, live/event sound engineers, sound recordists, post-production roles, voiceover production, etc.
2. Present sight-impaired professionals as role models, highlighting accessible ways of working that these professionals have adopted or developed, to inspire users wanting to participate in these fields.
3. Assemble an encyclopaedia of accessible ways of participating in music and audio based activity, collating this information in one place.
4. Form an information hub and directory that gathers and signposts to existing resources, joining the dots between services that are currently difficult to discover.
5. Create a publicly discoverable and fully accessible platform for sight-impaired creatives to share examples of their work, whatever stage they are at in their careers.
6. Post content regularly, tagged with relevant keywords to allow users to easily filter and search for helpful information.
7. Identify and fill knowledge gaps where required. This could include areas such as: teaching methods, software tutorials, employability skills, accessing live music and its culture, training opportunities, tutorials, Q&As, guidance on communication and dress, business for music, freelance workshops, health and safety considerations for working in audio-based roles, relevant wellbeing support, etc.
8. Adapt to user need. Encourage feedback and suggestions from the community, which will influence the content that is posted.
9. Highlight research and development being done to increase accessibility for sight-impaired people in audio and music software and hardware. It could boost sight-impaired people’s confidence to know that their needs are being considered.
10. Function as a launchpad for sight-impaired creatives to suggest solutions to barriers and display them to prospective audio product developers.
11. Create a hub for collaboration within the sight-impaired community, incorporating and evolving the existing VIBE forum as part of the new website.
12. Present an attractively designed and fully accessible website with mainstream appeal, to engage with fully-sighted people. This will encourage a wider userbase to access information, enabling teachers, family members, and society to support the sight-impaired community.
13. Demonstrate to fully-sighted employers that sight-impaired people are capable of doing great work.
14. Through communicating with users, understand the most common barriers that exist currently, to influence future developments in accessibility.