Accessibility for

Education, Conferences & Festivals
Accessible Education

Image: Two people looking at a computer screen.


When something is accessible, it means that a disabled person can acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective manner, with equivalent ease of use (University of Washington, n.d.).

In this module, we will also learn about music education and the ways it can be made accessible, fun, and engaging. Accounting for all the senses and experimenting with vibration, storytelling and sound can offer a well-rounded experience, and one that offers exciting new ways to create and consume music. When music educators plan for accessibility as part of their teaching modalities, they are opening new ways to engage with their students, and to share skills and appreciation.

Developing an Understanding

Ai-Media provides live captions in educational settings for students and support practitioners to create access to college and university content. Live captions are accessible on any smartphone, tablet or laptop and complete transcript is provided to the student. Benefits to students in the classroom include:

  • Access: Direct access in real time to the spoken English language via captions enables full participation for all.
  • Improved Literacy: Live Captions boost literacy, reading speed and vocabulary for students.
  • Improved Confidence: Full access to classroom content reduces anxiety and improves confidence for all students.
  • Student Engagement: Audio content delivered as text is in a consistent format, which often improves student concentration and overall engagement.
  • Transcripts: Transcripts provide study notes for the student.
  • Teacher Reflection: Teachers can use the transcript to reflect upon their teaching practice. Self-reflection can lead to enhanced quality of teaching.

— Adapted from Ai-Media, n.d.

Real-time captioning and transcripts improve the learning experience in the classroom by directly increasing access to, and comprehensibility of, learning materials for all students. The Ai-Live platform delivers live speech-to-text content to any web-enabled device, accessible by students in real-time during the lesson. Transcripts are saved and available as a record of the lesson content and are a valuable reinforcement aid (Ai-Media, n.d.).

Education is vitally important to personal, social, and academic development. Reaching education potential can affect a person’s ability to take part in the labour market, to realize their full potential, live independently, and participate meaningfully in society. A positive experience in elementary and secondary school increases a person’s chances of going on to post-secondary education and having post-secondary education is becoming increasingly important to a person’s ability to attain a decent standard of living (OHRC, 2018).

Education can be inclusive and accessible when barriers are removed, and discrimination ends by adding text descriptions for images; using large fonts and high contrast colour combinations in graphic design; making sure video is captioned and audio is transcribed; and that all educational content is presented in multiple ways with a combination of text, video, audio, and images.

Deepening your Understanding

The effectiveness of live captions has been found to increase student and teacher engagement in learning. This impact is most profound for learners with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), people who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing, students who have auditory processing disorders, learning disabilities, and students who are non-English speakers (Ai-Media, n.d.).

Live captions provide consistency of message delivery and a single point of focus for students leading to less distraction, reduced anxiety, and improved attention. People with autism often have audio processing issues which impacts perception and understanding of language and communication. There have been studies that indicate that students with ASD have difficulty processing and responding to auditory information. This is often seen in their literal interpretation of spoken language, the interpretation of which can hinder their access to content (Ai-Media, n.d.).

Experts in this field recommend approaches where people with autism receive the information visually. By reading what the teacher is saying in a simplified form, the students can focus on the content that matters, improving confidence and participation. Only key content is delivered using short sentences. Figurative language, jargon and metaphors are removed, and the key concepts are delivered in real time. This reduces the student's anxiety level and improves confidence, focus and attention raising engagement and understanding in class (Ai-Media, n.d.).

This is known as Ai-Live in Simple Text opens in new window. Live captioners are specifically trained to caption for students with ASD using a set of guidelines delivering accurate simplified text of what the teacher has said, directly to the student's iPad or tablet, within seconds (Ai-Media, n.d.).

Benefits of Simple Text for students with ASD:

Simple Text removes jargon, metaphors, and figurative language. It breaks down complex instructions into simple steps and delivers content in simple form with one idea in each sentence. It omits sarcasm which can be misinterpreted.

Captions provide visual learners valuable reinforcement of what is being said. The experience is enhanced by the ability to change font size, colour and background.

The built-in time delay of the captions support students with auditory processing issues by allowing them to better process the lesson content at a comfortable pace.

Students with high level of anxiety often exhibit behaviours which prevent them from engaging with lesson content. A reduction of anxiety is achieved by the visual reinforcement of captions.

An example of simple text live captions

Image: Drake Music Scotland pride logo.

Accessible Music Education

Founded in 1997, Drake Music Scotland opens in new window plays a lead role in music education for adults and children, composers, and musicians with disabilities by reshaping the definition of musician, instrument, and ensemble.

Their expertise in inclusive music technology and specialist teaching methods supports people of all ages and a wide range of disabilities to play, learn and compose music independently (Drake Music Scotland, 2021).

Developing an Understanding

In 2016, Drake Music Scotland launched the Digital Orchestra opens in new window for young musicians with disabilities, who meet weekly to rehearse, develop skills and create new music using inclusive music technologies.

Watch this video opens in new window of the Digital Orchestra's first rehearsal in Edinburgh for their True Colours Festival appearance, followed by brief footage from the performance 2 months later at Singapore National Stadium.

Other Drake Music Scotland programming includes:

  • Musicspace@home opens in new window is online individual and group music lessons launched due to Covid-19 restrictions.
  • Disabled Artist Network opens in new window is a support network for disabled artists that gives access to professional and peer-to-peer help and advice, mentoring, and commissioning and performance opportunities.
  • Equilibrium opens in new window was formed in 2014 in response to the demand from disabled musicians looking for more opportunities to write and perform music that identifies with traditional Scots music using acoustic instruments such as the harp and fiddle alongside new digital instruments that can be played by musicians with limited mobility (Drake Music Scotland, n.d.).

Image: The Short Guide to Accessible Music book cover.

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Drake Music Scotland put together a guide to accessible music education which you can find below: