Performance Without Barriers - Designing inclusive music technologies to transform lives of disabled musicians

Impact: Cultural Impact, Health Impact, Quality of Life Impact, Societial Impact

Description of impact

A research partnership that delivers impact for disabled musicians through the use of inclusive and accessible music technologies. The impact reaches beyond the musicians to include carers, parents, organisations, policy makers, arts council and instrument designers.

Who is affected

•Disabled musicians who utilise music technology in their artistic practice
•Organisations and individuals engaging in inclusive music work
•Policy-makers, practitioners, government/third sector organisations working with issues of disability and accessible technology
•Organisations and individuals making accessible digital musical instruments but also Hackspaces and individuals engaging in DIY making projects
•Community musicians and music therapists who work with disabled musicians


The impact stems from a research partnership that has been developing since 2015 between SARC (Dr Schroeder) and Drake Music NI (Dr Michelle McCormack).
The project is entitled "Performance without Barriers" as it aims to better include disabled musicians in mainstream music making scenarios.
Since 2015 we have designed new interfaces that allow disabled musicians to make, perform, composer their own music in more independent ways.
In 2017 this collaboration expanded to include the Belfast Makerspace Farset Labs and The Ulster Orchestra.
An AHRC NPIF studentship, awarded to Dr Schroeder, and held by Mr Alex Lucas (2017 - 2020) will strengthen the research group in their aims to identify improved ways in which music technology can afford the inclusion of disabled musicians in mainstream music making practices.
This research impacts on the quality of life of disabled musicians across Northern Ireland. We further expect impact on public policy and the aim is to create the first inclusive orchestra in NI.
In November 2017 an AHRC grant on immersive technologies has again expanded the research to investigate how immersive and augmented technologies can be designed to enable disabled musicians to perform music.
We have teamed up with Northern Ireland's only professional contemporary music chamber ensemble, the Hard Rain Soloist Ensemble (HRSE) , and our work on inclusive immersive technologies (IIT) will commence in March 2018.
A further AHRC Northern Bridge Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship (CEEF), awarded to Dr Schroeder in November 2017, and held by Dr Koichi Samuels (March 2018 - November 2018), will further expand the core team and improve visibility and quality of the research impact.
Ongoing work and impact are documented on the "Performance without Barriers" project website.
Impact statusOngoing
Impact date01 Aug 201501 Dec 2018
Category of impactCultural Impact, Health Impact, Quality of Life Impact, Societial Impact
Impact levelBenefit


  • inclusive music
  • interface design
  • music performance
  • immersive technologies
  • augmented technologies
  • disability
  • health and wellbeing
  • arts policy