Music availability for disabled persons

Music Library Services for People with Disabilities

This information is provided to help library staff answer enquiries from people with disabilities, but the information might also be of assistance to current and potential library users. It derives from frequently asked questions and provides links to relevant websites, many of which link to other useful websites.

Best practice for libraries

Many libraries have excellent examples of good practice in helping people with disabilities to make the best use of their services. These need not necessarily be costly and include:

  • Identification of format in a searchable field in the catalogue. For example, adding 'closed captions' or 'subtitled' in a searchable field means that all videos accessible to hearing–impaired people can be found
  • Targeted stock lists
  • Physical and virtual access. It is a legal requirement for libraries to provide disabled access to buildings. In addition, the Resource publication Library services for visually impaired people: a manual of best practice recommends that all library catalogues should be web–enabled so that sight–impaired people are able to search the catalogue. Websites should be designed with accessibility issues in mind; international standards are available here.
  • Signing and guiding. Library guiding should be in large print and, where applicable, also in braille
  • Concessionary charges. Most libraries apply concessionary fees for people with disabilities. Many libraries allow sight–impaired people to borrow music recordings free of charge
  • Provision of special equipment. Some libraries provide closed caption video decoders for library members to try at home. Others may lend CD players so that elderly and disabled people can find out how they work and make use of library recordings
  • Acting as an agent for the loan of Braille music, in the same way that libraries handle Braille books on behalf of customers
  • Offer music talks to local organisations: many of whose members may be physically unable to use music recordings from the library; some may be encouraged to join the library once they know what is available

General organizations

Sound Sense (incorporating the National Music and Disability Information Service). The contact section of the website has useful addresses and links to websites of relevant organizations.

Details of many other organisations are available in the British & International Music Yearbook (Rhinegold Publishing) which is available in many libraries.

>Library catalogues & projects

REVEAL. A national union catalogue of resources available in accessible formats is being developed by UKOLN in association with the RNIB.

MIRACLE (Music Information Resources Assisted Computer Library Exchange). This project aims to create a world wide virtual library of Braille music.

CALIM (Consortium of Academic Libraries in Manchester) produced guidance for staff dealing with dyslexic students. CALIM has since united with the libraries of the Universities and Colleges of Higher Education in Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside to create the NorthWest Academic Libraries consortium (NoWAL) which now hosts information about the training programmes formerly delivered by CALIM.

Librarians in HE networking to improve library access for disabled users in the S & SW (CLAUD). Many links for organisations, education, equipment & library organizations and a useful bibliography

Large print music

This is a complicated area, as each person will need music in different formats (e.g. landscape; white on black). Some music is published in a general large print format (for instance, big note books for electronic keyboard). Otherwise, one-off adaptations will need to be made. Under the terms of new legislation, single enlargements for personal use may be made. For more information, consult the Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002.

The RNIB can give advice on large print or modified print music. Contact the RNIB Music Advisory Service email: mas@rnib.org.uk Tel 020 7388 2273.

It may be possible to request items from the Library of Congress catalogue, which contains Braille and large print music and instructional material on cassette.

Publishers Licensing Society (PLS). Copyright and visual impairment guidelines have been agreed by publishers and interested parties. These also cover printed music and are supported by the Music Publishers' Association. The guidelines give practical answers to common questions.

Music Publishers' Association. Some relevant titles are included in the MPA Music in Print catalogue on CD-ROM: type in 'big note' or large print. Many music libraries hold this catalogue.

Partially Sighted Society. This organization provides printing and enlargement services, including large print music.

Braille music

Braille music can be borrowed from the National Library for the Blind (NLB). Music is included in its catalogue.
It may be possible to request items from the Library of Congress catalogue, which contains Braille and large print music and instructional material on cassette.

Braille music is available for purchase or loan from the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB). It is possible to have a specific piece of music transcribed on request.
Contact Customer Services at: cservices@rnib.org.uk or libraryinfo@rnib.org.uk

The RNIB Transcription Centre South West may also be contacted for production of modified stave notation.

The Miracle project aims to create a world wide virtual library of Braille music. Participating libraries may request and download files on behalf of their users.

Golden Chord provides a personalised transcription service for customers who require music and music-related materials in Braille.

Discussion list about braille music

Books about music for sight–disabled

A small number of popular books about music or musicians may be available as audio books. For advice on other titles or other formats contact the RNIB to borrow alternative formats from their libraries or to ask about the possibility of transcription.

Audio books

Music librarians are often involved in the provision of audio–visual materials, so the following information may be helpful.

Most public libraries provide a wide range of commercially produced books on tape.

Calibre: This organisation provides a wide range of standard format audio book titles for adults and children. These are available free of charge to anyone unable to read printed books. Some music books are available.

RNIB talking books: the original talking books, specially recorded and playable on a digital machine. Some music biographies and autobiographies are available.
You can contact RNIB Customer Services at: cservices@rnib.org.uk Tel. 0845 762 6843
To check for availability of books contact libraryinfo@rnib.org.uk

Listening Books is a charity that provides audio books in cassette format via the post to people who have difficulty reading in the usual way. It is a subscription service and includes some music books.

Music libraries and hearing impairment

Most libraries will hold, as part of their video collections, films with subtitles or closed captions. In some libraries, these films can be identified using the library catalogue. DVDs are widely available; these provide subtitles in a choice of languages.

Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID)

Music and the Deaf: An organisation which helps hearing–impaired people of all ages to explore the world of music and to develop their own music skills and interests.

Music and dyslexia

The British Dyslexia Association Music Committee has issued publications concerning music and dyslexia, which include practical suggestions for tackling difficulties associated with dyslexia.

CALIM (Consortium of Academic Libraries in Manchester) produced guidance for staff dealing with dyslexic students. CALIM has since united with the libraries of the Universities and Colleges of Higher Education in Cheshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside to create the NorthWest Academic Libraries consortium (NoWAL) which now hosts information about the training programmes formerly delivered by CALIM.

Music libraries and physical disabilities

Piano music for one hand

Some libraries have piano music for one hand.

One–handed piano music — information and list.

Music composed for piano left hand.

Instruments with special adaptations

Details of some suppliers are available in the British Music Yearbook and the Music Education Yearbook (Rhinegold Publishing). These yearbooks may be consulted in many libraries.

Technical equipment for disabled people

REMAP is an organization that aims to promote the use of technology to meet the needs of disabled people and to provide or assist in providing specialized equipment. Adaptations to musical instruments can be investigated on request.

Advice and some equipment is available from the Disabled Living Foundation

Educational opportunities

Music therapy courses

Providers include:

Activities and courses for people with disabilities

Providers include:

Details of other courses, activities and training opportunities are available in the British Music Yearbook and Music Education Yearbook (Rhinegold Publishing). These may be consulted in many libraries.

Music technology

There are a growing number of systems which aim to increase access to music for people with disabilities.

Braille music

It is vital to remember that there are training implications to ensure maximum benefit for people unfamiliar with both the technology and Braille music. Automated programs for some types of Braille music production include:

Printed music

  • Sibelius is a computer program for generating printed music. Developments are under way to make Sibelius accessible for those using access technology.

Sequencing

  • Sequencing packages include Cakewalk, SONAR, Pro Audio 9, Cubase

Music therapy

This is a growing discipline which uses music to help people of all ages and with varying needs.

Books on the subject are available in some public libraries and will appear in individual library catalogues.

MusicSpace Trust undertakes therapy sessions, teaching and research.

Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Centre. This organization provides music therapy services, educational opportunities and carries out research. The site explains how music therapy works.

British Society for Music Therapy. Promotes the use and development of music therapy, provides information and arranges conferences, workshops and meetings.

Association of Professional Music Therapists. The professional body for qualified music therapists.

Audio–described video

These are standard videos, with the addition of an aural description of the action. Some libraries purchase copies of these videos and some (for example Essex and Hampshire libraries) include them in their web catalogues.

You can request a catalogue of audio–described videos available for purchase or rental from the RNIB.