People who are d/Deaf already visit live music events and enjoy them greatly; especially when efforts are made to ensure that they are as accessible as possible.
The charity Attitude is Everything improves Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music by working in partnership with audiences, artists and the music industry. They recently produced a report on barriers faced by Deaf and disabled people in obtaining tickets.
Sally Reynolds also brought the issue of access to public attention recently with her legal action against a concert promoter. She enjoys accompanying her daughter to live music events and, as a BSL user, finds that live performance signing in BSL helps her to experience the event on a more equal footing with hearing people.
“People with sensory impairment actually want to attend musical and sporting events just as anybody else does. The fact that you have a hearing impairment or sight loss doesn’t mean that you don’t want to be at the event. So it is important that venues and promoters recognise that the legal duties to make reasonable adjustments extend to them. It is an important way of making society more inclusive.”*
SignKid, a signsong rapper and producer, who is Deaf, describes seeing Public Enemy at the O2 in London as the greatest musical experience of his life. This was largely driven by the fact that he was very close to the main sound system and could feel the vibrations from it. Many d/Deaf people report being able to feel vibrations from music by touching vibrating surfaces such as loudspeakers.
We feel that using the Musical Vibrations equipment at a live music event may further enhance the musical experience of a d/Deaf person in three ways:
- Firstly, vibrotactile shakers are highly efficient at producing vibration (unlike a loudspeaker, which is highly efficient at generating sound).
- Secondly, when someone touches a vibrating surface or loudspeaker at a live event, they are feeling the combined vibrations from every instrument on one vibrating surface. The Musical Vibrations equipment, in contrast, allows four to six separate instrument signals to be presented as vibrotactile feedback across four to six different vibrotactile shakers. We believe that it will be easier for people who are d/Deaf to tell the instruments apart and appreciate more detail in the music because of this.
- Using the vibrotactile shakers removes the potential for variations between different live event spaces caused by the differing architectural and vibro-acoustic properties of the buildings themselves and the sound systems within them. Hence the experience of a d/Deaf person at Venue A could be expected to be more similar to their experience at Venue B, despite them being of different construction.
Music fans who are d/Deaf
We are now ready to invite music fans who are d/Deaf to try the Musical Vibrations kit out at a live music event.
We need to find out:
- How the experience of having four separate vibrotactile sources from different musical instruments enhances the experience of being at a live music event
- Whether using the equipment from a slightly raised position and with bare feet makes users feel self conscious such that it presents a barrier to the use of the equipment and, if so, what we can do about it
- If using the equipment is comfortable to use over the duration of an average live music event
- The best language to use in an instruction manual so that the equipment is easy and safe to use if you’re using it for the first time.
If you’re a music fan who is d/Deaf and you are interested in working with us on this exciting project, please get in touch at MUSVIB
Bands, labels, publishers, festivals, venues, engineers, touring sound hire companies
If you’re interested in working with us on this exciting project, please get in touch at MUSVIB