Innovation Partners unite with Music Industry to address accessibility issues in design and production of musical instruments 

  • Virtual teams to address a series of challenges to make musical instruments and music tech more accessible for disabled people
  • Call for disabled and non-disabled musicians, designers, inventors and others to participate and co-create solutions is launched today
  • Virtual teams to present findings at hackathon event in October 2020

The Inclusive Access to Music Making Hackathon Project (IAMM Hackathon) has today launched a virtual programme, The Accessible Instruments Challenge, to address a series of challenges focused on making access to adapted musical instruments, assistive equipment and music technology easier and more affordable for disabled people of all ages.

Virtual teams, including disabled and non-disabled musicians, instrument makers, designers, manufacturers, technologists, inventors, innovators, music teachers,  academics and students, will be asked to address a specific set of innovation challenges that currently limit opportunities for disabled people to play and produce music.

These innovation challenges include the supply of adaptive musical instruments in schools, improving on the design of existing one-handed wind instruments and exploring the potential of virtual music making environments. The virtual teams will have four months to develop innovations and solutions to these challenges before sharing their findings at a major event to be held on Saturday 3rd October 2020.

We are very proud that the MIA’s Chief Executive Paul McManus is a co-facilitator on the ‘Supply Chain for Schools’ project. This project will address how we can build an effective supply chain of adaptive instruments into schools, ensuring that disabled children are able to fully participate in music education. As co-facilitator, Paul will be helping to manage and support the virtual team over the course of the project.

The IAMM Hackathon is a coalition of high-profile musical experts, innovation partners and academics including the not-for-profit organisation Creative United, The OHMI Trust, which campaigns to enable people with disabilities to take part in music making, the innovation centre and workspace Plexal, the 3D solutions company Hobs 3D and UCL.

The innovation partners will lead the virtual teams, but wider members of the music and innovation community are being invited to join and share their expertise in the development process. Applications are open until the 17 July 2020.

To join or support a virtual team, please visit:

Funded by Arts Council England, the project is designed to raise awareness of the challenges facing people with disabilities playing traditional musical instruments and find practical solutions that will enable them to participate fully in music making.

There are currently 13.9m people with disabilities in the UK. While innovations to design more inclusive musical instruments are taking place, the IAMM Hackathon will examine how they can be produced and distributed at scale to make playing and producing music accessible to all.

IAMM Hackathon partner Plexal is currently running an inclusive innovation programme with BT and has delivered an inclusion accelerator for under-represented founders. Plexal has also partnered with UCL, Disability Rights UK and other organisations to launch the East London Inclusive Enterprise Zone at Here East, which is aimed at developing the UK’s inclusive innovation sector and supporting disabled entrepreneurs.

Three of the partners – Hobs 3D, UCL (which delivers the Global Disability Innovation Hub) and Plexal – are based at Here East: the innovation campus found in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Fellow tenants at Here East include Scope, Love Language and Disability Rights UK, and the campus is becoming a hub for inclusive, disability-led innovation.

Mary-Alice Stack, Chief Executive at Creative United, the organisation behind the IAMM initiative commented:

“Making adaptive instruments and equipment both accessible and affordable for disabled players is an objective that Creative United has been focused on for a number of years now as part of our work as an Arts Council funded Sector Support Organisation. 

We are hugely excited to be collaborating with so many brilliant designers, musicians, technologists, academics and creative thinkers who have already come forward to help us address the specific challenges that we will be focusing on over the next three months, enabling us to move a step closer to our goal for a more inclusive and accessible music industry.”

Rachel Wolffsohn, General Manager at The OHMI Trust, commented:

The IAMM Hackathon project is a brilliant opportunity to bring together fresh minds and skills to further develop the valuable work already undertaken in the manufacture of adapted instruments and ‘enabling apparatus’ and to make them more readily available and affordable.”

Russell Gundry, Head of Innovation Strategy at Plexal, commented:

Plexal is excited to be working with such a talented group on this innovative project. Including users creates better design and it’s time that more companies woke up to this fact. What’s most exciting about the Accessible Instruments Challenge is that the teams will approach the challenges from a range of perspectives, and we’re also ensuring that disabled musicians and entrepreneurs are leading the innovation process from the start.”

Kadine James, Creative Tech Lead at Hobs 3D, commented:

We’re absolutely delighted to be collaborating together with Creative United, UCL, OHMI and Plexal on the extraordinary project. Accessible equipment is a huge challenge that is sadly preventing a number of disabled children from all over the world from being able to fully take part in music education and I am looking forward to exploring how emerging technologies and co-designing with communities may be able to change that.”

Dr Celia Caulcott, Vice-Provost (Enterprise) UCL, commented:

UCL is delighted to support this important initiative from our world leading Institute of Education working in combination with the East London University Enterprise Zone. This project will enable and encourage those with disabilities to enjoy playing and participating in the performance of music, which so many of us delight in.”

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