Considering Disability in Online Cultural Experiences

Artistic areas such as music, visual art, theatre and dance have been exploring online experiences for performers and audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, through formats such as virtual museum visits or networked musical performances, often experienced through ad-hoc repurposing of video conferencing or video game software. While these online experiences have played a vital role in providing remote access to cultural artifacts when in-person activities are restricted, there is a need to further expand these experiences beyond commonly used software environments and the standard formats of a phone, tablet or computer screen and stereo sound, especially for the visually and/or hearing impaired. This project considers ways in which online cultural experiences may be rendered more inclusive for Disabled people, especially those who may not be able to engage with visual and/or auditory media without mediation through other perceptual means. The core team of researchers based at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) will work with cross-departmental and international partners - including ShareMusic & Performing Arts and the Institute For Research & Co-ordination in Acoustics & Music (IRCAM) - to identify Disabled people’s needs and desires for online experiences and what enhancements might be most effective in meeting those needs through exchanges, workshops, lectures and symposia. In the process of making online experiences more accessible, the project team hopes to propose formats and paradigms that offer immersive, interactive, engaging, and meaningful experiences for all.