This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

> > > The Sound of Disability

As part of an Arts Council funded programme of work, Dao is commissioning opinion pieces and interviews, instigating wider debate about music and disability. These series of essays aim to give a background to some of the key disability music from a wide range of genres and to give some historical understanding to of the struggles for access and inclusion within the music industry.

As part of this programme of work Dao has commissioned a young disabled composer Lloyd Coleman to produce a piece of music for the British Paraorchestra and to create a video blog about the process.

Conductor James Rose designs his own head-baton to help fulfil a lifelong ambition

Conductor James Rose designs his own head-baton to help fulfil a lifelong ambition

22 October 2015

Disabled conductor, James Rose has been developing a specially-designed head-baton as an accessible aide to conduct using head movements. After working on several prototypes, Rose is now ready to take the project a step further, with a funding application to Arts Council England. Joe Turnbull chronicles his progress thus far.

Review: Fast Forward Festival: Inclusive Excellence Conference

Fast Forward Festival: Inclusive Excellence Conference

10 July 2015

Hosted by Bristol Music Trust in the newly re-ramped Colston Hall, the purpose of the conference on 3 July was to take an honest and much-needed look at the inequity of the music industry and address the many barriers that exist for disabled people who want to participate in and listen to the best music available. Review by Alice Holland

Technology Is Key

Technology Is Key

22 May 2015

Mik Scarlet started out on the road to being a musician when he was given a toy electric keyboard and thanks to music technology, became one a handful of disabled musicians performing during a period when it was almost unheard of. Here he charts the progress of assistive music technology and talks to Gary Day and Ivan Riches from Drake Music London to find out what modern music tech has to offer disabled musicians.

Interview: Who Is Johnny Crescendo?

Who Is Johnny Crescendo?

4 March 2015

This month is the 25th Anniversary of Richard Reiser and Micheline Mason’s report 'Disability Equality in the Classroom: A Human Rights Issue'. To celebrate this milestone, the authors are holding a two-day conference from 20-21 March, a highlight of which will be a performance headlined by singer, songwriter Johnny Crescendo, the Disability Arts pioneer and founder of the Direct Action Network. Robin Surgeoner talks to the musician about his life and lyrics.

Political Pop to Pierce The Prophylaxis of The Non-Disabled

Political Pop to Pierce The Prophylaxis of The Non-Disabled

30 January 2015

Robin Surgeoner AKA Angryfish looks for political songwriting. Looking for a definition he asks does it exist within “philosophical laments, agit-pop, punk angst, prosaic provocative folk, indie rock, hard rock, reggae rock, and the list goes on…” 

Music for the Masses

Music for the Masses

21 November 2014

Dao asked Mik Scarlet to capture a slice of Disability Arts history from the 1990s when a bunch of disabled musicians set their sights on a career within the music industry.‚Äč He looks back with a sense of pride at what they achieved against inumerable odds.

IroniCrip Disco presents the best of the worst

15 November 2014

Richard Downes is an avid music-lover with a very large music collection, so when it came to commissioning a feature that highlights some of the less savoury ways in which disability gets represented, musically he was an obvious writer to ask. Drawing on a knowledge of some of the more obscure elements of popular music, IroniCrip Disco exemplifies how often we might hear a song and only subliminally recognise any meaning within it.

Attitude is Everything: the rise of access for disabled music lovers and musicians

Attitude is Everything: the rise of access for disabled music lovers and musicians

12 November 2014

In 2000 Suzanne Bull MBE set up Attitude is Everything (AiE) to challenge the music industry to improve their access to Deaf and disabled customers.  Fourteen years on the organisation has had a lot of success in persuading the UK music industry that there are advantages to be found in raising their game when it comes to access provision for disabled people. Colin Hambrook recently talked to Suzanne about AiE’s beginnings and where the organisation is heading.

Disability Desert Island Discs

Disability Desert Island Discs

19 October 2014

Dao asked Richard Downes to compile a list of favourite tracks by disabled musicians / composers. He got stuck into FaceBook and asked people to nominate their top three tracks from the Disability Rights Movement and to say something about why those tracks empower you as a disabled person.

Music From the Outer Edges

Music From the Outer Edges

19 July 2014

Gus Garside is a freelance consultant with considerable experience of working within the learning disability arts world. The following essay is grounded with the extensive work he has done with learning disabled musicians as project manager, mentor and access consultant.


Add a comment

Please leave your comments. They will display when submitted. DAO encourages critical feedback, but please be considerate. DAO reserves the right to edit or remove comments that don't comply with our editorial policy, which you can find on DAOs 'About' pages.

Your e-mail address will not be revealed to the public.
HTML is forbidden, but line-breaks will be retained.
This can be a URL of an image or a YouTube, MySpaceTV or a Flickr page (we'll handle the media embedding from there!)
This is to prevent automatic submissions.