Adapting to better accommodate musicians of all backgrounds is a necessity as disparities in industry access continue
Only 25% of disabled music makers, parents, relatives and carers know where to source an adapted instrument. Disabled musicians face significant barriers at every stage of their journey to becoming an artist - underrepresented in the education, amateur and professional spheres of the industry. As Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) approaches (19th May), Muse Group, parent-brand to the world’s most popular softwares and largest communities for musicians, is addressing the importance of accessibility within the digital musical landscape and the efforts made over the years to ensure its products, including MuseScore notation software, are open to everyone.
Recognising a disparity within the industry, Martin Keary, Head of Product at Audacity and MuseScore, has pioneered for inclusivity. “There’s so many talented musicians around the world who are searching for the creative tools that will help them develop and grow as an artist. It’s easy as a product designer to focus purely on aesthetics but that’s not enough anymore. Companies need to evaluate and adapt technical solutions that will help broaden accessibility to their portfolios”.
MuseScore desktop app has been purposefully developed to offer an intuitive interface designed with accessibility in mind. Over time, MuseScore has introduced features tailored to those with visual and mobility impairment, with further developments being introduced in the upcoming release of MuseScore 4 expected in Summer 2022.
●Highly customisable interface: musicians with low vision can customise the size and colours (including high contrast mode) of most user interface elements on the platform.
●Braille export: included in MuseScore 4 for the first time.
●Keyboard navigation: virtually the entire user interface is operable via keyboard control, that is easier and faster than ever before with shortcuts available for musicians who can’t use a mouse to navigate the app.
●Screen reader support: a highly customisable interface that allows musicians with impairments to customise text size and colours. This includes a new, customisable, high contrast mode.
Cost plays a fundamental role in opening up the industry as a whole. Recent research found that 67% of disabled individuals pinpoint financial reasons as a severe barrier to access within the music industry. It’s Muse Group’s commitment to keep developing free open source products, such as MuseScore notation software and Audacity audio editor. Both apps benefit millions of creators, from musicians to podcasters, - and lower barriers to music and audio creation by offering universally accessible creative tools. “The music industry isn’t cheap. When you add personal factors such as income and physical capabilities into the mix, it can feel almost impossible to succeed.”
By design, each of Muse Group’s products are accessible mostly for free, even extensive content catalogues like MuseScore.com are purposefully developed on a freemium basis, which means that the vast majority of the catalogue can be viewed for free. “Making music accessible doesn’t need to be overly complicated. At Muse Group, we provide the digital tools, resources, and content musicians need at each stage in their personal development,” explains Martin. “We lead by example, showing that features that were previously inaccessible for musicians are now accessible through our products.”
“We are proud of what we have done so far to make our products more inclusive and accessible, but we know that as a company, there’s still room for improvement. By listening to and learning from our online community, we’re able to break down those barriers that so many individuals face and open up a safe place for all musicians to practise and do what they love most, make music.”
About Muse Group
Muse Group is on a mission to make music more accessible and inclusive. Through an
ecosystem of the world's most popular software and communities for musicians, which include Ultimate Guitar, MuseScore, Audacity and StaffPad, Muse allows you to learn, create and share beautiful music with like-minded musicians of any level and background. Muse Group develop free open source software for music composition and production, build extensive content catalogues and continually innovate to improve the quality of life for the ordinary musician. This makes Muse Group the fastest growing company in the Music Technology segment. From its very inception, Muse Group follows 4 key values: being a pioneer, inclusive, open to everyone and rewarding talent.
MuseScore is a scorewriter for Windows, macOS, and Linux supporting a wide variety of file formats and input methods. It is released as free and open-source software under the GNU General Public License. MuseScore is accompanied by a freemium mobile score viewer and playback app, and an online score sharing platform.