Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide by Dr. Jeanne Beckman

Family Friendly Tech and Advocacy: Tech Psychologist's Guide   by Dr. Jeanne Beckman
Finally, a book to help families find the right technology to accommodate reading disorders (dyslexia) and other disabilties! ISBN 978-1-60264-089-4

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hands Free Music

Well, it seems that this week I am sharing all kinds of technology that facilitates adaptive music performance (technology for performing music). For those who know me, I love playing musical instruments and have a hard time imagining life without any opportunity to experiment and/or master some sort of musical instrument. This group has found ways for those with mobility impairments to make music.

Here's a video:

Here's a link at

On January 1, 2007 DLI received received funding in the amount of $20,000 from the Malcolm S. Morse Foundation for a new project: Adaptive Use Musical Instruments for the Physically Challenged (AUMIPC). The Academy for Electronic Media (AEM) Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Don Millard, director is contributing design and programming, the Arts Dept. of RPI, Kathy High, head is providing a student designer/programmer compensated by the Undergraduate Research Program as support to the project.

Some objectives of the AUMIPC project are to create new flexible interfaces, digital controls, computer programs, inputs and outputs to musical instruments for use by children with very little mobility or other varieties of impairments. The intended result is to enable the physically challenged to create and perform electronic sounds in ensembles and to improvise and compose their own music.

The initial work of the Adaptive Use Musical Instruments for the Physically Challenged (AUMIPC) is hosted at Rehab Programs Inc. School (RPIS) in Poughkeepsie NY (Robert Kelleher, director.)

The AUMIPC team includes:

Composer/performer/educator and President of DLI Pauline Oliveros director and coordinator of the project.

Musican/educator/occupational therapist at RPIS Leaf Miller, liaison with the RPIS, coordinator of site visits and conferences with the other therapists and three severely physically challenged children. Miller is a principle contributor of ideas for the designers and programmers.

Electrical Engineer and director of the AEM at RPI – Don Millard is directing design, construction of devices and programming

Music educator, improviser and trombonist David Dove, director of Nameless Sound, Houston TX consultant to the project, teaches physically challenged and autistic children in his educational program and provides musical scores and suggestions for improvisation involving the children.

DLI Intern, composer and programmer Zevin Polzin researches, designs and implements controllers and programs for the children.

RPI Arts Department graduating senior, musician and programmer Zane Van Duzen is designing and implementing programs for controlling electronic musical instruments.

As director of AUMIPC Oliveros asked to work with three of the children with the least physical motion. The intent and objectives are to maximize the feedback, possible expression and learning for the children, open up more creative inputs for them and to minimize programming time for the therapists. If a switch can be activated by a child then the therapist should be able to easily program a customized session for any child that is mutually satisfying in terms of expressive output and intelligent learning situations.

During the initial session at RPIS, organized with therapists and children by Miller, the AUMIPC team quickly understood that hardware and programming could be quickly and greatly improved affording therapists a more efficient and friendly interface for programming more and better choices, creative activities and feed back to the child in order to broaden the children's expressive options and to accelerate their learning.

The team noted that different modes of input from the child might be utilized and trained such as voice using visual feedback with spectrograms, microphone input and temperature, magnetic field, and other forms of motion capture with camera input and using a variety of sensors.

The AEM under the direction of Don Millard will program a laptop purchased for the project to supplement or replace the Dynavox currently used at RPIS. Therapists will be able to program for the children with ease and flexibility so that valuable therapy time is available for the child rather than struggling with awkward computer interfaces. Audio and visual output will be available and perhaps haptic feedback to the child as well.

How do you make music?

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