Electronic Textbooks and Accessibility

Joseph Straus asked me to post the following to the blog, in order to ensure the widest possible readership. You can respond with comments to the blog post, which Joe can access, or you can e-mail him (his e-mail is easily found via Google searches).

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Dear colleagues,

I need your advice.

Poundie Burstein and I are writing a new harmony text for Norton, which is eager to make the book fully accessible. For the ebook version of the text, Norton is looking into using alt text for the musical examples (i.e. text that a screen reader can read when a student reaches an example on the page). Apparently this is somewhat controversial and some people find recordings preferable to alt text.

Have you had experience with alt text for musical examples?
Would you be willing to share that experience with me and with Norton?
Or do you know someone who has had experience whom I might contact?

More broadly, can you think of accessibility issues you have faced with previous harmony texts you have used, and ways that Norton might effectively handle those issues?

I would be grateful for your guidance.

Joe Straus

CFP, AMS Study Group on Music and Disability, Special Session at AMS 2015 in Louisville, KY

CFP: What Is Accessible Musicology?
Special Session of the Music and Disability Study Group
AMS Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky

As currently practiced, musicology can be an exclusionary discipline, accessible mostly to those who are able to attend institutions of higher education, travel to conferences, and communicate scholarship through presentations and publications. Our discipline’s body of work inevitably reflects the bodies of those who produce it, necessitating a greater diversity of voices into a monoculture of academic scholarship.

This session seeks to foster a discussion about what accessibility is, how it benefits current members of the musicological community, and how it may lead to greater inclusivity in the future. We welcome papers on innovative approaches to accessibility, including through political activism, inclusive pedagogy, and “public musicology.” In addition, we hope to explore the implications of “accessibility,” “accommodation,” and “universal design” beyond those of disability rights to encompass diverse forms of difference and identity.

We are soliciting proposals on this topic in a wide variety of formats, including (but not limited to) short position papers, longer research papers, workshops, interviews, demonstrations, testimonials, videos, and more.

Proposals should clearly describe (1) the argument you will make or the information you will convey, (2) the format you will use, and (3) the estimated duration of your presentation. Please limit proposals to 350 words. Send proposals to disability.and.music@gmail.com no later than March 1, 2015. The proposals (with all identifying information removed) will be read by the event’s moderators: Samantha Bassler and Blake Howe (co-chairs of the Study Group) and Jeannette Jones (chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Accessibility).

CFP (journal): Special issue on disability and design, The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy

Issue 8 of The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy

Special Topic: Disability as Insight, Access as the Function of Design

Issue Editors: Sushil K. Oswal, University of Washington

Andrew J. Lucchesi, The Graduate Center, CUNY

JITP welcomes work that explores critical and creative uses of interactive technology in teaching, learning, research, and the workplace. For this issue, we invite submissions from both senior and emerging scholars under the linked themes of disability and access as generative focuses for technological design and pedagogical innovation.

In this issue of JITP, rather than approaching disability as a problem to be solved, we seek proposals for projects that imagine, explore, and underscore the positive gains to be had by embracing disability perspectives on accessible designs. We draw on Elizabeth Sanders and Pieter Jan Stappers’s conception of future-minded generative design research and ask contributors to propose projects that would inform and inspire future designers, teachers, and researchers to shape digital tools, methodologies, and environments which de-center ableistic visions of technology, composing processes, curricular content, and access itself.

We request proposals for critical narratives that underscore the contributions disability makes in stretching the boundaries of design while asserting a central place for accessibility, inclusivity, and bodily difference. We also welcome topics that challenge or reconceptualize the traditional notions of assistive technologies and accessible designs whether or not they necessarily address the topic from the perspective of Disability Studies. Rhetorical analysis of technology, accessibility, and disability can also be a productive area of exploration.

Submit inquiries to oswal@u.washington.edu and alucchesi@gc.cuny.edu.

Suggested topics may include but are not limited to:

  • What does it mean to compose multimodally with accessibility in view as a person with or without disability? What might it look like to design inclusive user interactions in social virtual spaces? What complexity, creativity, or obfuscations are visible in today’s social media compositions at the intersections of gender, race, and disability?
  • What novel disability and accessibility scholarship projects have been made, or are possible by virtual Social Networks? What new knowledge is possible through assistive-technology-related disability and accessibility research for universal users?
  • Besides the functional innovations, what possibilities for play and improvisation are possible through assistive technologies and related research? How do such play and improvisation stabilize existing knowledge and directionally change the generation of new knowledge?
  • Development of assistive technology tools or applications for “mainstream” purposes; rhetorics of assistive technologies; rhetorical histories of assistive technologies morphing into “mainstream” products; rhetorics of, or analyses of, consumer mobile technologies as assistive technologies; visions of assistive technologies for able-bodied users.
  • Analyses of new models of Universal Design; benefits and/or analyses of disabled-centered participatory designs; position papers on innovative, crowd-sourced designs by and for the disabled.
  • Generative research methods for evaluating accessible designs, products, and pedagogies; profiles or analyses of digital tools for disability activism, or community building ; or experiments in fostering accessibility in learning, work, and research environments in college and beyond.

We invite both textual and multimedia submissions employing interdisciplinary and creative approaches in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Besides scholarly papers, the proposed submissions can consist of audio or visual presentations and interviews, dialogues, or conversations; creative/artistic works; manifestos; or other scholarly materials.

All JITP submissions are subject to an open peer review process. The expected length for finished manuscripts is under 5,000 words. Proposals received that do not fall under the special topic topic but do fall under JITP’s broader themes will still be considered for publication in Issue 8.

Important Dates

Submission deadline for this Fall 2015 Issue is April 15, 2015. When submitting using our Open Journal Systems software, under “Journal Section,” please select the section titled “Issue 8: Special Issue.”  Submission instructions are below.

About the Journal

All work appearing in the Issues section of JITP is reviewed by the issue editors and independently by two scholars in the field, who provide formative feedback to the author(s) during the review process. We intend that the journal itself—both in our process and in our digital product—serve as an opportunity to reveal, reflect on, and revise academic publication and classroom practices. All submissions for this special issue will be considered for our “Behind the Seams” feature, in which we publish dynamic representations of the revision and editorial processes, including reflections from the authorial and editorial participants.

Research-based submissions should include discussions of approach, method, and analysis.  When possible, research data should be made publicly available and accessible via the Web and/or other digital mechanisms, a process that JITP can and will support as necessary.  Successes and interesting failures are equally welcome (although see the Teaching Fails section below for an alternative outlet). Submissions that focus on pedagogy should balance theoretical frameworks with practical considerations of how new technologies play out in both formal and informal educational settings. Discipline-specific submissions should be written for non-specialists.

As a courtesy to our reviewers, we will not consider simultaneous submissions, but we will do our best to reply to you within two to three months of the submission deadline. All work should be original and previously unpublished. Essays or presentations posted on a personal blog may be accepted, provided they are substantially revised; please contact us with any questions at editors@jitpedagogy.org.

Video from Recasting Music: Body, Mind, Ability

Our special session at AMS/SMT Milwaukee 2014 included six short papers, three respondents, and lots of engaging conversation. Video of the introduction and first three talks is posted below, though due to a technical glitch, we unfortunately didn’t capture video for the rest of the session. Text versions of the later papers are linked where available.

Introduction (Jennifer Iverson)

Joseph N. Straus, “Hearing Voices”  
Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, “American Opera and Disability: The Case of Moby-Dick
Tobin Siebers, respondent. Discussion.


Performance (8:45–9:30)
Michael Bakan, “From Pathology to Neurodiversity: Music, Autism, and Ethnography”
Blake Howe“Enforcing and Recasting Disability through Music”
Andrew Dell’Antonio and Elizabeth Grace, respondents.


Vocality (9:30–10:30)
Jennifer Iverson“The Disabled Body in Babbitt’s Philomel and Wishart’s Red Bird
Jessica Holmes, “Sensing and Expressing Voice in Christine Sun Kim’s Face Opera II
Tobin Siebers, Andrew Dell’Antonio, and Elizabeth Grace, respondents. Discussion

CFP: Panel “Disabling Music Pedagogy” at Society for Disability Studies

CFP: Panel “Disabling Music Pedagogy” at Society for Disability Studies
June 10-13 2015, Atlanta, Georgia

For this panel, we are interested in cross-disciplinary interpretations of how music pedagogy exists in relationship to the experience of disability and how that relationship might be transformed. Areas considered might include current pedagogical standards in music education, music therapy, or occupational therapy more broadly. We encourage papers that consider how mainstream standards and conceptions of musicianship impact the scholastic endeavors of disabled students, particularly in regard to pedagogical techniques that evolved in the 19th century. We are also interested in papers that consider how best to approach the subject of disability in a music history seminar, music theory class, or general humanities class. Finally, we invite papers that explore the issue of disclosure in the music classroom, and how the choice to disclose or not might impact the pedagogical approaches available for teaching and learning music. Possible topics might include but are not limited to:

  • How mainstream pedagogical approaches reflect broader definitions of what it means to be a musician or to create beautiful music
  • How pedagogical approaches serve in maintaining or subverting able-bodied privilege
  • The impact of aesthetics on music education and assessment
  • How conceptions undergirding various pedagogical approaches might be observed in or related to music literature, such as opera, chamber music, or other genres.
  • How the use of music in therapeutic settings relates to the medical model of disability

More broadly, we are interested in exploring how pedagogy can be employed in ways that honor the scholastic autonomy of scholars with disabilities by expanding ways in which foundational musicianship is taught, learned, and conceived. Abstracts of approximately 300 words should be submitted no later than December 3, 2014. Please include your name, institutional affiliation, contact information, and abstract in an attached pdf file. Abstracts should be sent to the organizing committee via Meghan Schrader: meghanschrader (at) hotmail.com .

DISMUS Business and Recasting Music: Body, Mind, Ability

The business meeting/happy hour is in the Monarch Lounge from 5-6 p.m. Saturday Nov. 8. An agenda is available here: DISMUS 2014 meeting agenda. Then join us for a special session with six short papers, three respondents, and lots of engaging conversation. Saturday Nov. 8, 8-10:30 p.m., H: Juneau

Representation (8:00–8:45)
Joseph N. Straus, “Hearing Voices”
Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, “American Opera and Disability: The Case of Moby-Dick
Tobin Siebers, respondent. Discussion.


Performance (8:45–9:30)
Michael Bakan, “From Pathology to Neurodiversity: Music, Autism, and Ethnography”
Blake Howe“Enforcing and Recasting Disability through Music”
Andrew Dell’Antonio and Elizabeth Grace, respondents.


Vocality (9:30–10:30)
Jennifer Iverson“The Disabled Body in Babbitt’s Philomel and Wishart’s Red Bird
Jessica Holmes, “Sensing and Expressing Voice in Christine Sun Kim’s Face Opera II
Tobin Siebers, Andrew Dell’Antonio, and Elizabeth Grace, respondents. Discussion

Music and Disability events at the AMS/SMT joint conference in Milwaukee

There are a number of items of interest to music and disability researchers at the AMS/SMT joint conference in Milwaukee this year.

Firstly, our DISMUS special session “Recasting Music: Body, Mind, Ability” will take place on Saturday, November 8, 8-11 p.m. There will be short papers from Michael Bakan, Stephanie Jensen-Moulton, Jessica Holmes, Blake Howe, Jennifer Iverson, and Joseph N. Straus, followed by interactive discussion with three respondents: noted senior Disability Studies scholar Tobin Siebers (University of Michigan), senior musicologist Andrew Dell’Antonio (University of Texas at Austin) and his collaborator in ongoing neurodiversity research, Elizabeth J. Grace (National Louis University). Please consider donating as you are able to our respondents honoraria, using the first ‘sticky’ post on this blog. We are grateful for any donation amount. Questions/concerns can be directed to Jennifer Iverson (jennifer-iverson@uiowa.edu).

Secondly, there will be three papers on AMS panels that are of interest to our group members (abstracts can be found on the AMS page):

David VanderHamm, “Sounding the Limits: Technology, Virtuosity, and Disability”

“Through an analysis of performances by Tony Melendez and John Gomm, and in conversation with recent scholarship in disability and performance studies, I argue that virtuosity and disability function through a codependent logic of limits regarding technologies and bodies. […] Performing virtuosity simultaneously with disability points to the precariousness of performance and the centrality of the body, while providing ways of valuing musical labor that include but ultimately overflow the category of the aesthetic. The reception of music by Melendez and Gomm emphasizes the ways that audiences value music not just as a product, but as the action of skilled bodies. Disability and virtuosity are perhaps most joined in the ways they require envisioning new and often individual forms of embodied, creative practice.

William Cheng, “Staging Overcoming: Disability, Meritocracy, and the Envoicing of American Dreams”

“My paper explores how American reality singing competitions manufacture, stage, and exploit spectacles of disability and overcoming via appeals to musical meritocracy. As a pervasive—but rarely interrogated—organizational force in contemporary capitalist societies, meritocracy teases utopian notions of nondiscrimination, claiming evaluative processes that aspire to fairness: “blind” orchestra auditions, “double-blind” peer-reviews of articles and abstracts, “need-blind” college admissions—it is neither incidental nor coincidental that metaphors of (sight) impairment abound in descriptions of antiprejudicial procedures. […] By lending an ear to reality competitions’ affective currencies, my project broadly illuminates the connections and collisions between disability’s gritty realities and meritocracy’s glossy ideals in musical media of late modernity.”

Marianne Kielian-Gilbert, “‘Compassion with the Abyss': Sensory Estrangement in Britten’s Late Works”

“Britten’s melodic-harmonic-rhythmic inversions call attention to the difference, sensory strangeness and perceptual distortion of exact intervallic inversion in a tonal and temporal context and alternately motivate listeners to re-turn tonally oriented patterning as inversionally configured. Working from the idea that the labors of mu- sic analysis and experience implicate relational (social-cultural) dimensions, I consid- er ways that Britten’s “inversional” strategies differ from such practices as harmonic dualism (Tymoczko 2011), inversional balance (Lewin 1968) and disability hearing (Straus 2011), gender (a)symmetry (Scherzinger 1997), prolongational effect (Forrest 2010), and/or the aesthetics of mirror inversion (Cone 1967).”

Finally, there will be a happy hour on Saturday, 5-6pm. Small groups will most-likely depart from the happy hour to have dinner informally. The happy hour conflicts with the AMS business meeting from 5:30-7pm. There will be no breakfast meeting, despite the fact that it is in the program for Friday AM. We welcome feedback and ideas during the Saturday evening happy hour 5-6 pm, dinner hour, and margins of the evening panel 8-11 pm.