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Facilitating Access to Musical Experiences (FAME) framework

A framework to help digital musical instrument (DMI) creators understand accessible music making practices.

Document Status

  • Version: 1.0 (Draft) Amy Dickens, 18th January 2019

Welcome to the FAME Framework

Facilitating Access to Musical Experiences is a conceptual framework that provides guidance for creating Accessible Digital Musical Instruments (ADMIs) that can be used within facilitated performance and related accessible music making activities.

Why is this framework needed?

Recently accessible music making community groups have adopted the use of technology within their activities. Digital Musical Instruments (DMIs) are being used within these groups to provide access to music making for people who ordinarily may not be able to use traditional instruments. However not all DMIs are well suited to accessible music making activities. Many of these groups will spend time testing out different DMIs for different people and sometimes even “hacking” or adapting technologies to better suit an individuals abilities.

Sharing knowledge about the activities of “Facilitated Perfomance” and the requirements for this space can help DMI creators better understand the design considerations for this context.

The FAME framework aims to promote accessibility as a foundation for Digital Musical Instruments and related technologies. Through sharing knowledge about accessible music making, providing guidance on the affordances for accessibility within spefic technologies and encouraging DMI creators to adopt better practices regarding accessibility.

Enabling access to DMIs, highlights the creative abilities of those who ordinarily may not be able to engage in performing with music. Research and developments in this area, have the potential to impact upon a larger community by creating access to music technologies for a wider audience.

Who is it for?

The people who may find this framework useful in their practices fall under three categories:

  1. Digital Musical Instrument Creators
  2. Accessible Music Making Communities
  3. Researchers

Digital Musical Instrument Creators

Firstly, the framework is designed to aid those involved in creating DMIs. This includes:

  • Developers
  • Designers
  • Product Managers
  • Manufacturers

It aims to provide insight into the activities of facilitated musical performance, as well as help DMI creators to:

  • Better understand the needs of a facilitator
  • Evaluate their products against accessibility requirements
  • Incorporate accessibility into their product design

Accessible Music Making Communities

Secondly, the framework could be useful to anyone involved in the activity of facilitated performance and accessible music making:

  • Facilitators
  • Teachers
  • Musicians
  • Program Managers
  • Buyers of DMIs for community programs

For these people, the framework aims to provide guidance on the accessibility features of DMIs and help them to:

  • Better identify accessible features of DMIs
  • Evaluate DMIs based on their project requirements


Finally, such a framework may be of use to any person conducting research in the following areas:

  • Digital Musical Instruments
  • Accessible Music Making
  • Accessible Technology
  • Accessibility Standards

The areas outlined are purposefully broad. Researchers are advised to read the next section “What does it look at?” for information on the academic reach of this particular framework.

What does it look at?

The FAME framework considers the accessibility requirements of digital musical instruments in the context of facilitated performance and related activities, which are outlined in the “What is Facilitated Performance?” section.

Some of the accessibility requirements highlighted by the FAME framework may also be applicable to other music technologies (and in use cases outside of Facilitated Performance). Whilst it is hoped that the FAME framework will be compatible with other guidelines regarding best practices for developing accessible music technologies; it is important to note that this framework is only intended for assessing the accessibility of digital musical instruments in the context of Facilitated Performance.

The DMIs observed in developing the FAME framework are considered consumer products and are available to purchase (at the time of writing). Additionally a singular bespoke gesture controlled DMI was created for the purpose of the research, but beyond this FAME does not take into account any novel or emerging technologies. However guidance provided within the FAME framework could be applied to such technologies.

It is acknowledged that as technology evolves, new questions may arise regarding accessibility recommendations for the context of facilitated performance. The FAME framework will need to reflect this evolution, such that future versions may be required to address new accessibility requirements for DMIs and facilitated performance.

How was it developed?

The Facilitating Access to Musical Experiences (FAME) framework is a product of the “Facilitated Performance with Digital Musical Instruments” PhD research conducted by Amy Dickens of the Mixed Reality Laboratory, The University of Nottingham.

The following methods were used to inform the framework:

  • Observation of Facilitated Performance
  • Review of Accessible Technology Documentation

Observation of Facilitated Performance

This included active observation of the following activities:

  • Workshops for musical exploration
  • Structure Workshops for Creating a musical piece
  • Rehearsals in preparation for live performance
  • Live performances

Each of these activities followed a structure that involved musical and other facilitators assisting the musicians in their work. Recommendations made within this framework are routed in making DMIs more accessible for these particular settings.

It is recognised that the following activites can also follow such structure involving facilitators:

  • Musical Therapy
  • Accessible Music Community Events (workshops etc.)
  • Research

Recommendations made may support making DMIs more accessible for these settings also.

Review of Accessible Technology Documentation

FAME takes into consideration guidelines that outline the needs of people with disabilites when interacting with technology. Sources for outlining such needs include:

  • Aegis Information and Communication Technologies Open Accessibility Framework
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1)
  • Framework for Accessible Specification of Technologies (FAST) (Currently an Editor’s Draft)
  • Web AIM Conceptual Framework for Accessibility Tools to Benefit Users with Cognitive Disabilities

What is Facilitated Performance?

Facilitated performance describes a practice in which a musician/performer is supported by another person (a facilitator) in the activities of musical performance.

Facilitators can offer musical, technical or physical support for the musician/performer.

The Activites of Facilitated Performance

In this framework, we will group the activities related to facilitated performance into four categories that reflect the life-cycle of musical performance; create, practice, perform, reflect.

The Roles of a Facilitator

Facilitator Personas

Digital Musical Instruments in Facilitated Performance

What is a Digital Musical Instrument?

The Digital Musical Instrument Stack

Evaluating Digital Musical Instruments for Accessibility

Digital Musical Instrument Attributes

The Accessible Instruments Checklist



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