Enabling for Music

A charitably supported voluntary organisation.

We use technology to enable people who are hard of hearing or deaf to listen to music more clearly and enjoyably.

It is believed we are the only organisation in the UK offering this.

We help individuals, ranging from young children to the elderly, and we work within schools and institutions.

What do we do?

Firstly of course we will make a careful assessment of what is needed, bearing in mind the individual hearing difficulty and the types of music and listening carried out.

We usually begin by finding the most appropriate headphones, from a range which includes some which are specially made and we make some music recordings, with modifications to the audio signals, so as to enable the individual to hear the sound with as little distortion as possible. We call this 'Tailored Sound' ©.

Once we know what processing is needed we can advise on ways to modify or add to home audio systems to create the same effect. Usually this will involve electronic units available from specialist shops which and can be easily incorporated in ordinary audio equipment. Costs typically range from 100 to 300.

'Enabling for Music' helps people who are hard of hearing to enjoy and appreciate music and also works with disabled people to help them create music .
Whole Body Sound , another part of ETSAM is involved with acoustic and vibroacoustic therapy

In the home, where more than one person is listening to the same music, it can be uncomfortable if one person requires a very different sound profile to the other. Yet listening to music together can be one of life's great pleasures and we would usually advise separate controls for each person who is listening through headphones, giving comfortable listening.

Nearly all hard of hearing people and the majority of deaf people can be helped in this way.

Where deafness is severe

A computer can be used to produce 'Tailored Sound' © to a greater extent because it allows more sophisticated signal processing. Individuals can either use their own computer, or we can produce special tapes or CDs to individual order.

Where deafness is very severe or profound

Where appropriate we can, in addition, offer other means to enhance perception:

A visual display of the music

A specially designed colour graphical display which moves in step with the music. This is not meant as a "pretty picture" to look at, but rather a representation of the music itself. Each phrase in the music builds up on the screen as the notes are played. When the phrase is complete the screen clears and the next phrase begins. The way the colours have been allocated is in accord with the relationship of notes of the scale. Several options may be selected to control this display. Some of these are intended to suit people with partial sight. Software to create the above is featured within our special software package which 'Tailors the Sound' © and is available at the subsidised price of 50 for deaf people.

A structured vibrotactile form of the music

Features of our design are:-

  • Different parts in the music are directed to different parts of the body. This spatial separation can greatly enhance the perception of music experienced through vibroacoustic means.
  • Improved design of the vibroacoustic modules themselves, to give a sensation more equivalent to that of hearing music.
  • The conditioning (signal processing) of the music.

Many severely deaf people enjoy feeling music through vibration. We felt it was a great pity that, despite the advances of modern technology, all that deaf people were receiving was the vibration which was the mere by-product of sound designed for hearing people. Hence we began a scientifically based design to create structured vibrations to enhance perception.

The cost of vibroacoustic systems varies from 200 for a twin backrest module (driven by your own home audio equipment) to 2,900. As well as developing and marketing our own vibroacoustic systems we are agents for the equipment produced by the Somatron corporation; the two ranges are complementary, suiting different needs.

The choice of either of these two aids to perception, if needed, are according to individual preference. Some people, especially those with very little useful hearing, find the combination of both helpful.

'Enabling for Music' was established by Gordon Dalgarno in 1986. It has been working both in a practical way with individuals and organisations and in a theoretical way within university based research.

ETSAM, 3 Thornton Grove, Morecambe LA4 5PU
Tel: 01524 427919 or 07797 212524(mobile)
E-mail: info@ETSAM.org.uk

Web design chris@kit-woods.co.uk