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  • Writer's pictureKei

Accessibility in the world of music

Photo by ELEVATE

Most cultures express themselves through organized sounds and rhythms. Many have favorite genres, favorite artists, and favorite songs. Some are so zealous that they decide to become musicians, and even go on to perform for audiences, small and large. But what about those of us who have difficulty doing things in the conventional ways? For example, how can we accommodate someone who is unable to move their limbs? Check out the article below, which describes how an "impossible" idea became a game changer for prospective musicians with limited motor skills.

Skim through the website and find the answers to the questions below.

If you have time for a podcast, you can listen to The Accessible Stall and read the transcript (using the link at the end of this post). The name of the podcast, The Accessible Stall, refers to the spacious public restrooms (bathrooms) that are intended for people using wheelchairs and other aids.

Ableism: discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.

Spasm: a sudden involuntary muscular contraction or convulsive movement.

Recently, singers Lizzo and Beyoncé got into some trouble when they used lyrics that were offensive to people with different abilities (also known as "people with handicaps" and "people with disabilities"). The term they used was a variation of the word "spasm", which is commonly used in the medical sense in standard English. Due to the many different dialects of English, it caused some confusion and frustration regarding the intended meanings within their songs.

In Lizzo's song, "GRRRLS", she said, "Imma spazz". In AAVE (African American Vernacular English), it means "I am going to get angry," or "I am going to fight". However, a lot of the lyric websites and listeners from the U.K. misheard or misunderstood the lyric which led to some backlash within the disabled community. Non-speakers of AAVE (specifically from the U.K.) heard "I'm a spaz", meaning "I am incompetent." The two phrases have spelling, grammatical, and pronunciation differences that are apparent to those with keen eyes and ears. This is a good example of why we must understand the context that a person is speaking in before responding or drawing conclusions.

Both Lizzo and Beyoncé have since apologized for the misunderstandings and changed their lyrics. The podcasters, Emily and Kyle, chose not to discuss those specific issues in pop culture, however, they are what sparked this episode called, "Confronting Ableism".

Emily and Kyle are people with different abilities. In this recording, they discuss some of the difficulties they face when dealing with well-meaning people, as well as, those with malicious intents.

If you are interested in reading the transcript, click here.


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