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Since 2003 WXXI and the Al Sigl Community of Agencies have worked together to help break the ingrained stereotypes about individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities with its week-long initiative, Dialogue on Disability. The initiative is designed to stimulate community dialogue about the perspectives and abilities of people with physical and intellectual disabilities. For a listing of all special programs click here.In an effort to continue its commitment to motivate individuals to take action and to include more people with disabilities in the workplace, in schools, neighborhoods and in all aspects of society, WXXI has partnered with the Golisano Foundation in a year-round project called MOVE TO INCLUDE. Dialogue on Disability will continue to take place in January as part of this new project. Dialogue on Disability is a partnership between WXXI and Al Sigl Community of Agencies - in conjunction with the Herman and Margaret Schwartz Community Series. Dialogue on Disability is supported by the Fred L. Emerson Foundation with additional support from The Golisano Foundation.On Classical 91.5 we celebrate the musicians who compose and perform no matter what challenges they face. Ludwig van Beethoven, Gabriel Faure and Ralph Vaughan Williams experienced hearing loss, as does percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Hand injuries have not stopped pianists Misha Dicter, Leon Fleisher and guitarist Milos Karadaglic. Vision loss, something many of us experience as we age, did not stand in the way of composers J. S. Bach, George Frederic Handel, Joaquin Rodrigo and Franz Schubert. And the often unseen depression and mental illness impacted composers Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst, Modest Mussorgsky, Irving Berlin and Charles Ives, among many others. The music created by all of these individuals and many more is enjoyed every day on Classical 91.5.

Helping the millions who are unable to make music because of physical disability


During Dialogue on Disability Week as we delve into the lives and stories of musicians who have overcome challenges to make the music they love, we are all discovering new stories, organizations and methods making music possible for all. 

One such organization I've discovered is the OHMI Trust (pronounced "oh-me") the One-Handed Musical Instrument trust. The OHMI Trust is a pioneer in the development and adaptation of musical instruments for people with physical disabilities.  

Millions of individuals world-wide are excluded from music-making because traditional instruments are not suitable for a person with cerebral palsy, congenital disabilities, amputees, or those who have had a stoke or severe arthritis.  

Founded in 2011 by Dr. Stephen Hetherington, this UK-based charity strives to remove barriers to music-making.  OHMI encourages not only musicians, but inventors and designers of musical instruments to seek innovative designs for instruments that can be played with one hand or one arm, while not taking away from the integrity and facility of the instrument.

Credit Social Tech Trust

Another organization, founded in the UK in 2007, is Open Up Music, which strives to make music accessible to young children with disabilities. Open Up Music launched the first disabled-led national youth orchestra (NOYO) in 2019.

Check out these amazing musicians who have adapted how they play their instruments in order to make the music they love.

Gaelynn Lea

Felix Klieser