Members of the ‘Music without Barriers’ band during a practice session Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A group of 20 children of determination is set to perform the UAE national anthem at the Dubai Garden Glow this Thursday using Assistive Technology (AT).

AT is any item, equipment, software program or product system used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.

Music without Barriers

The children, aged between seven and 14, are all part of a music band called ‘Music without Barriers’ at Al Noor Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities. They have been learning to play the national anthem for the last one year for their first public performance in the park.

“At the centre, we have developed special-purpose computers, pointing devices, mounting systems, special screen readers communication programs, specialised learning materials and curriculum aids to help these children play music,” said Isphana Al Khatib, director of the centre.

Adapted instruments

“The students use adapted musical instruments, apps, switch and eye gaze-accessible interactive software to play music. We have incorporated switch-adapted Beamz music interface (a computer-based musical instrument), apps on iPad, koto using Eye Gaze technology, low-cost adaptations of mounting musical instruments such as chimes, two-tone block, tambourine and a keyboard with numeric coding and mounting. All these have been developed in-house at the Centre itself,” explained Al Khatib.

Band member Hasan Raza, who has cerebral palsy, will be using a colour-coded keyboard to help him remember the notes. Kevin Daniel Verghese, also with cerebral palsy and intellectual disability, will use the Eye Play Music software on a tablet to play music using Eye Gaze assistive technology. “Eye gaze or eye tracking is a way of accessing your computer or a communication aid using a mouse that you control with your eyes,” said Al Khatib.

Harshil Pradeep Shetty will play cymbals from a touch-based device while Zahra Abdul Nasar with spastic paraparesis and intellectual disability will play a mounted Triangle – an idiophone type instrument.