Pro Member Joey Stuckey talks with Dr. Amy Dickens on Ableton creating more accessibility

Staff RAMPD | in Uncategorized | March 28th, 2023

Pro Member Joey Stuckey talks with Dr. Amy Dickens on Ableton creating more accessibility

JOEY: I had the great pleasure to Meet Dr. Amy Dickens at the Queen Mary University Bridging the Gap Symposium on accessibility for blind musicians in November of 2022.
At that time, she had just been hired by one of the preeminent electronic music companies, Ableton, to be a full time Accessibility Specialist. Ableton’s software and hardware products are world renowned and integral tools for the professional music creative, including their flagship DAW Ableton Live, their IOS app Note and their MIDI controller Push.
In my over 20-year career in the music industry and as an accessibility advocate, this was the first time I had known a company to have a full-time position created and funded to work on the mission critical field of accessibility.
At an early age, Amy got started playing music and plays several instruments, including piano--not to mention writing and recording original music and spending some time as a live, recording, and mastering engineer.
However, it wasn’t until a family member suffered a severe brain injury that Amy realized that music wasn’t accessible for everyone!

AMY: “One of the things I became interested in is how music can help in rehabilitation especially with traumatic brain injury...It just astounded me that as I learned more about this, how inaccessible being creative could be”.

This led Amy to go into a doctoral program that would allow for exploration of music, therapy, music technology and music accessibility. Overtime, this led to the opportunity to work with a number of organizations where Amy could bring a can-do attitude and knowledge of how to solve accessibility issues, a full-time job that Amy now has with Ableton!

A picture of Amy from the shoulders up. She is wearing a black top and brown, marbled glasses. She has straight, brown hair. She is smiling. There are keyboards in the background.

AMY: “Primarily, when I started, the kind of research we did was focused on visual impairment, which is where a lot of accessibility starts especially when it comes to software. But my specialism is to make sure we are thinking about the breadth of disability--even in the blind and visually impaired community that can be a huge difference from person to person.”
“Down to the heart of Ableton we are about making music fun for the music makers and to provide a fun experience that is transferring into the work when we consider accessibility”.


While Amy couldn’t yet share the details about what Ableton is doing in 2023 regarding accessibility, I was assured that Ableton is making accessibility for the disabled community a priority and they are making progress toward a long-term solution that is baked into the bed rock of future product releases.
Amy is a brilliant and generous person that believes in accessibility as does Ableton and invites the disabled music making community to reach out and get involved. I have been given permission to post the contact email here and I have been assured that thoughts, comments and offers to be a beta tester are all welcome.