Baluji Music Foundation has launched their new survey, “Blind to the Facts” to identify the challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people across the UK music industry. Funded by Vision Foundation and conducted by Dr Claire Castle in collaboration with Dr David Baker of the University of London Institute of Education, the survey will reveal what is needed to drive greater inclusion.
Dr Claire Castle, Baluji Music Foundation Research Fellow and Senior Scientist, said: “This project is a really exciting opportunity to ensure equal opportunities in music, regardless of disability or impairment.
“We need feedback from both those who employ musicians in the UK, and musicians themselves. By sharing their experiences, these individuals will highlight how the industry can do better in its employment, support and encouragement of blind and partially sighted professionals across all areas of the music industry.”
The 2023 survey updates the Blind to the Facts research completed in 1995, which highlighted the dearth of professional performing opportunities for blind musicians, and led to the establishment of the Baluji Music Foundation and the Inner Vision Orchestra, the only orchestra of professional blind musicians in the UK.
Baluji Shrivastav OBE says: “Being great at music isn’t enough to get you employed as a musician. That’s true for all musicians, but the 1995 survey showed it’s even more so the case if you’re blind. I have experienced this myself. I have lost jobs or been made to feel that including me on a tour would be an inconvenience because of my blindness – the music doesn’t even come into it.
“The point of this survey and what we’re trying to do with the BMF is to find out why, and remove these pointless obstacles – not just for musicians but for promoters, sound technicians, composers etc. – and create opportunities across the whole UK music industry. Blind people may not be able to see you, but we deserve to be seen and heard.”
The low number of blind and visually impaired musicians and individuals working in the UK music industry is reflective of a broader situation. There are more than 2 million people in the UK living with sight loss, causing a significant impact on their daily lives. Only 1 in 4 registered blind or partially sighted people of working age is in paid employment, a figure that has worsened in the last decade. This compares to 51% of disabled people and 75% of the general population and is even worse for people who are completely blind. Our See My Skils report highlighted that only around 1 in 10 people with poor functional vision is in paid employment.