Djing and Disability Workshop

In August 2023, we hosted a workshop together with our partners Drake Music and Native Instruments, discussing ongoing findings from our AHRC funded project ‘Embodied Timing and Disability in DJ Practice’. The focus of the workshop was the experiences of disabled and neurodiverse DJs and exploring how to make DJing more accessible.

The workshop was led by members of the research team, Maria Witek and Caroline Cooke. Attendees included members from Drake Music, Native Instruments as well a number of disabled and neurodiverse DJs who participated in the research. The results were presented and discussed, and the workshop concluded with hands-on sessions where we used the knowledge gained from the research to explore how DJing could be made more accessible.

Workshop attendees sitting in a semicircle discussing the research findings
Workshop attendees trying out the Native Instruments DJ gear
Workshop attendees working with the Native Instruments DJ software

Some of the key take-aways from the workshop were that while most disabled DJs experience both social and physical barriers to their practice, many also feel a deep sense of pride and empowerment in their skill. For example, the control that neurodiverse DJs feel over a room can be a reprieve from the social insecurity that they can experience in their everyday lives. It also became clear that there needs to be a balance between the customisability of hardware and software and standardisation across the industry. Furthermore, file management (organisation of audio files and sets) can be an overwhelming task, and developing new ways to sort and categorise files in the browser can help make this part of the practice more accessible. We are working on publishing a formal report on the findings.

Reflections by attendees:

It really means a lot [to be able to contribute to research about DJing and disability]. As an autistic artist who’s communication, promotion and networking skills have let me down in my career, being offered the chance to be a positive voice in some area within my passion was really appreciated.

I’m very grateful for such an opportunity! Not only in the work sense, but also personally. It’s very empowering to see such efforts and participants being active in helping to make music culture and instruments better. In a work sense I am sure that the information learned today would be very welcomed within our products, and I would love to help as much as I can to spread it there and with my coworkers.