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Neglect of music for blind

Blind children are not being offered the specialist music lessons available to sighted pupils, even though research suggests many have significant musical talent.

New research suggests children with septo-optic dysplasia, a brain disorder which causes total or partial blindness, have an unusually strong interest in music. One in five has perfect pitch, compared with one in 10,000 of the population as a whole.

Yet fewer than a quarter of blind children surveyed played an instrument, compared with 41 per cent of sighted ones. And none had had lessons from a music teacher, compared with 28 per cent of sighted children.

In their report, which examined 32 blind and 32 sighted children, with an average age of seven, researchers from London university's institute of education and the Royal National Institute for the Blind said: "It appears music services still have some way to go in seeing beyond a child's visual or learning difficulties."

They say that music services should ensure all children, regardless of disability, can get specialist instrumental or vocal tuition.

For details of the research, email g.welch@ioe.ac.uk

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