How Has Technology Helped the Disabled Artist?

Art in all its form has always been an expression of a person’s talent and creativity. It is also one of the few areas where a person’s differences are welcomed and applauded. There are some things which have been difficult for people with disabilities to actively take part in, but that has been changing. Technology has been transforming the way that artists with and without disabilities have been creating their chosen medium, here are some of the ways it has made a difference.


The world of music has always been evolving, though some parts such as musical instruments have not always been accessible to some. For those with missing limbs or fingers, some instruments have previously been difficult if not impossible to play. However, technology has developed new ways that people can play instruments even with physical impairments. Electric versions of the violin, double bass, and other instruments have meant that some notes can be substituted for others that the player can play. Even instruments such as the drums are transformed with the help of technology. In the past rock drummer, Rick Allen had especially custom-made pedals fitted to his drum kit after an accident severed his left arm. Another area that has helped many disabled people make music is the computer. For many since the 1980’s, the music scene has seen the introduction of electronic music. It was basic in its early days, but this has become extremely sophisticated. It now means that anyone with a love of music regardless of their physical limitations can make music.


Painting is an expressive art that can lead in many directions, one person’s art may be another person’s idea of nothing. However, regardless of the way you paint, the tools you use and the way you put the paint on the canvas has led to some well-known painters with disabilities. For example, there have been some painters without arms that have had a successful career by using their feet. There have also been artists that have used their teeth to paint or a brush attached to their head. These artists have been using these ways to paint for many years, but, painting has also helped others as well. Many people with learning difficulties or conditions such as autism have found not only comfort but also expression in painting. Modern technology has taken painting to a new level with artists now able to paint ‘virtually’ using tablets or even wands that have the movements recorded by cameras. These paintings are then created on the screen and printed out to produce designs that are as unique as using traditional paint.


Whether it’s working with stone, wood, or glass, the world of sculpting can be fascinating. Turning a block of material into something completely different is a skill that takes dedication and precision. Traditional methods of sculpting required a hammer and a chisel to remove the unwanted material and bring out the design. For some people, this made sculpting a little difficult, but not impossible. However, recent advances in technology have made sculpting a little easier for those that have a disability. For example, modern tools use motors to drill and file away the material instead of chip it away. While this might take a little longer, the results are as impressive as the traditional tools. Tools such as these are not only used by the disabled; they are also used by other artists. Some use chainsaws and other power tools to create a different look. Another way that sculpting has changed is with the invention of the 3D printer. It has truly reinvented the building and design process because you can now design and make something all from your computer. What’s more, the printer will build it for you, so you don’t have to worry about using tools. It allows people to be creative and design something unique without having to rely on anyone else to help them. Even though you still need to be able to use a computer, adaptations, and aids such as the electric desk make such problems easier.


For many years, there was a movement in the fashion world that demanded perfection from models and designers. Although the fashion designer could be creative with their designs, the models had to be the picture of perfection. Thankfully, this has changed in recent years, and there have been a number of new models such as the first with Downs Syndrome that has caught the public eye. Technology has now moved on so that disabled fashion designers can use computers and cutting machines to create their clothes without a problem. It has allowed anyone with the creative flair to make their dreams come true. However, the model has seen the biggest change, with the creation of new prosthetic limbs, anyone can now take to the catwalk to show off the designs and also bring a positive image to fashion.


Traditionally, designers would draw their designs and then color them before submitting them for print. Now, this has changed with computers replacing the paper and pencil. Because you can adapt computers in so many ways, it has meant that designers who would have struggled with drawing in the past can now allow their creativity to flourish. Adaptors for electronic styluses can allow users to draw using their head, teeth, and eye movement so that the images are recreated as they imagine them. It can also be a quicker process as there is no need to change pens or colors, it can all be done with the click of a button. Advances in filters and templates also make it easier to add details that would otherwise take a long time. These designs can then be emailed across the world in an instant.

Disability has always been at the heart of much innovation. The desire to find new ways to do existing tasks has led to some innovative ideas. However, it is also the desire or the disabled artist to express their creativity that has helped.

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