A young brown-skinned woman sits in front of a piano. She is wearing a yellow long-sleeved top with blue pants. She is smiling and has shoulder-length dark brown hair. Her hands are on the piano keys.
Music education innovator Thivya Jeyapalan. (Photo by Sylvia Angelone/Plush Photography)

Topics: Ethical Living, July/August 2024 | Culture, Society

Key of Sight strikes the right chord by providing accessible and inclusive music education

Grade 11 student founded program to help visually impaired people pursue their musical passions


Thivya Jeyapalan is the visionary behind the Key of Sight music program, an initiative aimed at making music education accessible to visually impaired people. With a background in music and a passion for teaching, this Grade 11 student who emigrated from Sri Lanka in 2009 and now lives in Toronto is working to bridge the gap in music education. Her techniques include tailored audio instructions, using verbal clues and incorporating tactile learning materials.

Motivation: While teaching music to blind children in Sri Lanka during a visit last summer, I realized that there were limited resources for individuals with disabilities to pursue their musical passions. Inspired by my grandfather’s resilience in the face of blindness, I created a curriculum that caters to diverse backgrounds and learning styles.

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Necessity: Many visually impaired individuals struggle to find suitable methods to learn and engage with music, as traditional teaching materials are often inaccessible to them. Cultural and socioeconomic factors compound these challenges, making it difficult for them to access formal music education programs.

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Impact: This experience has helped me understand the impact of equal access to music as a creative outlet, especially at higher levels of difficulty. Allowing students with disabilities, who don’t often get a chance to explore their capabilities, to hone their skills boosts self-esteem. I’ve gotten feedback from parents that students become more self-driven when they realize their potential in music. Music has really great impacts on mental health and emotional well-being.


Michael Wikowicz  is a writer based in Toronto, Ont.

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