Folk Weekend Oxford and Makaton logo

Folk song project to increase festival accessibility

A new project, created and run by Folk Weekend Oxford’s Cat Kelly, has been launched that aims to improving accessibility to music for people who have communication difficulties. Supported by grants from the Oxfordshire Community Foundation and Folk Camps Society, the project will use Makaton – a communication tool using signs, symbols, and speech – alongside traditional folk songs, with the aim of making them accessible to a wider audience.

The project is part of a wider accessibility drive by Folk Weekend Oxford. For the last two years, the festival has included a ceilidh specially for children from Special Needs Schools in Oxfordshire. Oxford University Community Fund has also offered a grant towards these activities, which this year will include two SEN ceilidhs, and the debut performance from the Makaton project, performed with a live band.

Michael Sibly, Chair of Oxford University Community Fund, commented: “The grant committee was particularly impressed with the efforts that have been made to make this event genuinely inclusive, and of benefit to the wider community.”. Folk Weekend Artistic Director Jenny Semmence says “Our aim is that everyone feels welcome at our festival, and can find something there that they can enjoy. People with communication difficulties often inhabit a confusing world, which can move very fast around them and leave them feeling excluded, and frustrated. We believe that music and singing are for everyone, and have set up this project to enable more people to access the music that we all love.”

Find out more about Makaton here, and about Folk Weekend Oxford here.