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Louise Bennet
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A cross disciplinary team of researchers at the University of Melbourne has been selected as a finalist in the 2017 National Disability Awards after developing a prototype to make online group singing possible for people with a disability, especially those with quadriplegia.

The prototype includes a virtual reality component that creates an opportunity for people to ‘leave their home’ and sing around a simulated campfire. It ensures synchronous group singing by combating time delay and latency issues often encountered when using video and web conferencing systems.

The National Disability Awards recognise outstanding achievements by individuals, organisations and initiatives that have improved the lives of people with disability.

Music Therapy Research Fellow and project lead Dr Jeanette Tamplin, said singing together online can help people overcome the barriers of distance, transport and disability.

“Respiratory dysfunction is a major cause of illness and death following quadriplegia,” Dr Tamplin said.

“Previous music therapy research has shown that group singing helps people with quadriplegia to breathe better, speak louder, and develop social connections and singing with others provides many motivational and emotional benefits that cannot be achieved when singing in isolation.”

The Awards are a major part of the Australian Government’s celebration of International Day of People with Disability, celebrated on 3 December, a United Nations sanctioned day helping to create a voice for people with disability and break-down community assumptions and attitudes.

The 2017 National Disability Awards will be held at the National Museum of Australia on 3 December.