Challenges for a blind composer

Posted on: April 16, 2010

Wednesday (4/14) on NewMusicBox.com, blind composer Kevin Gibbs writes, “When I started college as a theory major at the University of Michigan, I took a class in composition for non-majors and was given the services of a doctoral candidate as transcriber for my final project. … We quickly discovered a basic problem. After I dictated, say, thirty-two bars of a flute part, the transcriber would have to ask whether the next instrument was continuing from where the flute had left off, or being brought up even with the flute music he’d just taken down. The need to keep orienting the transcriber to his place in both vertical and horizontal score time destroyed the creative flow. … Sibelius, with its exhaustive supply of keyboard commands, seemed designed for users, particularly blind and visually impaired users, who didn’t always use a mouse for everything. I contacted David Pinto, a gifted software developer who had previously made Cakewalk’s Sonar accessible to the blind user, and asked him if there was anything he could do to make Sibelius accessible for the blind composer. He took a demo version of Sibelius and loaded it on his laptop and began to work. Within 45 minutes, he had Sibelius talking. In that instant, I knew my world would never be the same. All the tools were finally in place. Now, it was up to me.”

Posted April 16, 2010