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Music Unseen


Music Unseen  

As a Musician sitting down at my computer the screen is awash with multi-coloured icons each demanding my attention; a quick scan and click and I'm into the music program of my choice. Again I scan and click this and click that and through the 'magic' of computers my work flow is enhanced and quickly my project takes form.

I  click the record button, turn to my keyboard and play. While recording I occasionally glance at the screen noting the varying colours that indicate all is well. Recording complete I click stop, click rewind, then click play to listen to what has been recorded. Next step, I wish to add some orchestration....perhaps a touch of virtual violins. Clicking the appropriate icon the virtual violin software  immediately opens within my music software program and my eyes are greeted with a highly  graphical interface depicting a beautifully crafted Stradivarius Violin, and within that graphic there are multiple areas  that can be clicked  to allow a myriad of options.

 IF ONLY THAT WAS THE CASE, NOW COME INTO MY WORLD.  As a 'Blind Musician' sitting at my computer, I have three choices:

Choice 1:  Turn off the computer and run away as there is minimal accessibility.

Choice 2:  Ask a person with 'eyes' to help (not practical)

Choice 3:  Install Screen Reading Software; a program specifically designed to allow access to a computer for Vision Impaired people via a voice which reads the text on screen.

Decision made, I install screen reading software. I use NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Application),  free software from a Brisbane based company NVAccess. This program allows almost complete access to my computer as it reads icon names, file names, allows me to surf the internet , shop on line , email and multiple other tasks involving text. However upon launching my music program I  come to a complete screaming STOP!  This music program like all 'high-end' music programs is highly graphical in nature and screen readers have no chance! To allow access  other smart people have written another program that can act as a 'bridge' between my screen reader and music program. However this 'bridge' does not give complete accessibility but does allow one to be productive.

Remember the 'virtual violin software? When I launch this with the aid of the 'bridging' program nothing seems to happen, at least not in my world! I now have to take on the mantle of a programmer. Reason; I need to write a 'bridging' program to allow me access to the virtual violin software! This programming has to be done with 'eyes'  (help from a sighted person), taking many hours of trials and tribulations. This process has to be completed for every virtual instrument I want to use as they are all incredibly different!  You can imagine how this impacts upon my workflow.


Working in a Studio as a Blind Composer and Music Producer



David P Shortland

Article written by John Coghill from Local ABC Radio  about David's work. 


David P Shortland at his work station: the blind music producer and composer has a computer with a nagging personality and a control desk that he has memorised.


Topics: human-interestdisabilitiesaustralian-composersbuderim-4556


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