2002 Conference Proceedings

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Presented by
William R. McCann and David Pinto
Dancing Dots Braille Music Technology, L.P.
PO Box 927
Valley Forge, PA 19482-0927
Tel: 610-783-6692 FAX: 610-783-6732
Email: info@dancingdots.com 

Problem Defined

Blind composers and arrangers have found it much more expensive and time-consuming for them to faithfully express their creative ideas in printed notation. Blind singers, instrumentalists and song writers have been unable to use new, low-cost technologies to make demonstration versions of their work to send to record producers, concert promoters, agents and club owners. Blind audio engineers have found it difficult to compete in a field of increasing technological sophistication. High paying positions for audio professionals who record and edit sound beds for radio and television commercials have been very hard to come by for the blind. Until now!

Demonstration of Solutions from Dancing Dots

The presenters plan a series of short demonstrations by blind users of the JAWS for Windows screen reader which has been customized by sophisticated scripting to perform seamlessly with Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 and Sonar. Participants will observe how the blind user can navigate highly graphical views of musical information and work at a competitive level of speed and efficiency compared to a sighted counterpart.

Cakewalk Music Software of Boston, Massachusetts, publishes Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 and Sonar, mainstream software titles. David Pinto has harnessed the power of JAWS' scripting language to provide the blind user with a speech-friendly interface with the functions of these digital audio and MIDI applications. Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 and Sonar, which is essentially Cakewalk 10, convert the standard PC into a virtual, multi-track recording studio. Musical information can be recorded via MIDI connecting to an electronic, musical synthesizer keyboard. Any of the 256 tracks can be set to record audio data received via a microphone or audio cable attached to an external mixer, instrument pick-up, etc.

Since releasing the first version of Pinto's powerful scripts in late 1999, Dancing Dots has found eager blind users all over the world ready to focus their creative energies on independently recording, editing, orchestrating and notating their creative musical ideas. Everyone from six-year-old piano students to industry professionals who produce commercial recordings has enthusiastically encouraged Mr. Pinto to continually improve his scripts. In addition to comprehensive online help, the scripts come together with a companion tutorial in the form of an MS Word document. 500 pages contain dozens of detailed tutorials from the basics of setting up your project studio to sophisticated editing operations like scrubbing audio to make precise cuts.

Participants will witness the power of this technology which fuses mainstream digital audio and MIDI technology combined with a robust screen reader. The result is impressive! Technically savvy well-known music industry pros like Marcus Roberts, Ronnie Milsap and Dianne Schuur have incorporated Cakewalk into their work. Perhaps even more exciting, though, is the growing number of blind students who use this technology to prepare their music theory homework for sighted teachers to review or who can now print up their own compositions and arrangements for sighted players to perform. Dancing Dots has a growing number of totally blind customers who use this technology to apply their talents in producing commercial, industry standard recordings of themselves and other artists. These blind professionals are paid a competitive hourly wage for their skills. The company has customers who have used this technology to prepare their music theory homework assignments, print up their own arrangements for a church choir and produce companion editions in music braille using Dancing Dots' GOODFEEL(r) Braille Music Translator. See www.dancingdots.com for further details on the latest scripts for music software programs, the GOODFEEL(r) Braille Music Translator and braille music teaching aids and curriculum.

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