Music Braille

Music Braille

Hands reading a braille score

Goal

Our goal is to ensure that more music braille scores are available more easily to more blind musicians world-wide.

This project is a cross-sector collaboration to identify, prioritise, and deliver both short-term and long-term improvements to secure the future of music braille production and use.

Read about the project’s latest developments, or continue reading to learn more about the project.

Background

photo of sheet music
Libraries for the blind and other agencies wish to secure the future of hard-copy music braille production for blind musicians who rely on it for study, pleasure or professional purposes, but these organisations face increasing limitations regarding budget and expertise.

This project does not deny the benefits of digital music technologies for blind musicians, and indeed some of our work will inform those developments, but paper music braille will be vital for many musicians for years to come, and we wish to protect this service in a cost-effective way.

In October 2017 the Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille (NLB) asked for interested parties to join a collaboration to find a solution/solutions; as we recognise that together we can achieve more than we can individually. We now have around 150 participants worldwide involved in some way with the project. Anyone interested is welcome to join us.

Our Focus

Through our work so far we have identified four areas requiring improvement for us to be able to increase the amount of music braille produced:

  1. Input files need to be as good as they can be at the start
  2. Conversion and mark-up tools need to be accurate & reliable, for agencies and end-users
  3. Good access is needed to existing intermediary files
  4. Good teaching, learning and promotional materials are needed.

Current activities

Latest video presentations on the project:

As outlined in our video presentations, we are concentrating on making strategic improvements for both short- and long-term benefits for the music braille sector. Current activities include:

  1. A ‘State of the Sector‘ report:
    Our early international research resulted in a full sector Requirements capture – identifying and documenting high-priority needs across the sector for music braille production, and for teaching and learning. Download the State of the Sector report in MSWord, or download the State of the Sector report in PDF.
  2. A professional conversion tool – MakeBraille:
    We have supported the development and testing of an online professional automated music braille conversion tool (MakeBraille-Hodder, from dzb lesen, Leipzig) according to our prioritized sector requirements. It converts scanned print scores and MusicXML files into music braille according to specific  international requirements for music braille. The tool will be promoted to agencies from February 2022.
  3. An interactive user tool for blind musicians – MuseScore with Sao Mai Braille:
    We are supporting the development and testing of an interactive user tool for music braille for blind musicians, according to our prioritized sector requirements. This tool will comprise two related software tools. 1) We are supporting improvements in the mainstream music notation software MuseScore, together with 2) the development of SMB (from the Sao Mai Centre for the Blind, Vietnam) to allow blind musicians to read, write, explore and output music in accessible ways including braille, speech, sound and print.
  4. Improving standard music file formats by recommending improvements:
    Recommending improvements to MusicXML and proposing specifications for MNX so that standard music file formats include vital information which we need for effective conversion into music braille. Download our proposals for MusicXML and MNX.
  5. Improving music engraving (music setting) practice:
    We have developed good practice guidelines for engravers/setters (e.g. using the music notation software Sibelius) and are trialling these with engraving services and publishers to improve the digital score content they create at source, enabling more effective conversion into accessible formats including music braille. Download our latest music engraving guidelines (08.07.2022 zip)
  6. A Music Braille Production Network:
    We have developed and are trialling a new virtual network of international music braille producers to enable agencies to locate and procure music braille productions more efficiently between each other. Visit our page about the Music Braille Production Network.
  7. Access to intermediary files in online collections:
    We are facilitating dialog between the hosts of online collections of music braille to harmonize metadata which will permit more effective search and retrieval of appropriate music braille scores from different collections, and easier ingestion of files contributed by agencies.
  8. Improving access to teaching and learning materials:
    Working across the sector we are looking at ways of making existing resources more easily available to blind musicians and their teachers, conductors, and employers.

Funders

We are grateful to the following agencies for supporting the project with financial contributions:

  • CNIB, Canada
  • DAISY Strategic Development Fund
  • Friends of dzb lesen, Germany
  • MTM, Sweden
  • NLB, Norway
  • Norwegian Association of the Blind, Norway
  • Nota, Denmark
  • ONCE, Spain
  • RNIB, UK
  • SBS, Switzerland
  • Vision Australia, Australia

Key people

  • Arne Kyrkjebø: Project Lead. Director of Development, Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille, Norway.
  • Dr. Sarah Morley Wilkins: Project Manager and User Experience Consultant, UK.
  • Mr Haipeng Hu: Music Braille Technical Consultant, BrailleOrch, China.

Steering Group

The project team is supported by expert Steering Group members. All members of the DAISY Consortium, they come from worldwide agencies representing the needs of blind people, teachers and transcription services, currently:

  •  Juliette Appold, Head of Music Section, National Library Service, LOC, USA.
  • Carmen Bayarri Torrecillas, Director Bibliographic Service, ONCE, Spain.
  • Lia Cariboni, Team Leader Braille Music Production, SBS, Switzerland.
  • Roger Firman, Chief Executive Golden Chord, & Chair of the UK Association for Accessible Formats, and Music Subject Area, UK.
  • Avneesh Singh, Chief Operating Officer – Strategy & Operations, DAISY, India.
  • Tor Sivert Gunnes, Advisor Braille Music Notation, Statped, Norway.
  • and previously: Roger Beatty, Director Accessible Publishing, CNIB, Canada.
  • and previously: Nick Bowen, Bookshare Product Manager, Benetech, USA.

Join us

We have a project circulation list of over 150 worldwide music braille specialists – end users, individual and agency transcribers, music teachers, developers, service heads, musicologists and more. We’d love to hear from you if you’d like to join the circulation list and/or be an active participant in this project – please email us to join: musicbraille [at] daisy [dot] org

Latest News

All our progress updates, announcements and consultations are available on our latest developments page.