Music Braille

Music Braille

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 technical improvements to secure the future of music braille production.

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. 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.

The project focus is on the first three areas in the first instance, but we will be happy to know if other groups are working on teaching, learning and promotional materials right now.

Current activities

We are concentrating on making strategic improvements for both short- and long-term benefits for the music braille sector. Current activities include:

  • A professional conversion tool:
    Supporting the development of an online professional automated music braille conversion tool (MakeBraille-Hodder, from dzb lesen, Leipzig) according to our prioritized sector requirements.
  • An interactive user tool for blind musicians:
    Considering proposals from developers to make improvements to an interactive user tool for music braille for blind musicians, according to our prioritized sector requirements.
  • Improving standard music file formats:
    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.
  • Improving music engraving practice:
    Developing good practice guidelines for engravers (e.g. using the music notation software Sibelius) and trialling these with engraving services to improve the digital score content enabling more effective conversion into music braille.

Funders

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

  • CNIB, Canada
  • DAISY Strategic Development Fund
  • 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:

  •  Juliette Appold, Head of Music Section, National Library Service, LOC, USA.
  •  Carmen Bayarri Torrecillas, Director Bibliographic Service, ONCE, Spain.
  •  Roger Beatty, Director Accessible Publishing, CNIB, Canada.
  • Nick Bowen, Bookshare Product Manager, Benetech, USA.
  • Lia Cariboni, Team Leader Braille Music Production, SBS, Switzerland.
  • Roger Firman, Chief Executive Golden Chord, & Vice-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.

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.