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.
Libraries for the blind and other agencies wish to secure the future of 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 wants to secure the future of embossed (paper) music braille in particular, but also delivers benefits for those using digital music braille on braille displays. 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, as well as improving file conversions, file format standards, and opportunities for international file-sharing.
Phase 1: The Development Phase (complete)
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.
We identified four areas across the sector requiring improvement if we wished to increase the amount of music braille produced and used, and our activities have address all four of these ambitions.
- Input files need to be as good as they can be at the start
- Conversion and mark-up tools need to be accurate & reliable, for agencies and end-users
- Good access is needed to existing intermediary files
- Good teaching, learning and promotional materials are needed.
- November 2023: Round Table on Accessible Music Publishing. Involving mainstream music publishers, engravers/music setters, and braille transcribers, we will discuss steps that the global sector can take to ensure equitable access to published scores, in response to legislation and to take advantage of technological advances, with the aim of establishing a sector Working Group and trialling some solutions.
- May 2023: “Securing the future of music braille: Strategic interventions from the DAISY Music Braille Project to safeguard music braille production and use” (30 mins, captioned, including software demos) summarising the outcomes of the project and next steps, with presentation transcript. Presentations given at (1) the 2023 Conference of the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities Inc. “Universal Information Access: Pathways to an Equitable Future”, Sydney, Saturday 6 May to Tuesday 9 May 2023; and (2) the Joint DAISY-BANA day on 10 May 2023 in Washington, DC.
- August 2022: Sight and Sound Technology Podcast with Dr. Sarah Morley Wilkins about the DAISY Music Braille Project (interview starts at 04:49).
- June 2022: “A brighter future for music braille” (5 mins) For the celebration event of 70 years of Louis Braille being moved to the Panthéon in Paris, organised by INJA and CFPSAA.
- June 2022: “Update from the DAISY Music Braille Project: Securing the future of music braille.” (9 mins) For the ICEB Mid-Term Executive Committee Meeting.
- May 2022: Tutorial Video: “Screen reader accessibility in MuseScore 3.” (22 mins) A demonstration of how to use MuseScore 3 with NVDA, to create scores, navigate through scores, and input notes; and exciting new accessibility and braille features through which will be available in MuseScore 4 through the Sao Mai Braille Software.
- March 2022: Webinar: “Introduction to music Braille transcription using the Sao Mai Braille software for blind musicians and transcribers” (31 mins)
- October 2021: “Improving access to music braille.” (10 mins) For the DAISY Information Sharing Day.
- April 2021: “Securing the future of music braille production.” (19 mins) For the Tactile Reading Conference, Oslo.
Project outcomes at June 2023
As outlined in our video presentations, we concentrated on making strategic improvements for both short- and long-term benefits for the music braille sector. Project activities and outcomes from this first phase of the project include:
- Published 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 Word, or the State of the Sector report in PDF.
- Supported the development of 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 is available to agencies to use on a licence basis.
- Supported the development of an interactive user tool for blind musicians – MuseScore with Sao Mai Braille:
We have supported the development and testing of an interactive user tool for music braille for blind musicians, according to our prioritized sector requirements. We have supported: 1) accessibility improvements in the mainstream music notation software MuseScore; and 2) the development of Sao Mai Braille (from the Sao Mai Centre for the Blind, Vietnam) which together allow blind musicians to read, write, explore and output music in accessible ways including braille, speech, sound and print.
- Improved standard music file formats for accessibility:
We recommended improvements to W3C for MusicXML and proposed 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.
- Improved accessibility of mainstream music notation tools: We tested and submitted requirements and testing feedback to MuseScore, Sibelius and Finale, which improved their overall accessibility and the accessibility of their MusicXML export, essential for conversion into music braille and other accessible formats.
- Improved music engraving (music setting) practice:
We have developed good practice guidelines for engravers/setters (using the music notation software MuseScore, Sibelius and others). These have been trialled with engraving services and publishers and greatly improve the accessibility of the digital score content they create at source. This enables more effective conversion into accessible formats including music braille. Download our Guidance for Engravers (using music notation tools to create accessible master scores).zip (Updated 23.10.2023)
- Established a Music Braille Production Network:
We developed and trialled a virtual network of international music braille producers to enable agencies to locate and procure music braille productions more efficiently between each other, including guidance for productions for international readership (04.07.2023). Visit the dedicated Music Braille Production Network pages.
- Developed and agreed harmonized metadata for music braille files:
We have facilitated a harmonization exercise across the sector, to develop agreed metadata for music braille files in braille libraries and online collections. This agreed metadata will permit more effective search and retrieval of appropriate music braille scores from different collections, and make it easier for files to be ingested into online collections. Download Metadata for Music Braille Files – Guidelines for Cataloguers.docx FINAL (19.02.2023), or Metadata for Music Braille Files – Guidelines for Cataloguers.pdf FINAL (19.02.2023).
- Improved access to teaching and learning materials:
Working across the sector we were looking at ways of making existing resources more easily available to blind musicians and their teachers, conductors, and employers, and have collated the most cited resources from the sector. Download our Teaching and Learning directory for Music Braille in Word or Teaching and Learning Resources for Music Braille in PDF , FINAL (24.03.2023)
We are grateful to the following agencies for supporting the project with financial contributions:
- AVH, France
- 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
Phase 2: Implementation Phase (from September 2023)
The second phase of the DAISY Music Braille Project will run from September 2023 for 18-months. We will be focussing on helping agencies and end-users to take up the resources and tools developed in the Development Phase of the project, as well as some new activities which further improve the future of music braille production and use.
- Helping agencies and end-users to find out about and learn the new tools and resources and embedding them into their working practice.
- Widening the membership of the Music Braille Production Network; supporting the transition to the newly agreed annual chairs (Vision Australia, SBS, dzb lesen, and NLS); and getting our agreed metadata and guidance for international productions and file-sharing via the network and ABC Global Book Service into business-as-usual.
- Promoting the ‘born accessible’ and ‘inclusive publishing’ agenda with mainstream music publishers and supporting engravers to take up our music-setting guidance.
- Contributing to the documentation being prepared for braille manuals by proposing missing guidance and missing country rules.
- Collating, supporting and promoting practical teaching methodologies for music braille.
- Maintaining this global stakeholder dialogue.
We hope that many of you will continue to engage with these activities and we can maintain the momentum and collaborations we have enjoyed in recent years – watch out for invitations to join specific working groups, or questions which you might be able to help answer.
- 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.
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.
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
All the progress updates, announcements and consultations are available on our latest developments page.