• Nov 15, 2008 - 10:33

MuseScore is great piece of software. Having sheet music creator of such capabilities is very very nice thing. It would be nice if it could become accessible for blind and visually impaired people. Yes, there are several ways to typeset music using text input files, but an interactive tool has some advantages batch tools can't provide.

So here are things I consider important:

1. Full operability via keyboard - object navigation, selection, creating/editing objects accessing objectproperties - all that without need of mouse. That does not mean I hate mouse - I use it often.

2. Support for screen readers - Orca on Linux, NVDA on Windows, and fully documented interface for other screen reader vendors.

3. Insertion point should be always visible regardless of zoom level and it should be tracked.

4. MIDI support on Windows including real-time recording. That is not directly connected to accessibility, but helps a lot in general.

5. System theme obeyance - it should be possible to use system colors for notation objects.

I'm looking forward to see really great tool for musicians.


Werner added support for MIDI on Windows in the last few days. If you want to help test it you can try the pre-releases.

What do you mean by system theme observance and using system colors for notation objects?

In reply to by David Bolton

Well, if a user has set window background to black and text color to white, then he should get black paper and white staff, notes and symbols on it - much like OpenOffice works, but it should be an option, such colors should be customizable.

BTW, try using MuseScore with inverted color scheme (High Cnotrast - black on Windows, similar inverted color scheme on Linux) - key signatures in the New document wizard are nearly invisible, since they use default background (in my case black) and black foreground color.

In reply to by TomVal

You can change the color of the notes in version 0.9.4 or later. From the main menu choose Edit > Preferences > Colors. Change the Default Foreground. As with older versions you can still change the color of the paper. From the main menu choose Edit > Preferences > Canvas. In the Notesheet section change the Color.

In reply to by David Bolton

I'm using MuseScore 1.0 on Windows XP and it's not working with NVDA. Whenever I go to a menu item it says 'unknown.' None of the dialogs are accessible except for the Open and Save dialogs, but NVDA does read the toolbar buttons when I mouse over them. The demo of JAWS and ti doesn't do any better.

In reply to by David Bolton

FWIW, I have a blind student in one of my classes, and we've been experimenting with different options for software to enable her to read and write music. So far we've had a lot of success using the ABC language, which is pretty straightforward to use and surprisingly powerful - you could, if you needed to, do a whole orchestra score in ABC. And the free abcm2ps program does an absolutely *phenomenal* job of typesetting music written in ABC. Compared to WYSIWYG editors like MuseScore (or Finale or Sibelius) that allow you to manually position things as you see fit but maybe don't try all *that* hard to get the default placement of elements perfect, abcm2ps gets virtually everything right with no manual positioning needed (because if it didn't, it would be useless). So it's actually quite a bit easier to produce great-looking results in ABC than in any existing WYSIWYG editor if manually positioning things is not an option. And there do exist ABC-friendly text editors that are reasonably accessible so a blind user can get some feedback (playback) on what they are typing.

But this type of approach is far from perfect, hence the desire for blind musicians to have access to programs like MuseScore. The problem of what would be needed to make Musescore truly accessible is one I've been thinking about for some time, but it's actually quite a bit bigger than getting a screen reader to work. As the OP mentions, you also need completely keyboard control for *everything* you expect a blind user to use. And I think a lot of work would have to go into layout and positioning algorithms to give a blind musician a shot at producing readable scores given that manual positioning is not something they can do. Either that, or really nailing export into MusicXML (or ABC or Liliypond), so you basically rely on a separate program to do the layout. Sibelius has some accessibility support, and there is another program called Lime that has support in the visually-impaired community. But it seems to me there is room for improvement, and it would be pretty amazing if MuseScore were the program that stepped up to the plate.

Anyhow, this is an area I have considerable interest in personally, and something I eventually plan to make some proposals for and perhaps do some work on, but I'm thinking we're talking about the major release *after* the next (ie, 3.0) at the earliest.

In reply to by barichd

The main problem is we do not currently have anyone with the programming expertise to create software that is accessible to screen readers.

If you are interested in testing it would be a good idea to test the nightly builds periodically to make sure there isn't any regressions in the accessibility support like there apparently was some time between version 0.9.5 and version 1.0. Once a major version is released, only small fixes are applied to it. The nightly builds are where testing has the most impact.

In reply to by barichd

I uninstalled main-3556 and installed the latest stable version of NVDA from the website (2010.2). If I press Alt+F it reads "New". If I press the down arrow it reads "Open", and so on.

For some reason it does not read the menu titles ("File", "Edit", "Create", etc.). Is this what you experience?

(MuseScore r. 4070 nightly build, Windows 7).

I tried MuseScore r4070 on a Windows 7 computer with NVDA 2010.2 stable version installed, and it still won't read the menus. When I press Alt+F, it says 'Blank Unknown,' and then it says 'unknown' every time I press up or down arrow. The same thing happens when I tried r4078 of MuseScore.

In reply to by barichd

I installed the UIA Automation upgrade for my Windows XP to see if that would help. Also, I'm now running the recently released stable version of NVDA 2011.1. With MuseScore r-4095, the only objects recognized by NVDA in dialog boxes are the frames, e., g., the Preview pane in the Layout -> Page Settings dialog. None of the controls within these frames are read by NVDA. I still can't get it to read the menus.

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