some shortcuts for menus--accessibility request

• May 31, 2010 - 02:07

I'm a Chinese blind musician. Thank you for your works on Musescore. Now I have many Capella, Ove and musescore files waiting to be translated into musicxml, then braille. But the accessibility of Musescore is quite poor, at least on bringing up menus. I can't use alt+f etc to get the main menus. The only operation I can do is ctrl+o, and if I want to save as xml, I have to ask a sighted person for assistance. This is very boring. Could you please add some shortcuts to these often used items?

Hu Haipeng


MuseScore uses the standard shortcut for save (Ctrl+S)

If you upgrade to a prerelease of the upcoming version 0.9.6, menu items are readable by screen readers.

(Tested using NVDA 2010.1 on Windows 7)

In reply to by David Bolton

I just asked the developers of our Sunshine screen reader, and they said the menus are not standard text ones, they are drawn other than written. But it's strange that NVDA can read, I guess only English menus can be accessed. But since my system is Chinese and it's not good to change the enviroment variable for just one program, I hope someone can point out what file contains the source of menu items, and I'll ask a Chinese person to re-enter them as standard characters. OK?

In reply to by hhpmusic

I'm not familiar with Sunshine screen reader. In an earlier comment it sounded like you were using NVDA. Is MuseScore working for you now if you use NVDA, but just not with Sunshine screen reader?

Can NVDA read Chinese? For me it just reads "letter 6587 letter 4ef6 (F) alt+F". Can Sunshine screen reader read English? If it helps, it is possible to change the language for MuseScore without changing an environment variable. Go to Edit > Preferences > General and choose English.

I do not know the in's and out's of how screen readers work, but the menu items for MuseScore are plain text at least to begin with. You can find the text at

In reply to by David Bolton

I find it, but it seems that it's not a standard source code file, because those Chinese characters are unreadable. I don't know what kind of encoding it uses. Even the English file contains many unstandard unicodes at the beginning. What's qm file? Perhaps this is the root of the problem. If including all menus in a .ini file like many programs do, screen readers on all platforms can handle them.

In reply to by David Bolton

It still doesn't work. However, NVDA's developer gave the following answer. It seems that they also have problem with it.

Looking briefly, it looks like Musescore uses the QT graphical toolkit.
Basic controls in QT are partially accessible, but QT accessibility does
need to be enabled in their builds.

In reply to by hhpmusic

On Mac and Windows, MuseScore is built against the Qt binaries provided by Nokia.
As stated in Qt doc about accessiblity :
By default, Qt applications are run with accessibility support enabled on Windows and Mac OS X. On Unix/X11 platforms, applications must be launched in an environment with the QT_ACCESSIBILITY variable set to 1. For example, this is set in the following way with the bash shell:

Accessibility features are built into Qt by default when the libraries are configured and built.

In reply to by David Bolton

OK, I'll provide two emails. The first one is the one from NVDA, complete, and with my previous query. The second one is from the email I sent to Vanferry. In that one, I told him my thought to get a way to let Musescore work for the blind, thus make it the first score writter for the blind (not by writing in braille however).

1. NVDA's email:


Thanks for your interest in NVDA.

These questions are probably better addressed to the nvda-support email
list, where others may be able to help you as well. Please see the
Community page on the NVDA web site for details.

Looking briefly, it looks like Musescore uses the QT graphical toolkit.
Basic controls in QT are partially accessible, but QT accessibility does
need to be enabled in their builds.

You mentioned that you receive an error message whenever you try to
access the menus. What is the message? Can you provide more details of
what NVDA says and how it behaves? At least the menus and basic
interface shoudl be accessible, so this suggests taht perhaps QT
accessibility isn't enabled properly in this project.

[N.B.: the error message is "error: unknown variant type".]

Unfortunately, music notation interfaces tend to be fairly inaccessible
without a great deal of work because of the graphical nature of music
notation. Given the huge amount of other work we have and the complexity
of making something like this accessible, we probably won't be able to
look at this ourselves. You should consider filing bugs with the project
to try to get them to resolve accessibility issues as you find them.


On 29/05/2010 11:32 AM, 胡海鹏 - Hu Haipeng wrote:
> Hello,
> I'm a Chinese blind musician Hu Haipeng. I can play the piano and
> compose music from solo piano to full orchestra. I use softwares to
> fiddle among various music score formats. Currently, I downloaded a GNU
> software called Musescore.
> I want to convert Capella and Overture files into Musicxml and then
> translate into braille, but this software is very inaccessible. NVDA
> can't access a single menu. By pressing alt+f for example, it always
> gives an error message. Is it the problem of NVDA or Musescore?
> By the way, since Musescore is open source, I think it can be
> developed as a composing tool suitable for the blind, if you're willing
> to help them.
> Regards
> Hu Haipeng

James Teh
Vice President
NV Access Inc, ABN 61773362390
Web site:

2. My email to Vanferry:

[N.B.: In the previous email, I said that Musescore can have a special mode to switch to. This mode can be operated by keyboard completely.]

To do a special mode, two things must be ensured:
1. The screen reader can handle the active window well.
2. All things such as entering notes, selecting objects and
navigation can be operated completely using keyboard, not mouse. In
this case, no braille or Lilypond entry is needed. E.g., use cursor to
move among notes, chords, voices and staves, and press a key to
emulate a click to select the object, and then work on it, and use the
same way to work with other music. Multiple selection can use
Shift+arrow to achieve. Etc...

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