Blind keyboard player needs accessible options.


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Are there any blind keyboard players who may have suggestions here?

My daughter is blind (no light perception). I'm looking for accessible keyboards with lots of quality sounds for her. She likes much of what we have heard from Roland FantomFA-06 / FA-08 Keyboards to give some idea of what we are after sound-wise, but which keyboards offer the best accessibility features like direct access to favorite sounds, and keypad access to particular sounds with by number, etc. (Like on a YPG-625 or similar keyboard, for example.)

Ideally. I'd love to find a keyboard she can access using a refreshable Braille display and braille keyboard, but I expect that is not an option. Still, it seems worth asking.

She can connect by USB or bluetooth to her iPhone, her computer, her PDA, etc., so maybe there actually are keyboards, DAW's etc., out there which have a way to use a computer-style Keyboard for control that might actually pair.

Any suggestions?
 
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happyrat1

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I used to communicate with a woman in Russia, blind from birth, who owned a Kurzweil PC3LE8 and was fairly happy with the unit.

I myself own a PC3K8 and I can attest that they have a very tactile system of Bank and Patch Selection in Program mode as well as easily accessible Setups and Quick Access Modes.

This is not to say that there is not also deeper access thru menu diving for sound tweaking and creating your own setups but as a playable, performance instrument with extensively available pushbutton controls the PC3 Line does meet your criteria.

My friend also used Cakewalk Sonar as her DAW software since it also has an accessibility mode.

My advice would be to definitely give consideration to the Kurzweil line of products.

Ray Kurzweil originally made his company's reputation by designing the original K1000 for Stevie Wonder with his handicap in mind.

As for the display, I've always wondered if there was some simple way to detach the LCD from the panel and augment or replace it with a tactile Braille Display?

It would take a fair bit of hardware hacking but any competent electrical engineer could probably cobble something together, hanging out the back by a ribbon cable and resting atop the unit as a full featured Braille Tactile Display.

I would suggest approaching the Electrical Engineering and Hobbyist community at large and asking if anyone would be interested in prototyping the project either as a kit or as a one off for either a nominal fee or as a pro bono project or in the hopes of starting up a company producing these as DIY kits.

The Kurzweil display is a simple 80 Char by 8 Line display using (I would imagine) standard ASCII codes for the characters.

Interfacing this to a Braille output would be almost trivial for an experienced engineer or technologist.

Anyway, just a few thoughts to pass on to your daughter and the community at large.

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

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Whatever keyboard you end up buying, I'd suggest posting your questions about a display over on this forum

http://www.eevblog.com/forum/index.php

Every working engineer and technologist in the industry is on those boards and you may be able to interest someone in your project to get a braille display up and running.

Gary ;)
 
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Thanks Gary. You're right about Ray Kurzweil, he is a super fellow. I used to see him every year at the National Federation of the Blind convention when he addressed a large group of convention-goers. He was (and I assume still is) a huge supporter of the NFB, offering scholarships to college students and other means of support.

I should look into their products. The key problem is I have no idea where to get hands-on their products to test them. I don't know of any shops in my area which deal with them.

I will make a point to check onto forum you mention. I would think the more cost-effective approach would be to interface a keyboard to an existing display. Refreshable braille is incredibly expensive. A single line, 40-character display costs several thousand dollars.

If fact, when you send a display in for service, most companies charge about $100 per character ("per braille cell") to exchange bad cells.

With all that said, I continue to wonder if someone has not get produced a solution for existing hardware. Any keyboard with the right USB (or bluetooth) interface and driver could used with existing braille displays and keyboards, and it isn't like my daughter is the only blind musician who would benefit...
 
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happyrat1

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I know about the sky high prices for refreshable braille terminals and a year ago I started a thread on that forum on that very subject.

http://www.eevblog.com/forum/oshw/public-domain-design-for-a-low-cost-braille-terminal/

What I had in mind was a simple mechanical assembly using only a few solenoids and a single stepper motor to create a refreshable single line display for under a few hundred dollars.

The thread sorta died after a month or so but I'm still hoping someone else picked up the ball and ran with it.

A recent google displays a few hopeful projects and kickstarters out there.

Bad enough that in Europe and North America they cost thousands but at least there are government subsidies available in these countries.

My goal was to bring this technology worldwide for a few hundred dollars so that blind folks in third world countries would also be able to participate in the digital age.

Hopefully you'll find a solution for your daughter.

And yes, Ray Kurzweil is also responsible for the Kurzweil Reader and all sorts of sponsorship and scholarship programs for the blind. :)

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

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Just a thought on where to get a hands on Kurzweil to test drive.

Keep your eyes open on your local craigslist. You may not only get a chance to test drive one of the PC3 series but you may get a decent deal on a gently used one as well.

In fact you might even be able to post a Wanted ad and some Kurzweil owner would come to your rescue.

Gary ;)
 
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Hi

I saw this post, and am blind, so thought I'd chip in.

I play pretty much exclusively on Nord Gear live. It would be amazing with the ability to hook up a braille display, but you can manage without, if you organise your banks and have a sighted helper to initially set system parameters.
Pretty much everything is tweakable from the front panel, and bank/program management can be done from the Nord Sound Manager app.
Please note that this is only accessible on Windows, so for the mac you'll have to virtualise Windows in something like VMware and connect to the keyboard from that. That's no problem - it's what I do too.

An other option is Apple's Main Stage and Logic Pro X apps, which have gotten amazing accessibility improvements lately.
Should you be interested in that, there's a Logic user group I can link you to.

Best,
Malthe.
 

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