You are here:

Music Technology-Breaking the Barrier

On January 19th, the Hadley School for the Blind hosted an online presentation on music software allowing easy access to the visually impaired. You can download and listen to the presentation from the Hadley web site at  Follow the link to "Braille Music Technology".

Host Bill McCann, president and founder of Dancing Dots (a company which distributes two music software packages) gave a 60 minute demo on how  these softwares are used among blind and visually impaired composers across the world.  The two pieces of software were:

  1. Sonar, a multitrack recording software package accompanied with a set of scripts which work in conjunction with the Jaws for Windows screen reader, called CakeTalking.  Sonar allows the musician and/or composer to record his or her own ideas using audio or Midi (musical digital data interface).  This software package is also used to produce albums, and jingles.
  2. GoodFeel, a professional score and Braille-to-print/print-to-Braille scoring package which allows blind and visually impaired individuals to produce professional scores.

In the first part of the seminar Bill discussed his life as a musician, and some of the challenges he faced as a young student.  McCann discusses his struggle in the 80's in having to dictate music to sighted musicians, as the technology at that time did not permit visually impaired and blind musicians to write their own music, or to have sighted persons read the parts.  McCann went on to talk of how he ended up working for a company called Sunoco, a commercial oil company, as Mr. McCann went on in his journey to becoming a computer programmer.  While the job at Sunoco was putting bread on the table for both McCann and his wife, Mr. McCann took a hard look at his life and decided to start a company called Dancing Dots.  It wasn’t until the late 90’s that a product called GoodFeel for DOS was launched allowing visually impaired and blind musicians to produce their parts in Braille, and later on in to print. 

In the second part of the seminar Bill gave a demonstration of the two softwares mentioned above.

Finally McCann went on to state that while some of the barriers have been overcome in accessibility to music software, there is still lots of work and many more barriers to overcome in music software on the Mac, and challenges in making the new version of Sonar X1 accessible (as the latest version broke many of the accessibility features provided by CakeTalking).  McCann stated that, for the moment, version 8.5 of Sonar is still available through his company, but he strongly feels that there needs to be something done to make the latest version accessible to blind and visually impaired individuals.

McCann indicated that it was all thanks to a gentleman by the name of Mr. David Pinto who, until 2010, was able to make Sonar accessible through the means of scripts with Jaws for Windows called CakeTalking.  Mr. Pinto is now faced with the challenge in making the latest version of Sonar X1 work with CakeTalking, notwithstanding that the programmers of Sonar broke several accessibility codes when they redesigned the new interface. McCann expressed hope that Mr. Pinto will overcome the challenge.

In the final part of the seminar Bill gave his audience the chance to ask questions.


This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.


How much do this programs cost? Are these available through the adp program ?

First of all it depends, on wether you want to compose music or record music?
If it's composing , for school work, then Goodfeel would be the program to buy- it's cost is roughly lite = $400.00 and full version $900-$1000.00 .
If it's recording, which most people start off with, then your looking at Sonar with the cost around $500.00, the scripts that you need to run with Sonar & Jaws are caketalking which is around $300.00 roughly
It has been paid been paid through ADP before, for Sonar & Caketalking.
If you need more information, feel free to contact me at