The Talking Tactile Tablet (TTT) is a well established, multimedia PC peripheral for teaching literary braille. This project explores the feasibility of displaying tactile images of print music notation and braille music symbols on the TTT hardware. Resulting courseware will teach blind musicians how to read and write braille music and how to understand the structure and usage of print music notation in order to improve communication with sighted teachers, peers and students. Problem Definition Most blind musicians don't understand how sighted teachers, classmates or their own sighted students read music in print. Consequently, they can have difficulty functioning in ensembles or classrooms where they are the sole blind person. The majority of blind students are """"""""mainstreamed"""""""", that is, they attend their local public school. However, very few mainstreamed young readers of literary braille are being taught to read braille music notation even when braille is their primary communication medium for other subject areas. The TTT Music Touch Solution Add functionality to TTT to enable presentation of music concepts and literacy skills to blind readers. Result Braille-reading students and their teachers will have an entirely new and powerful set of resources for learning about concepts of print music and for learning how to read and write music in braille. Product: Dancing Dots will market the new Music Touch TTT courseware to its established customer base, schools, agencies, libraries and individuals and resell the TTT hardware to customers who do not yet own one. The courseware will consists of specially developed software together with related braille and print materials.
Project Narrative Specific Aims with Related Questions and Milestones Note: In following section, A = Aim, Q = Question, and M = Milestone. A1: Add Sound Playback Functionality to TTT Activities o M: Capability to associate sound effects or musical passages with any X-Y position on touch screen. A2: Develop new course content to teach concepts of staff notation to blind readers o Q: What is minimum magnification to make images large enough for accurate tactile discrimination? o M: Lesson activities created to teach structure of print music notation using tactile overlays. A3: Present excerpts from Taesch's An Introduction to Music for the Blind Student on TTT platform o Q: Present Taesch excerpts as published in book form or revised to exploit multimedia possibilities? o M: New TTT activities test user's knowledge of braille music signs. A4: Accept Braille Music Input and Play It back Using New Braille-to-MIDI Software o M: Users hear playback of music entered in the form of braille music in response to an activity directive. A5: Preliminary Feasibility Testing o M: Technology performs well enough for subjects to report likes and dislikes. A6: Revise software tools or content presentation based on preliminary user testing. o M: System performs per user requested revisions. A7: Conduct structured user testing at Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia. o M: Results of test recorded based on application of before and after aptitude tests. Potential for technological innovation and commercial application Foster increased braille music literacy among students and professionals. Better equip blind musicians to work alongside sighted peers, teachers and students. Create platform for others to author new teaching materials, interactive musical games, etc. Potential for Wider Application Ultimately, Dancing Dots might publish identical or very similar content on a number of similar devices such as Tactile Image Enhancer from Reprotronics and the IVEO from ViewPlus. Relevance This project provides a new tool to promote braille literacy for a population that is not being taught braille that should be. Studies by the National Federation of the Blind and others have shown that although as a group there is 70 percent unemployment among the blind, 80 percent of those blind people who are employed read braille. Shockingly, only 10 percent of school-age children in the U.S. are now being taught to read braille. This project adds a teaching resource for braille music to counteract the loss of such expertise that has resulted from the mainstreaming of blind students.