Screen Reader Integration with Notation Software

Areas Assisted:

  • Visual Impairment

Possible Applications:

  • Theory/Analysis/Pedagogy
  • Composition

MuseScore is an open source and free notation software available online. As of version 4, it comes with support for screen readers. However, MuseScore's support for JAWS is not currently as good as it is for Narrator or NVDA on Windows.

See MuseScore’s Accessibility Page for a guide to accessibility, focusing on navigation and usage with screen readers.

MuseScore for Score Reading

Using MuseScore files you can present score excerpts, musical examples, and even exercises to students via screen readers. You can create examples yourself in MuseScore, or provide previously created files such as MusicXML.

Students relying on screen readers can refer to the MuseScore Accessibility Page for guidance on Score Reading with a Screen Reader.

MuseScore score editor interface displaying Bach's Cello Suite transcribed for Violin

MuseScore for Note Input and Composition

MuseScore’s functionality as notation/engraving software is fully accessible with the supported screen readers. Students relying on screen readers will be able to use MuseScore for composition elements as well as many theory assignments relying on note input (intervals, harmonization, counterpoint, etc.). For theory assignments, you may likely need to recreate or modify the assignments into MuseScore files if they are sourced from worksheets or other sources. (Be sure to privately hold these materials for screen reader users to request so as to maintain Copyright Compliance).

Students relying on screen readers can refer to the MuseScore Accessibility Page for guidance on Score Creation and Editing with a Screen Reader.

MuseScore interface showing a Music Theory assignment made within MuseScore.

Considerations for Screen Reader Integration

  • This is perhaps the best and most cost effective way to offer score interaction and composition for students with screen readers. The process may prove longer when using a screen reader, so completion time may need to be extended for in-depth assignments.
  • Preparation time may be required to either retrieve or create necessary examples/scores/assignments.
  • There are many existing scores available created by the MuseScore community, but some may require purchasing on the MuseScore community site. One of the best options may be to rely on MusicXML files instead.
  • In all cases, be sure to review these scores in MuseScore to ensure accuracy for your students.