Good Morning or Good Afternoon! Whichever one it may be, I hope you are having a wonderful day! I know I am. Why, you ask? Well, the answer to that is quite simple. It’s Friday! The other reason I am so happy is because its time again for another edition of Fedora Outlier’s Follow Friday (#FF) interview series.
Henry Longfellow Wadsworth said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” How true that statement is. Music, whether it is sung, played or simply listened to, can be understood by everyone around the world. Even though music is a universal language, not everyone is able to read or compose music due to the lack of accessibility.
Ray Charles. George Shearing. Andrea Bocelli. Jeff Healey. These are just a few well-known musicians that graced the world with their musical genius despite the fact that they could not see.
What does this have to do with this week’s Follow Friday guest? Imagine, if you will, being a blind musician, composer or music student and the access to your craft is limited to what can be found in Braille within the walls of the Library of Congress. Or, with today’s technology, being able to put your hands on pretty much anything you need in regards to learning music. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, which brings me to the wonderful opportunity I had to interview Bill McCann of Dancing Dots.
Bill McCann is the founder and president of Dancing Dots Braille Music Technology, the company that has been helping blind and low vision musicians make music since 1992. His company created the world’s first commercial braille music translation software, GOODFEEL® and has pioneered in the area of creating what he calls “accessible scores”.
Bill McCann is definitely a pioneer of his time and that is just one of many reasons why I chose to interview him this week for Follow Friday (#FF). So grab that cup of coffee and put on that favorite record, oops, I meant download the latest mp3, and read a little bit about Dancing Dots founder Bill McCann!
Brie Rumery: For our readers who have not heard of Dancing Dots would you please tell us a little bit about what the company is all about?
Bill McCann: We enable blind/ low vision people to read scores, write music down, & to record music in braille, print, large print, & audio formats.
BR: Why did you feel the need to develop assistive technology for blind/low vision musicians?
BM: As a blind musician myself, I needed music literacy tools but there were none. I knew that other people would also want to use these tools.
BR: What are some of the challenges that blind/low vision musicians encounter in regards to accessibility?
BM: Obtaining accessible music materials in time to use them effectively at school, at work or at play. Inaccessible mainstream music software.
BR: What types of solutions does Dancing Dots provide to your customers?
BM: GOODFEEL®: Technology that integrates print, braille, musical cues & verbal descriptions for reading musical scores.
The Lime Lighter: read magnified staff notation hands-free by scrolling with pedal. Mark-up score using touch screen tablet PC.
CakeTalking for SONAR: Speech-friendly technology for recording, mixing, & mastering multi-track audio.
BR: Who are some of your best known customers?
BM: Ray Charles, Marcus Roberts, Raul Midon, Dianne Schuur, Ronny Milsap, Henry Butler, Kevin Kern. Stevie Wonder most supportive but not user.
BR: Is it possible for sighted individuals to learn and use the products and services of Dancing Dots?
BM: Yes. Sighted people who can read print music learn to scan, import or directly entry scores for automatic conversion to accessible formats.
BR: If there was one musician that you could have the opportunity to “jam” with, who would it be and why?
BM: Way more than 1! But Louis Armstrong because he still reigns as all-round great jazz trumpeter & creator.
BR: Why does Dancing Dots feel the need to use Twitter as one of its social networking platforms?
BM: A surprising # of people use it especially blind & low vision individuals. It’s just one more channel for reaching people.
If you would like more information about the innovative company that was founded by Bill McCann then I strongly urge you to visit the web site at http://www.dancingdots.com and to keep up with what Dancing Dots is up to add @dancingdotstech to your followers list on Twitter.
I want to thank Bill for allowing me the opportunity to talk to him this week. His perseverance to create a company that provides music in an accessible format for the blind is one of the reasons why Fedora Outlier, LLC follows Dancing Dots and why you should as well!
At Fedora Outlier, LLC it is our goal to teach the blind, low vision and deaf-blind how to use iOS devices and much, much more. The dedication of Fedora Outlier’s team members is one reason why are clients have been able to enhance their lives by learning how to use an iPhone, iPad or Mac computer. Our first of its kind, multi-media e-book, the Old Hat Guide To iPhone Accessibility is one tool that we encourage our clients to purchase and use on a daily basis and with Apple’s recent announcement of the iPhone5 and soon-to-be release iOS7 software, Fedora is updating the book. You can pre-order a copy by simply visiting http://fedoraoutlier.com/order/ for just $4.99. What a bargain that is!
Happy Friday and Happy Reading!