Easily make your audio software accessible to the widest audience possible!

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Introduction

In this podcast episode, I was lucky to interview Jay Pocknell; a production and mixing engineer from the UK.

Not only is he a skilled sound engineer and a lovely person to talk to but also a proactive member of the audio community. He founded the Sound Without Sight organization and currently works at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) advocating for music software, music hardware, and music instruments accessible to everyone: including musicians and sound engineers with disabilities.

Basing on his lived experience with sight loss, he gives invaluable advice on how any audio programmer can make their software accessible. This is a gold mine of first-hand information!

In the podcast episode, we discuss his path to becoming a sound engineer, which obstacles he needed to overcome, and how we as the audio community can remove some of these obstacles permanently.

Note: If you like the podcast so far, please, go to Apple Podcasts and leave me a review there. It will benefit both sides: more reviews mean a broader reach on Apple Podcasts and feedback can help me to improve the show and provide better quality content to you. Thank you for doing this 🙏

Episode Contents

In this podcast episode, you will learn:

  • how Jay became a sound engineer,
  • how he came up with the idea to start the Sound Without Sight organization,
  • what is the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and how they invite industry collaborations for an accessible music experience for everyone,
  • why you should even consider making your software accessible (hint: 💵),
  • how audio developers can make their software accessible,
  • how to test the accessibility of your software,
  • what are typical difficulties of musicians and sound engineers with blindness or partial blindness,
  • how Audio Developers Conference 2022 tackled the issue of accessibility and how ADC23 can improve upon it.

This podcast was recorded on April 5, 2023.

References

Below you’ll find all people, places, and references mentioned in the podcast episode.

  1. Jay Pocknell
    1. Bio
    2. AllMusic
    3. Discogs
  2. Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
    1. Music site, and how to contact
  3. Sound Without Sight
    1. Featured content
    2. Knowledge hub
    3. Sign up or contact
    4. Look out for the notes from the ‘Inclusive Design in Harmony’ event at Google, soon to be published on Sound Without Sight.
    5. Suggest an article topic
  4. University of Surrey
    1. Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) course
  5. Guildhall School of Music & Drama
  6. Accessibility Discovery Centre at Google offices in London
    1. Christopher Patnoe
  7. Harry Morley from Focusrite
  8. Dancing Dots software
  9. MuseScore
  10. Jason Dasent
  11. ABRSM
  12. Droidcon conference
  13. NVDA screen reader
  14. JUCE C++ framework
  15. Softube
  16. Native Instruments
  17. Examples of accessible software
    1. Pro Tools from Avid
      1. Chi Kim, collaborator from Berklee College of Music
    2. Reaper digital audio workstation
    3. OSARA: Open Source Accessibility for the REAPER Application
    4. Valhalla plugins: great GUI design for partially sighted users
    5. Komplete Kontrol and NKS: Native Instruments’ accessibility protocol

Tips for making your audio software accessible

  1. Try out your software with a screen reader.
  2. Check how keyboard-only navigation works.
  3. Pay attention to logical and clear user interface layout.
  4. Try turning off screen and using your software.
  5. Pay attention to scalable, resizable user interface.
  6. Pay attention to a good color contrast.
  7. Pay attention to special accessibility labels of your controls (knobs, buttons, etc.).
  8. Don’t neglect aesthetics.

Thank you for listening!