A Plugged-In Music Major: A Blind Student's College Experience Using Technology

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The tools that Annie Donnellon, a third-year vocal performance major at Northern Kentucky University, uses most are her BrailleNote PDA (personal digital assistant) and the Lime Aloud and GoodFeel software from Dancing Dots. Besides reading books and taking notes on her BrailleNote, Annie often transfers documents that her instructors send as attachments to read in braille. On her computer, equipped with the JAWS screen reader and the Kurzweil 1000 OCR (optical character recognition) software, she reads documents that she or someone else has scanned, writes papers, and sends and receives e-mail messages. Rather than attempt to tackle Blackboard (a program through which students and instructors communicate regarding assignments, discussions, examinations, and the like), she asks the instructors to e-mail documents as attachments and then e-mails her work back to them.

Annie typing on her laptop computer

Annie typing on her laptop computer.

With her LG 4500 cell phone, Annie manages all her contacts and uses the talking caller ID. This particular cell phone does not have accessible text messaging.

Annie does not have any type of portable MP3 player for books or music but uses her Victor Reader Vibe DAISY book player constantly for DAISY books obtained from Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic and other CDs. The piece of technology that this talented music student raved about most was her software from Dancing Dots. With this program, she can compose music on her computer's keyboard and then print it out or e-mail it to her instructors. This program makes composing and sending or printing a piece of music as manageable as writing and sending or printing an essay.

This piece first appeared in "Staying on Course: Interviews with Students Who Are Blind," by Deborah Kendrick, AccessWorld®, July 2007.

Editor’s Note: Since this AccessWorld article was originally published, the cell phone technology mentioned in the article has generally been replaced with the iPhone running Apple’s built-in VoiceOver screen reader and Android phones running Google’s TalkBack screen reading solution.

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