Imagine a high school choir learning a new song without print music. Now imagine a church service with no hymnals or words projected on a screen. This is frequently the experience for people who are blind choir and church members! They struggle to learn the words, often not participating very effectively. Although I'm not much of a singer, I do enjoy participating, so I undertook an experiment at our church to see if I could use my cell phone to read the lyrics as others were singing.
I first tried this out while Christmas caroling by copying a file of carols onto my Dropbox folder on my computer and accessing the file online with my phone. The file contained about ten songs; and I found that by pulling up the file on my phone, swiping to the right, with my VoiceOver set to read by line, I could hear through my earphones what the next line of lyrics would be - this is similar to a song leader voicing lyrics before they are sung. What I didn't count on was that the songs were not sung in the order provided in my file, so I was a bit challenged to find my place!
I revised this process by making each song its own file. Now our church song leader sends me the lyrics when they are prepared for overhead projection. I copy them into a "Sunday" file in my dropbox folder, and after that Sunday I move them into my master hymns directory. Eventually I will collect up the ones we sing the most often, and then I can simply review the electronic program I get prior to Sunday service for the song titles.
Who would have thought that the accessible Dropbox system, along with the ease of reading provided by IOS devices, could have provided such an easy solution to participation!
Pat Pound is a disability consultant from Austin, Texas who has used technology for many years, starting a training unit for people who are blind in the '80's. She worked for the State of Texas for many years and shaped disability policy including information accessibility. She is now "retired" but that just means she only does work she likes! She is a weaver, game enthusiast, and has trained teachers of visually impaired kids regarding use of IOS devices. "My own blindness has lead me down many interesting paths and it's such fun now to see how technology can improve our lives!"
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