How Arturia made its music production software more accessible

When vision is impaired Music producer Jason Dasant About four years ago, he decided to buy a series of instrument plug-ins from Arturia, and he did so even though he suspected that the company’s tools were inaccessible. He is right. “I couldn’t browse and use the software at that time,” he said. “I can hardly do anything.” He bought it for about $500 Altria’s V series 5, A set of virtual instruments, including re-creations of some old-fashioned synthesizers he wanted to use.​​​ He told himself that it was cheaper than spending hundreds of thousands on an actual synthesizer.

But because Arturia’s default manager Analog Lab was not able to adapt to the visually impaired at the time, Dasent had to invest more cash. “I will have to hire someone to come in for about three days to save these presets,” he said. For between $500 and $1,000, this person will export the preset to a format suitable for Avid Pro Tools, which has the accessibility features Dasent needs. He said that this is a cumbersome and expensive process, but even after that, he can only choose presets. He cannot adjust cutoff, envelope, parameters or adjust brightness. “I have no choice but to stick to the presupposition,” he added.

In 2019, Dasent gave a speech at the Audio Developer Conference (ADC) in London, when Arturia’s software development director Kevin Molcard approached him. Moldcard wanted to make the simulation laboratory accessible and requested Dasent’s help. After the company set up V Collection 7 and a key laboratory for him, Dasent began to play with him. Eventually, Dasent was introduced to Arturia product manager Pierre Pfister, who wanted to learn more about what is missing in the simulation laboratory.

Two months later, Dasant said that he received a call from Pfister. “I have something to show you.” Pfister then shared with Dasent an early version of a new set of auxiliary tools in Analog Lab V. “It’s as if I opened my eyes now,” he gushed. This started the months-long back and forth between Dasent, Pfister and Arturia, as they worked on the prototype, and finally launched a new update today.The company is Announced a new accessibility model for Analog Lab V, Which will enable all users to turn on auditory feedback and screen reading. It also brings various “ergonomic improvements and bug fixes.”

Through this new accessibility model, The company’s Keylab controller It is now possible to communicate with the simulation laboratory software and the text-to-speech engine of the computer. “Basically, when I press a button on Keylab, or when I turn the dial or change a value, it will send a notification to the system voice, letting me know exactly what is on the keyboard,” Dasent describes the updated video Said in. Now, when he adjusts the faders and encoders on the keyboard, “When I adjust the parameters, I can know exactly what these values ​​are.” When he turns the knob on the controller to scroll through the list of instruments, a sound Will read the name of each project he landed.

Since Dasent is familiar with Arturia’s equipment, he memorized the layout of the buttons and dial. But he added: “The layout of the keyboard is well thought out, so it’s very easy to learn.”

According to Pfister, the most challenging part of making software accessible to visually impaired users is not necessarily implementation or programming—it’s figuring out how to best communicate with the system’s text-to-speech. Since many music software (and many creative products in general) are not designed with accessibility in mind, there are not many best practices to learn from. Altria almost started from scratch. “The hardest part is knowing what we should do and how we should make the product accessible,” Pfister said.

However, once they figured it out and showed Dasent the first prototype, the result was satisfactory. “His response makes everything worthwhile.”


Pfister and his team knew there was more work to be done. He admitted that Arturia is a small company, “we don’t know many things.” The current plan is to continue to listen and solicit feedback to “determine what most of our users want to be able to do.” Whether this means making all simulation laboratory procedures fully accessible, or making all individual instruments accessible, Pfister stated that the goal is to continue to improve the work done in the simulation laboratory.

Like most technology industries, music software developers have so far largely ignored the needs of people with a 2019 blog post For competing music company Native Instruments, British technical expert Chris Ankin said: “Historically, music software has poor accessibility with existing screen readers.”

Even the leading digital audio workstation (DAW) Pro Tools struggled to maintain its software accessibility during the years of updates in the 2000s. At the time, in order to keep up with the latest version of Apple’s desktop software, Avid provided updated plug-ins and features in its OS X version, while those using the older version of Pro Tools did not. The problem is that although the pre-existing Pro Tools HD (introduced in 2002) is “almost fully accessible”, According to audio engineer Slau Hatlyn In an article on the Avid website, even though Apple introduced the VoiceOver screen reader in 10.4 Tiger in 2005, the OS X software was not available. The only thing Hatlyn can access is the menu bar. “There is no other window to read.”

Until Pro Tools version 8 Launched in 2008 Hatlyn said that in order to allow the software to regain accessibility, it has long been considering “the previous accessible version was 5.3.” Even so, the conversation continued, and Hatlyn pointed out changes that broke accessibility between versions 10 and 11.

Arturia's KeyLab mk2 keyboard


This is one of the most widely used DAWs in the industry. Although Apple’s Logic is praised as easy to access, other music software companies that incorporate assistive technologies into their products are rare.Brands like Ableton and Image Line do not seem to provide comprehensive tools for the visually impaired in their products Ableton Live and FL Studios, at least based on comment Their forumThe Ableton spokesperson emphasized the zoom display function, as well as recent updates to improve contrast, reduce automatic colors, and adjust grid strength as a tool for visually impaired users in Live. The spokesperson added: “We know there is still a lot of work to be done here.” Image Line has not yet responded to our request for comment.

Company Vice President Will Butler’s app Be My Eyes connects blind and low-vision people with volunteers with normal vision. He wrote an article LinkedIn posts About the accessibility of music software. In it, Butler asked the blind music producer Byron Harden (Byron Harden) to rank the accessibility of popular music software anecdotally. Although Harden ranked GarageBand, Pro Tools, Audacity and Logic in the top four and gave them a passing score of 10 points, Ableton Live and FL Studio both approached the bottom with one point.

Butler also emphasized the efforts of Native Instruments. In 2019, the company expanded support for VoiceOver for Mac and Narrator and Speech APIs in Windows. Prior to this, Native Instruments Used keyboard Touch-sensitive rotary encoder and buttons with auditory feedback. With these, its software “can detect when the user’s finger is placed on the finger, and then give auditory feedback of the current value-synthesized speech-and continue to adjust it.”

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