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Phonetic Braille

By Stephen Polacek:

Louis Braille created a system for covering music but it operates separately from literary braille.  Does this cause problems for singing?  According to this author, yes.  She developed a different system for phonetic sounds, primarily for the purposes of vocal music, described to work as “Designated symbols, mutually accessible by the sighted and the blind, represent the singing sounds of six languages.”

I came across this announcement through the IAAP’s newsletter, which linked to this MultiBriefs article.  https://exclusive.multibriefs.com/content/new-phonetic-system-created-for-braille-readers/education

The author, Cheri Montgomery, is a faculty member of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University.  She decided to develop this new code after working with a student who struggled to participate in class because of limited resources.  The code is meant to convey the phonetic intonations of language and make foreign languages more easily readable, which can be the case in classical music.  It is marketed as being for those learning to read, speech therapists, and vocalists.  The system was vetted by an instructor from the Tennessee Rehabilitation Center.  It is also intentionally limited to languages used in classical compositions, though I don’t know if this includes cultural considerations. 

I’m curious what some braille users would say about this system.  I’ve worked with some blind musicians who use braille for their music but none of them were vocalists.  At the very least, it seems interesting and a direction that, from what I know, has not been explored in Braille usage. 


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