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Accessibility of Music Production Software for the Visually Impaired: A study of developing an eyes-free audio application for a surface haptic interface

In the past three decades, the process of music-making moved away from operating analogue devices to using the software running inside of computers. While these advancements provide significant advantages, visually impaired people cannot fully benefit from this progress because some of the software tools are not accessible to them. The aim of this thesis is to explore the accessibility of music production tools for the visually impaired and propose an accessible eyes-free audio equalizer application controlled by a surface haptics interface. To determine the level of accessibility of music production software, this thesis reviews industry practices and research concerning assistive technology in music production by analysing the most popular digital audio workstations' accessibility features. Further, online interviews with visually impaired music producers are conducted to find out about the way they work and their experience with using the software. Finally, an equalizer with a visual display of the EQ curve for a surface haptic interface is designed and developed to explore a new human-computer interaction method that makes it possible to operate audio plugins eyes-free. Due to haptics feedback, the user can control the application in a non-visual way. To validate the application design and potential for improving the accessibility of music production tools, two tests with participants are conducted. The results show that it is possible to control audio equalizer only with haptic feedback. However, more development is needed to improve the user workflow.

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