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Music Education Network
For The Visually Impaired

A Coalition of Parents, Educators, and Students


MENVI Headquarters - Southern California Conservatory of Music,
8711 Sunland Blvd, Sun Valley, CA 91352
Phone: (818) 767-6554; E-mail: taeschr@ix.netcom.com
Summer/Fall Quarter 1999 Issue No. 8

MENVI

MENVI Specialists Team Expanded

MENVI Specialists and Advisors

We now have 12 officially appointed Specialists on the MENVI team. Our newest specialist is Judith Bushnell, University of California - Disabled Student Services. Specialists in the following areas are available for consultation through the MENVI network:

We are also pleased to announce the addition of two new student advisors to our team as well. Andrew Meyer is a trumpet player from Eugene, Oregon. He is quite knowledgeable on the use of the "Braille Lite" for music applications. Our other student advisor is Jared Rimer. Jared is a student at SCCM and is well experienced in the use of "MegaDots" for braille transcription and translation. Jared will now be handling the braille translation for our newsletters and rosters. All MENVI advisors are blind musicians and/or teachers and students.

PROBLEMS - SOLUTIONS

Following, is an excerpt from "MUSIC IN EDUCATION" by Richard Taesch, appearing in the CTEVH Journal (Summer, 99).

Guidebook Planned for College Professors

Plans are moving toward a guidebook resource for helping teachers to better provide for blind students in mainstream music departments. Below is a short summary of information that the book will contain. Perhaps those reading this article might consider distribution of these little points to teachers of all levels. If you have ideas to contribute, they will be very welcome.

  1. Problem 1: Music theory and anthologies are often large books with editions changing yearly. Requesting full braille transcription of such books is often impractical, especially if book lists are not available to students until near the start of a semester.
  2. Problem 2: Analysis of numerous print excerpts is required with in-class listening and lectures. The book is the size of a telephone book, and excerpts are difficult to read with complex early notation and score form.
  3. Problem 3: Subjects such as sight-singing or functional piano skills, though normally required in a college music program, are difficult for a sight-oriented school to carry out for a blind student.
  4. Problem 4: A class is required and no braille materials are available.
  5. Problem 5: A performance ensemble is required of the blind student. The student is an experienced and capable player accustomed to learning parts very well aurally, and yet has been disqualified or dropped from the ensemble.

Summary: A suggested formula to solve problems involving the need for specialized media such as recording or braille is a circle of events:

BRAILLE LITERACY (Editorial)

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times on the decline of braille literacy re-confirmed the fact that nearly 70 percent of blind people in America are un-employed. An interesting parallel was also revealed in that nine out of ten blind adults who do have jobs READ BRAILLE! This leaves us to conclude that only a few of the 85,000 braille readers among the 1 million legally blind people in America will have the chance to become truly independent in their lifetimes. The rest will, sadly, remain illiterate.

The article titled: "Technology Replacing Braille," pointed out the fact that audiotapes, magnifiers, and other technological assistance has tempted most blind readers to avoid learning their language in the same way as the sighted. In the same sense, Internet technology for blind users has somewhat poisoned itself by means of Web site graphic images that "... wreak havoc on the vocalization programs, rendering them ineffective about 70% of the time, ..." So it would seem once again, that which appears to be the easy way out in the beginning, will undoubtedly return to work against us.

The good news that the Times article did not address was the fact that technology itself is not always the two-headed monster it might appear to be. Clearly, if it were not for technology like computer-assisted braille output, much of the fast-growing interest in braille music would not have occurred. Music literacy among blind students is on a dramatic upswing as we see it from a music educator's perspective, and technology such as Goodfeel, ED-IT PC, MegaDots, and many more, has been a major influence and helpmate to professional transcribers and all others who believe in the value of literacy for all.

- Richard Taesch



Articles From Our Members

Jared Rimer is our newest MENVI Student Advisor. Jared is a student at SCCM, and has contributed thisarticle on his experiences with the MegaDots software.

MegaDots
By Jared Rimer

Hello, my name is Jared Rimer, and I would like to share with you some of my experiences with MegaDots. MegaDots is a software program used for braille transcription with computer keyboard or six-key entry, and for literary translation. For example, it is very useful for transcribing computer braille such as E-mail addresses and web sites. Also, you can transcribe books, menus, manuals, and mathematics with version 2.0 of the MegaDots program. You must, however, have the MegaDots Nemeth add-on, but it can provide any type of math that the program is capable of. Today, I will be speaking of "shortcuts" and other related subjects. Assuming that you do not know MegaDots, I will begin with the very basics.

MegaDots can be used as a regular word processor such as WordPerfect, and can also be used as a braille translator. This is how to open a MegaDots file:

To access MegaDots, type mega enter and your in. Type the command without the "less than" and "greater than" signs of course!

Next, if you would like to start typing, go ahead. It will do all of the formatting that you need without asking. It knows all types of braille as I mentioned above including computer braille, Nemeth, reversed computer braille, literary, textbook, and the company is working on an update that will enforce the new Textbook Code rules of braille. The cost is $540.00 for the product software. You can receive a demo from http://www.brailleplanet.org. The current update is version 2.04. To contact Braille Planet, dial (608) 257-8833 or 1-800-347-9594 for sales information, or write to them at: 408 South Baldwin Street, Madison, WI 53703. Send E-mail to info@brailleplanet.org.

MegaDots will do most anything. It can do spell checking, word processing, and become very sophisticated by telling you what type of document you have open. The extension of the native MegaDots files are a meg file. It can import over 140 file types including WordPerfect and other types of files. Some files can be imported to what is called the "basic package." The other type of package is the "supplementary package" which does more file conversions. To open a file, type F3 from your keyboard, then give your path and file name and hit return. For example, to open this file in MegaDots, type c:\myfiles\megado~1.wpd. You type the tilde ~ because the file name is too long for DOS.

If you'd like a copy of my DOS book, please contact me. For other basic tips, visit my home page at: http://www.homestead.com/jared5/jaredrimerindex.html.You can also E-mail jrimer@ix.netcom.com. My web page will have basic ideas on how to use and make a shortcut for MegaDots. I add shortcuts often as I remember them. Please visit and sign my guest book today!

Roster Changes

Welcome New Members!

A hearty welcome to all new MENVI members. At least 15 applications have been received since the roster was sent last quarter. New members will appear in the next roster to be mailed next quarter. A very special thanks to Braille Institute of Los Angeles for taking over the embossing and mailing of MENVI's braille materials!



This concludes MENVI newsletter 8. Note that Jared Rimer's web site at homestead is no longer valid. It was invalid last check this year when they went paid. He forgot to update his information, and the software to make their sites is not accessible. He is no longer with netcom either. Braille Planet merged with Duxbery systems and braille planets web site will allow you to go there. Please now choose from the following links to continue.

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