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Lydia Machell thinks Braille music is a 'right to read'
Lydia Machell
Lydia believes it is a matter of 'right to read'

A Leeds-based woman has developed ground-breaking software that will help musicians who are blind or visually impaired.

Lydia Machell's new approach to Braille music publication allows easier and cheaper production of sheet music.

Lydia was born in New York and has lived in Leeds for the last 32 years.

She is an amateur musician and worked in music publishing before developing this new music technology.

Speaking on Simon Mayo's BBC Radio Two programme, she said the system "Was really approaching mass production for the first time."

Lydia experienced severe visual impairment as a child (corrected by surgery when she was five years old) which started a life-long interest in Braille. She eventually combined this with her interests in music - she plays the cello - and computer programming.

Louis Braille became blind aged three
In 1821 he started to devise his system
Each Braille character is made up of six dots positioned in two columns of three dots each
Braille is read by passing the fingers over each character
Using both hands to read Braille can achieve an average speed of 115 words per minute

Braille music has changed very little in nearly 200 years since the system was invented and has also tended to concentrate on classical scores.

"My dream is every time something new comes out, whether from Glee or something classical it will be produced in Braille right away."

For blind and visually impaired musicians, music is currently mainly created on request by transcribers who manually copy a printed score into Braille.

Convert music

By creating software to convert music immediately and make Braille scores commercially available Lydia hopes a new Braille score will appear on the market at the same time as a new print score.

Musical score
A traditional music manuscript, Lydia is helping to produce Braille versions

Money is not a driving force for Lydia who has described her passion for Braille music as a 'right to read'.

Lydia's website Prima Vista Music is the first site of its kind to enable blind users who have screen-readers to browse-by-ear for the music they want. With a varied range of scores for all musical tastes, the site will offer customers the option to buy Braille downloads or to order an embossed score by post.

The service will be officially launched in London on Thursday 9 December 2010.

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