We recently featured a toolset for visually impaired Pro Tools users called Flo Tools and I thought it would be interesting to explore how visually impaired users can be musicians, sound engineers and use Pro Tools, and so I got together with our own Dan Cooper, who also has a visual impairment, and Slau Halatyn, one of the team behind Flo Tools.
It is a very interesting and thought provoking interview which covers issues that as sighted users should matter when we are working in the audio sector where what we listen to matters rather than what we see.
0’35” Slau how did you get into the audio industry
2’11” Dan how did you get into the audio industry
3’37” Slau what exactly is your visual impairment and how does it affect what you can do?
7’41” Dan, what is your visual impairment and were you born with it?
13’14” Slau, as your sight deteriorated, did other senses compensate?
13’56” Slau, you have a control surface, is it a C24 like Dan?
16’19” I was amazed at the speed at which Apple’s Voiceover was talking to you, presumably you have learnt to interpret what Voiceover is saying?
18’51” Presumably Voiceover is only as helpful as the programming that has gone into the software like Pro Tools. I understand you were able to work with the Pro Tools Development team to improve the support of blind users of Pro Tools.
21’17” Later on you the chance to visit the Avid developers and programmers in Kiev?
23’02” Were there any products that were late to the table for supporting VoiceOver?
25’04” Is there a Windows equivalent to Voiceover?
26’29” Tell me about Flo Tools and how it helps you?
31’02” How do you know where to place the microphone?
36’40” What techniques most help you to learn as video tutorials aren’t very helpful?
47’00” Dan, what do you need next to help you?
50’51” Slau, what about you, what would be the best development to help you at the moment?
54’28” Thank you and outro
More On Slau Halatyn
As an audio engineer and producer at BeSharp in New York City, Slau has worked with multiple Grammy-winning artists in the world of rock, jazz, musical theater and classical music. His podcast, Sessions With Slau, that I mention in the interview, which features behind-the-scenes stories, interviews and excerpts from recording sessions.
You can also read more about his story on the Avid Blogs.
Resources For Blind Pro Tools Users
There’s a public forum at Google Groups with an email list where members exchange tips and techniques. The blind Pro Tools user base continues to grow steadily and I’m happy to see the next generation of users helping each other.
What Is Flo Tools
Flo Tools is a series of scripts for use in Pro Tools running on the Mac platform, that allow users with visual impairments to navigate and control the application in new and powerful ways. Flo Tools is an open source product consisting of a series of UI scripts for Apple's VoiceOver designed to enhance the accessibility of Pro Tools for visually-impaired users by streamlining and automating tasks to dramatically improve workflows.