[Accessibility] Indicates the direction of the notes stems

• Dec 21, 2020 - 15:58
Reported version
Ergonomical (UX)
S5 - Suggestion

Is it possible to add indication of the direction of notes stems for screen readers?
Thank you very much!


I can know the position of the strokes, dynamics while reading the score (above or below the note), but I do not know the direction of the stem of the note or chord.

In general in Braille, stem direction isn't indicated. Voices are indicated in a manner so I'm not sure why it's useful to know stem direction in a screen reader. I'm no expert on Braille music but I have studied it a bit so I can understand how to make Braille friendly scores.

I agree it would seem like more of a curiosity to know stem directions via screen reader, unless there is some case I am missing. It's also true the Inspector isn't really so useful for this since the default is "Auto" which tells you nothing. But this leads to another observation - a common request to know the playback velocity of a note that is set to the default (eg, to know the current dynamic that applies to the note. Probably there is some fairly small set of values that are interesting to know about a note and could be exposed somehow. Probably it would be possible to write a plguin to expose this, but I'm not totally sure how that would work accessibility wise - you'd need to move focus to that window on every note. So maybe we really want to have some customization over how note input is read, so those curious about stem directions can have it read, and most can leave that off.

the default is "Auto" which tells you nothing

If you put a note on the staff without a stem I can tell you which direction it will point when set to auto in every case except the occasional complicated beamed group of notes. The beam indicates the stem direction for all notes attached to it. Its current direction can be determined by pressing x so the direction will flip to the opposite direction and update the inspector from Auto. Ctrl+z undoes this but it has the problem of deselecting the beam.

I'm definitely in favor of helping blind users as much as possible but I'm concerned about putting too much information on the status bar. It already causes problems in some situations. So when there is already the option of getting the necessary information for an occasional use we should make sure the current options work correctly.

I ran into a situation like this:
After typing notes for the contrabass part, a sighted assistant informed me that some of the notes of the contrabass have the wrong stem direction and these notes are very high.
The stem direction message can be placed in the selection filter, where the rest of the flags for the screen reader messages are.
If the dynamics and other symbols have a position messages, then unfortunately the stems do not.
As it turns out, automatic stem setting doesn't always work correctly.
Sorry for my poor English :-)

By the selection filter I believe you mean the status bar I referred to. It sounds like you (or someone) made an error in entering the notes. If I saw the mistake I could probably figure out what went wrong. When entered correctly, stems will not point the wrong direction.

If the direction of the stems is important on occasion, you can see which direction they are pointed in the inspector. I don't know of a way to select only the stem on a note without using the inspector, perhaps that should be addressed. The same applies to the beam or flag. If the stem and beam true (never auto) directions were reported in the status bar only when they were selected, that wouldn't add too much information to the status bar when a note is selected.

In reply to by vlad-mus

This is interesting, and seems as though the automatic stem setting might have a bug. It would certainly help to address the root cause of this, if the automatic stem setting doesn't always work correctly. Stem direction is also found in the Inspector window, which could be referred to in case the automatic stem setting doesn't work. This information could be duplicated to the selection filter, where the existing screen reader messages are.