IBOS MusicXML Reader

An illustration af a computer with musicnotes

Blind musicians can now acquire music notes on the same terms as sighted people with the IBOS MusicXML Reader program and it is free of charge!
The Danish Institute for The Blind and Partially sighted has developed a software program that reads notes from a musical piece, and afterwards plays and shows them visually on a screen. The notes can then be displayed as text or braille notes on a braille display.

IBOS MusicXML Reader is in many ways similar to applications such as Sibelius and MuseScore. However unlike these applications, the IBOS MusicXML Reader is designed from scratch with help from vision consultants and blind and visually impaired musicians, to be an assistive technology and aid for people with a vision impairment.

Before this program was developed, blind musicians had to learn the music score by heart before playing. The IBOS MusicXML Reader therefore gives visually impaired musicians new possibilities and also helps facilitate readily cooperation between blind musicians and seeing musicians.


The IBOS MusicXML Reader makes it possible for a screen reader user to read the contents of a music score, just like their sighted fellow students or colleagues. It is also possible for the user to choose what voices or instruments to read and what to skip. You can select specific bars from the score, as well as have parts of the score played and repeated as many times as you need. You also have the option ofplaying a score back at different speeds. The score can be read using speech and music Braille notation via a refreshable Braille display. 
The Braille output is handled by the screen reader’s standard mechanism for sending information to a Braille display. Information about the notes is also provided as regular text for those not familiar with Music Braille notation.


The user interface (UI) has been optimized for use with a screen reader, which means all actions are accessible from the keyboard. Most functions are directly accessible via standard Windows hotkeys or key combinations known from Office programs. All functions can be accessed through a classic menu structure as well. The structure of the menus and settings are known from the Windows Explorer and JAWS settings environments.
Much attention has also been given to create a user experience that, from what we have learned through years of helping and teaching persons with vision impairment, gives the most pleasant and efficient workflow.
In order for the musician to be able to free both hands, e.g. for playing the instrument, foot switches can be used for stepping through the score. The software is designed to be simple to use in the sense, that it is based on standard Windows program


The software is currently available for Windows. It has primarily been tested with the JAWS screen reader version 17 and later. The program requires no special equipment besides a PC with Windows 10 and JAWS 17, as well as a braille display. But you can easily use IBOS MusicXML Reader without being able to use a braille display and read braille notes. Download latest version of 'IBOS MusicXML Reader here

Download latest version of 'IBOS MusicXML Reader here

After downloading and unpacking the zip file 'IBOS MusicXmlReader .' you get access to the installation guide. Start by reading the instructions and install the program by running the file 'IBOS MusicXmlReader.'.

Please note that JAWS does not automatically read the dialog boxes during at the moment. Read them by pressing: Insert + B.


 IBOS see many opportunities for further enhancing the IBOS MusicXML Reader. For example:

  •  A new feature that allows you to write music directly from a Braille display with a Perkinsstyle Braille keyboard . This would enable you to add notes to an existing score, and/or make your own compositions.
  • Making the software available on other platforms, e.g. Android, iOS, and MAC OS.
  • A open source model. • Compatibility with the NVDA screen reader. (has been tested with promising results)
  • Features for exporting the Braille score to a note-taker compatible file format as well as being able to emboss the score, or parts of the score, to a Braille printer.

The Danish Ministry of Social Affairs has provided the initial funding for the development of the IBOS MusicXML Reader. We see many possibilities for enhancing the software functionality, bringing Braille music further into the age of computers and refreshable Braille displays.

In order to bring these enhancements to life, we need funding from other sources as well. Therefore, we are looking for funding but also partners, the suggestions above are all points of entry for other contributors.

If you have any suggestions for improvements, we would love to hear from you. Please send feedback and comments to ICT-Consultant Bo Alstrup at CX64(at)remove-this.sof.kk.dk




Picture of Bo Alstrup


Mail: cx64(at)remove-this.sof.kk.dk

Tlf: 39 45 25 71

See you at CSUN 2018

IBOS will present 'The IBOS MusicXML Reader' at CSUN Assistive Technology Conference in march 2018.

Here you can download and read the background paper

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