Keyboards for visually-impaired musicians

Native Instruments’ new keyboard range is a game-changer for those who rely on touch and sound to find their way around a tune.

The long history of blind or visually impaired musicians is proof that lack of sight needn’t be a barrier to pursuing a career in music. In fact, there’s scientific proof that the blind or visually impaired experience a heightened sense of hearing and touch – qualities that can certainly work in the budding musician’s favour. But while the digital revolution has ushered in new techniques of music-making, some of the old-fashioned tactile qualities of electronic equipment have been lost – banks of buttons, knobs and sliders replaced by sleek, downsized dynamic controllers, or touch-screen software. Not good news for visually impaired music makers who rely on feel to understand their kit.

The situation is improving however, thanks to pioneering kit such as Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol – a range of keyboards with touch-sensitive rotary encoders and auditory feedback functionality built in as standard. It’s been hailed by leading visually-impaired musicians variously as “game-changing”, “revolutionary” and “like a blind has been lifted in a dark room”.

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