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Lime Lighter: Connecting the Musician with Low Vision to the Music and to the Music-Makers

Regina Smith, AT Specialist
Laurie Haynes, TVI
Hamilton County Department of Education
Chattanooga, TN

Participation in school music programs is often associated with improvement in academic areas. For the student who is visually impaired, music also forges opportunities for new relationships and connections. Playing an instrument within a group promotes socialization and integration, which can be a challenge for the only visually-impaired student among sighted peers.

The obstacle has been to find ways to deliver printed score access to a student who requires magnification to see that score. Photocopying and enlarging music sheets is labor-intensive and may require a page turn every 6 or 8 measures, which interrupts the fluency of the music. Because of the size of the enlarged sheets, the student is often prohibited from performing in typical chair format, causing feelings of isolation.

Recently, we discovered the Lime Lighter for our low-vision violinist. The digital score is magnified up to 10 times normal size and is displayed on any PC. Our student runs the software on the all-in-one touch screen PC from Dell, that is sold with the Lime Lighter software as the Leggiero model. The PC is only about 5 pounds and has a diagonal screen width of 18.4 inches. It can be easily moved from practice room to rehearsal space to stage, etc., and can run for a few hours on its internal, rechargeable battery.

The user scrolls the music manually or continuously, by means of a wireless set of pedals leaving the hands free to play the instrument. Our violinist particularly likes the ability to pause on a specific measure while the music teacher is reviewing in class. She also loves the feeling of playing music with her classmates without the focus being on her loss of vision. She can sit partner-style with the other violinists and perform without the interruption of turning pages constantly.

The Lime notation software is a complete music editing software, so scores can be both read and written in an environment that is friendly to the musician with low vision. Foreground and background colors can be inverted or muted to improve readability. Both words and music can be shown to vocal performers. The software displays music in what is called modified stave notation. There are options to selectively thicken various components of a score such as staff lines or stems, and to make notes, such as half-notes, bolder so they can be seen more clearly.

Lime Lighter has made a great positive difference for our young performer with low vision. If it might help you or someone you know, contact Dancing Dots to arrange for a trial.