Another wannabe Zynthian blind user!

I am an Italian blind musician (piano keyboard player) and software developer. I have been playing an old Yamaha keyboard for years, and sometimes I still happen to play it, one of those with numbers to select patches, very convenient to use with no sight; to go one step forward and use automatic patch changes and backing tracks like many modern keyboard player, I tried the only setup that actually can work for me: laptop with Reaper, USB soundcard and external keyboard.
Well… very flexible but bulky, and it takes too much time to setup especially when I am in the practice room and there is a time limit!
So I have decided to go for something that is more compact, such as a Raspberry with a DAC: I wouldn’t have so many sounds available as in a laptop, but there are many free resources available and I would even consider the option to play a digital piano and use RPI just for tempo, MIDI control and backing tracks.
While surfing the web to figure out exactly what to buy, I came across your site and your product and I got fascinated!
If I’m not wrong, with your product I could have an SD card with ZynthianOS pre-installed and use it as an expander with lots of stuff, but if I change the SD card and use another one with DietPI installed I could turn it into a RPI with no GUI and all the components I need to use it just for MIDI!
I have already read that there is anotherblind user (Lew?) who is interested in making it accessible, and I also would make tests and tinker with code to be able to use the GUI in the future, and in the meantime I would have an RPI to tweak to my own needs.
There is just one major obstacle preventing me from buying it: it has to be assembled.
I have read all the required steps and it doesn’t even seem that hard, but it’s something I simply can’t do with no sight and I don’t have any friend in my hometown that has the skills and patience to assemble it! I don’t even expect it to be done for free, I simply have no one to ask!
Is it really impossible for you to drift a little from your open policy and sell pre-assembled products, I would be ok witha small surcharge?
I think that more people than you think could benefit from it!
In my case, I don’t have many options available as a keyboard player: at the moment, I can use those digital pianos with a restricted set of patches and a few buttons to select them, old keyboards that don’t rely on touch screens or displays with a lot of menus and encoders, or the laptop solution, and yuor Zynthian could really make a difference!
Thanks in advance,

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Hi @christiancomaschi! A very warm welcome to the land of Zynthian. I hope you will enjoy the experience in this wonderfuly kind forum.

A few things that are useful here…

  • Where are you located? There might be someone from the community that is close enough to assist.
  • Zynthian is not accessible for blind users. We would love to enhance those features but in its current state, there are no accessibility features for visually impaired users. (Except the ability to change colours that can help with colour blind users or those with differeing contrast needs.)

@jofemodo and I would love to implement the improvements we have previously discussed and performed some proof of concept testing but we do not have the resources to do so at this time.

FYI One of the tests we did was to add voice output for reporting state. The initial testing was good and the V5 even has an audio mix for this in the headphone feed but it requires a dedicated audio output that is no longer available on the Raspberry Pi 5 and also a lot more developement.

I really want this to happen but right now, I am sad to report that we do not have a device that is sufficiently accessible. I would therefore, reluctantly recommend that you do not invest in Zynthian kit.

But, you may still want to test it with a Raspberry Pi without the need for the kit. If you have a Raspberry Pi 3 or Raspberry Pi 4 then you only need a USB keyboard. A USB soundcard is desirable but not essential. If you have a Raspberry Pi 5 then you will also need a USB soundcard. Such an introductory system may also allow you to get involved in the development and implementation of the desired accessibility features.



I live near Milano

That might be an option, but what might happen if accessibility improves? Will I have to possibility to buy the kit without Raspberry and DAC?
As for the USB keyboard, do all the knobs and buttons have mappings to normal keys?

The kit can be purchased without Raspberry Pi. The DAC is a core part of it.

Yes, there is mapping from USB computer keyboard keys to the 4 encoders and switches. This is user configurable via the web based configuration but the default configuration allows driving from USB keyboard. Indeed, that is how I drive mine most of the time.

You can also drive it from MIDI note-on messages, but I find that less intuitive.

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Perfect, and what about touch gestures? Do they have to be tested with the physical touch display or are they also mapped to something else?

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Everything should be possible exclusively from buttons and encoders or from touch or from keyboard binding. The initial aim of an accessible interface for visually impaired users would be to act a little like a screen reader, speaking title of each view and it’s content. But that is over simplistic description of the initial plan. Future plan could be to provide keyboard and audible notification to give full access to the API, bypassing the graphical user interface.

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