Contact Us
Terms of Business
Accessibility Petition
Articles and Solutions

What is SurfaceReader?

SurfaceReader offers a method to make most MIDI-based control surfaces provide speech output when used in conjunction with any of the most popular screen readers (Jaws, Window-Eyes, Dolphin Supernova, System Access and NVDA). The Reader can be run in the background whilst a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) application is run in the foreground


The SurfaceReader project was developed from our original Mackie Display Reader application. This complete rewrite and extension of the original concept was made possible by a generous donation from the Elizabeth Eagle Bott Memorial Fund, administered by the Royal National Institute of Blind People. This fund can help UK-based musicians who have a visual impairment achieve their potential by providing funding towards educational expenses, equipment costs, etc..

Further development and support.

This initial release has been tested by a group of potential users, but we would be very grateful for any and all feedback on your experiences using it so that we can continue to develop and refine it - we already have a list of additional features and improvements that we intend to make available in the very near future.

Please visit this page regularly, as we will be posting links to tutorial materials, application configurations and more device definitions as they become available.

The best way to get support and to report any issues is to subscribe to our email list. You can subscribe using either of the following methods:

  1. Send a blank email to the Surface Reader list subscription address with 'subscribe' in the Subject field.
  2. Visit the SurfaceReader list page.



Windows XP required component.

If you try to install on an XP machine using the 32-bit MSI package and are told you have a missing component, here's the link to the latest installer: latest version of the Windows installer

Main Application.

We will shortly have a single executable installation program that will work on both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows systems. In the meantime, please download then run the appropriate MSI package to suit your operating system. Please note that the choice of installer is not affected by the version of the application software that you are using. For example, if you are running the 32-bit version of Sonar on a Windows 7 64-bit system, the 64-bit package is the correct one to use.

32-bit Windows installer
64-bit Windows installer

  1. The installers are provided in .zip format, so save the one you want to some handy folder then extract the contents, which should be either SurfaceReader32.msi or SurfaceReader64.msi.
  2. Run the extracted .msi file to install SurfaceReader.

Mac OSX.

This build of SurfaceReader was written and tested on Mac OSX 10.8 (Mountain Lion). It should be fine on earlier versions as far back as Snow Leopard (10.6), but no earlier. To install SurfaceReader for the Mac:

  1. Download the SurfaceReader disk image.
  2. Extract SurfaceReader.dmg from the downloaded SurfaceReaderMac.zip.
  3. Open the extracted SurfaceReader.dmg disk image.
  4. From within the image file, copy SurfaceReader.app into your /applications folder.
  5. From within the image file, copy the Raised Bar folder into your /library folder.

Expected behavior

Once you've added your surface to SurfaceReader and configured it within your application software, you should get the following level of feedback:


Technical history.

If you want to see how things developed, please visit the Beta Log page.