Important Information about Using Sibelius Speaking 1.3 with Windows XP

Sibelius Speaking 3 does not have any limitations under Windows XP. We highly recommend upgrading to Sibelius Speaking 3 especially if you have Windows XP!

Running Sibelius Speaking 1.3 under Windows XP poses a set of challenges that are not encountered in Windows 98, 2000 or M E. In the current state of JAWS development at this writing in August, 2003, when running Sibelius under XP, there is limited graphics recognition. Sibelius Speaking has created work arounds for the impaired graphics recognition. But there are a few limitations that still remain. The bottom line is that Sibelius Speaking 1.3 under Windows XP provides you with more notation capabilities than ever before but there is even greater accessibility when running under 98, 2000 or M E.

Possible work-around: Some of our customers who had been using Sibelius Speaking 1.3 under Windows XP have configured their PC with a dual boot option. You can use a program like System Commander to accomplish this configuration so that, on booting up your PC, you can choose either Windows XP or another version of Windows: 98, Millennium or 2000. Your PC will prompt you with an audible cue at which time you can do nothing and boot up into XP or you can press your PCs Down Arrow key and ENTER to boot up into an alternative version of Windows. Note: you will need a sighted assistant to set up the dual boot but, once configured, a blind user can easily select which version of Windows to use.

Despite the limitations described above, if your only choice for an Operating System must be Windows XP, using Sibelius is still the most powerful and accessible notation editor available. Note also, that the developers of both Sibelius and JAWS are aware of the problem in XP, and are actively trying to solve it.


  1. In Sibelius, the PC keyboard's numeric keypad is used to set note durations, and apply articulations. Articulations are things like accents and staccatos. Each of the Num Pad keys acts as a toggle, to either activate or de-activate a note duration or articulation.
  2. In Sibelius' main window, there is a smaller window that contains a picture of the numeric keypad. Whenever you press a Num Pad key on your PC keyboard, the corresponding key in Sibelius' keypad window changes color. If the key is in its activated state, the key is highlighted in the window. If it is un-activated, the key becomes un-highlighted. In all windows Operating Systems aside from XP, JAWS can recognize whether a key in the Sibelius keypad window is activated or not. But in XP, there is no recognition of the difference in state.
  3. The best way to write a score in Sibelius is to do it in step time, rather than real time. In step time, you define a notes duration by hitting a key on the NumPad, and then playing the note or chord on your MIDI keyboard. For instance, if you press NumPad 4, a quarter note is activated. Then, whatever notes you subsequently play on your MIDI keyboard will be quarter notes.
  4. If you wish to add an articulation to a note, for instance an accent, you would press the slash key in the NumPad. If you wish to remove the accent, just press the slash key again. Note that if there is graphics recognition, JAWS will be able to tell whether the slash key in the keypad window is highlighted or not. So if you press slash and the corresponding key in the keypad becomes highlighted, JAWS will say accent on. But if it became un-highlighted, JAWS will say accent off.

  5. When you navigate through the score through different notes and rests, different groups of keypad graphics will become highlighted, and un highlighted. If there is graphics recognition, then if you navigate, for instance, to a quarter note with an accent on it, then the keypad's 4, and slash become highlighted. JAWS will then tell you the note is a quarter note with an accent on it.


  1. In XP, when you navigate through the score, JAWS cannot see what graphics become highlighted in the keypad. Therefore JAWS will not tell you the duration of the note that you have moved to. However, Sibelius Speaking has a work around for this. After you have moved to a note, if you then press F1, JAWS will figure out what the duration is by other means, and then tell you it. It just takes an extra second.

  2. Unfortunately, information about what articulations are on a note is only available by looking at the keypad window. So, this is one category of information that you will not be able to get if you run XP. You can apply articulations to your heart's content. But once they have been entered, you will not be able to get JAWS to report them to you.

  3. If you press, for instance, Num Pad 4, to set up a quarter note, and then play notes on your MIDI keyboard, all those notes will be quarter notes. But say that you then wait a minute as you decide what else you want to write. And then you decide to put in more quarter notes. Well, say that you then press the 4 key again. Well, since the 4 was highlighted, it will become un-highlighted. You should not in fact have pressed it again, because you were already set to quarter notes. But JAWS is not going to be able to protect you from your mistake because it can't tell you that you just de-activated the quarter note. Without you knowing that it is now de-activated, you will start playing your MIDI keyboard, but nothing will be written into the score, because you have de-activated the quarter note, and not activated any other duration. The fact is, there is no work around for this. The only work around is to be aware of the keys that you have pressed. note that there are many XP users who have mastered Sibelius who tell us that the above challenge is not only manageable, but that they are not slowed down by it.

  4. The bottom line is that it is the reporting of articulations that suffers most under XP. So here are the major things that you can create with the Num Pad keys, that JAWS in XP will not be able to report to you once you have entered them. Accent, staccato, tenuto, portamento, slide, tremolos, up bow, down bow, fermatas, grace notes, ties.

  5. Despite the above limitations, if your XP computer is the only one you have, using Sibelius is still the most powerful and accessible notation editor available. Note also, that the developers of both Sibelius and JAWS are aware of the problem in XP, and are actively trying to solve it.