The new version of Cakewalk Sonar, called Sonar X1, has been out for a couple of weeks now. However, you have not seen anything about this release or not even a mention of the latter on this blog. Wonder why?

The answer is fairly simple: lack of the accessibility features in the new version of the software to call it a usable product for those who rely on screen readers to operate the computer and, subsequently, compose and record music. While there exist several work-around ways to get access to some of the features, we have lost a lot more as far as the general accessibility of the product is concerned. Here are some of the highlights:

  • It is very difficult to reliably retrieve the „from“ and „thru“ selection points in the project.
  • All of the accessible toolbars have now been replaced with completely inaccessible „Control Bar“, thus shutting off the screen reader users from being able to operate the view-specific features.
  • There is no longer an easy way to open the synthrack view without clicking with a mouse.
  • The new plugins such as „Cakewalk Sound Center“, „SI-Bass Guitar“, „SI-Electric Piano“, „SI-Drum Kit“ and others cannot be operated via keyboard or a screen reader.

In all fairness, the „Loop Browser“ has been slightly improved although, again, it is not reachable via keyboard.

It is unclear what, if any, plans Cakewalk has regarding the accessibility of Sonar X1, but right now we are asking screen reader users to stick with one of the earlier versions of Sonar or look for other alternatives.