Samsung Created an App to Help Visually Impaired People Read Music While Learning to Play Guitar

Accessible tech adds some sweet notes in Brazil

Samsung's new app helps visually impaired people keep both hands on a guitar. Samsung Brazil / Cheil

Learning to play guitar poses unique challenges for sight-impaired people. Their practice sessions are frequently interrupted as they refer to braille instruction books for the correct chord progressions. Of course, audio courses are available, but those can be pricey and difficult to navigate.

To address such issues, Samsung and Cheil developed a free guitar instruction app that verbally signals chord changes during 30 songs, allowing students to keep their fingers on the frets.

In recent years, Samsung Brazil has challenged its agencies to improve accessibility and enrich users’ lives through technology. That charge has led to devices such as Theater for All Ears, from Leo Burnett Tailor Made, which helps deaf people experience live performances.

As Cheil researched ideas of its own, “a copywriter on our team had a chat with a blind guitar teacher called Laercio Sant’anna, and he learned that to read music notes to play on the guitar, you had to remove your hand from the guitar,” says agency creative chief Claudio Lima. “After that, the idea came naturally to use technology to solve this issue.”

Apparently, the approach used for the resulting Audio Chords app isn’t readily available on other instruction platforms. “We have not found anything like that, nor did the visually impaired community while we were developing the project with them,” Lima says.

During the four-month development process, the team discovered a big reason why. “It seems more simple than it is. You need to add sounds in the middle of the song, while not disturbing the melody. So we remixed the songs to make it happen naturally.”

In addition, unlike other audio courses, “We developed the app to be 100 percent accessible, so if you turn on the voice guidance on your phone, you navigate perfectly through the lessons and functions,” he says.

Available on Google Play in Brazil, the Portuguese-language app works exclusively on Samsung phones. Those without Samsung devices can still use the technology via a website accessible to the visually impaired.


Title: Audio Chords
Client: Samsung Brazil
Agency: Cheil Brazil
Manager Director: Evandro Guimarães, Yunwon Cho
CCO: Claudio Lima
Creative Director: Ricardo Miller, Fábio Baraldi, Sergio Alves
Copy: Ricardo Miller, Pedro Carreira
Art Director: Fabio Baraldi, Guilherme Pereira, Maxx Freitas, Renan Godoy
Account Director: Denise Azevedo
Account Manager: Isadora Guz
Strategy Director: Paula Queiroz
Strategy Manager: Joyce Mescollote, Franklin Barbosa
Social Media: Diego Nery
Media Director: Roberta Queiroz
Project Manager: Camila Guaitolli
APP Developer: Slingshot / Samsung
UX: Tuia
RTVC: Luzia Oliveira, Cristiane Marinari
Approval: Andrea Mello
Video Production Company: Volcano Hotmind
Director: Giancarlo Barone
Audio: Shuffle Audio
Executive Producer: Ale Marcondes
Producer: Henrique Ruiz Nicolau / Gabriel Schubsky

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.