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Tom, PATF client

Pennsylvania Freelance Musician Receives CDFI Loan for Assistive Technology

Financial and Social Impact

  • Entrepreneur and musician with blindness able to sustain livelihood

Client: Tom, freelance musician
Client location: Pennsylvania
CDFI service area: Pennsylvania
CDFI services provided: Assistive technology financing

Tom works full-time as a freelance musician and has been blind since he was a child. A few years ago, he experienced total equipment failure but couldn’t afford to replace what he needed to continue his work as a keyboardist, composer, and producer. An acquaintance suggested he contact Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) for financial support. Tom said it was like “rubbing the lamp!” He received a low-interest loan from PATF to purchase a new computer, a screen reader, and specialized recording software.

Now Tom uses JAWS (the screen reader) and Cake Talking (a program that bridges JAWS with recording software) to compose, record, and produce music. He also uses a hand-held digital recorder for voice memos and to record music on the fly. This device is particularly useful thanks to its built-in capability to speak aloud the buttons that are pushed, narrating back to Tom what he is doing.

“Everything takes time and you get out of it what you put into it. It takes hundreds of hours of practice to become a bad musician; it takes thousands of hours to become an okay musician; and it takes tens of thousands of hours to become a good musician. But, with this computer and all the specialized software, the playing field has been leveled with respect to recording art–we are all working from a mind’s eye view,” said Tom.

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