Ever since Winamp stopped “whipping the lama’s ass”, blind and visually impaired people worldwide have been in crisis to find a worthy media player successor. Only you can decide if this has finally happened. Check out the features, accessibility, and hotkeys, try it out, then decide if we truly have a contender for top media player for the blind and visually impaired.
To read more about Calliope and download it, go to: Nathan Tech’s Calliope Page. Check out his other programs, including a great audio text adventure game and a handy calendar.
First up, the program is completely free! It supports the following file formats:
Some notable features include the ability to:
- Bookmark files (especially useful for audiobooks)
- Play audio Daisy files
- Stream or download Librivox books
- Look up song data, lyrics, and billboard charts
- Stream or download YouTube videos
- Stream radio stations online
- Use global keyboard commands, meaning they will work even if you are not within the media player itself
- Import iTunes library
- Create your own library of music
- Create playlists
- Tag files
This is not a complete list of features.
Before we dive more into the media player, I would like to suggest settings that may be useful, especially if you are a screen reader user. If you have Calliope open, go directly to settings by pressing ALT+7. Tab until you get to Enable Extended Screen Reader Keystrokes. This setting will allow you to have your screen reader announce elapsed time, total time, and status.
The next setting I recommend changing is Message Suppression. Just tab to it and uncheck it. If you do not turn this off, you will get many OK dialog boxes throughout the program and will have to ok each one. If you are a visual user they could be helpful, but if you are a screen reader user they are probably not needed.
The next setting to turn off is Enable Navigational Aid. I actually like the idea of this setting, but I also like the program to be consistent. If this setting is left on, then the program will jump you where it thinks you want to go. If you turn it off, you will have a more consistent navigational feel through the program.
That is it for the Calliope settings. You can press F1 to read more about the settings in the user guide, or F2 for hotkeys. There are no OK buttons here, just an Apply button. Settings will be saved automatically whenever Calliope is closed.
You will probably want to set Calliope as your default media player in Windows. Here’s how to do it:
- Press WINDOWS+I
- Type “default apps” without the quotes.
- Arrow down to Default Apps and press ENTER.
- Tab to Music Player and press ENTER.
- Tab to Calliope and press ENTER.
- Press ALT+F4 to close Settings.
Let’s Play Some Audio!
If you have followed along and setup Calliope as I’ve described, then you can just find a file and press enter on it to begin playing it. Next are a few hotkeys that will help you when playing audio. This is not a comprehensive list.
- CONTROL+P: play/pause audio
- ALT+SHIFT+P: play/pause audio even if you’re not in the window
- CONTROL+LEFT/RIGHT arrows: move back and forth through the audio
- CONTROL+F: next track
- CONTROL+B: previous track
- CONTROL+R: Toggles repeat on/off
- CONTROL+SHIFT+B: Bookmarks a position in an audio file
Explore the Rest.
Calliope has a lot of other extra great features that I did not go into today. I suggest you explore Calliope’s various other screens and features. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, call me, or alas, read the user guide. So, has Calliope whipped Winamp’s ass? Let me know what you think in the comments.