Reid My Mind Radio Oscars Week: The Blind Film Critic

February 18th, 2015  / Author: T.Reid

With so many misperceptions about blindness, high on the list is the question of suitable careers. Can blind people hold a job? How can blind people use a computer?

Tommy Edison is not only answering this question in his role as the Blind Film Critic, but he also has his own YouTube channel where he provides answers to other questions about blindness.

Here’s my interview with Tommy done for Gatewave Radio.

Reid My Mind Radio Presents…Tommy Edison, Blind Film Critic

Stevie Wonder Salute: Seriously? Close Your Eyes?

February 17th, 2015  / Author: T.Reid

Last night during the Salute to Stevie Wonder, the host, LL Cool J asked the audience including all of the viewers watching at home, to close their eyes “to share Stevie’s inner visions.” This request which supposedly came from Stevie was right before LL introduced Neo to perform “Isn’t She Lovely.”

As a Stevie fan for life, it’s hard for me to say this but honestly I thought this was whack.

I can’t understand the possible message here. Stevie celebrating the birth of his first daughter wrote this great song to share the incredible feeling of love he had for his child. The genius behind this song has nothing to do with the fact that he cannot see her face. It’s the ability to capture these feelings and put them into words and rhythm we can all feel. Stevie’s genius his totally based on his abilities. The fact that he is blind and had such incredible talent was Motown marketing. It was the obvious way to promote the young artist.

The bigger issue here for me and I’m sure others who advocate and promote the inclusion of people with vision loss in all aspects of society is the act of closing your eyes in no way simulates blindness. All you did is close your eyes.

Blindness is not simply the inability to see, in fact, most people who are blind are not totally blind. The issue that blindness presents is the lack of access to information. When the studio audience closed their eyes, they missed nothing. Host LL continued to speak and fully related the information.

With access to information, money, people and probably anything that each of these brings, chances are Stevie probably doesn’t have this issue. Now again, I need to say that I love Stevie, his music, his activism and his genuine love for humanity. I know he probably meant for something positive to come from the on air exercise.

With that said, I would challenge anyone interested in learning more about the issues faced by people with vision loss or those with disabilities not to simulate what it would be like to have the disability, but rather take a look at things you encounter every day to find the accessibility challenges.

For those taking public transportation, take a look and ask if the method is accessible to those with disabilities. Can a person in a wheel chair get on the bus or train? Chances are that train station either doesn’t have an elevator or it’s out of order. Does that software or web site that you use to perform your job functions, does it work with screen readers or magnification software? There have been improvements but the estimate is that 90 percent of public websites are not accessible. And if you think government sites are better, “Most VA websites Still Inaccessible to Blind Vets.

We’re not done. Out of the millions of people watching last night’s program who closed their eyes, chances are some of them have the ability to employ some of the 50 to 70 percent of the blind people currently under or unemployed.

Last night’s performance was one of the first to include audio description to help provide information to those with vision loss. Big shout out to Stevie for his advocacy in helping to make this possible. Unfortunately, turning on SAP, which carries the description audio, is a process that requires sited assistance for most since the selection is often buried in an onscreen menu. For the record, it didn’t work with Optimum Cablevision in the Bronx where I watched the program.

Stevie has done so much for this world and I selfishly hope he will be blessed to continue for many years to come. I would just like to see the “close your eyes” segment used to start a real conversation that can lead to some much needed changes in how we as a culture view blindness and disability.

 

Reid My Mind Radio Oscars Week: Audio Description

February 16th, 2015  / Author: T.Reid

With the Academy Awards set to air on February 22, I’ll feature two movie related posts this week.

First up, a segment on Audio Description. This was produced for Gatewave Radio. I hoped to educate others within the blindness community who may not be as informed about the latest technology has to offer. I also hope it will spark some to venture out and try the service created to improve movie watching for those with vision loss.

Reid My Mind Radio Presents…Audio Description

A Salute to Stevie Wonder Includes Audio Description

February 13th, 2015  / Author: T.Reid

This Monday February 16, CBS will broadcast “Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life an All-star Grammy Salute.”  I’ve been looking forward to this program for a few months now. In fact, I even added it to my calendar to assure I don’t forget.

Obviously as a big Stevie fan I’m interested in just about anything related to his work. This show combines another one of my interests and a passion of Stevie’s…Audio Description.

This broadcast will feature Audio description assisting those of us with vision loss; enabling us to have information about the parts of the program with no dialog. This isn’t the first time Stevie included description in a musical performance. His “What the Fuss” video included narration written by WGBH Media Access Group and voiced by Busta Rhymes.

Mark your calendars, Monday Feb. 16 @ 9PM!

Reid My Mind Radio Presents: The Rizzle Razzle Show

December 30th, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

I guess this radio bug is contagious?

Familiar with the yearend review shows counting down their selection of favorite songs, movies and more; my girls decided to create their own show where they do the same.

So in the spirit of Joe Jackson I forced them to go into my studio and record their show. Like the Jackson 5 patriarch I’m hoping this could be my retirement fund. Seriously, it was a lot of fun watching them prepare and execute their idea.

On this final day of 2014 I am proud to pass the mic to my baby girls…

Reid My Mind Radio Presents, The Rizzle Razzle Show!

 

Reid My Mind Radio – Was This A Dis?

December 29th, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

Adjusting to blindness requires learning many different skills. One of the most interesting and challenging for me revolve around interacting with people. Mainly those who demonstrate a level of uncomfort or at least it appears as such. Listen to this latest experience and let me know if you think…   Reid My Mind Radio Presents:  

Don’t Call it a Podcast

December 17th, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

Continuing with audio, I decided to run or maybe just jog a bit with this concept of Reid My Mind Radio! The idea is to create a place where I can share various things I produce. My goal is simply to improve and have fun doing it. Getting something picked up and aired would be cool too! In fact… I recently produced a story for Gatewave Radio – a reading service for those who are print impaired. This includes people with vision loss and other disabilities. They broadcast on the internet and through special radios that receive a transmission available in specific locations 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Volunteers read over 100 periodicals and the station broadcasts to the NYC tri state area as well as the patient bedside of more than 60 hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, in assisted living facilities and to listeners in 28 states through more than 50 affiliated stations.  

Read My Mind Radio Presents…

 

 

Songs in the Key of life

December 5th, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

It only makes sense that I share the Reid families experience at the 2014 Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life Concert in audio.

This concert meant a great deal to me not just as a lifelong Stevie fan, but as a Dad.

If you enjoy listening half as much as I enjoyed attending the concert and then re-living it with my girls, then you’re welcome!

And now, “Reid My mind Radio…”

 

Lessons From the Third Coast

November 21st, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

At the conclusion of the AIR 2014 New Voices meet up which directly preceded the opening event of the Third Coast Festival, I exited the conference room to set out on my first non-blindness related conference. When I exited the room I was immediately reminded of my inner hater voice who two months earlier tried to convince me I shouldn’t even try to attend a conference that isn’t blindness focused.

What I encountered seemed like total chaos from my perspective. The conference center hallway was jammed packed with over 500 excited, enthusiastic men and women anticipating the start of the radio producer’s conference. My self-confident and assured voice said I should maneuver my way through the congested hall without help. I visited the conference center a day earlier to learn the layout. I had a pretty good visual map of where the rooms were located and practiced trailing the wall to find specific landmarks. For example, I often choose to take the stairs when it’s an option and I knew I could easily find the stairs where the carpet ended and the ceramic floors began. However, with the start of the conference, exhibitor tables lined the walls making trailing impossible.

One of the things I knew I needed to work on during this conference was accepting help from others. It’s not something I tend to do with ease. I think it’s more than being macho; it’s what I’ve been taught all my life. Whether by our parents or society, we are taught that doing things alone is good. Self-starters, self-motivators achieving their goals alone.  Picking ourselves up by our own bootstraps is an admired American trait.

What I am only beginning to realize are the benefits of accepting assistance. In the case of navigating the crowded hallways of this conference  while I could have done it alone it would have probably concluded with a broken white cane, other attendees labeling me an angry blind guy, reduced interaction with others and in general probably an uncomfortable experience for those who come in contact with me and myself.

Accepting assistance gave me the chance to meet new people. It usually went something like this; after I literally tapped someone with my cane and they excused themselves I would say:

TR: “Pardon me; I’m looking for the [insert name] room.

Kind Woman: “Oh, that’s this way, would you like a hand”

TR: “No, but I will take an arm if you’re offering” (Actually I just thought of this one now and may put it to work in a future conference)

Kind Woman: [While chuckling] “Of course”

TR: “My name is Thomas by the way”

Kind Woman: Introduces herself and now we are having a conversation. Boom!

All of that because I accepted help.

You may notice that I specifically say Kind Woman. That’s not just because my cane only finds women, it’s also because guys don’t really ask if I need help. I’m not sure if it’s because women are just more helpful in general. I would love to think it’s because they are checking for the TR, but I don’t think that’s the case. Either way, I’m not complaining. My friend explained that it’s sort of a mutual benefit. I get to the place I need to go and the person who assists feels good about helping someone. I used to have a problem with this because it made me feel like a charity case. I don’t think people who interact with me feel I am a charity case. Even more importantly I know I’m not. The experience really ends up as an even transaction of sorts.

The other area that I worried about and in fact I know bothers many blind people is the buffet line. There’s really no choice but to get assistance. It would be rude and disgusting if I were to put my nose or hands in different trays in order to determine its contents. Someone is almost always willing to help.

During one lunch a fellow New Voice Scholarship winner assisted me with maneuvering through the buffet line. In fact, it was a man. When we got to the end of the line I realized he was not getting his own food at the same time. This made me feel awful because I knew he would need to go back out and return to the line after he helped me find a seat. I was also upset because I was looking forward to speaking with him during lunch.

The lesson here applies to so many things people with vision loss need to incorporate into our lives; fully own the process. While I may let someone guide me, it’s up to me to steer. Not steer in the context of driving a car, but rather as in setting the pace and path for a project or task. In the example of the buffet line from now on I will make    sure that the person assisting me will not have to endure the additional burden of getting back online. I want to make sure that anyone who assists me gets a return on the investment. That could be benefiting from a special accommodation like priority seating, the satisfaction of helping their fellow man or just the enjoyment of hanging out with me. Well that last one needs a little work!

Floating on AIR

November 20th, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

On November 7, 2014 I attended my first Third Coast Festival as one of AIR’s 2014 New Voices. In order to explain how much this meant to me, we should go back a few years.

I had an interest in audio all my life. My early interest in producing audio began with music. In the late eighties my first “production” was an original outgoing message for my answering machine. I didn’t have any fancy computer equipped with Pro Tools or Garage Band; I had an answering machine with a mini cassette recorder and a small stereo component system that included a double cassette recorder. I had a tiny Casio mini keyboard and a very rich sounding wooden desk which served as my percussions.

First, I laid down the   beat by manually drumming on my desk and recording into my answering machine. Next while recording on the stereo I played back the beat and tapped out a little melody on the Casio keyboard. Then I added some vocals and repeated the process about 2 more times including additional vocals and even a sample from an existing cassette. I wish I still had this recording. The process was very time consuming, but I remember loving every minute. I felt as though I discovered something no one else knew about. Come to find out this was just a very crude way of multi-track recording.

This led me to think more about the real record production process and a desire to become a sound engineer. I looked into actually pursuing this, but I was dissuaded by both the exorbanent tuition and the fact that I was only a few credits short of graduating with a degree in Finance.

Fast forward more than 15 years and I find myself once again tinkering with audio. This time creating a personal project that captured my experience during my first Pennsylvania Council of the Blind convention. The piece was awful! I had no idea what I was doing, but more importantly it was a lot of fun; it felt like I was once again tinkering. Later, I began reading more about recording and audio editing and started producing segments for an existing program within PCB called PCB Reports. Eventually I started producing Talking Advocacy & Government while listening to more and more NPR shows and podcasts.

I became aware of audio production educational programs like Transom, the Salt Institute and the Center for Documentary Studies, but none of these fit into my schedule or lifestyle. I learned of the Third Coast Festival, but that too I thought wasn’t for me.

Looking back, I think I talked myself out of all of these programs. Some of them were truly out of reach due to cost and logistics, but the truth is, where there’s a will, there’s a way. That negative inner voice took over and unfortunately, I didn’t have a way to tune him out.

This year, tired of wondering how and what if, I decided to figure out a way to attend the conference and be a part of the festivities rather than sitting at home wondering what it was all about.

While reviewing the Third Coast Conference registration, I came across a link to the AIR New Voices Scholarship. Now I find it much easier to focus on my inner cheerleader who can drown out the negative talk coming from my inner hater who tried to convince me that I would never win a scholarship. He tried to get me to believe that I wouldn’t be able to get through a conference that wasn’t specifically for people who are blind. “You know what will happen, the presenter’s will refer to the screen and you won’t know what they are talking about,” he urged. “You won’t find the different conference rooms and I bet you all meals will be buffet style.” Ignoring all of his attempts to manipulate me, I began completing the scholarship application.

A few weeks later I received the congratulatory email notifying me that I was a recipient of the 2014 AIR New Voice Scholarship. So to that hater within, suck it!

Some may simply say this was a coincidence that I learned of the scholarship, but I think it was more of a gift. I’m ok with calling it luck based on;

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” – Seneca.

Understanding that life will present me with more gifts, my goal is to do more right now to assure I am ready and able to receive them.