Blind Centered Audio Description Chat: Talking Training

Adding on to our last conversation, we continue discussing how more Blind people can get involved in Audio Description. What are the available training options and ways to find opportunities?

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The BCAD Live Chats can take place on a variety of platforms including Twitter and Linked In.

To stay up to date with the latest information and join us live follow:
* Nefertiti Matos Olivares
* Cheryl Green
* Thomas Reid

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Transcript – Created By Cheryl Green

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Music begins
THOMAS: Welcome to the Blind-Centered Audio Description Chats. These are the edited recordings of the Blind-Centered Audio Description Live Chats!
CHERYL: The live is the most fun part! We get together, we start with a question, and then we invite up anybody from the audience who wants to come and chat with us, agree, disagree, shed light on something that we hadn’t thought about before, which is Nefertiti’s favorite. [electric whoosh]
NEFERTITI: I’m Nefertiti Matos Olivares, and I’m a bilingual professional voiceover artist who specializes in audio description narration! I’m also a fervent cultural access advocate and a community organizer.
CHERYL: I’m Cheryl Green, an access artist, audio describer and captioner.
THOMAS: And I’m Thomas Reid, host and producer Reid My Mind Radio, voice artist, audio description narrator, consultant, and advocate.
SCOTT B: Hi, I’m Scott Blanks. I’m a passionate advocate for the highest quality audio description in all of the arts. I’m the co-founder of the LinkedIn Audio Description Group and the Twitter AD community.
SCOTT N: Scott Nixon here. I’m an audio description consumer and advocate, hoping to be an audio description narrator very, very soon. [electronic whoosh]
THOMAS: Hey, Nef, why don’t you tell people how they could join the live recording?
NEFERTITI: That’s really simple. Just follow us on social media to keep up with important details, such as dates, times, and what platform will be using. On Twitter, I’m @NefMatOli. Cheryl?
CHERYL: I’m @WhoAmIToStopIt.
THOMAS: I’m @TSRied, you know, R to the E I D.
NEFERTITI: How about you, Scott?
SCOTT B: I’m @BlindConfucius. That’s Blind Confucius.
SCOTT N: And you can catch me on my social media, Twitter only. That’s @MisterBrokenEyes, Capital M r Capital Broken Capital E y e s.
[smartphone selection beeps]
CHERYL: Recording now!

NEFERTITI: Hello, everybody! I’m Nefertiti Matos Olivares. I am your Mistress of ceremonies or Spaces, whatever tonight! And I’m here with Cheryl Green and Thomas Reid and the two Scotts: Scott Blanks and Scott Nixon, moderators of the Audio Description Twitter Community, which as I always say, if you’re not part of it, what are you waiting for? Get over there.
Tonight, we are going to talk about training. Let’s talk about training, pulling back the curtain on audio description trainings for blind people. Yeah. Thomas, kick us off.
THOMAS: Cool, cool. Well, hey, everybody. Yeah. So, the idea this week was to talk about, more about training and really sort of pull back the curtain about getting started. That was, I think that was the theme or something like that, right?
NEFERTITI: Mmhmm.
THOMAS: So, I have a couple of segments here that I think we can talk about. And we don’t have to use these, but these are just some suggestions ‘cause I was thinking about it. And one, the first one I’m calling “know thyself.” And I’ll go into them, but let me just tell you about the other ones before I say it. But the first one is know thyself. And I think it’s a real, real important part to get started. And then we’re talking about the fundamentals. The second part is really talking about the fundamentals that we need to really be aware of when we’re talking about audio description—I mean, really, to be honest with you, anything, any sort of profession that you want to get into as a blind person—but specifically audio description today. And then we’ll go and talk about some of the things that you could be doing right now that you don’t have to wait for. And then I wanna talk a little bit about your interest in AD or the various places that we can go when we talk about AD. ‘Cause right now, I think we’re only thinking one area, and there’s multiple areas within AD that we can really, really talk about and think about getting into and how to and explore that.
So, the first idea of knowing thyself, okay? The one thing I wanted start with is we really need to understand that audio description, even before we go any further, you need to know that audio description, I don’t think right now I would be able to classify that—and Nef, you jump in, you tell me—but I don’t think we can classify that as a job. I think we can call it maybe, you know, for-hire work, freelance work, or something like that. But it is not a job. And therefore, there are some things that you should really sort of know about yourself if you really are trying to pursue this. Would you say AD is a job, Nef?
NEFERTITI: I would say that audio description is firmly in the gig economy. It really is, “Hey, I’ve got this series, movie, whatever, and I think you’d be a good writer for it. Are you available? Yeah? Okay, here you go. Have it to me in three days, one day, a week. This is what you’ll get paid.” And you keep it moving ‘til the next one. Same for narrator, same for QC. Engineers, that might be a little different story. I’ve met a number of on-staff engineers. And there are staff writers. There are.
THOMAS: Yes, yes.
NEFERTITI: But for the most part, what I have found is that it’s absolutely just gig, not like a 9 to 5.
THOMAS: Right. So, the fact that it’s not a 9 to 5, the thing that you have to ask yourself is, well, do you like to hustle? And I’m not talking about the dance from the ‘70s. And yes, I like to do that hustle too. [laughs] But do you like to hustle, meaning sort of get out there and find the work on your own? Because that’s a lot about, you know, that’s part of it. You have to sort of market yourself. And so, that’s a hustle. And that’s not, quite honestly, if we think about the way we as a society sort of think about careers and jobs, that’s not, we’re not raised like that. And so, if you’re sort of coming out of the traditional work environment or even school or whatever the case may be, you really have to give that some consideration ‘cause there’s lots of things that are involved with that.
I think another piece of that is to really sort of figure out what your goal is because with that freelance, maybe, you know, maybe you just kind of wanna, you wanna dip your toe in the water a little bit. You just wanna try AD. That’s cool. That’s, some people just freelance once a year with a certain type of project on something that they wanna do. That’s perfectly fine if that’s your goal. But really have a good understanding of where you’re trying to go, you know? Yeah. I mean, I don’t know if you wanna add anything to that, Nef, in terms of the hustle. What do you think? What would you say about the hustle of AD?
NEFERTITI: I would say that coming into this space, you have to remember that, yeah, this may be something that you wanna do as a career, and that aspiration is perfectly reasonable and fantastic. And we wish you all the luck in the world. But yeah, it’s, again, unless you get a position at a company as a staff writer who does narration or what have you, it’s important to be clear that this is something that’s gonna take a lot of drive on your part. And yeah, if you have that sort of entrepreneurial spirit, I’m gonna put myself out there, I’m gonna, you know, let myself network, and all that stuff, then all power to you. But I think that’s something that we have come across with blind people who come to us for guidance and advice, Thomas, right, where they have this idea of a more traditional kind of work setting, and that’s just not how it is necessarily.
SCOTT B: Hey, Scott B. (Cut 13:47 through 14:01.) So, I can only really speak to my very limited sort of time with audio description, and I agree. It feels giggy. It is that. And I think it’s important for us to do what we can to help educate people that it is not a space, an arena where you can say, “I am gonna grow up and be in audio description.” Doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but there’s some practicalities there that you need to think about. It doesn’t also mean that it cannot be a field that supports, can be more supportive of someone putting most or all of their energy into that field as a job, as a career. But we’re not there. But I think, just in short, what I see is this field is not set up for especially for blind folks to be well versed in the many parts of audio description. It was talked about earlier that there’s kind of an emphasis on certain aspects of it, but there’s really four or five that are critical. And there are no…there are no training supports in most of those areas. And we’re gonna talk more about that today, I’m sure. But this is Scott B. Done speaking for now.
COLLEEN: Hey, guys. So, interesting about kind of training and education and audio description. Obviously, this is a passion of mine, and this year, I became the owner of Audio Description Training Retreats. And I’ve now started teaching kinda the fundamentals of audio description and practice in scripting and, you know, kind of primary inline description. And that sort of level-one base class I teach with Liz Gutman, who is an employee of IDC. She’s also a very good friend. And Melissa Hope was another one of my former students who works at Descriptive Video Works, and we teach a class that is all about writing for the screen, anything that’s specifically to do with technology, screen wise. So, video games and film and television and broadcast and all that jazz. I am currently in the process of developing a live theater and performance class with another former grad, Louise Victor, who is kind of the head of one of the live AD providers in Pennsylvania near Penn State.
So, I’ve got kind of like the three main core things, and we normally allow eight people in each class so that you’re provided ample practice time and any accommodations that you need, and everyone gets quite a bit of time and feedback and networking with each other. The thing I realized was that I want to be able to teach more people, and I wanna be able to educate on a larger scale as well as have it more accessible in a way. What I wanna do is kind of create modules online, like a curriculum of classes you can take in all different areas of audio description so that there would be online courses. And sort of some of the static information about audio description that doesn’t change much is what could be taught there in collaboration with me, and I would wanna collaborate with different people.

CHERYL: Hey, Colleen?
COLLEEN: Yeah?!
CHERYL: This is Cheryl. I wanna jump in just for time’s sake ‘cause we do try to hold to something around a two-minute limit.
COLLEEN: Oh, yeah. Go for it. Go for it.
CHERYL: Yeah. I hate to interrupt you, especially as you’re getting into those really valuable details. But I wanted to also add in there that I am a sighted audio describer, and I often run into people who are asking me, “Where can I get training? Where can I get training?” Not once has anyone ever come to me and said, “Do you know where I can go to a training where there’s a blind teacher or a blind co-teacher?” I just wanted to throw that out there. I don’t think that’ll be a surprise to anybody here who’s listening, but we talked about narrative shift last time. I don’t think the blind community, well, hmm. I don’t wanna make grandiose assumptions, but I do think the non-blind audio description world needs to listen better to the narrative shift that’s already happened. And I think that we need to be asking that question more: “Is there gonna be a blind teacher? Am I gonna be working alongside blind people?” Yeah, so, I’m gonna leave it there and see who wants to speak next.
NEFERTITI: This is Nefertiti. Thank you, Colleen, for telling us about your offerings. What I didn’t specifically hear was any catering to blind people. Here in this space, we wanna center blind people, right? Like, that’s our edict. And would love to hear more, along with Cheryl saying, we want a blind teacher. Here we have Colleen. But I wanna hear more about, and I think our audience would love to hear more about, are there any trainings that have blind people in mind for all aspects of audio description? Whether that be writing, as controversial as that can be, QC. I’m a firm believer in blind QC. Narration, teaching folks how to use their technology, what their different DAWs, digital audio workstation, options are, the accessibility of same, etc. I don’t hear much about that at all. There are plenty of classes/courses. But I’m not hearing anything that caters to blind folk. And more to the point, does there need to be something specific for blind people, or have blind people out there—anybody in the audience, you’re welcome to jump in and let us know about your experiences with any classes you’ve taken—have you found that you haven’t really needed to have anything catered to you or tailored to you as a blind person? That’s what I’m interested in tonight. How about you, Thomas?
THOMAS: Yeah, Nef, I think you just raised a fantastic point about does there need to be anything specific to blind people? Because if, you know, Colleen mentioned something around making the training accessible. If making the training, if the trainings were accessible, I think that is part of what it is, what needs to be done. But also, accessible not only from the point of view of the technology, but just in terms of the methodology, right, of really, really including that. Because when people ask, they always, when people find out you’re a narrator—and I’m sure you experience this, Nef—it’s always like, “Oh, we really wanna talk about your process.” And I almost feel like, wow, I’m really gonna disappoint you because the process is not much different from what your process is except, I use a screen reader. And so, I think you touched on something that’s really, really important there, Nef, because that’s a shift. It’s a shift in the way we think about this, ‘cause there is always this thought that there has to be something really separate. Even for us, getting involved in audio description, it’s always viewed as it has to look at this thing as something separate. But it’s not that different.
NEFERTITI: Something different, something that needs to be accommodated.
THOMAS: Yeah. Yeah.
NEFERTITI: Does it? Does it though?
THOMAS: I mean there are accommodations. Those accommodations are specific. Yeah, there are some accommodations. Absolutely. And there is nothing wrong with an accommodation.
NEFERTITI: Absolutely.
THOMAS: But I’m saying, does it have to be separate? I don’t know. I don’t think so. I really don’t think so, because the training, again, if it’s accessible, and if we are considered, right, if we are a, if we are a customer of this, I mean, and you’re considered, your needs are considered, it might not have to be anything specific. But what does have to happen is that the industry has to be ready because we can have all of this training, but the industry has to be ready. And again, there are things that we can do. And that’s what I really wanted to focus on today was all the things that we can do because we have to, we as a community would have to wait for the accessibility to be implemented. We would have to wait for the technology to be made accessible. We have to wait for the industry, in the meantime, because not everyone is ready. A lot of folks want it, but you’re not ready. You’re not ready. And I put myself in that category, right? At points in my life, I wasn’t ready. There are certain things that I wanted last year that I was not ready for and may be now getting ready, right? And so, those are the things that we can control. And that’s what I wanna focus on, because, again, we’re centering blind people. So, let’s talk about what we can do.
NEFERTITI: Thomas, I think you’re…. Goodness. Yes, yes to everything you just said.
THOMAS: So, one of the other things, you know, I talked about earlier in terms of, and we talked about a little bit the last time, in terms of learning our technology and making sure we’re comfortable with our technology, right? Figuring out the things that we want, you know, figuring out our goals and all of that type of thing. What exactly do we wanna take out of this? I think there’s, the one thing that it doesn’t even matter what career, what profession you’re going into, but I think we need to think about it as professionalism, right? That idea of being professional. And, you know, this is not to throw anybody out there or anything like that, but, well, to embarrass anybody. But Nef, one of the first things that I noticed, your professionalism, on point. On point. And so, that was why I was like, “Oh, no, yeah. You got what you need to go.” That was one of those things. You had the hustle and the professionalism. And so, what I mean by that is I notice how you conduct yourself, right? So, not just in terms of the presentation, the oral presentation, but in just follow-up, doing exactly what you said you were gonna do. “I’m gonna send you an email. I’ll send you that.” She does it, right? These are the things that we need to make sure that we’re doing that too often we know it doesn’t happen. Now, again, no one is perfect. Everyone slips up. I know I slip up. Things fall off my radar. But I know that when they drop back on my radar, I’m gonna apologize, and I’m gonna get back to the person. Like, these are some of the things that we individually can be working on and making sure that we have tight before we even try to go ahead and get into any industry, but definitely AD.
And the reason I say definitely AD is because I’m not saying there is any sort of conspiracy out there. Please don’t take this like that, right? And I’m not saying that anyone is actually even maybe even consciously thinking about, “Oh, we have to keep them out,” right? But you better believe. [laughs] Well, you don’t better believe. But I’ll tell you that I truly, honestly believe that not everyone wants us there. You could apply that to any career. Not everyone would want blind people there. Not everyone wants a person with a disability there, okay? And so, you’re going to be looked at differently. That is just factual. So, you better have your stuff on point. That’s what I’m saying. And so, these are the things that we can be working on today in addition to the fundamentals, knowing our technology. And that’s what we talked about last time, so. Go ahead.
NEFERTITI: Nefertiti again. I 100% agree. I think of these as like soft skills.
THOMAS: Mm.
NEFERTITI: But in a very real way, this is what is going to move you along, literally. Yeah. You say you’re gonna send an email, make a call, do that. You’re gonna audition for things, do that. You know, you’re gonna focus on learning your technology so that you’re better at Word and Excel with your screen reader, do that. Same goes with learning any DAWs program. I’ll tell you, when I first got into this, and I went to Thomas for advice, he told me point blank, like, “It’s okay if this turns out to be something you don’t wanna do, but if it is something you’re gonna, you know, you wanna do, you’re gonna have to do and learn X, Y, Z thing”. For me, the hardest thing has been the audio aspect. You know, if I could just be the writer, the quality control specialist, the narrator, and I just show up, say, to a studio or sit in front of a computer and type away and say my lines, it would be a wrap! But it’s not that simple. You’re not just a voice artist anymore. You’re also an engineer now, a lot of the time. So, learning that for me has been a great learning curve. But you have to do it. Like it or not, you know, it’s like with any job, right? No job is perfect. There are aspects of everything that we do that aren’t necessarily 100% to our liking. But you have to do what you have to do. And in this case, I 100% agree with Thomas. Have good follow-through. Have a driven nature so you can network. Don’t be afraid to say, “Oh, hey, hey! You got, you know, you got any voice work for me coming up? I’m out here. I’m available,” like, you know, what do they say? The squeaky wheel gets the grease or whatever it is?
THOMAS: Yeah.
NEFERTITI: Yeah, that’s part of it, too. Not being shy, putting yourself out there, and being willing and able and dedicated to learning. Super important even before you get into training and the like. I mean, I think those are sort of trainings in and of themselves, life skills.
THOMAS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And you said something, Nef, no job is perfect. And I just wanna point out again, and we’re not even talking about a job. You can get to a job, and you have on-the-job training.
NEFERTITI: Mmhmm.
THOMAS: Jobs, employers might send you to a training when you have a new system, you’re getting on a new project, you need to learn a new language, coding language, whatever the case may be, right? You’re going to go to a training, and you’re getting paid for that. It ain’t working the same way [laughs] with the freelance work. It does not. You have to cover your own training costs and time.
NEFERTITI: Mmhmm.
THOMAS: And it’s just really, really something. And again, I don’t wanna sound like I’m trying to scare anybody away ‘cause that is not, that is not why I got into this, because I really want…I really wanna see more blind people at every level.
NEFERTITI: No, we wanna proliferate this with blind people. But we need you to be prepared.
THOMAS: Right. But I want you to ready.
NEFERTITI: Yes. We want you to know.
THOMAS: Yes, yes. Because the worst thing, the worst thing is to have that opportunity, and you’re not ready for it, because then you might— And it’s not to say because nothing is finite like that, right? It doesn’t mean that it is the end-all, but man it sure does make it harder. It will make it harder. And so, be ready. Be ready with all of these things, you know?
NEFERTITI: 100%.
CHERYL: I wanted to just ditto to what you said, and I wanna add another detail to Nefertiti’s just amazing professionalism, and yours too, Thomas, is being collaborative and collaboratively minded. And I have worked with both of y’all on many occasions. And if there’s something that you can’t do or you don’t have time to do, you just let me know, “Hey, could you do this?” And likewise. And Thomas, I’ve been on calls with you talking about something else, and I bring up a tech issue I’m having, and you just give me the solution right there on the call, and then you’ve solved my tech issue. We’re constantly in these conversations, and we want to collaborate and build each other’s skills up. So, I think, you know, Thomas, you keep saying, “I don’t wanna scare anybody from getting into the field,” and I’m glad that you’re saying that. I think part of building up the skills is being in conversation with people who can give you the shortcuts like you do, so you don’t have to take, you know, watch a whole 20-minute tutorial video and take notes. Somebody can just give you the shortcut. But I really think knowing your strengths, knowing your limitations, and talking to your collaborators about it really goes a long way.
NEFERTITI: Cheryl, 100% to that as well. I think that’s where the networking part of what I talk about with people comes in. Build your community, build your network, join the audio description community, join the Audio Description Facebook group, use the hashtag #AudioDescription, and find other folks who are doing this. Listen to these Spaces. If there are Zoom gatherings that have to do with audio description, attend those. Trainings, again, a bunch of them. But one place which I don’t necessarily consider training, but that you can learn a heck of a lot, and they’re just wonderful people, VocalEye out of Canada does these Describer Cafés once a month. And you learn so much, and you can come away with having made a friend or two there as well. So, I think that is hugely important, so you have people to talk to, to ask questions of, to run things by. So, yeah, just wanna stress that point that I think you’re 100%, Cheryl. Thank you for that.
SCOTT B: Hey, it’s Scott B.
NEFERTITI: Scott B!
SCOTT B: Hello. So, a couple things. Just rewinding to the conversation around the soft skills or emotional intelligence or interpersonal skills, all of that, it really is something that whoever you are, blind or otherwise, whatever field, AD or not, you’re getting into, it is so important. Earlier in my career many, many years ago, I was a vocational counselor, a very dry term, but I helped other blind folks look for work and navigate the interview process and navigate the meeting your employer for the first time and going to the job site for the first time, all of those things. And invariably, those skills of socialization and interpersonal activity and engagement, those were the ones that if they weren’t…if they weren’t polished, that is what would, more likely than anything, impact someone’s success on a job. The technical’s important, the mobility’s important, things like that, if you’re a blind person. But those other things really, it’s that social thing of kind of being able to navigate different situations. It is really important to do that.
And I think what a lot of people will ask, what a lot of people ask us when they hear this is, “Okay, so, where do I get those skills?” And the truth, unfortunately, is there are not a lot of resources for it. They are out there, though. And sometimes, frankly, it depends on where you live geographically. There are resources, some places that are rich with them, others that are deserts in terms of access to services. But I just wanna say sort of publicly, as somebody who works at a non-profit organization, that there are options out there if people have questions about how they can improve those kinds of skills, group, myself included, I think, are resources that you can come to that you should feel okay to ask questions of out on Twitter and Facebook and kind of wherever you might be connected with us. Because as a blind person who has moved through various careers and who’s had many of these struggles that we’re talking about, I know that it’s real, and it is something that you need to, that you’ll need to navigate. And we should be able to be that network, that mentoring network for other people, ‘cause that’s another way we’re gonna see and uplift other blind people into this field and other fields. So, that’s it for me.
SCOTT N: Just quickly to go back to what Scott B. was just saying about some areas being an oasis and some areas being a desert when it comes to training, welcome to Australia. We’re a great big honkin’ desert when it comes to this sort of thing. I have been looking around madly for the past two weeks trying to find audio description training and things like that in my area, and there’s just nothing here. So, at the moment, the best plan I’ve been able to come up with so far as I take my first steps of my audio description narrator journey is to hook up with like AD Training Retreats over in the States or one of the groups in Canada or Britain or something like that. And I’m gonna have to completely change my sleep schedule because we’re talking, you know, their day is my night. So, I’m gonna have to go vampire mode for a little while in order to try and learn because I don’t wanna go into this halfcocked. I wanna come into the job having as many of the skills as I possibly can. And it’s just really difficult in my region to be able to get them. So, you know, facing a lot of barriers at the moment, but hopefully with the help of you guys and other people in the space, I’ll be able to do it because it’s, you know, I’ve been thinking about it more and more over the past two weeks. And this is something I really think is, I don’t wanna say it’s my calling, but it feels like it’s the right path I need to be on at the moment.
THOMAS: So, Scott, I’m glad you said what you said. And so, this is for Scott, and this is, again, for anyone who’s listening. But Scott, you mentioned this. And so, the next thing that I wanted to touch on, and so, I will ask you, and not to put you on the spot, but I’m putting you on the spot. [laughs]
SCOTT N: [laughs] Thanks, man. I appreciate that.
THOMAS: Yeah, no problem! So, you mentioned that you wanna be an audio narrator. Okay, cool. So, my question to you— And again, and Nef could attest to this because this is, if any, anyone I talk to who wants to talk to me about this, this would be what I ask them. So, I will ask you. Have you recorded anything? Have you recorded yourself yet?
SCOTT N: I have recorded myself a couple of times doing some basic AD work, but I have over 25 years’ experience in the radio and broadcast industry. So, I know my voice, I know how to prepare, and all that jazz. So, I’ve got the experience there at least.
THOMAS: Okay. All right. Excellent. So, you have experience. So, you edit? Do you do any sort of editing, basic editing?
SCOTT N: No, I haven’t done any editing up to this point. That’s probably the next thing I need to learn how to do. I briefly spoke to Nef yesterday, and she gave me a couple tips on programs to use. So, I need to get my hands on one of those and start practicing and learning how to do that sort of thing. But I also have several opportunities here in Melbourne where I’m going to be able to have an engineer come in and work with me. And while I’m there, I’ll say, “Look, could you just teach me how to do this, that, and the other thing?” So, I might be able to do a little stink around there, but editing it myself will be something that I will be learning, yes.
THOMAS: Okay. Excellent. Because, again, the idea of just recording yourself, the first point, so many people just sort of miss that. Because this could be a great way to figure out number one, if this is gonna be something that you like to do. It sounds good often enough, but sometimes it just might not be what you like. You may end up figuring out that you don’t like it, and you might be able to find that out even if you were just recording with your iPhone. Now you’re going to have to upgrade from an iPhone if you want to go that route of the professional, right, that professional AD. And when I say that, I’m not just talking about the Netflixes and the Amazons and all of that. I’m really saying if you want someone to pay you, then you should be upgrading from your iPhone. Absolutely. That’s my opinion.
SCOTT N: Oh, of course. Yeah.
THOMAS: Okay. So, yeah. So, you wanna start to, first of all, right now get familiar. You own a PC or laptop or something? You have that?
SCOTT N: Yes, I’ve got a running laptop here.
THOMAS: Okay. And so, we already talked about having all of those fundamentals and all of that stuff and the proficiency with your thing. So, really right now, then, if you’re comfortable there, it’s really about you having some sort of a setup to do that at home and start recording yourself in the way that it would be. Now, the thing that I’m wondering is, and I would say this to anyone again, is what difference—there is difference—but what difference do you think if you have done you said 20-something years of some broadcast, or it was broadcast?
SCOTT N: Mm. Yeah, 25 years of radio and podcast broadcasting.
THOMAS: So, what makes you think you’re not way more, like you sound like you’re, you sound like you’re very close to being ready to go to do this. Like, let’s take out the idea of needing to have yourself recorded. Like, if you had an engineer accessible to you, what is it that makes you think you wouldn’t be able to do this right now?
SCOTT N: At this stage, it’s simply a matter of learning, for lack of a better term, the pattern of work, learning how to properly read the AD that someone says will be in a spreadsheet or through a Word document or whatever like that. Just learning the patterns, learning the method of doing pick-ups, going back and rerecording stuff that may be not correct or needs to be punched up a little bit or something like that. Just really learning the pattern and the flow of the work, I think that’s the next barrier because doing, reading an advertisement is a lot different to going live on air and interviewing someone or doing a prerecorded interview for a podcast. They’re all very different animals and learning how to do them are very different things. And I haven’t had much experience when it comes to reading a script. So, really, that’s my next step to get my hands on an actual AD script. I noticed earlier that the fantastic Liz Gutman from International Digital Center is one of our listeners today. And hey, Liz, if you could send me just one of your old scripts or something so I could practice, that’d be super! Scott out.
THOMAS: Okay, so, Scott, so I’m glad you brought that out. If Liz’s here, shoutout to Liz all day. Scott, you don’t need a script. And I tell everyone this. Why do you need a script? You need words in the format so you can read it. So, if you’re gonna use JAWS, whatever your screen reader is, if you use a screen reader with Braille, you need text.
SCOTT N: Mmhmm.
THOMAS: You have access to text. It doesn’t matter what you read, right? You can download any sort of script. You can read the dictionary! As long as you know how to read in the format, you know, in an accessible way, that process is going to be the same regardless to what the actual text on that screen is. Does that make sense?
SCOTT N: Yeah. Good point. Yeah, it’s a very good point, Thomas. It’s an excellent point. Thank you very much for kind of, you know, smacking me upside the head and saying you don’t need to do everything the same way!
THOMAS: It’s always my pleasure to smack you upside the head, Scott.
THOMAS: and SCOTT N: [laugh]
SCOTT N: Okay, guys.
THOMAS: Virtually, of course. Virtually, of course. I’m not a violent person. But no. But that is really, really honestly true. Copy whatever it is. Read a book. Read whatever it is that you want to read and narrate that and record yourself in whatever facility you have right now. But that is the skill that you need to be working on.
SCOTT N: Right. Thank you so much, Thomas. Thanks, everyone. I’ve really gotta bounce. Just quickly, Star Wars Andor now available on Disney+. The audio description for it is fantastic! Go and listen to it. Okay, guys? I’ll talk to you next time.
NEFERTITI: Thank you, Scott! Always great to hear from you. And let’s keep in touch about your progress. I wanna hear about any breaking news.
THOMAS: We gotta start getting money for the commercials.
NEFERTITI: Oh, yeah. [laughs]
THOMAS: We gotta get money for that commercial right there. Disney ain’t paying us. Come on. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Oh, that’s true. I didn’t even catch that. I’m just happy that something’s being done right. Yeah. Wow. Does anybody have any sort of concrete resources you think we should shout out for folks listening to this Space and wanting to get their hands on or their ears on something? For example, I’d like to shout out the ADP, The Audio Description Project. I think they’re @ADPWebmaster on Twitter. Huge resource of all sorts of things that are being described, but they also have a section on training, different trainings, and I think they’re pretty good about keeping all of that updated. So, how about you, Cheryl, Thomas and Cheryl, Scott B., if you have any resources or a resource you think would be good for people to know about?
THOMAS: I mean, the…. [sighs] I’m not gonna give out a resource just yet. And I don’t really have many. I’m really on this. And again, this is sort of, this is my style, but this is the style that I think is necessary. And I think it’s not just my style. I think it’s because of what’s available. I just think we have a lot of things that we can do right now to really work on preparing ourself for that. I don’t know of anything specific to blind folks or that is accessible enough and that centers blind people or even considers blind people in the training process. I don’t know about that. I really don’t.
NEFERTITI: I don’t either.
THOMAS: And so, I don’t wanna endorse it.
NEFERTITI: Like we said, well, like Cheryl said specifically, blind folks at the helm. Not just as participants, but actually teaching this stuff. I only know of one person. But again, I’m not so sure that even that training caters to blind people. So, I’m not so sure. But I do think I will sort of double down on my recommendation. The ADP is a great resource for everyone to know about. It’s sorta like a repository of information there. And from there you can decide. But we are saying, I think Thomas and I are saying, and Cheryl, feel free to chime in here, there isn’t anything that we know of that we can confidently point blind people to and say, “This is good. Go do that. Reach out to this person or that organization.”
THOMAS: Yeah.
CHERYL: Yeah.
NEFERTITI: And that’s pretty sad.
CHERYL: Yeah. It is. Cheryl here. I would say I am always pointing people to my favorite continuing education, I call it, which is Thomas Reid’s podcast, Read My Mind Radio. There is a tremendous amount—talk about centering blind people—but there’s a tremendous amount of formal and informal learning you can get from the… [laughs] Turning the, turning? Flipping the Script!
THOMAS: [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Flipping the Script. Turning the Switch!
CHERYL: No, somebody has called it Turning the Page on Audio Description.
THOMAS: Yeah. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Oh yeah? [laughs]
CHERYL: That sounds rude!
NEFERTITI: Wow!
CHERYL: But Flipping the Script. Thomas Reid’s Flipping the Script on Audio Description. It’s a series that’s been going on for several years, and you were talking about AD well before you started that series. And that is a concrete place to go to gather information, to listen to AD consumers and AD professionals. And I just encourage everybody go there, and that would be centered on the community.
NEFERTITI: Thank you, Cheryl. And thank you for shouting out Thomas. I kinda hesitate to shout you out, Thomas, ‘cause I know how humble you are. But heck yeah.
CHERYL: Yeah, I don’t care about that part.
THOMAS: [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: But that’s a resource. All right. Cheryl’s cool with it, then I’m gonna be cool with it, too, Thomas. Prepare yourself.
SCOTT B: Scott B.
NEFERTITI: No, but it’s true. Excellent resource. Yes, Scott B.
SCOTT B: I’m gonna challenge people who are working in this space, because I think as a blind person, again, I’ll preface just saying that my sort of impressions about audio description or a career or whatever are fairly limited. But what I see is that no, there are not trainings, technical trainings, that are catering to blind people either as writers, QC artists, narrators, mixers, engineers, etc. We also need a field that is going to have those opportunities for people to learn and get better at the craft or else we will always struggle for more than a very few blind and visually impaired folks to be successful in it. And we know that there can be more. But it does, you know, this, a full, complete ecosystem involves everything. And that includes the training. Right now, it’s very heavily oriented towards writing, and it’s very heavily oriented towards writing for people who are sighted. But we need a lot more than that. And I would challenge everyone who’s involved in any of these resources that’ve been mentioned to think more broadly about including blind people as prospective audiences and learners in those spaces. Thank you.
NEFERTITI: And also teachers! Remember, folks, nothing about us without us. Centering blind people. That’s our whole ethos here, so.
THOMAS: Definitely. And real quick, because this was the last point that I wanna say, is that open, you know, broaden your horizons when we’re talking about audio description. There is more to audio description than Netflix and Amazon. There are so many opportunities, I think, in independent projects. And maybe we can talk about this. There are folks out there who do this where I know that they have worked with apprentices. That’s a old-school thing, but that’s a very awesome opportunity if you can find someone who you can apprentice with and who does independent work. Or they might do, you know, whatever, the bigger stuff too. But it’s AD, right? AD is happening in education. AD is happening on YouDescribe, right?
NEFERTITI: Mmhmm.
THOMAS: You can get on these platforms and do these things and build up a résumé, if you will. It’s a way to go about it. It absolutely is a way to go about it. So, broaden your horizons when we talk about audio description, because I’m telling you, there’s a lot more going on than just Netflix, etc., etc., so.
SCOTT B: Yeah.
NEFERTITI: 100%. And it’s ripe for the picking, y’all, so.
THOMAS: Let’s go get it. Let’s go get it.
NEFERTITI: Yeah, let’s go! Get it! All right!
THOMAS: Yeah.
NEFERTITI: Well, speaking of getting it, I gotta go get my next gig, y’all! ‘Cause it’s a hustle economy, right? A gig economy.
THOMAS: See? Yeah, no doubt.
SCOTT N: [chuckles]
THOMAS: No doubt.
NEFERTITI: It’s 8 PM in New York City, and I’m off to my next thing!
THOMAS: Aight. There it is. Peace, y’all.
NEFERTITI: Everybody, thank you so much. As always, it is such a pleasure to share this Space with you all. [collar and tags clink and clank as a dog shakes its head] For audiences— Hello, dog in the background! [chuckles] For audiences, thank you for tuning in. And we will be back in a couple of weeks with another fascinating topic.

THOMAS: Cool. Well, that concludes this week’s conversation. Why don’t y’all keep the conversation going on social media.
CHERYL: Use #ADFUBU, for us by us, #DescribeEverything, and #AudioDescription.
NEFERTITI: And hey, you know we’re out here, right? Mmhmm! Gathered and galvanized y’all. If you haven’t joined us yet, what are you waiting for?! You can find us in the LinkedIn Audio Description group and the AD Twitter community. We know that your participation will only make these spaces better.
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