Archive for the ‘Accessibility’ Category

Reid My Mind Radio: Doctor Dre’s The Fight Back

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Picture of Doctor Dre, seated with a tan fur jacket with the caption, Doctor Dre The Fight Back!

Doctor Dre of Yo MTV Raps, NYC’s Hot 97 Morning Show, the movie Who’s the Man? And so much more … is launching The Fight Back!

Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and now blind, this fight back is about more than you probably think.

This episode features the piece produced for Gatewave radio followed by more personal conversation with Dre. Plus, you know there’s only one way to intro this podcast… if you were a morning show listener you know I had to do it…it’s the roll call!

So c’mon yawl, listen to Dre…
>scroll down a bit, , to hear the show press play!

 

Resources:

 

Transcript

Show the transcript


TR:
What’s good everybody?
This is a special episode so I’m going to jump right in…
it’s no mystery , the title of the episode says it all.

If you’re in my age group You remember when older folks said rap was a fad and
black radio didn’t play the music!

You remember when MTV played videos and they weren’t black artists let alone rap music.

Yes, this episode is featuring that Doctor Dre from YoMTV Raps and many other things like the Hot 97 morning show.
With that in mind! There’s only one way for me to kick-off the podcast…

Yeah, I’m gonna do it!

[Audio: From The Hot 97 Morning Show with Ed, Lisa & Dre
Music…
“What’s up yawl, whatcha got to say, who’s on the phone with Ed, Lisa & Dre?”]

TR:
Yo, TReid’s the name, and right now’s the time
Welcome to the podcast called Reid My Mind!

Cheah!

[Reid My Mind Intro]

TR:
Significant vision loss can force a person to face real doubts and questions.
Such as;
Why did this happen to me?
What do I do now?

Andre Brown has chosen to answer the last question by launching a fight;
well really a fight back.

It’s more than vision loss.

In  2008 Andre was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes.

He experienced multiple complications of the disease including Charco – foot Syndrome which he says can cause a collapse of the ankle.

DD:
My vision loss came as a progression of that and not taking care of myself properly.

my vision loss was a gradual thing where I  started seeing little things across my vision. Little lines and you know things jumping.

TR:
After These lines often called floaters,  multiple surgeries to repair detached retinas,
Andre was left with some light perception.

DD:
Diagnosed as Diabetic Retinopathy but  as the Doctor said  to me , he said that’s what’s   blocking your vision, you have scar tissue in the back. He said we can’t do anything about  it until we stop the Diabetes. So once that happens then  we can do a different procedure or two to see if we can make the sight  come back.
I’ve spoken with a lot of different people and everyone has told me that my sight  returning is a very strong possibility, especially with what I am doing now.

TR:
What he’s doing now?
Simply put, he’s fighting back!

This fight is just as much for others as it is for himself.

Andre’s in a unique position to take on this job.
You see he’s been working in support of the careers of others for years.

Andre Brown, is better known as Doctor Dre, a pioneer  in Hip Hop culture and entertainment.

Starting out in WBAU, the Adelphi University radio station in Long Island,
Doctor Dre would eventually go on to record music with his group Original Concept.

He D Jayed for the Beastie Boys.

He was involved in getting one of Hip Hop’s most prolific and influential groups, Public Enemy on to Def Jam records.

Most people know him as part of the Ed Lover and Doctor Dre Duo who
hosted “Yo MTV Raps” every weekday
between 1989 and 1995; As well as
extremely successful radio morning shows in New York City between 1993 and 1998.

DJ, musician, actor, author… and now
Doctor Dre is  in a position to bring real attention to two of today’s
very significant health crisis ;
Diabetes & Vision loss.

DD:
Well we have the program that’s called Doctor Dre’s The Fight Back.

Taking the situation and being able to talk to other people and say, I can show you through  what I’m going through  that we all can change. We all can grow.

I’m finding other people that have different or similar experiences and being able to share that. So the fight back is
how do we reach out and get so many resources to work with you to try to actually change your situation.

TR:
Changing the situation by providing access to information  including;
medical, lifestyle and technology.

DD:
I’m doing a lot of Holistic medicine along  with traditional medicine to work with my Diabetes  and just to change my diet. Just putting that under better control

I’m playing the Guinea pig so everyone can  see it.

TR   [In conversation with Dre]
When you say   you’re playing the Guinea pig what does that mean?

DD:
Sometimes you have to go out and someone has  to go oh hey does that work, well I’ll try it  let’s see

I’m not bringing guarantees, I’m trying to bring choices.

What we’re doing is trying to bring those choices to the fore front. so there no longer just whispered in a corner or you have to pull this up on the Google thing… know we’re gonna say no, here’s a bunch of things here, find a way to find something that works best for you. Here are some things that are very easily at your beck and call.

And when you have options, there’s so much more you can do.

TR:
Real life style changes that affect the way we think about nutrition.

DD:
And that’s one of my goals in The Fight Back, is to change bad thinking.  The mother of 4 who works three  jobs with four kids and they have to run to McDonald’s because they  want those Happy Meals; I want to change the Happy Meal to a life meal.

TR:
Lifestyle choices are like adjusting to vision loss; it’s personal.

DD:
you do what you feel the most comfortable doing  and you work from that position. Everybody’s an individual about it. There’s no one magic thing for one person. There’s a lot of great things out there and I  am discovering those things to help  me accomplish doing other things. I’m very open to learning.

TR [In Conversation]:
What types of things are you discovering?

DD:
I have a phone I could talk to and it  speaks and dials  and talks to me.

The technology now is catching up. I believe like Netflix has where they actually have  a program that is designed so when you’re watching a program it describes everything so you get the full affect.
I’m discovering it one at a time but I don’t know the name of everything I just go wow that exists , that’s a good idea, that’s a really good idea.

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
that’s Audio Description.

DD:
Yes.

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
Just for full disclosure, I’m blind myself.

DD:
Oh, ok!

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
The experience is unique and different for everyone. So I’m trying to gauge what is your experience and how other people can relate and learn… whatever that is because that’s what experience is all about. There for everyone.
DD:
Exactly.

Well with me I understood simply when it was starting to happen  I said don’t panic.
I’ve become a person that reaches for solutions. And rather than falling into , oh my god I can’t believe this is happening  and go into depressed mode I said no  this may happen, this is what you may need to prepare to start doing. And I started preparing myself for it. I said you know what I said you know what  this may be, but darkness  won’t last forever. I said  you have God behind you  and God has already told you  this isn’t forever, this is to slow you down  this is just to make sure  that you can listen and hear what I have to say. And I started listening and hearing what he had to say  more than I started talking.

I embrace it. And in embracing it he has put me on a path  to help other people and to reach out and express myself not  just about the type 2 Diabetes not only about the blindness but  about when something goes on and there’s a struggle sometimes embrace your struggle to find your solutions.
It doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee for a cure or a guarantee to a perfect answer  but what it does is says you know what  I’m more than what’s going on with me.
I can also work with this.

If you have a good relationship with your family, friends and  other people and reaching out. I learn every day from so many different people  and I pay attention and I  try to pass on some of the knowledge of what I get  so that people can help themselves

TR:
The Fight Back is a give and take; a collaboration.

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
So what is The Fight Back, what does that look like? in the world. Is that like a  web portal

DD:
It’s going to be a website… we’re building as we speak because I didn’t want to just put something out there … like it’s easy to say we’re going to do that  and throw it out there and  people just think that’s it, that’s it… no so I said , first thing we’ll do  is I’ll go out and start talking , build different interviews up and now it’s starting to take different testimonials  from different people  and it’s attached to other situations  also , you know I’m working with  a friend of mind from a company called Rally Wing and they had family who had diabetes and their discussing stuff with me.

Another gentlemen by the name of Marvin Mizell who is Jam Master Jay’s brother  has a company called JMJ Foundation  for the youth. He has Sickle Cell and Diabetes so connecting with his thing. there’s a bunch of people that I have connected with  and I said you know what maybe I should be that focal point to bring people together. and see if we can actually work, not just to a cure and better treatments ,but to better understanding  and better conversations

So going out now and talking to different people and listening to what their saying  how they fought back
that’s what this fight back is all about.

Bring those stories to light.
Bring this action to light!
And be a little educational, be a little entertaining, be informative, and be supportive
That’s where the strength is!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
Is the reality show still a thing?

DD:
We went out there we talked to different places, everyone was excited, yeh we want to do this, yes Dre we love it. And as more we kept talking, my idea disappeared and it became this other thing. It was like that’s not what we’re talking about .

I have a little experience in creating television programs.
We’re creating our own show. Creating our own messaging, making our own venue because the technology allows us to do this.

How do we take all these different instances and work together. Instead of just having a website, a page, you know do this  and get this. No, I want you to come on, I want you to see these different testimonials to be able to reach out to like you and to say hey I want you to talk to him because your experience can help some other people. Your conversation can help someone else who may be feeling down and go hey wow it isn’t as bad as I thought or it could be really bad so we’re going to try and reach out. Go see people shake hands, kiss babies, do whatever needs to be done. We’re going to run the ultimate campaign! The campaign of life of wellness and happiness. That’s a campaign where you just can’t be elected. there is no electoral college for that!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
[Laughing!!]

DD:
I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
Don’t apologize for that. That’s real!
[Laughing!]

DD:
My things are based on love
People want to sit back and talk about this guys this and this one’s that. Hate, hate!
I said, you know what man, hate carries weight! With love you can soar!
And I got nothing but love man!

TR:
When the site is completed, you will be able to learn more at Doctor Dre TFB.com.

There’s a quote I like to refer to that’s attributed to a Greek philosopher or motivational speaker depending on who you believe…
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.

Doctor Dre,  reacting with love
to make information more easily available , bring
health choices to the forefront,  create a place where
others can share their experiences, all while
remaining faithful and encouraging;

In this fight, there can be only one winner; nothing but love!

This is Thomas Reid, for Gatewave Radio;

Inserted from DD:
“Bring those stories to light. Bring this action to light! And be a little educational, be a little entertaining.”

Audio for independent living!

[Audio: Dre drop a load on em’, from “You down with MTV”]

TR:

Podcasts allow for longer exploration and intimate conversation.
In a way, I hinted to this in the Gatewave story edit.

There’s power in conversation between two people
exchanging knowledge about their shared experience.

Some things you really only feel comfortable talking about with someone who you know gets what you’re saying.
You don’t want to have to explain yourself.

The conversation could just be two people kicking around philosophical ideas.

often it’s , just talking about real practical sharing of information.
Like when Dre mentioned posting to Facebook:

DD:
One of my friends growing up he said I saw you on Facebook and I’m going how is he doing this? Isn’t he blind? And he’s like, he’s actually posting and doing this and that… I said, I have somebody doing that. The way I post is my son posts for me. He’ll put stuff up  that I need written or said or whatever we want to put on my Facebook page. So that’s fine. That’s how that works.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
You could do it yourself too you know right?

DD:
Please, I’m listening

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Ok so you have the iPhone and the app on the iPhone is , I mean it’s all accessible. It sounds like you mainly probably use Siri, the dictation?

DD:
Yes, I use Siri right now.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
So  you don’t use the keyboard at all, you never tried to use the keyboard?

DD:
No!  (Surprised!)

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Oh, you can absolutely. Do you have Voice Over turned on?

DD:
You know what,  I’ve been trying to go to the Apple store to sit there and have them explain everything that can be done , I do not probably have it turned on, no.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Ok!

TR:
Sometimes we assume that people are supposed to just know things…
Those who do, need to be more open and welcoming in order to make that information available.
At the same time remain open to receiving new ideas.

Three words that tell me Dre is going to be fine
no matter what the end result of his vision loss turns out to be;

DD:
“Please, I’m listening!”

TR:
Please, I’m listening!

Dre doesn’t know me.
He’s been around the world and has access to people and privilege.

DD:
Having reached out to people like Stevie Wonder.

TR:
Now, who am I to challenge something that Stevie says. I only say that because what Stevie means to me.

Adjusting to blindness though, is different from living with blindness all your life.

For example, I grew up only seeing out of one eye.
The challenge to me was different compared to someone who loses an eye
later in life and never had monocular vision.
I could share some information about things they should know,
but prior to blindness I wouldn’t have been able to relate to that loss.
That adjustment is the challenge. Growing up only knowing one thing is a different experience.

Meanwhile, I too could probably benefit from some of their discoveries.

Dre knows there’s so much more to learn and is open to that information for himself and others.

Our conversation though, went deeper.

Like when I wanted  Dre to know about an aspect of blindness
that is experienced and the ramifications that are felt by too many.

TR [In conversation with Dre]

We started the conversation with a little bit about  blindness and with the things people do and do not know, right. There’s all this technology, there’s so much you know going on and one of the big big issues  when it comes down to the blind community . The image of people who are blind in terms of how that’s perceived in society,  there’s a lot of negative connotation when it comes to blindness that I realized that I had and as I met other people  you know, blind at birth or blind afterward, there’s an incredible resource out here that is not being taken advantage of. So within the blindness community and within the disability community, unemployment is 70 percent.

DD:
Yes, it is!

TR:
So many people don’t even understand that. Even in just in terms of how people can do things and the abilities that are there it’s just not known. In part of what you’re doing you may not have or may have thought about it, you are going to be a representative  of that to some degree. Whether or not you like it or not, right, people are going to look at you and they now look you as he’s blind and therefore when they think of other people who are blind they will think of you. And so the things that you’re doing are going to send a positive message  not only to people who are sighted but also to other people who are blind who may have  bought into that.

I just ask you to ponder that, you know!

DD:
I hear what you’re saying. It’s very funny that you say those things. Funny not laughing wise, funny as it’s very interesting how we do that … I now the same way  I was put upon  and told do you believe you can get your sight back, I’m going to ask you those questions to… do you believe you can get your sight back?

TR:
Now, I had lots of people say they were hoping and praying I get my sight back, but
No one outside my immediate family has ever directly asked me that question.

I know a lot of people might think that question shouldn’t have been asked.
But it was part of our conversation so in no way was I offended or upset by that. This was a conversation between two people experiencing vision loss.

This isn’t some random person asking me on the street.

My answer and Dre’s response forced me to think about how I look at that question.

My answer… next time on Reid My Mind Radio!

[Laughing….]

Just playing!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Nah! My situation is totally different.

DD:
Mmm hmmm!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Number 1 my cancer is a genetic cancer. I was born  with a cancer called Retinoblastoma. I lost my left eye  as a child. The tumor overtook that eye.  I had at that time, this was in 68, well 69, radiat5ion. Thirty five years later that radiation caused another huge tumor  to grow in the back of my right eye and so I had no real choice because it was right on the optic nerve and so when it’s on that optic nerve, the next step is the brain So my choice was do I take that out  and live? Now mind you my wife was pregnant with our second child, we just moved from the Bronx to the Poconos in a house… so my right eye was removed.  There’s no coming back from that.

DD:
Ahh, yes.  You can’t get an eye transplant?

TR:
No, there’s no such thing as an eye transplant. The amount of nerves  that are in the eye  is unlike any place else. But that’s ok!  I didn’t have a choice and that’s ok, you know because I  my family, I have my little girls you know and so  my thing was like you  stepping back from the industry, my thing was I’m raising my girls you know. I’m a keep working and do whatever I can and be a  you know a help to other people  be a you know, productive member of society  and all of that and I can do that when I’m blind. I like to say the only thing I can’t do is drive.

DD:
Well that tells me a funny story that  I thrown out to Stevie Wonder about doing a movie I used to tell when I was doing interviews and I still do but know people go like you’re really going to do that and I said yeah I’m going to do that. I was being interviewed and they said Dre you gonna do any more movies and I said yeah I’m going to do movies. I said right now I’m in conversation with Stevie Wonder , we’re doing this movie called Just Drive the Damn Bus! And everyone fell out. They said for real. I said yeah and in that movie you’re going to see  Stevie and I drive the bus.

TR:
Uh huh!

DD:
They were like, how are you going to do that?  I said that’s the point, you gotta see the movie. And I was joking about it right?And then I started working with  one of my partners and we started  coming up with a concept of the movie and  it was like, this could work. I said, it’s a movie! I said, but do you understand what would happen and he said  but how are you guys going to act in the movie? I said  the same way other people act  in a movie, you hit your mark, you say your lines you keep moving, that’s not an issue.

TR:
Right.

DD:
Stop making an issue of a non-issue.  And then I told, a matter of fact I told  I was talking to LL Cool j and I told him about it and he  fell out laughing. He said you’re serious. I said I’m dead serious, your gonna do that.
I don’t walk around with dark glasses on. My son says Dad put the glasses on  stop walking around… I said no people need to see my eyes the way they are. So what, it doesn’t matter.
I say this to say this to you. We may not know the technology that will exist to help you gain sight when you need it, but I believe in my heart with what you just told me and what just trinkled through me is you and I our meeting is not coincidental  and I can’t promise this, but I just have this feeling  in my gut you’re gonna get your sight, because you need to see your kids.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
[Exhales!]

DD:
I know you’re saying, how can that be done? I don’t know. I don’t have that answer yet. That answer may come next year, that may come in five years, we don’t know. When I put those goals in front of me  it gives me something to shoot for. Reality or not, that’s why I say  that thing about the movie,  just drive the damn bus… Bill said, you are nuts, you’re outta you… I said no I’m not. I said because we can do anything if you put your mind to it.  Remember seeing Star Trek the Next generation

TR [In conversation with Dre]

yeah, yeah, with Jody…

DD:
LaVar Burton! He put on a visor and  he could see. But when he went to do the movies  LaVar didn’t want that visor on his face they pulled it off and put something on his eyes…we don’t know what’s coming!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Right!

DD
Now if I could get in a DeLorean and go sixty years forward and grab it and pull it back  and say here put this on it works

TR [In conversation with Dre]
[Laughing….]

DD:
I don’t know!

TR [In conversation with Dre]

Right, right!

DD:
But we’re back to what the Fight Back is all about, choices!

TR [In conversation with Dre]

What you just said  helped me because the obstacles in front of me are not  necessarily just based on sight. And that goes into a really deeper conversation, but when you said  you get something from  that, there’s no way  I would want to take that away from you!

TR:
I’m not a dream killer and never want to be that!

Believing in the ability to regain sight doesn’t mean  not believing in the abilities of people who are blind.

Often though, that seems to be the message we hear from different organization in their fight against blindness.

The NY Times a few weeks ago ran an article with the headline;
The Worst that Could Happen? Going Blind, People Say
The article itself discussed some of the fears, and ways to prevent or slow
certain types of eye diseases, but
it did nothing to help ease that fear for
those who are facing  that in their present or future.

That’s not cool!

They only looked at vision loss from the medical perspective  ,
prevent the disease and there’s no longer an issue!

But there’s the society side!

That fear is what leads to people not wanting to in anyway associate themselves with blindness.
That fear and miseducation leads to that 70 percent unemployment.

But Dre’s not saying that.
His approach appears to be inclusive, holistic as in a full picture.

He’s straight up keeping his options open
I can support that!

Let’s do some shout outs!

First of all Doctor Dre,
thank you brother for the conversation,
for the courage and willingness to bring options to the people!
I hope to hear more about the Fight Back in the near future.

These next two shout outs come with a recommendation…
Audio: The Cipher Show theme[]

If you are a hip hop fan and like to hear background stories
from artists, journalists and those on the business side…
you need to check the cipher show.
Host Shawn Satero was kind enough to help make this interview happen.

It’s one of my favorite podcasts.

At least once every episode you will hear a person being interviewed say, Wow, you really did your research!”

you’ll hear it at least once an episode which lets you know it’s a quality show.

Shout out to Shawn and the Cipher show!

Shout out to Bill Adler who helped coordinate this with Dre.
BTW, Sir, please continue producing that Christmas  Mix Tape,
my daughter and I look forward to that Cipher episode each year.
No comments folks, I like the different cultural Christmas music and I ain’t ashamed to say it!

If your listening right now on Sound Cloud hit that follow button.
You can subscribe  via any podcatcher on your phone or tablet,
Apple, Android it doesn’t matter we’re outchere!

We’re on Stitcher and Tune In.

Got feedback?
Hit me at reidmymindradio@gmail.com … Remember Reid, is R E I D.

Thanks for listening!

Peace!

Hide the transcript

 

Reid My Mind Radio – Who is Joe Capers

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
A picture of Joe Capers, an African American man seated on a couch staring into the camera with sunglasses!

Joe Capers

En Vogue, Tony Tony Tone and more musical artists from Oakland could help answer this question. In this  episode we meet two gentlemen creating a documentary that will help others do the same.

The second part of today’s podcast explores Hip Hop from two angles you may have not known existed.
* Krip Hop Nation, an international network for artists with disabilities.
* Hip Learning,  using the rap element of Hip Hop to help children learn science and more!

So stop what you’re doing
Prepare to hear the words they say
The only way to do it…
Press on the button that says Play!

… Oh snap, #Bars son!


Subscribe & Follow


Resources

  1. Alternative Minds
  2. Krip Hop Nation
  3. The Best of Krip-Hop Nation on CD Baby

4. Hip Learning

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
What’s good family!
Happy Black History Month to everyone…
even if you don’t feel that’s something you celebrate or even really acknowledge.
The simple truth, if you are on this planet,
chances are great that you have been impacted by African American people. There’s so much from the world of invention, science and culture. An unfortunately, that’s not discussed during the other 11 months of the year.

Today’s episode includes a recent piece for Gatewave Radio that shows how sometimes people are like pieces in a puzzle. If one piece is missing, that full puzzle can never be complete.

Following the Gatewave piece you will hear more from two brothers who in their own way are expanding Black history. And ,  making sure we know, that includes people with disabilities.

Are You ready?
[Audio: “I know you’re gonna dig this!”]
[RMMRadio Intro]

[Audio Mix: “En Vogue, Tony Tony Tone, Digital Underground and MC Hammer!]
TR:
Today, the question, Who is Joe Capers?

In the 1980’s and 90’s  artist’s like , En Vogue,
Tony Tony Tony,
Digital Underground,
MC Hammer
all had a few things in common.
They all were based in Oakland,
each made their way to the top of the charts
and Joe Capers.

In order to find out who is Joe Capers,
I spoke with two gentlemen from California’s Bay Area.
First up, Leroy Moore, originally from the east coast, raised in Connecticut and New York City.

LM:
I’m an activist, journalist and author. I also started what’s called Krip-Hop Nation with a K. It’s an international network of musicians with disabilities. My disability is Cerebral Palsy. I had it since birth.

I found out about Joe Capers when I was doing radio. KpFA out here  in Berkley. They had a radio show about people with disabilities. Joe Capers was blind African American man here in Oakland in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. He had one of the first accessible home studios at that time.
TR:
That’s a full recording studio in the basement of his home. All sorts of Oakland artists from MC Hammer to En Vogue and others you may have never heard of recorded at Joe’s studio

Leroy learned of another person who could help further answer the question… who is joe capers?

Naru:
I got a call from Leroy one day, he said “Naru you knew Joe Capers?” I was like yeah Joe?

TR:
Meet Naru Kwina , an Oakland California  based artist and teacher. .

Naru:
Joe was just the coolest guy with the biggest smile.
Joe played the base, the drums the keyboards so he was a master musician.

TR in conversation with Naru:
Was Joe doing more of the production? Was he just kind of the studio owner? What was he actually doing?
***

Naru:
Listen brother! His studio was called “J-Jams Studio: Joe did everything.  He had his mix board in Braille. He recorded, he engineered he mixed, he produced. He did everything that you could every possibly do in the studio. And he had the greatest ear I have ever been around and I’ve  been doing music over 40 years of my life. If you had one note or one little thing off he knew and he would call you on it. You know because he was blind you thought you’d  get away with stuff.

TR:
Joe was a professional and  demanded that those  in his studio acted the same. Naru, who is also a rapper, and went by the name Quick back then, recalls the time when Joe instructed him to memorize his lyrics and not use written notes in the recording booth.

Naru:
I’m in the booth one day and I had my little paper… like nah he ain’t gonna know… [laughs] he was like bruh, I could hear the paper rattling in the booth. And he sent me home. He sent me home and told me not to come back until I knew my lyrics.

So he was really dedicated to the music and that dedication is still with me and when I started having my own studio and production I always said nope don’t come in here with no paper, learn your lyrics.
[Laughs] So I got that from Joe!

TR:
Learning more about Joe, Leroy was surprised others didn’t know him.

LM:
Oh my god, this man needs to be recognized in Oakland because he really changed the Oakland sound of Hip-Hop and Soul.

TR:
During that conversation between Naru and Leroy the idea was sparked.

Naru:
When I said you know somebody outta do a film about Joe, he [Leroy] said why don’t you do it. I said man, I’m not a film maker man… he said but  yeah you know people. Reluctantly, I took that upon myself.

TR:
there’s lots involved in the process.

Naru:
I just contacted people who had cameras, mics and I had to contact all the artists. I literally probably have  6 or 7 hours of interviews. Everybody from MC Hammer, Digital Underground, Dwayne Wiggins from Tony tony Tone and other people who just knew Joe on a personal level or recorded with Joe… who were closer with Joe. Some of the more interesting interviews are from people you would never heard about who Joe touched in a particular  way. I could just say that he’s still here with us because all the people he touched and how many people still  think about Joe.

TR:
What began as a 15 minute documentary about the career of Joe Capers has morphed into much more. Running his own studio known as J-Jams wasn’t solely a business venture. This was back in the error when recording music professionally required significant investment.
Large studios charged hundreds of dollars an hour for studio time.

Naru:
Joe was changing like between $20 or $25 an hour r. The quality of sound was on par with anything coming out of these big studios. Joe knew the music that we were doing.  He understood it better than some of the engineers who were  in these big studios who were used to . doing rock music or folk and country. Joe  understood the R&B  and the Hip-Hop… the need for that bottom.

TR:
While the music might be about that base, for Joe it included the chance to offer help and encouragement.

Naru:
He was also a teacher. He would take young kids off the street from time to time. Some people were actually living with him. He would teach young kids  to engineer. Pretty much gave at least  two people I know roofs over their heads until they got their act together. They might have been out doing some street business and he didn’t really want that.  So he was trying to teach people another way to make money and be successful.

LM:
Joe Capers taught newly blind people independent living skills.

TR:
Making a documentary takes a lot of patience and research. It also takes creativity. Not only in the traditional sense as in the filming and writing, but also in the approach to resolving real  challenges that inevitably arise.

In order to make up for a lack of video footage of Joe and artists in the recording studio, original animation is being incorporated into the film.

And I am pleased to report that plans are included for audio description, making the film more accessible to those with vision loss.
When complete the film will be distributed by way of local public television, online, film festivals and live screenings.
Events developed around the release of the film will include a live concert focusing on emerging artists including those with disabilities. The concert will be an annual event taking place in August. in Oakland, this now has significant meaning.

Naru:
I wouldn’t say we, I helped but Leroy was the most instrumental…

LM:
Every August is now Joe Capers month in Oakland. That’s the first  Black Disabled man that’s been recognized  by the city of Oakland.

TR:
Here’s how you can help contribute to the success of this film

Naru:***
I’m working on some more funding  right now that’s why  it’s slow going. Everything’s been like a labor of love  out of my pocket. And Leroy put some money in as well.

I have a nonprofit, it’s called Alternative Minds Foundation and so all our stuff is going through there with this film. It’s a 501-3C so everything is a tax write off for people who want to do that.

LM:
www.alternative-minds.com

Naru:
And just later on just telling people about it when it comes out. That’s probably the best way you could help spread the word.

TR:
It sounds like these two are the right   choice for telling Joe’s story.
Leroy, through his work with Krip Hop nation, an international network of musical artists including
rappers, dj’s, producers, dancers, spoken word artists and others, all with disability; have already presented an award in recognition of Joe’s contributions. This award was presented to his family in Georgia.

Naru who had a personal relationship with Joe, while not as familiar with blindness, did gain what some may see as a simple lesson, but in fact is one that advocates have spent a life time trying to convey.

Naru:
My understanding about a person who was blind  is very limited and probably very skewed. Being around Joe was very refreshing. He was just a regular person, did regular things. Loved to joke and laugh, play tricks on you  and all of that stuff. He was just like we say, a regular Oakland Cat!
[Laughter fades out]

TR:
This is Thomas Reid,

LM:
Oh my God, this man needs to be recognized.

for Gatewave Radio.
Audio for independent living!

[Audio: Taken from Rap Battle on MTV
“There’s no charity in a rap battle!”, Sway]

TR:
The first time I thought about Hip Hop and disability was just prior to me losing my sight.  It was the fall of 2003, I believe it was MTV2 who was airing a rap battle. One of the contestants included young rapper by the name of Blind Fury.  I remember thinking his opponent was corny. He got stuck on the blind and disregarded the fury.

Blind Fury by my account was indeed better and should have won that battle.  He was more lyrical,
had a method for finding out visual details about his opponents and  he had multiple flows.  I realized the perception of Blind Fury’s talent was based on his disability.

Why would blindness limit the ability to rap? It’s vocal, what’s the big deal.
Yes, battle rap might require the ability to quickly gain information about your opponent, but Blind Fury was making that happen too.

Eventually Blind Fury took his place in history with his success on  BET’s 106 and Park’s Friday Freestyle.

[Audio: From Wild Style… “South Bronx Subway Rap”, Grandmaster Caz ]

The truth is people with disabilities have been involved with hip hop since its origins.

Leroy prior to his interest in rap was into rock and heavy metal.

LM:
Ozzie Osbourne, Metallica, ZZ Top…
***

TR:
He was then introduced to Rapper’s Delight, from the Sugar hill Gang.

[Audio: rapper’s Delight, Sugar Hill Gang]

LM:
Back then you bought the record and tried to learn all the lyrics.

This is gonna be cool!

At that time I had a walker . So picture me  with my walker going to the subway to the Bronx. Here I am this skinny guy with a walker and everybody around me has muscles,  break dancing and all that stuff.
I was just a writer back then . I dabbled in poetry.  I always told myself that I want to get in the cypher
TR:
If you’re not familiar  with the ciphers,  rappers would get together to rhyme  with one another. A time to test your newly written verse or maybe freestyle. Picture a circle of rappers passing the imaginary microphone to one another. It’s a meticulous process. You wait your turn. And you better be ready because you are going to get instant feedback on your 16 bars, or your verse. This is the place where you truly hone your skills.
While the ciphers were often about seeing who had the better skills, these
groups of mainly African American and Latino young men attracted the attention of the police.
Becoming more familiar with Leroy’s presence, he was soon declared “The  Watch Man”.

LM:
Because you’re disabled  you can watch out for the cops. The cops won’t do nothing to you . When the cops came  I used to yell you know, “po po”  and they used to scatter.  They’d just leave me there with my walker  and the cops used to get so pissed off.

TR:
Leroy played his position . He listened to more and more music.

LM:
When Run-DMC came out and did “Walk this Way”  and mixed rock with rap I was like alright this is it!

TR:
[Audio: It’s Like That, Run-DMC]

Right before I was scheduled to speak with Leroy, I read an interview he did with Daryl McDaniel’s better known as DMC of Run-DMC fame.

Now, when I heard [It’s Like That] as a young teenager, I lost my  [Censored Beep] mind!

TR in conversation with Leroy:
What was that like meeting DMC?

LM:
Oh my God, you know, I told him I grew up with you… he’s like no no we grew  up together!
For me it’s one of the highlights of my journalism career.

I saw that DMC had a book out about his depression. I also knew that back in I think the late 80’s he had a voice disability. I was like ok, DMC needs to know about Krip-Hop.

TR:
And more people need to know about Krip Hop.

In general, people are uncomfortable with disability. They don’t understand what to say to a person, how to act, maybe there’s some fear of even thinking about disability…
You know what I’m talking about because chances are you experienced it from at least one side or both.

Leroy never did participate in any of those early Bronx ciphers, but Hip Hop did get into him.

One important aspect of art and culture, is seeing yourself represented on the screen, on the canvas or stage and in the music.

As a black disabled man, that doesn’t happen that often.

LM:
My father had a huge Blues record collection and of course as we know Blues artists were blind… like Blind Willie Johnson.
[Audio: “It’s Nobody’s Fault but Mine”, Blind Willie Johnson]

My father liked Robert Winters. Robert Winters had Polio  and walked with crutches…
[Audio: “Magic Man”, Robert Winters]

Wow,  there’s disabled Black  men that do music!

I think it played a really big part of where I am today with Krip-Hop.

This year is our 10th Anniversary and we have loose chapters…

TR:
These include countries within Africa, the UK, Germany and Spain.

[Audio: “Tales of the Krip-Hop”, Rob da Noize Temple]

With the network formed by Leroy and co-founder Keith Jones, the two being disabled activists, the focus continues to be on education and advocacy.

LM:
So we saw Krip-Hop as a way to bring awareness around the history of disabled musicians from the Blues to Hip-Hop and really educate and to push the Hip-Hop arena  around Ableism thinking around disability and to really say that disabled musicians have been here since the Blues.

TR:
Krip Hop Nation produces live events featuring all sorts of artists with disabilities including; dj’s, emcee’s, spoken word artist, dancers and more.
They have put out 4 CD’s including their latest.

LM:
Our 10th Anniversary CD just came out on CDBaby.com. It has Wonder Mike  from the Sugar Hill Gang, DMC from Run-DMC.

TR:
Two names you are probably familiar with, but some might be new…like;

George Tragic
[Audio: “Industry Epidemic”, George Tragic]

Wheelchair Sports Camp

[Audio: “Hard out Here for a Gimp”, Wheelchair Sports Camp]

Toni Hickman
[Audio: “Cripple Pretty”, Toni Hickman]

Rap music and hip hop culture ironically was birthed to some degree from
exclusion and isolation.
Young kids from the South Bronx who  didn’t have access to much
including instruments so turn tables and beat boxing became its  replacements.
Barred from the downtown discos and night clubs; the community centers and parks became their place to party.

[Audio: “This Can’t Be Life”, Prinz D]

Hip Hop is a culture that created an outlet for expression.
It’s common themes consist of stories about overcoming adversity,
rebelling against  oppression, yet the disability experience goes mainly unheard.

Obviously this isn’t exclusive to rap ,
but this music with its infectious beats and rhymes is perfectly suited for Communicating all types of information with
the intention of educating.
Whether changing commonly held beliefs or getting young students to recall all types of information.

[Audio: “Hip Science”, Naru Kwina]

That’s where Naru saw a way to use his love for hip hop and combine it with his love of teaching.

While working as an assistant teacher he had the challenge of trying to teach science to kindergartners.

Naru:
The kids were like “uh!”

At recess I heard them all outside, they were singing this song off the radio; the lyrics were horrible. [Laughs…]
But, man, they knew the whole song….
And a lightbulb went off like huh!…
If I could turn these lessons into music like that and get these kids excited I wonder if they would learn these lessons like they learned that song?

So I did a series of songs  about the body and gave them to my students, the CD’s to the parents  to take home and listen to and then we did some in class. I mean they caught it so fast, it was amazing.

And so I was just using it in class and people kept telling me you need to market  this… you need to do this you need to do  that…
I ended up applying for my first grant. It’s a grant called  the Creative Work Fund. It was a partnership with this organization called the African Scientific  Institute out here in Oakland. We got the grant. $35,000 grant. I was able to produce a play, the CD and pay a lot of people in my community as well to perform  and got other artist involved to  record with me. That’s about 10 years ago. I’m still doing it to this day. Outperforming , online sales. It became half of my career. I’m still an after school teacher but I do a lot of Hip Science. I enjoy it!

TR in conversation with Naru:
What was that reaction like from the other teachers? Were they cool with this or did you get any negative feedback from them?

Naru:
They were amazed. First of all I don’t think any of them knew I rapped. I don’t know why but I kind of kept that part of my life separate  from working with the children and never realized that was one of my strengths.
I should have been using it all along.
I never even thought it would be anything like that. I just wanted my kids to learn.

TR:
And it wasn’t just his kids that were learning.
Shortly after releasing the CD series he received a call from a company interested in the product.
Naru:
This company, it’s called Overbrook Entertainment and they wanted to buy [laughter] my whole business. I’m like what? I’m not selling my business. And it turns out that was Will Smith’s company. He was in town  in San Francisco  shooting the Pursuit of Happiness  and I don’t know how  he got my CD’s  but his kids were listening  to it. I never finished the negotiations because  they were talking about they wanted to have all the marketing … I wasn’t looking to sell. It was like  this  is my baby right here!

I was like wow, I know I’m doing something now if their trying to buy  my company man! [Laughs fade away…]

***

TR:
Doing something now, well that sounds like Naru’s default mode…
He creates music with his daughter who herself is a singer and rapper at the Oakland School for the Arts.

Naru:
Matter of fact, the first song she ever wrote with me  she was 3. It was called love is the thing It’s featured on Rosie O’Donnell Family is a Family documentary. We did a video for it and everything. It was real cool!

TR:
Over several summers, the two have written a book that’s now complete and he and his daughter are creating an accompanying soundtrack.

Naru:
It’s called Panela’s Journey. It’s a very fanciful tale of a young girl who’s struggling with her identity  in the world and  her place in the world and wondering why the world is the way it is. She seeks refuge in a fanciful place.
That  one should be coming out soon as well. We’re gonna have some augmented reality, apps that go along  with the book.

TR:
Continuing to put out his own music, his latest project should be out soon.

Naru:
Naru and Strong Soul and we are The Living Room Legends!

TR:
I have some links on the blog… Reid my mind .com if you want to check out more on both Leroy and Naru.

Salute to both of these brothers for the good work their doing, truly expanding the culture.

I don’t know about you but I feel like I have to start producing some    more content!

n that note, make sure you subscribe to this podcast.
Go to your podcast app of choice and search for Reid My Mind Radio… that’s R E I D.
You can also follow me on Sound Cloud soundcloud.com/t-Reid.

[Audio: RMMRadio Theme]
Thanks for listening.

Peace!

Hide the transcript

Reid My Mind Radio – Who is Girl Gone Blind

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

This episode features the latest Gatewave Radio piece answering the question; Who is the Girl Gone Blind?
Immediately following the piece, check out what happens when I run with a bit of inspiration from something I heard in my conversation with Maria Johnson, aka, A Girl gone Blind.

Picture of Maria Johnson

If you haven’t yet, make sure you Subscribe to RMM Radio bit.ly/RMMRadioSubscribe
– In the meantime, hit the Play button below!

 

Resources:

 

*Girl Gone Blind
*Girl Gone Blind on Twitter
*Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy

 

Transcript

TReid:
What’s good everybody, it’s me T to the R E I D!

I’m feeling good today and that’s by choice not by circumstance… let that marinate.
And in this latest episode of Reid My Mind Radio I’m featuring a piece I did for Gatewave Radio…

Check this out!

[RMMRadio Intro]

TReid:
Going blind is a real challenge.
Different for anyone who goes through the experience. It involves adjustments for almost every aspect of a person’s life.
Education, Employment mobility and independence.

Today you will meet someone sharing some of her experiences online, on the internet via her blog.

 

TReid:
Girl Gone Blind, is Maria’s space on the internet, her blog where she’s been sharing experiences, observations and information about her life as a, well, girl who has gone blind.

Her story begins in April 2013.

MJ:
I was working as a fitness instructor. I was working at three different locations and I was also running my own Boot Camp as well as doing the mom things – running around taking my kids everywhere you know volunteering and all that stuff. And I noticed there was a blurry spot in one of my eyes but I didn’t really think too much about it cause I was busy and After a month or two it really wasn’t going away.

TReid:
TReid
With no changes in her vision, she sought an answer.
Multiple optometrist, ophthalmologists ; all trying different tests…
MJ:
… many scans, MRI’s spinal taps, steroid treatments, they could not figure out what was wrong. I was completely healthy except there was a problem with my optic nerve.
>

TReid: Finally, she found a neuro Ophthalmologist who tested her DNA. In September 2013 Maria was diagnosed with LHON.

MJ:
Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. It is a mitochondria mutation that is passed down from the mother’s side. When the mutation is triggered you start to lose central vision. It can spread into the peripheral a bit, but most of the time your peripheral is saved.

Treid:
Within a month of receiving the diagnosis, Maria was legally blind.
Her response?!

MJ:
Ok, Now what?

TReid in conversation with Maria:
So you started experiencing vision loss and then you decide three months later you know what, I’m going to do this in public! [Laughter from both]

MJ:
Yeah, I know right!

TReid in conversation with Maria:
What made you do that?

MJ:
I thought about righting a blog previously as a health and fitness Guru if you will, but I never did. And so I always had that little bug in me I think.
When my vision loss came to a point where I had to deal with it, I thought you know maybe I should write about this?
Come January I basically wrote about what I’ve been going through and what actually was going on with my vision and what it was called.
I remember clicking publish and thinking uh [exhale] my gosh I hope, I hope somebody reads this. Well I got the hugest response. Positive response on this blog and people loved it!
They loved it and they were appreciative of my vulnerability and my openness to share what had been going on with me over almost the last year. I got the bug right then and there and said you know what I’m going to keep going with this because people like it.

TReid:
There’s no one size fits all plan for adjusting to blindness.
Chances are if a person is losing their vision and seeks assistance, they will learn of the vision rehabilitation system. For those fortunate enough to receive services, it would include personalized training to aid that person to remain as independent as possible.
That can mean getting back to work or school, learning how to perform all of the tasks they once did like cooking, traveling using a computer and more.
Maria figured out what she needed to go through the process.

MJ:
I realized I needed to get my head wrapped around this whole “I’m now blind” thing!
Before I could even attempt to figure out how I was going to you know cook or you know knit or [giggles] all the other things they wanted to teach me.
I thought I need to get my head wrapped around this. I actually need therapy, and I need counseling.

TReid:
Counseling to help work through the barrage of both feelings and thoughts about the loss not only of her sight, but all that comes with that;
her independence, her perception of herself, trying to figure out what it means to be blind.
Loss, is painful!

MJ:
I would lay on my bed you know crying and crying and crying and think [uh, gasp] how am I going to be a good blind parent?
How am I going to be the mom that I was.
How am I going to be the mom that I expect myself to be?

[Soft sad piano music]

MJ:
I honestly was planning on how I was going to exit this world.
And when I would do it.

MJ:
I thought, but you know I can’t leave my kids.

MJ: So I actually did therapy and group therapy weekly for about a year and a half. It helped me to know that all of my thoughts and feelings were totally normal. The things I was doing to propel myself forward everyday were the right things.
I will rank therapy as the number one thing that has helped me adjust to this new life.

TReid:
In addition to the emotional, Maria was trained in orientation and mobility.

I assumed Maria was proficient with technology and probably received training in either magnification or screen reading software.
So I had to ask about something I read on one blog post.

TReid in conversation with Maria:
You use dictation. Is that still your choice of input?

MJ:
It is, it is, it is.

TReid in conversation with Maria:
Do you do any keyboarding?

MJ:
Ok, here’s the back story on all of that!
alright, so I was always a pretty good typist when I was sighted.
Then I’m telling you Thomas, when I lost my vision and I could not see my keyboard any more….

[Fades out and Narration over MJ…]
>
TReid:
I am a big proponent of technology for all. Especially people with disabilities.
In some sense I’m an Access Technology evangelist…
I’ll tell anyone who will listen about the benefits it affords to people with vision loss or other disability.
I’m also a strong believer in the need to be proficient enough with a keyboard if physically possible
in order to have maximum control over your technology.

I did give Maria a bit of a hard time about her reliance on dictation.
But I’m not judging her!

Judgement, that’s one of the things that’s scary about
sharing personal stories.

TReid in conversation with Maria:
Have you regretted anything you published?

MJ:
I’ve made it a real point to keep it to just my own experiences. What I’ve been through. The good the bad and the ugly and the and the crazy , the funny, but then you know there’s nothing to regret.

TReid:
So is keeping an online journal helpful to the adjustment process?

MJ:
I think where it helped me is I was able to put my emotions and my story out there and I knew inside that maybe it would help somebody else either relate or understand what I was going through. And on the other hand, I do feel it hindered me a bit because I was drumming up all these emotions that were really quite difficult for me.

TReid:
Girl Gone Blind has lead Maria to other outlets

MJ:
I knew that if I wanted to start making something of Girl gone Blind I probably needed to get on Twitter and I needed to start reaching out to all of these other avenues. And that’s where RNIB Connect Radio discovered me.
Now I do a weekly segment for them ; chatting with Girl Gone Blind as a Lifestyle Blogger. We talk about different issues and different situations that we encounter.
I also do a podcast, we call it the LHON Report. We do interviews with people in the LHON community and we also talk about our experiences.
This has turned into this wonderful place that I have set myself in and I absolutely love doing it and it’s so weird for me to say that I love what I do and it’s all because I lost my vision.
It’s been a crazy three years but I’m headed to a good place I just know I am and I’m just going to keep that arrow pointed that way and see where it goes.

TReid in conversation with Maria:
Sounds like a great plan

MJ:
Oh And I’m going to learn how to type Thomas…

TReid in conversation with Maria:
Yes! Yeah!

MJ:
Giggles… Goals, Blind goals.

TReid:
There it is! Hash tag Blind Goals. (#BlindGoals)

[Laughter from both and MJ claps her hands!… audio fades out]

TReid:
Maria Johnson is journaling her way through her adjustment to blindness. She’s a girl gone blind, but she’s not traveling alone.

She’s inviting those with LHON , those experiencing vision loss and others to ride along. Hopefully relate to the experiences and maybe even be inspired to continue on their own paths.

Remember that thing about Maria not using the keyboard?
The truth is Maria didn’t let that become an excuse for not starting or maintaining her blog.

She held on to three words that she says can help her through most things…

MJ:
IGotThis! That was my mantra. I got this!

For more on Maria?

MJ:

My website is girlgoneblind.com.
I’m on Facebook at Girl gone Blind
and on Twitter a@Girl_Gone_Blind
And on Instagram @GirlGoneBlind.

TReid:
I’m Thomas Reid

[MJ: It is, it is, it is!]

TReid:
for Gatewave Radio,
[MJ: Ok, now what?]

TReid:
audio for independent living!

Following the Gatewave story, I included a “song” created using Maria’s words specifically “I got this”.

Reid My Mind Radio: A Note on Notes on Blindness

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

In this episode of RMM Radio, I take a look at Notes on Blindness, a new film released in the US and premiering in NYC. It’s the story of John Hull who recorded his thoughts, observations and more on audio cassette. This Gatewave story includes a conversation with Co-Director Peter Middleton.

 

Scenes from the movie Notes on Blindness super imposed in the head of John Hull.

It’s pretty hard to watch a movie about someone going blind without thinking of my experience. Checkout some of my own personal recordings included in this episode.

 

If you haven’t yet, make sure you Subscribe to RMM Radio bit.ly/RMMRadioSubscribe
– In the meantime, hit the Play button below!

 

Resources:

 

Transcript

 

TReid:

 

Today I am sharing a recent piece for Gatewave Radio. A first of sorts for me.
A story about a new film being released in the United States on the topic of blindness.

This was a challenge for me, I’ll tell you why after you take a listen.

Let’s Go!

[Sample from Kurtis Blow’s AJ… “1, 2, 3, 4 hit it!]
Music … Reid My Mind Radio Theme

[Notes on Blindness Audio:
John Hull:
This is cassette 1 , track one, um… fades out]

TReid:
This audio is from the movie titled Notes on Blindness, just released in New York City and playing at the Film Forum.

Theologian, John Hull using a cassette recorder, documented his experience and thoughts as his vision faded beginning in 1983.

The film was produced using both actual   tape of John Hull and his family as well as interviews he and his wife Marilyn had with co-directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney.

Actors portray John and his family, but they are lip syncing to the recorded dialog.

I spoke with co-director peter Middleton (PM) via Skype.

PM:
Using film to try and convey the sightless experience is quite an exciting creative challenge for us. So undoubtedly there was that sense of artistic project which first attracted James and myself to John’s story.

TReid in conversation with PM:
Water seems to play a big role; the idea of the rain, the tsunami…

PM:
We can’t take much credit for that. It’s all in John’s account. After losing sight he had these incredible powerful operatic dreams that were, often water was this kind of analogous feature of them…
He would have dreams of water sort of rushing down and sweeping his children away and dragging him to the depths of the ocean. And all this kind of very powerful imagery that was just absolutely kind of laced throughout his account. And of course the connotation of water as the bringer of life.

TReid:
Remember, The original audio used throughout the film was recorded via cassette in the 1980’s. Audio restoration, editing and sound design  are other artistic elements of the film.

It was the inclusion of audio description that gave me access to some of the visual techniques used to tell the story.

Like Shadows, blurred or out of focus fades and sun spots.
Darkness acting like periods, concluding a statement, some times
an exclamation mark or bold emphasis highlighting a turning point in his life.

Peter says audio description served more than giving people with vision loss access.

PM:
Since we’ve been releasing as well we’ve been trying to open this conversation around accessibility and different ways people could approach the film so it has taken on that kind of social angle as well which we’re very  much relishing and very much hoping to push further.
TReid:
In addition to the audio description, a Virtual Reality experience and enhanced audio version were created.

PM:
Which rather than having an external audio narration as you would do in audio description, actually built in  more narration from John and Marilyn, the key subjects of the film, along with sort of sound design and music. We’ve been releasing these audio tracks with a smart phone app that allows audiences to sync that up in cinemas or on TV o\r on DVD or home  or what have you.

TReid:
Director Peter Middleton said John Hull was very specific about assuring that Peter and his Co-director James Spinney understood this was just one experience.

PM:
He was always careful to point out that he didn’t intend to speak for or on behalf of anybody. So we were aware that our kind of knowledge and our experience of blindness is very much refracted through his subjective story and subjective account.

TReid:
Yet a close examination can provide some insight into the shared vision loss experience. Like the strong need to continue.
For some that means continuing an education or a hobby.
In Hull’s case it meant his career.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull recalling a conversation :
No, look, how do blind people read big books?
They said, they don’t!]

TReid:
Finding new ways for accomplishing a task, well that’s a big part of a person’s adjustment to blindness.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull:
The first thing I did was build a team of people to record books for me

With ingenuity and a little bit of help there were problems that could be solved.]

TReid:
Resolving some of these basic difficulties offers hope!

Until… the next even more difficult problem arises.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull:
It wasn’t until The final tiny bit of light sensation slowly disappeared that my mood changed.]

TReid:
Another obstacle in the process of adjusting to blindness, , maintaining or establishing relationships.

Hearing his daughter scream as she plays in the garden,
John tries to quickly get to her aid.

[Notes on Blindness Audio plays in the background.]

When he arrives , Marilyn is comforting her and already has the problem under control.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull:
That was a frightening moment.]

He struggles with feelings  of inadequacy as a father.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull:
The discovery that you are useless is not a nice discovery for any father to make.]

Relationships with his wife, parents and even with God are all parts of his own journey.

Notes on Blindness, while a personal portrait of one man’s experience losing vision, is a poetic but practical look at the journey through loss.

Take for example, the role and importance of adaptations.

[notes on Blindness Audio playing in the background.
John his son Thomas saying bye to one another. ]

After Walking his son Thomas to school in the morning,
we watch as the father and son practice their special way of saying goodbye.
It’s the equivalent of both child and parent watching one another move further apart while assuring both the other is just still close
enough if needed.

[Notes on Blindness Audio: Their exchange of goodbyes growing further apart and his son Thomas’ voice fades with each goodbye.
John Hull describing the practice:
Echoing in chorus!]

We witness not only the bonding between father and son, but Hull’s appreciation for these small yet meaningful adaptations in his life.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull:
“I Love this!”]

Treid:
It’s not a movie for just the audience.

TReid in original conversation with PM:
What have you personally learned about blindness after all of this work?

PM:
Spending so much time with John and being able to listen to his account and researching has lead us to further research on different kind of people’s experiences. It’s been an incredibly fascinating process for us.

TReid:
Vision, often considered as the most feared sense to lose, yet the dialog offered by Hull and the sound design and music have a very calming effect. As if saying, it will all be  alright. Or maybe that’s just my final note on blindness.

The film has been nominated for 6 British Independent Film Awards including:
Best British Independent Film
Best Debut Director
Outstanding Achievement in Craft

You can catch Notes on Blindness beginning November 16  in New York City
at the Film Forum. Other cities are soon to follow. As well as on demand distribution in the future.
Visit BlindnessMovie.com for more on dates and information.
you can find them on Twitter @OnBlindness

I’m Thomas Reid;

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull and son Thomas exchange goodbyes…
John Hull:
Until his voice becomes faint.]

TReid:
For Gatewave Radio

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull and son Thomas exchange goodbyes…]

TReid:
audio for independent living.

[Notes on Blindness Audio
John Hull: “I love this!”]

T.Reid:
When I received an email asking if I were interested in doing a story on a new movie called Notes on Blindness, my first thought was …
“I don’t think you’re going to want me to do that!”

I like to profile people who are doing things that ultimately dispel the misperceptions about blindness.

I’m cynical  when it comes to movies  about blindness and disability.
My experience says they are probably going to be the sappy  oh look at this poor guy or wow, isn’t this person so amazing!

This, was not that!

Naturally I thought of my own experience while watching.
I guess you could say it was a comparison of notes!

The scene when he rushed to his daughter after hearing her scream;
I had my own similar experience and questioned my usefulness in emergencies.
Fortunately, I realized there’s no way I’m useless… as Hull felt at that time.

Again, the experience of blindness is specific to the individual.

One scene, John talks about how he can no longer
conjure up an image of his oldest daughter or his wife…

I never experienced that…
In fact I vividly remember both and
way more.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler so I’ll share that Hull comes to see blindness as a gift.
He’s clear to say it’s not a gift he would want for his children, but he recognizes there’s something there.

I don’t think I ever referred to it as a gift, but I know it’s not a curse.

I found myself very much curious about how John’s vision loss impacted his children. Specifically, his oldest daughter Imogen  who was around the same age as my oldest when I went blind.
She reflects on her relationship  with her father both as a child an as an adult in a short film titled Radio H.

[Audio from Radio H]

Notes on Blindness was focused on Hull’s experience with blindness and
not much time interacting with his kids.
At least not much that showed a playful side.
Like the tapes he made of his children performing and
him telling adventure and spooky stories.

It reminds me of some of the early recordings I did with my kids…

[Audio of Thomas and his children when they were younger.]
I’m a  sucker for Daddy Daughter stories!
For more on Notes on Blindness or Radio H;
see the links in the resource section included with the notes for this episode on Reid My Mind.com.

While you’re there, hit that subscribe button or subscribe to Reid My Mind Radio via iTunes.

Peace!

Reid My Mind Radio – Are Blind Conferences Fantasy

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Back from another Pennsylvania Council of the Blind Conference. This is not a recap.

After all of these years, this was the first time I recall hearing that such conferences  have been described as fantasy. Fantastic! Yes, but I never heard them described as being a fantasy.

Unicorn with Sunglasses

You could say this is my opinion on  the idea or you could just say it’s what was on my mind!

If you haven’t yet, make sure you Subscribe to RMM Radio
– In the meantime, hit the Play button below!

 

 

Transcript:

Just about two weeks ago now, I attended my 11th conference of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind.

My first conference was in 2006. I attended with a group representing the newly formed Monroe County  Council of the Blind or as we called it MCCB. We were considered a young, energetic  and extremely enthusiastic bunch of new comers to the organization.

Most of the group were newly adjusting to blindness. The MCCB itself was formed after we met at a local support group and decided we wanted to do more with our energy than talk about the issues.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for talking and sharing our stories to help one another better manage the experience, but for many of us we were used to doing more and had a need to put our energy to good use.

I’m sure each of us who attended that first conference had our own expectations. I don’t fully remember what I expected, but I know I was open to learning. I can definitely recall trying to process so many different emotions throughout the weekend and during the first few weeks to follow.

Even today some things really stand out from the experience.

Like when one of our members Mary Ann,  was given a Braille menu at an Olive Garden during dinner on our first night at the conference.

Her excitement was infectious! It was just a menu! In fact, it was just Olive Garden – no shots, I enjoy the breadsticks and salad!

As the only proficient Braille reader in the group, Mary Ann immediately designated herself as the official menu reader for the rest of the group who did not read Braille, but even for those who could read print.
And the group honored that request, not as though they had a choice!

As a new advocate at the time, I was both excited for her but yet upset that she was still so surprised by the availability of the menu. Obviously something she did not experience often.

The next morning, I got my first glimpse of an accessible tour of what I recall was a train museum.

The tour guides used descriptive language as opposed to assuming everyone could see and recognize various features about the characteristics of these historic trains.

Some of the materials were available in alternative formats to standard print including Braille and large print for those with low vision

This may not seem like a big deal for those in the know, but when you’re new to blindness and beginning to believe you have to get used to just missing out on certain things;
observing that it doesn’t really take that much effort to be included, well it’s a real awakening.

I recently heard these types of tours and activities or even the conferences themselves  described  as fantasy.
The idea is that this is not and will never be the real world. The real world I guess in the minds of those who believe this is fantasy will always  exclusively cater only to those with sight and forever exclude people with vision loss.

At various times  throughout my journey with vision loss I came close to believing things can’t change. My struggle with cynicism was only made worse  with the random encounters with those who remind me that they see me first as a blind man and their definition of that goes beyond my inability to see.
For them it’s the subconscious stereotypes and misperceptions that create their image of who I am. the things I do or don’t do are viewed through a lens painted with layers of misinformation that so much of society has been lead to believe about blindness and disability.

Being conscious of that  comes with a price.
I can sometimes put more pressure on myself to   do something “right” believing that if I veer off course or make a simple mistake I may confirmed a false truth about blindness.

The fantasy world of blind conferences or conventions actually provided me a place to practice all of my blindness skills in a friendly atmosphere.
These conferences also  offered me a chance to relieve myself of the burden of believing I had to represent every blind person in the world.

There are times when I can get up from my chair during a conference  and almost perfectly walk out of the room using my white cane and easily navigate my way to my destination.

Then there are the other times when I get a little side tracked for various reasons.

These conferences have over the years taught me that both results are okay.
There’s no perfection.
People with all levels of  Orientation and mobility skills have and do both.  People with 20/20 vision do both.

it’s not my responsibility to explain how my cane tapping against  a planter or some obstacle in the middle of the room is not a sign that I am lost, but rather me gaining access to that information to determine which is the best course to avoid that obstacle.

I can’t change what someone else sees. This is determined by their experience and knowledge , not me. I know there are those who will lump all people who are blind together.
We share the experience of blindness, but for many that’s it! We’re different in so many ways.

Maybe these conferences are considered fantasy based on the cooperation and the way people tend to work together.

Since that first conference, I watched how people with all different levels of vision loss could help one another.

The person in the elevator who has low vision searching for the right button extends their gratitude to the person with no sight whatsoever who quickly identifies the button using Braille.

the teamwork of one gentleman using his white cane while  supporting a man with both vision loss and mobility challenges , slowly losing his strength, make his way to his hotel room.

Throughout the weekend, I witnessed people  all in support of one another. I saw more to blindness than I did prior to the conference. It confirmed that  not only was I right in thinking my vision loss didn’t have to mean more than I can’t see. It didn’t reduce who I am as a person. it didn’t put me in another class of people. It didn’t in any way impact my competence, my manhood my spirit. It simply means my eyes no longer work and I need to figure out other ways to get the information that I need to do certain things.

Since 2007 I’ve been a part of the conference planning team and I have been the coordinator  since about 2010 . My hope each year is that those newly adjusting to blindness will walk away from the conference  believing  that what some see as a fantasy is really inevitable.

There are changing demographics that make accessibility  a much more mainstream term today than even in 2004 when I was first introduced to that word.

Companies like Apple have committed to accessibility  making so many things usable for people with disabilities.
Smart phones and their apps
Television and movies along with audio description
indoor navigation which basically brings  GPS inside.

All of this progress is real!
We can touch it,  put it to use today and measure its effectiveness.

However, we’re not able to count the degree in which the attitudes are changing.

For many people the last few years have been an awakening to things that have existed since this country’s beginning.

The police brutality against people of color
Law enforcement’s corruption and cover ups of these incidents
Racist ideologies and behavior throughout society.

Camera’s and demagogues like Trump bring all of this to the forefront for all to see and confront.

Meanwhile those in the communities effected have been raising their voices in protest forever. The larger society not wanting to believe it or refusing to believe this could be true simply lowered the volume control and went on with their lives.

Blindness according to multiple surveys is ranked as America’s greatest fear… even more than death.

Some of these surveys are as recent as August 2016.

We know that people fear what they don’t know or understand.

This level of ignorance in 2016 is not surprising  but also not excusable.

The other side of this ignorance are those who are overly amazed by blind people living their lives every day.

Successfully living lives shouldn’t be considered amazing.

Maybe then we raise the bar for what we expect from people with vision loss and others with disabilities. And there’s no doubt that these expectations would be met.

In no way will I frame my perspective as a fantasy. It’s in progress. The more access gained the more people will have a chance to hear our voices, learn of our stories and rid themselves of their fears. It’s happening, just watch!