Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

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: Structured Negotiation – Not Just For Lawyers

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

This episode of Reid My Mind Radio is brought to you by  The RAE of Hope; Shining a light  on a rare childhood eye cancer.
Watch the stories of people impacted by Retinoblastoma, a rare childhood eye cancer. Then share in order to help us spread awareness!

A picture of Attorney Lainey Feingold standing at a microphone

 

Getting back from the break and looking forward to producing  some new stories. I have some ideas but like most things I need to figure out some creative ways to gain access. I’m talking both physically and even virtually…

Today’s Gatewave Radio piece features Lainey Feingold who herself has done much to improve accessibility in the real and virtual world. Her book Structured Negotiation: A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits is now available and as you will hear in today’s piece, it offers so much to those outside of the legal community.

Resources:

 

Transcript

TR:
1, 2, 1, 2 is this thing on
1, 2, 1, 2 is this thing on!
[laughs]

Back again, after a brief hiatus during the summer. Unfortunately, not a summer vacation rather a working, very working summer.
Before we get into this latest piece for Gatewave Radio I wanted to share just a quick note and bring your attention to something that we do every year here on the Reid Compound – that’s my family and I, the whole Reid family. We used to call it pennyPushUps but now it’s actually now called The RAE of Hope and you can go check that out a at Facebook.com/TheRAEOfHope. And the RAE is  R A E  of hope The RaE of Hope.It’s an awareness and fundraiser campaignsupporting children with eye cancer as well as the organization World Eye cancer Hope.

It’s stories about people who have been impacted by this eye cancer.
These stories are in video format however they are fully accessible, the stories are told fully in audio. And this year I am happy to say we  are also including closed captions on the videos that are on YouTube. It’s just a little easier of a process to get the captioning on YouTube than it was for Facebook.

So again, Facebook.com/TheRAEOfHope . You can check out our playlist on YouTube using the short link bit.ly/TheRAEofHope2016. All the links are included with this post.

I’ll be back after this latest piece for Gatewave Radio , Structured Negotiation, it’s Not Just for Lawyers.

TR: In any advocacy movement, you have a number of people who to most remain nameless. they’re not the face of the movement, they don’t have the loudest voice, but they make things happen.

Meet Attorney Lainey Feingold (LF). When it comes to some very noteworthy advocacy success stories, she’s  been involved. In fact, she developed the blue print to a method for reaching agreements called structured negotiation.

LF: Structured negotiations is a way to resolve legal claims without filing a lawsuit.
It grew out of the blind communities desire for accessible technology. Specifically it grew out of the quest for the talking ATM’s back in the 1990’s.

TR: The banks all agreed and not only was that the beginning  of structured negotiations, it was also the beginning of talking ATM’s.

TR: [Asking in conversation during recorded interview,  not narration]
So  how exactly does it work?

LF:  It first starts with the group of people who would be called plaintiffs in a law suit. In structured negotiations their called claimants.
In my work with the  blind community that means individual blind people or blind organizations that have a legal claim but would like an alternative method for resolving it.

TR: To make the process even more clear, Lainey walked me through  a real life example of the process using  a case that is as American as apple pie

[Sounds of baseball stadium including applause, organ music and bat hitting ball followed by cheers!]

TR: Unable to access key features on the MLB website, blind baseball fans
contacted Lainey and her longtime colleague Linda Dardarian.

LF: <> We wrote a letter to Major League Baseball. Bay State Council of the Blind was the core organization behind that effort. We introduced the organizations we introduced the individuals. We said to Major League Baseball you know there’s a lot of blind baseball fans out there they don’t have access to the online games, they can’t access the statistics because you haven’t coded your web site properly. This violates the ADA, but rather than file a lawsuit we’d like to work with you and get the problem fixed. Major League Baseball answered our letter and that was the start of a really great relationship that  continues to this day.

TR: Once all the parties agree to move forward with structured negotiations the next step is agreeing and signing a ground rules  document.

LF That just acknowledged that we’re  doing this process instead of a lawsuit, protected certain confidential information, made sure no one would be penalized.

Then we started a process of meetings. Most of them were on the phone.

TR: Teleconferences made it possible for all the parties located on both coasts to be involved .
The next step is identifying and agreeing on the experts which Lainey says can lead to lots of battles in a lawsuit.

LF: Major League Baseball worked with experts that we recommended. They worked with blind baseball fans around the country, they improved their website, they improved their mobile app, we did testing along the way and  at the end of the process we negotiated a settlement agreement just like an agreement that would have been negotiated had a lawsuit been filed.

TR: Similar to a lawsuit settlement, built into the agreements are methods for monitoring and enforcement.
But unlike a lawsuit, both of these parties are working together and actually  building a relationship with shared goals.

LF: we run into problems with enforcement but when we do we have the relationships to make sure those problems are fixed.

Until I got involved in the issue, I had never really thought about how do blind people access the print information on a standard prescription

Some people use rubber bands to distinguish .
One rubber band is this prescription two rubber bands is that prescription. Or they’ll keep the medication in different places and try to remember which is which.
without talking prescription labels it is a very dangerous situation for blind people.

Even in some of the companies that we worked with, because there are so many stores it’s possible that even with a company that offers talking labels, a blind person can walk in and the person behind the counter doesn’t have any idea what they’re talking about.
So, I do have a post on my website that details what all the companies are doing in the United states with phone numbers to contact if there’s a problem.
TR: Working on more than 70 cases over the past 20 years, Lainey is clearly passionate about the issues.

LF: I  really just wish I could broadcast this from the rooftops!

TR: I guess she could do that, but people would think she’s a bit off. rather, she wrote a book detailing what she learned after 20 years’ worth of cases.
It’s called structured negotiation: A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits.
published by the American Bar Association

LF:  I wrote so that advocates and potential clients and organizations could read it and understand that this is an alternative to filing a lawsuit that could be used for lots of different kinds of cases.

I’m not the only person who uses it. We have a wonderful disability rights bar association that’s national. Other lawyers  have started to use the process.
TR: Despite the success, Lainey says, lawsuits have their place.

LF: Lawsuits can be very important to moving society forward. I give some examples of cases; marriage equality or Olmstead. There’s a tremendous number of cases that needed to be filed..

TR: The book isn’t just for lawyers and advocates
Lainey writes about the back story to cases she has worked on over the past 20 years focusing on accessible technology.
It’s also a resource for those who want to get an understanding and develop the mind set to work in collaboration.

LF: You need to have an attitude of cooperation. Which is different from the attitude you need to  be fighting with somebody.

TR: [Asking in conversation during recorded interview,  not narration]
You’ve been working with the blind community for over 20 years now, what sort of things have you taken away from relationships that you’ve built?

LF: you know I wasn’t familiar with disability issues at all until I somewhat randomly took a 4 month position as the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF) in 1992.
I was planning to stay for 4 months instead I stayed for 4 years .
So it’s really just been an amazingly great way to be able to practice law  and have clients that are friends and to understand the disability community from inside of it.

TR: The next time you’re completing a transaction at a store  using an accessible point of sales terminal to process your  credit or debit card, or you’re making use of a talking prescription label or ATM, keep in mind that those things came about because of people like Lainey  developing relationships making a more accessible world for all.

To reach Lainey you can visit her on her web page which
by the way is a great example of a well-organized accessible site.
She’s at LFLegal.com
You can send her email directly at lf@lflegal.com.
She also posts about accessibility on Twitter at @lflegal.

her book, Structured negotiation: A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits is currently available via the American Bar Association’s website. For those with print impairments it is available on Bookshare.org.

Big thanks to you Lainey for helping to make the real and virtual world more accessible.

I’m Thomas Reid, for Gatewave Radio

[LF: “I  really just wish I could broadcast this from the rooftops!”}

Audio for Independent Living!

TR:

A few months ago, I began incorporating transcripts into  all of the audio  I produce for ReidMyMind Radio. I made sure that this year’s Retinoblastoma Awareness & Empowerment campaign for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month included closed caption.

Lainey actually had a big influence on that.

It was during our conversation that she mentioned  how she pays for the production of transcripts in order to make sure anything she is doing is accessible.

<RMM>

I had to think about that for a while…

As an advocate for access, I want others to realize why things should be accessible to people with vision loss, but I’m creating things that are inaccessible to a segment of the population.
Plain and simple, I had to check myself.
Yes, it’s a little extra work, but it actually improves my process… once again proving that accessibility has benefits that go beyond the community receiving access.
I’m in no way patting myself on the back – because I don’t deserve that.
I am thanking  Lainey for helping me become better at accessibility.

Peace!

Reid My Mind Radio: Comics Empower

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

When we think of comic books, we think of rich colorful graphics, heroes with super natural powers and often fantastic out of this world story lines. Comic books entertain. Guy Hassan believes comic books are not exclusive to the visual medium. And even more than that, he believes comics…Empower!

Comics Empower logo and a scene from Aurora - a man's eyes are burned as he arches his head toward the sky yell with arms stretched out.

Comics Empower’s Aurora

 

So much so that he created the website ComicsEmpower.com and launched Aurora, a series featuring a protagonist that is blind.

In this latest episode of RMMR, hear the piece produced for Gatewave Radio featuring Guy Hassan. It also includes Chad Allen, one of the winners of a comic book writers    contest sponsored by Comics Empower.

 

Resources:

Comics Empower

@ComicsEmpower on Twitter

Chad Allen

 

 

Reid My Mind Radio: Be Their Eyes?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

A picture of a Samsung phone in the middle of a corn field...Corny!

On my mind this week, an advertising campaign called #BeTheirEyes from Samsung. It’s taking place in Hong Kong. Samsung’s asking sighted individuals to take pictures of various monuments and describe them for people who are visually impaired…

Take a listen to my thoughts on this endeavor and let me know what you think about the campaign. Let’s chat about it in the comments.

 

l

2016 Oscars Audio Description Included?

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

This past Sunday February 28 I tuned into the 88th Academy Awards to hear how Chris Rock handled the so called controversy. If you’re not familiar, with several movies this year featuring African American actors delivering what many would describe as Oscar worthy performances, for the second year in a row not a single African American or to my knowledge any person of color was nominated for an Oscar. Jada Pinkett Smith, actor and wife to Will Smith who delivered one of those performances, decided to call for a boycott. Now I know many are thinking, “Yo T, how the hell does that relate to audio description? Hang on, I’ll get there!

Chris Rock who was scheduled to host the Oscars prior to the call for a boycott was urged by some to quit. I didn’t agree with that. In fact, if we had some sort of “Black Council” formed to deal with such matters, and I was appointing the person to address the issue in the role of host, I honestly can’t think of another entertainer who could do a better job. Chris hits hard, no apologies, but does it in a way that is funny and entertaining to most. He can administer the medicine which may be hard to swallow for some, but it goes down. And everybody’s getting some medicine!

His opening monolog put the issue into perspective while the simple summary captured the goal of the ultimate desire prompting a boycott “…we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors.”

Following Chris’ monolog I was half listening to the list of nominees in the first category; when I noticed the voice of one of the presenters providing audio description for the nominated scene. I stopped browsing the web and listened carefully. Unfortunately, by that time, the winner was announced and I didn’t even hear which category. I thought to myself, “Wow, do they actually have a category for best description?” I went back to the web. A few minutes later, once again I hear what sounds like audio description. This time coming from no other than Russell Crow. I know that voice, that’s Gladiator, I can tell you details about the day I saw that movie – if you have a lot of time to spare!

So by this time, I was getting excited. Yes, I get pretty happy when there’s an effort made to include access for me and others with vision loss. I’m a fan of movies and now I almost only watch a movie if it includes audio description.

If it weren’t for the Oscar’s lack of diversity as in #OscarsSoWhite, I wouldn’t have heard about the inclusion of description. I’m pretty in tuned to the blindness community and things related. Shouldn’t I have heard that the Academy Awards were offering audio description?

I sat up, grabbed my digital recorder in anticipation of the next category. I’m going to express my gratitude, I thought. I want to publicly congratulate the Academy for including me, including us! The next category is announced and I hit record…, nothing! No description. “Ok, that makes sense, “I think to myself, “way too much dialog in the scene to include description.”

Fast forward through the next few categories…, nothing!

“Ouie, What’s up with that…!” – Keenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live

So was I the only person hearing voices that night?

Nope. From the clip above someone else heard it.

 

2016 Oscars Audio Description, What happened?

  • You missed the other categories including description (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The description included was only applicable to the first two award categories. (0%, 0 Votes)
  • This was a test for some future project. (0%, 0 Votes)
  • It was a tease! (0%, 0 Votes)
  • You are hallucinating. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 0

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As with every under represented group of people…”We just want to be included”