Posts Tagged ‘BCAD Chat’

Blind Centered Audio Description Chat: Talking Training

Wednesday, January 18th, 2023

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

Join Us Live

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

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


Transcript – Created By Cheryl Green

Show the transcript

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

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

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

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

Hide the transcript

Blind Centered Audio Description Chat: Blind Professionals in AD

Wednesday, January 4th, 2023

Prior to this live chat, we polled the AD Twitter Community to see which one of three pre-selected topics most interested the people… The winner… Blind professionals in the audio description business. Whether we’re talking about narration, quality control, audio editing and writing, many want to know how they can get started. During this conversation we hear about the importance of having a foundational skill set and exactly how that goes beyond audio description.

Join Us Live

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

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


Transcript – Created By Cheryl Green

Show the transcript

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

NEFERTITI: So, everybody, hello. I’m Nefertiti Matos Olivares. And this is the Audio Description Twitter Space all about what? Audio description! Yes. And we are so glad you are here. We wanna welcome you tweeps, and so glad for those of you who are with us live. And if you’re listening to the replay, that’s cool too. I am honored to be your MC this evening, and I’m joined by my capable, classy, and at least in one case, curly haired co-host. That’s Cheryl, ’cause Thomas got that smooth, bald head thing going on, right, Thomas?
THOMAS: Yeah, but if I let it grow back it’s curly. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Okay. Me too! My natural hair is curly too.
THOMAS: Yeah, yeah. [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: You know what? We’re all curly hairs here. But you know what? I’m getting into self-description. So, before I get too get ahead of myself and start describing people, always remember that this is a space that prides itself in centering blind people. Audio description was made for and by blind people. By blind people for blind people. And so, our focus will always be blind people. That’s, of course, not to say that sighted folks aren’t welcome. Absolutely. We love our sighted allies and colleagues, but always the center will be blind excellence. So, with that, Thomas, would you like to reiterate our question for tonight?
THOMAS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it was posed, you know, it was posed to the people. The people had options, and the people have elected [chuckles] and selected. And what they came up with is what we wanna talk about today is specific to blind professionals. And the specific question is what is the outlook for blind professionals in this audio description industry? Yeah, that was pretty much what it is if I recall correctly. So, we could start there, and then we can get into some, see where that conversation goes. So, I don’t know if we wanna- Nef, you said you don’t wanna talk too much, but you know, you can start it off if you want. Like, if you wanna mention some of the what you think the outlook for blind professionals in this industry is and we go from there.) And since we’re gonna use our words to end our statements, I’m gonna take it back because I like the throwbacks. So, I’m gonna take it back to Audi 5000. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Huh. What’s that?!
THOMAS: One of my favorites. Oh, yeah, you a young’un. You don’t remember the old slang. That’s the old slang. Audi 5000!
SCOTT B: I remember it.
THOMAS: So, what do you think about the, or if anyone else wants to jump in, yeah, what do you think about in terms of the outlook for blind professionals in this industry? Let’s talk about it.
NEFERTITI: Sure. I’ll be happy to get us started. I’ll keep it nice and short. I think that it is bright. There’s definitely work that needs to be done as far as folks already in this space, whether they be established narrators or writers making room for blind professionals in that we are capable, we do have skill sets, we have lots to contribute, and who better than us to do this for us? So, there are some folks who still need to sort of come around to that and be more open to that. But I do think that there are people, and especially companies, a couple of companies, who are very forward thinking in that regard and are open to and making strides towards allowing blind professionals to enter this space and be successful in this space. We need more allies, and we need more opportunities, to be sure. And I think that’s a really big part as to why we’ve started these Spaces, so that we can come together and speak truth, right? The truth is that there are blind professionals in this space, but there needs to continue to have room being made for us. So, yes! The outlook is bright, but we need to fight. There you go. That’s the logo.
THOMAS: MC to the fullest right there. You actually rhymin’.
THOMAS: Yeah, nice. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Droppin’ bars, man. [laughs]
THOMAS: Very nice. Very nice.
NEFERTITI: How about you, Cheryl? Do you have anything to share?
CHERYL: I do wanna hear folks in this group, especially blind and low vision people here in this group talk about what you already raised, Nefertiti. Yeah.
THOMAS: Very cool.
CHERYL: Audi 6000! [laughs]
THOMAS: Oh, my gosh! [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Oh my gosh! Listen. That might be the, “I’m out, I’m done, I’m complete” phrase of the night. I did not say it. I’m sorry. I’m not following my own rules.
THOMAS: Yeah. It’s really fine. Cheryl just changed it ’cause it’s 5000. I don’t think Audi made a 6000, but whatever. [laughs]
CHERYL: Well, but, so whoever goes next can close with Audio 7000.
NEFERTITI: I’ll be 7000. [giggles]
THOMAS: Oh, okay. We’re gonna, let’s see where we end. That’ll be the thing. What number will we end on tonight? [laughs]
NEFERTITI: There you go! [chuckles]
THOMAS: You know, at some point, though, I wanna come back around. Not yet, but ’cause Nef, you mentioned we need more allies.
THOMAS: And I wanna talk about what do allies really look like? What should we expect from allies? What do we wanna see from allies? So. But for now, let’s hear from the people. We got anybody who wants to speak?
SCOTT B: My experience with audio description has until recently been as a fan, as a consumer, and only in the past few months has it sort of developed into a little bit more of the getting to know the professional side. The AD field sort of breaks down into a few different things. We’ve got, we talked about this last time too. You’ve got these different phases, right? You’ve got writing, you’ve got the narration, you’ve got the mixing, QC, the recording. And I only know about a couple of those relatively in depth. And what it seems to me is looking at each of those phases, each of those pieces on its own is one way that we might sort of start feeling like we can get our arms around this thing that might otherwise feel kind of big.
The question of allies is important too, but for example, the work that someone does to handle the QC phase of audio description, it seems like that work is often conducted in various online platforms. And those are the kind of the power behind the QC is a lot of online platforms, some of which are navigable and accessible and a number of which are not. So, unfortunately, we’re dealing with much the same thing that many industries are where we have inaccessible tools. And so, to me, to the question of allyship, what it looks like to me is we need allies in positions of power who can have influence to say to developers, “This matters to us that blind people be able to exist in this profession. And in order to do that, we need to develop these tools in a way that allows screen reading technology, magnification, Braille displays, whatever technology you might be using to interact with and move through those workflows without being blocked.” I’m done speaking. Audio 5000. I’m staying old-school because I remember it. I remember it, Thomas!
NEFERTITI: [laughs]
THOMAS: Thank you, Scott. Thank you. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Excellent points. Thank you. And how about you, Scott N.? Would you like to speak?
SCOTT N: Certainly! It’s…. I see the audio description space for blind professionals at the moment kind of like a cookie, okay? You’ve got all the different ingredients that have to come in to make the perfect cookie. You’ve got your base, you’ve got your flour, your sugar, your chocolate chips if that’s your jam, whatever. And all these things need to come together to make the perfect recipe. And at the moment, we don’t have all the ingredients quite the way we wanted to have, particularly in regards to scripting, making sure that scripts are accessible to people, making sure that if a blind professional wishes to do some editing and stuff like that, making sure that the editing software is all accessible. Quality control, once again, is a huge thing, making sure that that is a streamlined process, like Scott Blanks said, on platforms that are fully accessible to people. And, you know, with the, it’s really just a top to bottom thing. And I’m really, really encouraged at the moment. I’m working with, I’m in preliminary stages of working with one of the big audio description providers possibly to set up a branch of their organization here in Australia because there is a desperate need for audio description here in Aus. And we’re currently working on it, and I’m gonna make sure that blind professionals are fully centered and fully catered for and fully looked after in this space when we open the branch here in Australia because-big announcement, people-duh duh duh duh duh duh! I am going to become an audio describer.
SCOTT N: Oh. Oh, yes. Model-T Ford. I go really old-school.
THOMAS: Well, I think you can get a [imitates air horn blasting].
NEFERTITI: Heck, yeah!
CHERYL and NEFERTITI: [imitate air horn]
THOMAS: Yeah. For your entry into audio description. That’s awesome.
SCOTT N: Thank you.
THOMAS: Yeah. Yeah. Cool. I wanna hear more on that as it progresses.
SCOTT N: Oh, absolutely. I’m gonna be doing a sort of diary thing through the community with Scott and Nef’s permission, and I’ll be letting people know how the journey goes as it goes.
THOMAS: Very good.
NEFERTITI: Excellent! I’m sure there are plenty of people who will love to be on that journey with you.
SCOTT N: [chuckles] Thank you.
NEFERTITI: Excellent. Okay. Well, Thomas, we haven’t heard from you yet.
THOMAS: Well, I’m just really gonna echo everything all of y’all are saying, but also, I wanna throw in that, you know, we mentioned the accessibility to all of these things, a lot of software. And it also, it should be noted that just like in other industries, when accessibility, when access is an issue, there’s accommodations. And there are lots of available accommodations in this space, but not everyone considers them. Not everyone employs them. And so, that’s a part of, again, that whole allyship, right? So, making, you know, yeah. Okay. “Currently, this is the process that we use.” “All right. Well, this process that you’re using is a roadblock. There’s a roadblock in this in the way for blind folks to get involved in here.” “Okay. Well, how can we work with that,” right? That’s what we need to hear. And like you said, Nef, there are some people in some companies who follow that, and that, to me, that makes them true allies. Absolutely. Because, they want us in the mix, and we wanna be in the mix, so.
NEFERTITI: Thomas, I’ll say that, yeah, there are companies and entities who have a vested interest and a proven record of giving blind people opportunities. But there are also those who, like in the example you posed, “Well, how can we make this happen?” Really, what we hear is, or what I have heard, I’ll speak from personal experience, “Oh, we just don’t have the necessary software or the know-how to change our set-up to make it accessible for you, but we’re working on it. We’re working on it.” And then you never hear from these companies or these entities, these people again. When you check in, they’re still working on it. It’s a perpetual working on it when it’s really quite simple, you know. Send us a script in Word format or Excel format.
THOMAS: Right.
NEFERTITI: We don’t need any specialized software beyond Word in a lot of these cases. But they are, they’re resistant. It’s one of those mentalities of, “This is how we’ve always done it, so this is how we’re gonna continue to do it. And it’s nice that you blind folk wanna come in and do this, but, you know, we’re resistant to change.” And that can definitely be a roadblock for our success as blind people who really don’t need much in this space to have room made for us.
THOMAS: Absolutely not.
THOMAS: Absolutely. Absolutely not. And I beat around the bush, but I feel like I don’t think there’s anything wrong with naming names, especially when they’re positive. I won’t necessarily name the name, I’m not gonna ask you who that company is or anything like that. But I do wanna name the names of folks who are being allies, folks who, because I think it’s important for anyone here or anyone listening later on, if you’re looking for opportunities, you should know where to go. It’s not something that I wanna keep a secret. And I think most people who are looking for that information, it’s pretty easy to find it. So, the number one, in terms of the big industry that I’m gonna shout out is IDC. I’m gonna shout out Eric Wickstrom and IDC because-
NEFERTITI: [imitates air horn]
SCOTT N: [sings] Hallelujah!
THOMAS: Because right now, I mean, for real, when people ask me, “Okay, what’s the outlook? What are the opportunities?” You know, there’s a lot of talk about QC and certification and pursuing a career or opportunity, whatever sort of opportunity. It may not, you know, it could be a career. Absolutely, it could be. It takes a lot, but what I tell folks is, “Yeah, contact Eric Wickstrom.” Because number one, he’s asking you to contact him. He’s looking for that, right? He wants to hear that. So, he’s the one who grew their particular, their roster. They have a roster of probably like over 15 blind narrators that they use. They use folks, blind folks, QC.
THOMAS: Limited opportunity. So, there’s a lotta talk about certification for QC “jobs,” but I don’t know where you gon go. [laughs] I really, I really don’t. I’m really not sure. I will also shout out DVW because they also give opportunities.
NEFERTITI: [imitates air horn]
THOMAS: Go ahead! Yeah. Is there a Canadian version of that? [imitates air horn] Eh?
SCOTT N: [imitates Canadian accent] Sorry, they don’t have one, eh?
NEFERTITI: [laughs]
THOMAS: Yeah, Yeah.
NEFERTITI: I love that, though! [imitates air horn] Eh? [giggles]
THOMAS: Yeah, there you go. They get that one. That’s right. Shout out to Canada, because I mean, they also hire blind narrators. They also hire blind QC folks. So, I think that’s all of them.
NEFERTITI: Yes. And DVW also has an advisory council made up of very accomplished blind people. And it’s a consistent meeting and always tapping into the community: “What do you think about this? What are your thoughts on that? Are you willing to join us for this focus group or that consulting opportunity?” So, they are the real deal as well.
SCOTT N: And Nef, you might be hearing my name a little bit more in those consulting meetings, because they’re the people I’m gonna be working with to branch out into Australia, so.
SCOTT N: [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Excellent! I had a feeling it might be DVW, but of course, you know, didn’t wanna jump the gun. But I’m so happy to hear that. And I 100% agree with you, Thomas. I think that we need to absolutely call people out on their BS, but also, just as hard, if not harder, shout out the positives and the people who are putting their money where their mouth is. Literally, because this is all paid, everybody. This is not volunteer, as beautiful as volunteering is. These are legitimate jobs where your skill set is put to the test, and you are being paid, you know, that money you use to eat, that you need to eat, that you need to put that roof over your head. This is happening. So, definitely International Digital Center, Descriptive Video Works. Do we have any others?
THOMAS: Now, let me, so, let me just say it like this, right? I’m judging this based on numbers, based on people, not person.
THOMAS: Because I think there are folks who might think they should be included because they have a person on their roster or a person they work with. I don’t necessarily agree with that because one isn’t, one is about that one person, and that’s fine. That’s nice. That’s great. But if you’re really going to be about this, right, meaning you’re supporting blind professionals, you have to make that a plural, right? So, there has to be more than one. And so, those are the ones that I can definitely. There are some others maybe. I’m not sure of their numbers, but I can speak to these two specifically.
CHERYL: Thomas, do you wanna name any particular cars?
THOMAS: Oh. Oh, yes. Audi 5000.
CHERYL: Oh, my god. Okay. I wanna jump in about narrative because…and going back to the training. There seems to be, in some audio description training-I have not taken all, so I don’t know how they all work-but I do see this overarching story of, “Hello, sighted people. We will train you to help the blind.” And then there’s a lotta statistics about like, vision loss and how many people in this country have this and that. And this is the narrative, at least that I was trained on is, you get to earn money helping this community that needs your help. And when I hear Thomas Reid talk about the origins of audio description, it is the same as what Nefertiti said in opening today’s Space, which is this is a practice, a line of work that was created by and for the blind community. And so, when you have the companies that are like, “Sorry, this, you know, our scripting software, we haven’t made it accessible yet. We still have to sort that out,” you can sit and talk about accessibility all day long. We all know if that software exists in one place, it could exist in all the places. So, that is not the barrier. Getting the technology is not the barrier. I think it comes from attitude and this mistaken narrative that the non-blind people are here to help and serve. And so, I want to hear more people in the community accepting the narrative of audio description as by and for and be an ally in that way of helping to share that narrative because that is part of the foundation that the other changes will be built on. [sighs] I had a Dodge Grand Caravan SE.
THOMAS: [laughs]
CHERYL: That is the only car I’ve ever had. So, I’m gonna wrap up with that fun fact.
NEFERTITI: I love it!
CHERYL: Yes, it’s a minivan!
NEFERTITI: I love it. We can all fit. That’s great. This is Nefertiti. And Cheryl, I could not agree more. Audio description as an art form, as a science, as a way for folks to keep up with their favorite shows when they have a migraine or they’re driving or doing dishes, as a means to learn a language better, as a means to understand the emotional context of what’s going on maybe a little better. I mean, I’ve heard all sorts of ways that audio description is used and will hopefully continue to be used. But it’s never been thought of, or at least by me, as a charity. It’s not a charity. I hear you, like what you were saying about this is to help. You know, this is to serve. And that’s great. But can’t that be said about everything that we do for one another? And audio description is not…it’s not, you know, it’s not the Lord’s work, shall we say.
THOMAS: [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: It’s not a charity. And I agree with you 100%. The narrative definitely needs to shift. And I think through conversations like this, it will shift into audio description is an artform, a science. And I know I’m repeating myself, but it bears repeating. It is not a charity.
SCOTT N: Absolutely, Nef. Scott Nixon, if I could just add.
SCOTT N: With regards to allyship, explaining that to people and showing them that audio description is serious business. I was talking to someone a couple days ago, and I brought up audio description. They asked me what it was, so I gave them a brief description. And they just stood there and went, “Aw! That’s cute!” And I’m like, “No, it’s not cute. It’s vital. It’s important. It’s how I engage in fandom. It’s how I talk to my friends, you know, the way I talk to my friends and engage with my community, stuff like that. It’s not cute. It’s what we need.” And being able to explain that to people and show them that it is such a vital service, I think, is the really important thing that we need to keep pushing towards as time goes on. Michael Keaton’s Batmobile.
NEFERTITI: [laughs] Love it! Love it. My out is gonna have to be no car. No car. That’s my, ’cause I don’t drive, obviously. I know how to, believe it or not, but I don’t. So, yes, thank you, Scott. I think that’s absolutely essential. Yeah.
THOMAS: Yeah. I just wanted to mention, to Cheryl’s point that I think was really fantastic, like, we really do need to change the narrative. Like, if you look just within the community specifically, it’s us in the community who do a lot of harm sometimes in the way we talk about audio description. We do. I’m saying “we.” I don’t necessarily do that, but I’m just talking about in terms of the community. We do speak about it in a charitable sense because we show so much extra gratitude around it.
THOMAS: And I think you’re absolutely right, Cheryl. If we started to just refer to it as in a way that was like, acknowledge that foundation, right, so that history as well as the current, what’s happening right now. I’m trying to see a renaissance happening right now. You know what I’m saying? Like a blind renaissance within audio description of folks getting involved. But if we talked about that more and we expected it, I think that would make a really big difference. I don’t know what it is. You know, I’m thinking of maybe we should throw out this hashtag, but I really do think it’s like ADFUBU. I don’t kinda wanna bite FUBU because that was used, a whole clothing line and where that comes from. But it’s for us by us, right? And that’s sort of how we need to talk about this. I really do like that because yeah, that shows the support, that shows what we’re thinking about, that shows support within the community, which we don’t necessarily always see. I think that’s another piece of this whole conversation of where we go from here. Because the companies that we mentioned, well, there’s a bunch of other companies. What if-what if-the community actually got together and was like, “Hey, let’s write to these other companies and say, ‘Yeah, we want more blind narrators. We want more blind QC. We want that’.”
THOMAS: What would that do?
NEFERTITI: And not just the providers, but the folks who issue the contracts to these providers.
NEFERTITI: The HBOs, the Amazons.
NEFERTITI: Netflix is at the forefront of all of this. But even Netflix continue to reinforce that they’re doing a great job. But even, again, even Netflix hires the less-than-stellar companies, less-than-stellar in the audio description that is produced, but also in hiring blind people as part of the workflow, even QC. And I am a big believer in quality control being done by blind people.
NEFERTITI: Big into that. QC folks or QA: quality control, quality assurance. This is the step of the process that comes in after a script is written and a blind person, in my perfect world of audio description structure, would come in and make absolutely sure that everything that’s written makes sense to them in addition to choosing the proper wordage and all that stuff. But QC, absolutely essential that it be done by a blind person or blind people, and a lot of these companies don’t even have that. It really has devolved. The more audio description has become part of the general, “Oh, there’s money to be made here.” It’s cheap and fast, or good but fast, so not cheap. You know, we all know that whole you have to pick two out of the three, right? You either want it cheap or fast or good. And no matter what combination you do of those three options, something’s gonna be left out. It’s inevitable. So, yeah, advocating to the big boys, the big guns that contract out to these companies, letting them know en masse we are out here, and we don’t like this. Or we love this, we want more of it, and we wanna be a part of it. I think that would be a huge sea change for this community and would bring about employment and involvement and all sorts of good things. Nefertiti…red Lamborghini.
THOMAS: [laughs]
SCOTT B: Oh, look at you.
SCOTT N: Mmhmm. Fancy! [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Yeah, baby! [laughs]
So, anybody is welcome to come up, and let us know where you are in this process of AD. If you’re a blind professional trying to get into this field or are already in it, be you blind or sighted, what your ideas are insofar as improving the AD workflow to be more inviting to blind professionals, allyship. We’ve touched base on narrative and sort of the change we wanna see in the community. ‘Cause I, man, Thomas, that is the dream, right? That we come together en masse…
NEFERTITI: …for something and develop communication strategies for letting our collective voice be heard and make a difference that way and make things better.
THOMAS: Absolutely. And we don’t really have roadblocks for that. There’s no real access issues that are keeping us from doing that. The only thing that’s keeping us from doing that is us.
NEFERTITI: That’s right.
SCOTT N: And also the thing is, yes, on our end, we have got the drive and the capability and the accessibility to be able to do that. But at the other side of things, you come up against these huge conglomerate companies that just don’t wanna listen or just wanna give you lip service. And in this case, I will call out a substandard system. The Paramount+ streaming service are absolutely 100% hopeless at dealing with any sort of request, concern, or complaint from a vision impaired audience member. I have sent them many emails over the past few months complaining about their service, everything from quality control to the standard of the app and so on and so forth. And all I get in return is these pro-forma emails, “We listen to your concerns,” yadda, yadda, yadda. And the most action I’ve ever had from them is them writing back to me and asking me to catalog the problems and send them to them, in other words, doing their job for them. So, I just went [chuckles] uh…no. And let’s see. Flintstones pedal car.
THOMAS: But you see, Scott, you did the thing that you can do. After you did that, it was out of your control, right?
SCOTT N: Yeah.
THOMAS: And so, we can’t control what the response is gonna be. But I can tell you that if there’s enough complaint, enough action there, it’ll move it. It will move it. So, if it was more than you writing to Paramount, if there’s a bunch of people who are doing that and/or making it public. Make it public. You know, @ them right there on Twitter or whatever the case may be. Folks doing that, yeah, they will change their tune. They will change their tune.
SCOTT N: Yeah. Yeah, that’s what I did, Thomas. Every time I come up against these roadblocks from Paramount+ or content isn’t passed through to the Australian audience and is readily available to a US or Canadian audience, I always make mention of it on their website and personally on my Twitter feed and with the simple, but I think quite effective hashtag, #ParamountDoesntCare. Because at the moment, they don’t care about their blind audience.
THOMAS: Well, no, they don’t care about you right now! I don’t mean that in a bad way. But it’s you, right? Not personally you. Meaning it’s just one person. And what I’m saying is that what you did is absolutely what you should be doing and what more of us should be doing. I’m just trying to say that that result should not stop anyone. And I’m not saying it’s stopping you because it’s not stopping you, right?
SCOTT N: Aw, no.
THOMAS: Right. It’s making you go harder. We need other people to do the same. And so, when we have the conversation about us taking action, yeah, the conversation is about us taking action specifically, not what the end result is going to be. We don’t know what the end result is gonna be, but we know that if we take a lot of action, right, isn’t that like sort of a, isn’t there some sort of Einstein theory about this, you know? Like the amount of pressure you put or whatever the hell it is, you know?
NEFERTITI: [laughs]
THOMAS: But y’all know what I’m talking about, right? So, if we continue to put pressure, or if we put pressure-I don’t wanna say continue-but if we, we, the community, lots of us put pressure, We’re gonna see a response. We’re gonna see a response that is in our benefit.
SCOTT B: They need those numbers, yeah.
THOMAS: I know that for a fact. I know that.
SCOTT B: They need it in big numbers, and that’s exactly right, though.
THOMAS: They need it [unclear]. Yes.
SCOTT B: They need it at a scale that’s going to matter to them, which means they get enough of those tweets-sorry, this is Scott B.-enough of those emails, and they will, their customer service people will start to notice it, and it will be taking up more of their time. That’ll get pushed up, and I think that we’ll see it may be incremental, and may take longer than we want it to, but it is. We see this in so many aspects of advocating for something, whether it’s related to blindness or not.
THOMAS: Mmhmm.
SCOTT B: And it’s, it is true here, just as it is in many of those other things. Scott B. Big Wheel. I’m done.
NEFERTITI: [laughs]
THOMAS: Big Wheel, yes! [laughs] Aw, man.
NEFERTITI: Yes. Now, I just check. Do we have anyone from the audience who wishes to speak?
THOMAS: I want a Big Wheel again.
NEFERTITI: [laughs]
SCOTT B: We did get a reply in the chat from Bruce Cameron, who says, “Good evening. First time listening in. I’m a sign language interpreter and always wanting to learn.” So, welcome, Bruce.
NEFERTITI: Welcome, Rebecca!
REBECCA: I am loving that you guys are talking all about quality control, because that is what I am trying to get into in this industry. And I am about to do my second training course with Colleen of Audio Description Training Retreats, and I just wanna say that it’s hard getting into this field! It’s been a challenge. And I wish that it was easier.
THOMAS: Rebecca, this is Thomas. Hello, first of all.
THOMAS: Nice to meet you. What was your first course? You said this is your second. What was your first?
REBECCA: Yeah, my first course was with someone named Bonnie. Yeah.
THOMAS: Okay. Okay. And so, were these courses specific to quality control?
THOMAS: Or were these general- Okay.
REBECCA: They’re audio description. I would love to take a quality control course for audio description.
THOMAS: Okay. So, you’re a consumer?
REBECCA: Yes. Trying to get into quality control.
THOMAS: Okay. So, you’re already quality controlling, I’m assuming.
THOMAS: Yes. Tell me about what you’re doing right now when you watch content with audio description. How do you sort of pick things out, identify issues, or whatever?
REBECCA: I really, I’m an author, so I’m used to critiquing written word. And I really listen to the script, and I also listen to the amount of audio description that is in a TV show or movie. I recently watched a show on Disney+. And it was one of those shows that has 12, like, they’re two episodes in one, so each was like 12 minutes. And the first 12-minute segment had two lines of audio description. Two. And I counted about 20 different spots there that could have had it that needed it.
THOMAS: Hmm. Okay. And so, you’re a author. You’re a writer.
THOMAS: You already are doing audio quality control on your own in a way, because that’s what you’re doing. ‘Cause you’re interested in it.
REBECCA: Yes! Yes.
THOMAS: But what do you think someone can teach you that you probably don’t know already?
REBECCA: Well, I recently took a quality control test.
THOMAS: Uh-huh.
REBECCA: And from one of the companies that you guys were talking about.
REBECCA: And…I did not pass.
THOMAS: Okay. Do you recall the issues that were-
REBECCA: Yes. They said that I needed to be more detailed.
THOMAS: Okay. Okay.
REBECCA: And I went into this kinda knowing what I was doing, and I caught most of the mistakes. But I didn’t know to listen for some stuff because I wasn’t told. Like, I didn’t know that I need to really pay attention to the beginning credits. I didn’t know that the names in the beginning credits were said wrong. Because when I watch a film or a TV show….
THOMAS: You don’t pay attention to credits.
REBECCA: I did not know that I was supposed to be listening for the credits. Like, no one told me. And then when I did another, they sent me another test. But this one was, it was a movie trailer. And it was without the recorded, you know, without the narration. And they sent me the script, and they wanted me to just see what stood out to me. So, I gave them notes, and they never said anything about….
THOMAS: Okay. Okay.
REBECCA: They never said anything about it. And then they emailed me and said that I needed to be more detailed and that I needed more training. So, yeah.
THOMAS: Okay. Okay.
REBECCA: So, that’s…. Yeah. So, it was just really confusing because I wasn’t really told what I was, like, I mean, I knew what to do, but I didn’t in a way.
THOMAS: I got you. I totally understand. So, it sounds like what you’re looking for from the training is very, very specific to QC.
THOMAS: And so, yeah, and I don’t know if there are any QC trainings that exist, but-
REBECCA: There isn’t.
THOMAS: Okay. So, that’s why I’m, yeah. So, I would be sort of reluctant. And I’m not trying to dissuade you from taking any sort of training, but if your real goal is that. But what I would, I wanna go back to Nefertiti or anyone else who sort of. Scott, I know you do QC as well. What could you say about that?
SCOTT N: [sighs] It’s a very sticky wicket. Sorry, I’m going all Australian on you again. It’s a very difficult thing. Rebecca, I’m very sorry that the people giving you these scripts didn’t properly or correctly explain to you what they wanted or were expecting and then didn’t give you the feedback before failing you. really giving you the scope of what they wanted is a really sucky way to do things.
SCOTT N: Yeah. Because-
REBECCA: Yeah, they gave me notes on the first part. Sorry.
SCOTT B: Mm. No, go ahead.
REBECCA: I did get notes on the first part, the first part of the QC test, just not the second. And I’d never, up until I did this test, I’d never seen an audio description script.
SCOTT N: Right.
REBECCA: This was my first time ever seeing an audio description script! And then the template that they sent me to write my notes in wasn’t accessible. So-
REBECCA: [chuckles] Yeah. So, it was in a table in Word, which is not accessible when you’re using a screen reader. You don’t know where you are on the page. [laughs]
SCOTT N: Yeah.
REBECCA: So, I had to get them, [laughs] so, I had to get them to send me it again in a different format that I could actually do.
SCOTT N: Mm. Yeah. You see, this is a thing. And this actually warrens us back just a little bit in the conversation to something Thomas was saying. And with all due respect to Thomas, one of the kings in the biz, not everyone is as computer literate or as fluent in certain programs like Word or Excel that as other folk.
SCOTT N: So, a little bit of extra training in those areas and being able to make the people applying for these training courses comfortable enough to be able to put their hand up and say, “Yo, I don’t exactly know 100% what I’m doing here. Can I get a little bit of extra support?”
SCOTT N: You know, making people comfortable to be able to come in at, for lack of a better term, Level 1 and giving them a base level, which is actually, “Okay. Do you know this? Do you know this? Do you know this? It’s okay if you don’t. We will show you. We will give you a little extra time. We can maybe set up a training module or something like that to give you that little bit of extra support to give you.” ‘Cause really, one of the biggest discouragement-and I personally, I don’t mean to steal your thunder here, Rebecca, at all-but one of the big things I have, one of my concerns coming into the audio description space is am I actually going to be able to do it and from a technical point of view? And it is a really big source of anxiety for me, and it sometimes makes me think maybe I shouldn’t, you know? But then I keep, just keep pushing myself. But yeah.
THOMAS: So, Scott-
NEFERTITI: This is Nefertiti. Oh. May I just quickly say? I think the two of you, Rebecca and Scott N., are talking about something very real in the blindness community in general.
NEFERTITI: As somebody who has quite an extensive background in assistive technology, teaching it to folks, I spent years teaching people who came from all walks of life, whether they be congenitally blind or went blind later in life. And the aptitude in technology varies so much that yeah, maybe a table in a Word document is something seemingly insurmountable for someone. And another person might come in and be like, “Oh no, this is a breeze. I got this.”
REBECCA: Yeah, yeah!
NEFERTITI: “This is no problem at all.” So, I happen to know-and I don’t think I’m at liberty to name names yet-but I know that there is a company who is diligent-blah, excuse me-diligently working on creating an area for QC for blind people, and training is definitely part of the getting ready for employment with this company. Because not only is it they’re gonna send you scripts in Word and Excel, and you need to know those, but you also need to know the platforms you’ll be using for, say, QC for Netflix. It’s different from Amazon. It’s different from Disney.
NEFERTITI: So, all of these things require some type of training, not necessarily hand-holding. So, I do wanna make that clear to people. You do need to come into this with some basic knowledge of your screen reading technology, of your magnification software. Whatever your access technology needs are, you do need to have that base. So, if that’s something you’re a little wobbly on, work on it because it’s only going to benefit you.
NEFERTITI: These companies are there to train you on audio description and QC, narration, whatever it is. They’re not necessarily there to teach you your technology. That is up to you. That is up to you.
THOMAS: Nef, that was exactly what I wanted to point out. And so, to get back, and again, I’m just using your case, Rebecca, to help others.
THOMAS: But at some point we need to sort of reflect and say, okay, what is the training that I can do right now that is going to help me in the long run, right? And so, if your intention is to do QC, okay. Then, now maybe, maybe-and I’m not saying this directly at you-but maybe it is, “Okay, let me get more familiar with Word. Let me get more familiar with my screen. Let me get more familiar with the tools that I’m going to need to be really comfortable in order to do whatever it is in the thing.” Because when I’m approached by folks who wanna know, in terms of doing narration, I tell them this exact same thing, like, “Look. You’re going to get, you might get things in Excel.”
THOMAS: “So, you should be very comfortable in Excel. And if you’re not comfortable in Excel, well, then you should be comfortable in taking, in exporting from Excel to a format that you’re comfortable with.”
THOMAS: Because every time that we ask for-not that it’s wrong-but every time that we ask for some accommodation, even if the accommodation is not a burden, we know that that is looked upon as a possible nother reason to not utilize us.
NEFERTITI: That’s right.
NEFERTITI: And we do not want to give these folks any more ammunition!
SCOTT B: Right.
SCOTT B: Scott B. real quick. So, I, like Nefertiti, I used to be an access technology specialist trainer. And I equate this to I used to teach a bunch of people going into training at Social Security and IRS here in the States, two federal government agencies, right? They had very in-depth training programs that taught people about how to be customer service reps or claims reps or whatever the jobs were. That stuff was part of the job, but people had to come in with a certain amount of aptitude in the basic office applications that they were using. But the challenge with audio description right now is we don’t have that yet, but it is coming, where there will be more sound and built out training programs that people can take part in.
SCOTT B: And the good news, too, is that there are resources if you need support on, if anybody needs support on, let’s say, just operating in Windows or the Mac or using office productivity tools. There are a lot of resources out there, both online, in your local area, and even textbooks and things like that, that can help give you that stronger baseline for entering into this or any other industry, really.
SCOTT B: I’m done speaking.
THOMAS: I think this is a great place to end because it puts the power back in our side of the court, right?
THOMAS: We do have power, but we have to make sure that when we, you know, when we walk into this building, that we’re ready, that we’re equipped.
NEFERTITI: That’s right.
THOMAS: So, do what you can right now. Don’t necessarily run out there and sign up for this and for that. Think about all the things that you can do. I always tell folks, “Hey, you can start doing audio description right now.” You can take an existing film or a show, whatever it is that you like and note the audio description. This is for folks who wanna do narration. And then go record it on your own, right? Just record those same lines. It doesn’t even matter what you record. It really doesn’t. Are you comfortable recording? Are you comfortable speaking those lines? How do you think it sounds when you compare it to what the other person did, right? How did that feel to record it? You can do all of this stuff. You can get yourself prepared. Because the worst thing to happen is when you get the opportunity and you’re not really prepared for it.
NEFERTITI: That’s right.
THOMAS: That sucks. That sucks. It’s a awful feeling. So, do all of those things, you know? Do all of those things, and then you go for it. Then you go for it.
NEFERTITI: Absolutely. I wanna tell folks that Thomas has been my mentor in all of this. This is Nefertiti speaking. And he gave me that same advice when I was exploring, is this something that I want to dedicate myself to? Do I have the skill set necessary? And one of the things he told me was to get very comfortable with, my DAWs, the digital audio workstation, which for me as somebody who is not technical at all, if it were up to me, I’d do the writing, the QCing, I’d be the voice, and that would be that. But as a voice actor now with a little home studio and the like, it’s so much more than that, you know. It’s learning that digital audio workstation so that I can record myself, so that I can make myself sound good enough for auditions or a studio quality recording that I’m sending in for these narrations, right? Same for QC, as an example of what we were talking about, you have to make sure that not only do you know the mechanics of writing and the like, but also that you know audio description. But that you literally know your screen reader well enough or your technology well enough to get in there and be able to edit those scripts, make notations, etc.
So, there is definitely some preparation that goes into this beyond just sort of honing up on the skills of what you ultimately want to do. There is some prep work that needs to go into it, and I agree with Thomas 100%. When you get that audition, when you get that role or that opportunity to QC or to write a script, you gotta be ready. ‘Cause like it or not, we all represent one another, and again, we don’t need to give these folks any more ammunition. They try it with one of us and we flub it, like it or not, they’ll think that we will all flub it. So, if that’s a little pressure on folks, I’m sorry. That’s just the reality of things. I think we all walking in this space of disability know that we are out there being ambassadors, like it or not, advocates, like it or not. And so, yeah, my advice, and I guess in closing for me-everybody will have a chance to close out too if you’d like-is get ready so, you know…. I guess stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready kinda thing, right?
THOMAS: Yeah, yeah.
NEFERTITI: Hone your skills and make sure you’re on top of your game, and then go for it. Rolls Royce. [laughs]
THOMAS: [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: I’m a bougie.
THOMAS: Apparently!
SCOTT N and NEFERTITI: [laugh]
NEFERTITI: I said I’m a bougie bitch, okay? Okay. [laughs] Anyone else have anything to say before I say our little closing?
SCOTT N: I just thought with all the Spaces we do within the community just at the very end as we’re all signing off and so forth, we all just mention one audio described title that we have watched this week or are planning to watch this week just as a way of promoting the business and just showing that we’re all engaged in the community. So, just before I throw mine in there, I just wanna thank Thomas and Nef there for the advice about building up the skill sets and getting the fundamentals down before you go headlong into it. It has given me a fair bit to think about, and it’s something that I am going to have to go and assess and make sure that I do have everything sorted out before I take my next step. And that’s on me. That’s something that I have to do. But I really wanna thank both of you for reminding me of that. And just a big thanks for Rebecca for putting her hand up. She was absolutely . And thanks to everyone for coming today. I am off to watch the second half of this season of Cobra Kai on Netflix.
SCOTT N: So, that’s me, guys. And let’s send off [trills lips like a big raspberry].
SCOTT B: [laughs]
NEFERTITI: With a sound effect and everything! Thank you, Scott N. Thank you so much. I love this prompt. Anybody wanna say something they’re watching with audio description or maybe working on if they’re willing to say.
SCOTT B: If you’re allowed. [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: Yeah, we know there’s a lot of NDAs and such.
THOMAS: [chuckles] Yeah, definitely not saying what I’m working on. I’m actually not even watching anything this week, but I do wanna shout out, Year of the Tiger by Alice Wong.
THOMAS: Y’all need to get that.
SCOTT B: Mmhmm.
THOMAS: Go ahead and get that book. Yeah, I’m reading that on Audible right now. Although-
SCOTT B: Is she reading it, Thomas?
NEFERTITI: Is she reading it? Yeah.
THOMAS: No, no, no.
SCOTT B: Okay. I wasn’t sure.
THOMAS: Oh, I did start watching, it’s a old thing. I’m actually going back to like, I’m looking for series that I can get into. So, I’m watching Silicon Valley on HBO Max, I think it is.
THOMAS: That series. And I missed it when it first came out ’cause it was not described. So, it’s like, oh, I’m gonna go back and catch all of these things that I missed back maybe ten years ago now [laughs] that they came out.
SCOTT B: Right.
THOMAS: So, I’m watching that. It’s kinda funny.
NEFERTITI: Funny you should say that, Thomas, because Scott and I are currently working on something which was not described when it was first released back when was it, Scott, 2010?
SCOTT B: Yeah, that’s when it started.
NEFERTITI: Yeah. It’s a show called Tremé.
SCOTT B: Yeah.
NEFERTITI: On HBO with one of our favorite writers.
THOMAS: Oh, excellent, ’cause I wanted to watch that. Oh, I can’t wait.
NEFERTITI: He wrote The Wire, one of my all-time favorite shows.
THOMAS: Yes! Yes!
NEFERTITI: What is it, David Simon?
SCOTT B: Yeah, that’s the one.
SCOTT B: It’s got, you’ll recognize some of the voices. You’ve got, like Clark Peters, who was in The Wire, a couple of other people. Yeah, and it’s about New Orleans, post-Katrina.
SCOTT B: All of the music and the beauty and the sadness and the rebuilding. And it is a beautiful show. We’re only through the first season. But I also have to give a shoutout to the description, though we can’t say who it is because we don’t know. There is no attribution on HBO, which was a little bit of a surprise. Most of the HBO content I’ve encountered there is, there has been attribution, but not this one. The narration is fabulous. And the script is really a top-notch script.
THOMAS: Really? And there’s no attribution? Huh.
SCOTT B: None. None at all.
SCOTT B: I know. You would expect [laughs] something else.
NEFERTITI: We think, you know? But we don’t wanna say incorrectly.
THOMAS: Okay. Do you know who the narrator is?
SCOTT B: No. We haven’t determined that either.
NEFERTITI: We think that we know the company. We’re not sure.
SCOTT B: I don’t think so.
THOMAS: Agh! All right. Got a problem! [laughs] Okay. Go ahead.
SCOTT B: Yeah, I agree with you. I think it’s a problem on this one. I mean, New Orleans is a diverse city, so you’ve got folks all over the place there. But yeah, the cast-
THOMAS: The cast, yeah.
SCOTT B: -being predominantly people of color.
SCOTT B: I don’t, you know, we could be wrong. That’s the other thing, too, is there’s really no way of knowing. First impressions? I don’t think that the narrator is a person of color. But again, how could we know?
THOMAS: Okay. Right, right, right, right, right.
SCOTT B: Yeah.
THOMAS: Interesting. Well, I’m glad to hear that it’s being described, so.
NEFERTITI: Yes. And well, which is of the utmost importance. Cheryl, anything to share?
CHERYL: Well, sure. Nefertiti, you and Thomas and I have been working on audio description in various roles for three films for Superfest International Disabilities Film Festival.
CHERYL: So, we have been working on three titles for that. Tickets went on sale today. They are sliding scale all the way down to zero for anybody who wants to attend but doesn’t have the funds. But they are a non-profit, so if you’ve got the funds, please pay for a ticket if you want to. All of the films have captions and audio description, and we are super excited about the three that we worked on.
THOMAS: If you’re not going to Superfest, you need to do something about your life. Okay?
CHERYL: Thank you. [laughs]
SCOTT N: [laughs]
THOMAS: If you’re not going to Superfest, check your life. I’m just sayin’.
NEFERTITI: [laughs]
SCOTT N: [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
CHERYL: Because it’s in-person and online. [laughs]
THOMAS: And online. You have no excuse except check your life.
NEFERTITI: That’s right. And that was done through the Social Audio Description Collective that we three are a part of!
CHERYL: [imitates tiny air horn]
NEFERTITI: [imitates air horn] Shameless, not so shameless plug.
CHERYL: [imitates more enthusiastic air horn]
NEFERTITI: [laughs] Well, listen, everyone who has listened and who will catch this on the replay, thank you so, so much for joining in the conversation even if that’s just through listening. Please spread the word that we’re here. Remember, we are considering doing a cross-platform type of situation. So, the next time we get together, it might be on some other platform that isn’t Twitter. So, stay tuned for that. We also want to again remind you audio description was made by blind people for blind people. Let’s make room for blind people in all aspects of audio description. And yeah, stay tuned for the next time, likely in two weeks with your three co-hosts and hopefully the two moderators, Scott B. and Scott N. from the Audio Description Twitter Community. And about the Audio Description Twitter Community, if you haven’t joined us, what are you waiting for? Communities. Communities. Audio Description. We are there, and we’d love to have you join us if you haven’t already.
THOMAS: Right. Get your life in order. [cracking up] Join the Audio Description Community.
NEFERTITI: Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah. [laughs] Love it. All righty, everybody. Thank you so much.
THOMAS: All right, y’all. Thank you.
NEFERTITI: We’ll talk again soon.
SCOTT N: [imitates the cartoon Bugs Bunny] B-deep, b-deep, b-deep. That’s all, folks!
NEFERTITI: Hang on. Hang on. I’m so sorry. One last thing. I do wanna let folks know tonight, because of the interest, we did focus on blind people being professionals in audio description, and we talked about the workflow and all of that. But we had two other conversation topics, and we want to assure you that we will cover everything that we put out there to folks. It’s just a matter of priorities and what’s most important to the community. But next time we might talk about training opportunities or self-description or something else entirely. So, stay tuned to the community and to our individual Twitter handles, and we will continue to engage with you all. #ADFUBU, I love that. And now I am done. Uh…I don’t know…uh. Mercedes Benz.
THOMAS: Nef, Audi 20,000.
NEFERTITI: Audio 2,000.
THOMAS: 20,000! We got up to 20,000.
NEFERTITI: 20,000!
THOMAS: Come on. [laughs]
SCOTT B: [singing] Bugatti. Bugatti.
NEFERTITI: I’m not fast at this. Sorry!
THOMAS: Oh, Bugatti.
THOMAS and SCOTT B: [laugh]
THOMAS: All right, y’all.
NEFERTITI: All right, you guys. Have a great weekend, everybody. Till next time.
SCOTT B: Take care, y’all.
SCOTT N: Hasta la vista.

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

Hide the transcript

Blind Centered Audio Description Chat: Our First Twitter Space

Wednesday, December 21st, 2022

"Blind-Centered" is written in white at the center of a deep-dark blue square. The words sit just above the standard AD logo in white of three sound waves radiating off the initials AD. Above "Blind-Centered" is a small speech bubble poking up and toward the right with "chat" inside it in bright golden letters. To the left of the speech bubble is a small set of over-the-ear headphones.

The following recording is an edited version of a conversation from August 26, 2022 on Twitter Spaces.

A week or so prior to this recording, Nefertiti Matos Olivares, Cheryl Green and I (Thomas Reid) decided we wanted to hear from others in the community in regards to the many important topics we discuss around Audio Description.

It is always our intention to create an environment that encourages respectful discussion and welcomes all opinions. While we welcome all those interested in Audio Description including professionals, stake holders and generally interested parties, it is crucial to us to always center the perspectives and experiences of the Blind and Low Vision community; those who require and make the most use of AD.

The Blind Centered Audio Description Live Chats are not limited to one platform such as Twitter or Linked In. We hope to schedule on different days of the week and times of the day in order to help provide more opportunity for live participation across the globe.

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


Transcript – Created By Cheryl Green

Show the transcript

Exciting high energy music begins!

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

NEFERTITI: I’ve noticed-and let me know, folks, if you have noticed this too-but a lot of things, like there’s a lot of fervor when something happens, and you stick something in our craw, and we get all up and like, aggh! And then the next thing happens, and it kind of just stays there.
SCOTT N: Yeah.
NEFERTITI: I think it’s high time that we stop doing that as a community, whether you be a blind consumer or a blind professional, a sighted professional, a sighted consumer, it doesn’t matter. Whatever AD means to you, we wanna talk about it here throughout these conversations, always ensuring top notch quality is at the forefront with, of course, you know, ’cause if you know anything about Cheryl, Thomas, Scott N. and I, Scott B., and I think I can say this about you, Scott N., as well, we are anti-racist, anti-ableism, anti-anything that keeps anybody out, including access to information.
SCOTT N: Absolutely.
NEFERTITI: And that’s audio description. So, that’s my little spiel.
THOMAS: I know we all here have our own opinions on what makes up quality audio description. I wanna hear from other people. What does that mean? What are the elements that make up quality? And so, we know we start with the three basic, right? The script, the narration, the audio mix. But what else makes up quality audio description to you?
SCOTT N: I’ll start with what my idea of quality audio description is. And like Thomas said, it’s the basics. It’s the script, the engineering, I think. But the proper choice of narrator is absolutely paramount. And there’s been a big discussion, I know Thomas has been speaking about it quite a bit recently, about the cultural side of having the right narrator to the right material. And a brilliant example of this has recently come up with our friends at Descriptive Video Works who did the audio description for the new Predator movie, Prey, over on Disney+. When they did it, they had a very tight turnaround on the audio description track. And then the director of DVW was horrified to learn that the lead in the film was a member of the Cherokee Nation, and they didn’t have someone culturally appropriate providing the audio description. They’ve written to Disney+ and offered to redo the audio description with the right cultural sensitivity in at least the script, if not the narrator itself. And so far, Disney haven’t gotten back to them. So, that’s a really good example of the company being proactive and forward thinking and willing to do the work to get it done, because that cultural sensitivity and competency really does enhance the work of audio description. We all know, for example, what I call the Black Panther disaster, where a movie entirely produced by African-American filmmakers was given a very bland British narration. And I’m just sitting there going, “Did someone colonize audio description over here or what?” So, yeah, that’s my two cents for now. Scott out.
SCOTT B: So, this is Scott B. speaking, and…it was interesting, Thomas, you talked about the three basics. And I know that you-and we all know about it-but I think you left it out intentionally so someone would pick this up, which is I wanna point out two things. One, when you write a script and you have a narration, there needs to be a balance, a check and balance of quality assurance, and it needs to be in that process somewhere. It can be in a couple of different places. We can get into the technical about that. But there needs to be QC. And I am going to say that I think, as this is an artform and an accessibility tool that has been developed by and for blind people, quality work is a very good match for blind professionals as a job, potentially as a career or part of a career. Every piece of audio description that is created, brought into existence needs a QC balance. That’s point one.
Point two, just as a general comment about audio description quality. I think a lot about acting. Acting is an art, and it’s something that has been going on for as long as we’ve been around. And they didn’t just start acting and say, “All right, we’ve done it. This is as good as it gets. We’re doing it. We’re just gonna keep acting and doing exactly what we’re doing here.” There are schools. There are schools of thought. There are method acting. There are as many different things that have continued to evolve acting. Audio description is here, but we don’t stop. We make it better. And what making it better means might be a no, it is a subjective question, but it is undeniably something that can be made better on all counts: writing, QC, engineering, narration, all of it. And that’s Scott B. for now. I’m done.
NEFERTITI: Nefertiti speaking. Beautifully said, all of you. Thank you so much. And since I did invite Robert and Colleen up to the space or into the space, let’s hear from them. How about you get us started, Robert? Welcome.
ROBERT: Hello, everybody. I’m a blind audio description writer, and I’m kind of biased when we talk about audio description quality because I think that the script is like the main foundation that makes up the beautiful cake, right? So, when I think of quality, I start with the script and then work out from there. Recently, just as an example, as a totally blind person, I’ve been really thinking about how do describers, how do they put sizes into words that a lot of people can comprehend? Like, for example, if you’re congenitally blind, you don’t really have a point of reference for something like something is “gargantuan” or “gigantic.” So, what I’ve been trying to do in my previous few scripts is use terminology like, “it is the size of a locomotive” or something tangible like that. So, that kind of thing could also go into quality control. But those are just a few of the thoughts I’ve had about quality, and are writers really reaching the audience that they’re writing for? So, that’s it. I’m all done. [delighted chuckle]
COLLEEN: So, hello. My name’s Colleen Connor. I am…I am an advocate. I do a lot with audio description, but I primarily run Audio Description Training Retreats, which is developing virtual curriculum for all different types of audio descriptions and categories of audio description. And I’m also on that weird subject matter committee [laughs] of people in the US that’s working on creating a certification for audio describers and trying to sort of get it moving and get it…I feel like…. I don’t know how many people have sensitive ears here, but I recently just was like, “Do I have to be the bad bitch of audio description?” I don’t, I might have to be the [laughing] bad bitch of audio description.
NEFERTITI: Be the bad bitch, okay?
COLLEEN: And so, I am trying to bring lots more voices to the table. I’m trying to, you know, specifically bring as much education and keep things up to date and involve my former students and stuff like that. So, unfortunately, I haven’t done in-person training in a while, which was always lovely. The reason we’re called Training Retreats was because we used to take people to a lake house in North Carolina and do an entire retreat situation while you learned audio description. But the pandemic sort of threw that out the window. The benefits of that are that I have now reached way more people across the globe. And similar to this meeting, it was, “What time do we do? Okay, it’s 2 AM where you are. Thank you for joining us. I’m sorry.” [laughs]
SCOTT N: [chuckles]
COLLEEN: “You’ll be learning an activity that is very nuanced and challenging. Congratulations.” [laughs] So, yes, that’s me. I’m happy to answer any questions. I am not shy or easily offended, so.
SCOTT N: Colleen, it’s Scott Nixon here in Australia. I just wanted to congratulate you on the work that the retreats have been doing over the past couple years. And I just wanted to mention, I sent you Allyson Johnson a few years ago. You’re welcome. [laughs]
COLLEEN: [gasps] Yes! I am welcome. Yes. She, I’m so happy. So, I follow you on Twitter, of course. You know this.
COLLEEN: And I was wondering if it was the same Scott Nixon that she had mentioned. And I was like, I’m not sure!
SCOTT N: Yeah. For those of you out there who don’t know, Allyson Johnson is a very well renowned audiobook narrator who has done literally hundreds of audiobooks over her career. And a couple of years ago, I reached out to contact her ’cause I was such a fan, and we’ve become very good friends. And she was talking to me about how, you know, what else I do with my life. And I mentioned audio description one day, and she said that she was looking for something to branch out into to get a bit more work and give her life a new direction and everything. And I told her about audio description. She found Audio Description Retreats on her own and went to them, and the rest is history. And now she’s done some very good work. Queen Sono on Netflix and also Jupiter’s Legacy on Netflix are both two shows that she has audio described and did absolutely magnificent jobs on both. So, go check her out. And the movie Arrival as well, the sci-fi movie, yeah. So, yeah. Nixon out.
NEFERTITI: Excellent. Oh, my goodness. Well, Colleen-
COLLEEN: I’ve had a lot of….
NEFERTITI: -it’s so good to have you.
COLLEEN: One of my, one of my things that I’m really, really passionate about especially is as soon as the student reaches out and is of color or of something different [laughs], I am like, “Hello! How are you? What’s your financial situation? We’re gonna figure it out because you’re coming in.” [laughs] Because it was…. I started in 2015 with the company with a friend of mine, Jan Vulgaropolis, and it was just this, you know, sort of what we touched on before, the cultural awareness of it was, it was still be colorblind, meaning we don’t wanna offend anyone, so we’re not gonna mention anyone’s race at all unless it’s relevant to the plot directly. And then in the, in lieu of being, okay, well, we don’t wanna offend anyone ever, so we’re not gonna say anything. So, we’ve also erased everything as well. And I don’t…. [laughs] So-
NEFERTITI: That is the consequence of that, right? If you say, you know, if nothing, if nobody is nothing, then where are we? Where is everyone? The default becomes the majority, and for a lot of us, that’s just not the reality. What happens with all that?
COLLEEN: Yeah. My brief, very long-sorry-thing would be just the, hilariously, brevity and conciseness in description. I think one of the main quality points is even if you are doing extended description, [typing in the background starts] it is how do you get across what we need to know without extra? And how do you prioritize-especially if you are doing inline description, standard, in between the dialogue description-you don’t want the narrator speaking 100 miles an hour, and you don’t want to have two words and dead air where we wonder, did the track stop? Did….
COLLEEN: What happened? So, I think prioritizing. And like I said, just how do you, brevity, you know. Each word meaning something and not like fluff.
NEFERTITI: Yeah. I don’t know if you’re hearing that, Colleen, but I hear somebody typing.
THOMAS: That’s me.
NEFERTITI: So, someone’s out here taking notes.
THOMAS: That’s me.
NEFERTITI: Is that you, Thomas?
THOMAS: That’s me, that’s me.
THOMAS: I said, I’m gonna write down all of the things that people say for quality.
THOMAS: And so, I just wanted to write that. I meant to mute myself. So, sorry.
NEFERTITI: No, no. This is, I’m loving that we’re hearing that because we want y’all to know we’re taking this very seriously. We are writing this down. You know, we are taking notes. [laughs] So, keep this gold coming.
COLLEEN: So, over and out. But I’m happy to answer questions, contribute, whatever y’all want. I’m glad I made it in. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Me too. I’m glad.

THOMAS: Cool. Glad you came, Colleen.

CHERYL: So, I have a question around quality, but specifically about passthrough, which may sound like a technical term to folks new to audio description. But the idea that, let’s say we provide audio description for a film, it’s gonna have a screening, and then it goes to a festival, but they don’t pass the audio description through. Or you know, we do a film, and then it gets on Netflix, and they redescribe the whole film with a Netflix-approved vendor or something. So, it’s a real issue in the industry that different platforms and distributors and festivals are not passing through the audio description. And so, the question is, can talking about quality be a way to incentivize passthrough? Like, why even make it good if it’s gonna be used once and thrown away and then redescribed at the next screening? I mean, I think it should be good, but it’s a question. Like, why are, what is the role of quality in relation to passing through the audio description and keeping it as part of the film?
SCOTT N: Oh, Nefertiti, may I speak on this for a moment, please? [conspiratorial chuckle] I have strong views on passthrough. [sighs] The fact that a audio described program or film’s audio description track is not automatically made available to all services, all platforms, whatnot who wish to stream it or broadcast it or whatever I think is a travesty! This garbage excuse that broadcasters and streamers put out of, “Oh, it’s licensing and copyright issues,” that should be null and void because all it is, is restricting access for people who want audio description.
Just for example, I’m only gonna use this as a pure example, the new Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon. It is only audio described on HBO in America and HBO Max where available. We don’t have HBO Max in Australia. We are never going to get HBO Max in Australia. The broadcaster that airs the program here in Australia have an actual company policy that audio description will never be provided unless the government legislate that it has to be because they don’t deem audio description to be a cost-effective strategy. They don’t think that they’re going to get enough blind subscribers into their pay TV, into their cable service to justify the cost of setting up audio description. So, and this is with a lot of shows, not just House of the Dragon, with a lot of material. The Paramount+ streaming service do not pass through any of the audio described content that they have on the service in, say, the Americas and the United Kingdom. Well, actually, the United Kingdom are in the same boat as us. They just don’t pass it on and palm us off by saying, “Oh, it’s because of licensing issues,” and things like that.
So, passthrough is very, very important. It’s something that needs to be looked at desperately. And as for Cheryl’s comment about it being rerecorded, that is something that I think needs to be looked at as well, because it can be a quality control issue. Perhaps the original audio description is something that Netflix or Disney+ or whoever don’t believe is up to their standard, and that’s a discussion for them and the vendor who originally audio described the content. And I think there’s a way that they could work together to make the script better and so on. But yes, passthrough is one of the biggest bugbears that I have in the industry at the moment. Nixon out.
THOMAS: Hey, this is Thomas. I wanted to jump in with a thought about passthrough. And Cheryl, you just kinda stirred this because the same way I personally would have liked to see Black Panther not pass through and someone have an opportunity to redo that. So, what happens when, yeah, when it’s not up to par, passthrough is an opportunity to actually fix it, right, to make it better. Also, Scott, and I’m wondering what you think about this because say something is described here in the States, and there are some differences in the language used to describe things in Australia, for example, you know, those of us who have experienced AD from the BBC, y’all know what you get it from. [laughs]
SCOTT N: [laughs]
SCOTT B: Mmhmm!
THOMAS: You know, we’re familiar with “boot,” you know, and “the lift” and all of that.
THOMAS: Does that, how important is that to you, having the local language, local references?
SCOTT N: I do believe it’s something that can be looked at, but you have to think about the audio description landscape in Australia at the moment. You guys are the Jetsons. We’re the Flintstones.
SCOTT N: We have no audio description on free-to-air television. Two of our government’s funded stations have it, but only for a maximum of four hours a day. There is no streaming service that provides audio description, no Australian-based service that provides audio description. And the audio description companies that do operate in Australia are on shoestring budgets, screaming out for money, and just don’t have the time or the capability to do what they want to do. I would love a world where audio description could be done for American and British programs with an Australian voice. I think there is a market for it in some aspects. But at the same time, the Australian landscape has been so saturated with American and British programing over the years that quite a few of us would be more than happy to deal with the American or British versions of the AD as long as we actually get it. And we’re not actually getting it. That’s the thing. Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, those are the three places you go to in Australia if you want audio description on a streaming service. That’s it. Nixon out.
THOMAS: Okay. So, let me, I just wanted to ask another one just again, thinking about this, is what would y’all think about a service where you got to choose the audio description? So, for example, you have a film, and there’s multiple versions. So, all of these versions that were created, they sit on a repository somewhere, and you choose the one. And maybe that would have, let’s say it had the producer’s name, the writer, the narrator. And based on those things, based on your history with that, you would choose which one you wanted to hear.
SCOTT N: Oh, that…
THOMAS: [laughs]
SCOTT N: …that my friend, would be the dream. Again, [laughs] that is, that is beautiful.
SCOTT B: Yeah.
SCOTT N: If, say, I was able to go to Disney+, pick out Star Wars episode For a New Hope, you’d have the current version read by Miles Neff, you’d have a modern version read by Jedediah Barton, and you’d have an Australian version read by Scott Nixon. I didn’t say that out loud, did I?
NEFERTITI: I’ll listen to that!
SCOTT N: [laughs] You’d be able to pick that. I really do think that is a fantastic idea, Thomas, particularly since we are now reaching the point where we do have multiple versions of an audio description track for a film or a TV series floating around out there. Because whilst our community does not endorse in any way the concept of online piracy, we do know that it does exist out there, and there are places where you can get three, four, even up to five different versions of a film with different narrators. And there are times when you go in and you go, “Ah, I like this version, but this version is way better.” Or you get more from version A than you do version B. It’s all about writer, narrator, and so on.
THOMAS: Yeah. Yeah. Okay.
SCOTT B: This is Blanks. We’re going by last name. Is that what we’re doing, Scott? Okay, I’ll do that.
SCOTT N: Yeah. [laughs]
SCOTT B: I can do that. I have my little flask of water that I’m gonna throw on this just a little bit, I guess, with the question, which is we’re seeing all of the non-passthrough that’s happening now, and this is a beautiful idea. But how do you get all of these people to work together on something entirely new when we can’t get them to work together with the platforms and the systems that are already in place to even pass these things through?
SCOTT N: Yeah.
SCOTT B: I mean, this is why we’re here, right?
SCOTT B: This is why you’re here to try to answer some of these questions, ’cause it breaks my brain quite a bit to think about how does that happen? How does that happen?
THOMAS: Yeah. And I’m not, yeah, throwing it out there. But I’m also throwing it out that for the next part of this, which is, and it kind of goes back to what I think Cheryl was talking about, because that would be a wonderful way of really getting into this comparison and seeing, well, what is quality? Getting back to that whole subject. Which one of these are really quality audio description? Because you can have one, you know, and all of it is subjective, right? All of it is subjective. But there are things. I mean, there’s good scripts, and there are bad scripts. There’s bad writing. We can agree on that.
SCOTT B: Sure.
THOMAS: I think the subjective part is mainly like, or the objective part, rather, is mainly the voice, right? Wait. Did I say objective or subjective? [laughs] So, yeah. So, basically, everyone has their own opinion on whose voice they like. So, that’s sort of that side of the thing. But I think we can agree on the script. But that would be, it would just be an interesting comparison to kind of weed out what is quality and all of that.
So, I mean, I know we talked about keeping this to about an hour, and so I’m wondering if we could get into some conversations of what we do, what can we do to influence…influence the industry? Because we didn’t talk about the fact that, well, how do we get the industry to really center blind people and blind and low vision people? Because right now I’m not sure if that is the case when it comes to audio description. I don’t always feel as though we are at the center of this. And there’s many reasons that I feel like that. Number one, I think this conversation about quantity and quality really does come down to who is being centered. Because when we talk about the quantity and really going for that, I think quantity, that whole, that kinda relates back to the whole compliance, let’s just get it done because the government is telling us we need to get it done. And that, to me-
NEFERTITI: Mmhmm. Checking that box.
THOMAS: Yeah. That, to me, brings about the Amazons, the AI, and all of that.
SCOTT N: [growls]
THOMAS: That’s what that’s about. And I think we all, the majority of us probably agree that that’s not really quality, you know, and we’re not centered in that conversation. That wasn’t about us. That wasn’t about bringing a good product to the people. That was more about, again, checking that box, like Nef said, and just making sure our numbers, and we do it efficiently, right? We do it on the cheap. That’s what that’s about. So, we’re not centered.
NEFERTITI: Do it on the cheap, do it at scale.
THOMAS: Do it at scale.
NEFERTITI: And check that box and, you know, keep it moving.
THOMAS: Right. And make sure Bezos could get to space. That’s what that was all about, right?
NEFERTITI and SCOTT N: [laugh]
THOMAS: So, we’re definitely not at the center of that, right?
THOMAS: But the quality, the quality conversation, we’re at the center. I think that’s really about us because we’re the ones determining what the quality is. We should be the ones who are determining what the quality is. So, how do we do that?
SCOTT N: It’s a really, to use a desperately Australian term, a real sticky wicket to be able to get everyone to the table and explain to them, “Yo, you guys work for us,” type thing. ‘Cause at the end of the day, they’re all, a lot of the companies are squabbling amongst themselves, trying to churn out product as best as they can. There are some people out there who are low balling and cutting other people’s lunches, so to speak, and taking work when they end up churning out a product that we as consumers don’t find acceptable. But the, [sighs] the problem with that is, even if it is a crap…a crap turn out of the service, we are still going to listen to it because we need, because we need to be able to listen to the audio description to enjoy the program. If it’s something we want to watch, let’s face it, we’ve all put up with an AI at one point because we’ve just wanted to hear what something is like and be more part of the experience. So, it’s really turning around to these companies and saying, “Yeah, okay. You’ve done it. You can do better. Let’s show you how you can do better and show you that if you do better, we will give you more money. We will come to your service more often. We will recommend it to our friends.”
SCOTT N: So, yeah, that’s pretty much where I stand. Nixon out.
NEFERTITI: Hey. I just invited Darius, who requested to speak.

DARIUS: Hello!
NEFERTITI: There you go. Welcome!
DARIUS: Howdy, everybody.
DARIUS: How fantastic. I just woke up and saw this on my phone. I was like, oh, wow. It’s audio description chat. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Excellent. Where are you from?
DARIUS: I’m from Australia actually. I’m from Melbourne. So, hi there.
SCOTT N: Hey! One of me!
DARIUS: [laughs] Hi there, Scott. I think I’m following you on Twitter actually. At some point I’ve been following.
NEFERTITI: He’s very popular, Scott N. [chuckles]
DARIUS: So, I’m working in film production, and I run a post-production house. We do a lot of feature films. And audio description is something that we do a lot of putting them into DCPs and things like that for cinema screenings. And I think just talking on the point of how do you kind of center quality, I think two observations that I’ve sort of made, ’cause we’ve just recently had the Melbourne International Film Festival has just wrapped up. And I noticed that in the usage of audio description devices in the cinema wasn’t sort of really being tracked at all. And I think that there’s a sort of a missed opportunity for them. And so, I suggested to them, I was like, “Hey, we got to, you know, we should actually be looking at some stats on what’s the usage of these.” Because I think that when you think about, going back to passthrough as well with like, organizations going, “Ah, we don’t think it’s gonna be useful enough,” I think it kind of comes down to perhaps a lack of information from them. Because I think that if more people knew, I don’t think audio description has been used that much if at all, I think it’s because nobody really knew that, actually, a lot of the sessions at MIFF had audio description.
And on the other side around quality, I’m always with this sort of new frontier stuff, we’re thinking about how I can convince directors and producers of things. And I think a lot of directors, at least in Australia, the audio description’s like, it’s very much like a, it’s part of the contractual delivery requirements. They don’t really understand what it is. They’ve never used audio description before or tried listening to it on Netflix or using a device in the cinema. I think that a lot of them would be sort of mortified if they heard some of the degree of quality that the audio description is being done for, because ultimately, they’re the biggest champions of their content that they’re putting their life and blood into. So, I think that that’s probably one of many different facets of improving quality is education for the directors, because they’ll champion it as well, because they want everyone to experience the film or their content in a strong way. Darius out.
SCOTT N: If I could just jump in here for a second. Darius, will you marry me?
SCOTT B and SCOTT N: [laugh]
SCOTT N: But seriously, mate, that is-
NEFERTITI: [laughs]
SCOTT N: That is the, I couldn’t have put it better myself when it comes to the Australian industry. Please, DM me once the Space is over. You and I really need to talk.
DARIUS: Yeah, I would love that. I would love that, Nixon.
NEFERTITI: Oh, my gosh. That’s what I’m talking about: bringing people together. Yes.
SCOTT B: This is Scott Blanks. And it’s really interesting. I think the data, the point about data is really important. There are a lot of people who will hear more if we can communicate with data as well as with stories, as well as with the impactful stories of audio description.
The other piece that I think is important here is it’s not, it’s nothing really innovative about it, but we know in the sort of the big group of big players in streaming or networks, there’s some good work happening. In fact, there’s a fair bit of good work happening. And some of those companies might be models that we want to think about ways to get some of these other streaming companies or networks or movie studios to somehow follow. I don’t know how that happens, but I think one of the things that makes it possible is we bring people together. And how do you bring people together? You have to establish, well, something like this Space, and it has to be an ongoing Space, and people have to get to know it and have to think about it as a place where they can come together and talk and learn [FaceTime call rings] and be challenged and be okay with that. We have, there are good cultures of accessibility and audio description quality happening in some places. There are people in those places who want to help move this along. They will be our allies, and they will be support for this. But they know just as well as that we need them, they also need us. They need blind people, they need professionals, all of it to come together. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of tenacity. I think we got that. Blanks is done.
NEFERTITI: Scott B.!!!
ROBERT: Wheee. We did it. [chuckles]
ROBERT: Hello, this is Robert Kingett again. I had a couple quick things, and then I actually have to jump off here, sadly. But in terms of how to improve, how to improve the awareness of audio description, I wanna see more open audio described screenings, like at movie theaters and everything.
ROBERT: And also, I wanna get screenwriters involved in the audio description process. I really think that would also help as well. In terms of quality, I just would like to briefly talk about the pay rates in the industry. They are very, very, very low, extremely low. And I think that if we’re talking about quality, I think we need to also talk about how do we pay our workers fairly and make sure that we’re not taking advantage of labor? So, that’s it. I’m done. [delighted chuckle]
SCOTT B: Very well put, Robert. Very well put.
NEFERTITI: Thank you, Robert.
COLLEEN: This is Colleen. There’s a few…. So, I wanna do 25,000-million things. There’s a giant list. But basically, one of the things I would like to do is talk to the filmmakers and the screenwriters. So, that would be establishing a group or, and again, these are things like, I’ve had time to start some of these and just not time to start others. But talk to the people on the front end, so the producers, the writers, and the directors and the filmmaker side of things so that they’re aware of audio description from the beginning. Ideally, I would like to make some sort of curriculum and partner with a school so that there would be a screenwriters’, like you would take a class that included accessibility in production from the beginning and not retroactively in post.
COLLEEN: The other is, as I mentioned, I’m on the committee of people that’s trying to establish a certification, and I recently [chuckling] just shook up the table. So, I have made a couple proposals that I think they’re going to accept, one of which is I want to have an organized open forum with the committee members need to sit there and listen while we invite other people who are not us, who are not on the committee to speak and to explain some things to them and to answer questions and to, you know, it needs to be structured. But basically, there are a few big, big people in this group. And I think part of the issue that I run into the most with trying to start action is that there is several big people at the top who are like, “I have done audio description this way. I was one of the first audio describers. This is the way you do it. And I’m right, and I wanna bring everyone along with me.” And it’s like, okay. So, audio description is both an art and a science, and you can only regulate it, you can only test it or put it in a box up to a certain point. And so, the idea, I think the best thing we can do, action-item-wise, is connect with each other like we’re doing. Have, you know, continue to tweet and social media and @, like tag things for both the good and bad.
SCOTT N: [chuckles]
COLLEEN: So, Nefertiti asking, you know, asking questions, “What do people think about this,” and comment on it or, “what do people,” you know, “what are your thoughts on this?” And try and get engagement, but also, if something is very good, @ that, and if something needs improvement, @ that.
The other thing is getting…getting some sort of…. Oh, my God. It left my brain. Dang it! I had one more thing, but there’s, I have, I have a big list, and it’s just like I’m one person. And I’m like, no! Chronic illness, why? [laughs]
SCOTT N: Don’t worry, Colleen.
NEFERTITI: Listen, Colleen.
SCOTT N: We all got your back.
NEFERTITI: Yes! As one person with chronic illness too, now there’s two of you. And over there, there’s Scott Nixon and Scott Blanks and Thomas Reid and Cheryl Green and Darius and Robert. And there’s a lot of us out here who are feeling that one size does not fit all. It never did. It’s just that now we are gathering and galvanizing and actually speaking up and saying, “This doesn’t quite fit the bill.” And it’s okay. Let’s just meet these needs in other ways. It’s not that, as you were saying, the people up at the top, you know, like, “Goodbye. Get out of here.” No, there’s a place for everyone in this, but I think that’s the whole point. At least in my world, there is a place for everyone, right?
NEFERTITI: There’s this hashtag, DescribeEverything? Well, one population, or one segment of the population cannot describe everything. They are not everything, no matter how much they may have been, right?
NEFERTITI: Like, that’s just not the case anymore. We are here. We are not going to be quiet anymore. And in terms of quality, that’s what quality is all about.
SCOTT B: Everything counts or nothing counts.
COLLEEN: The other thing, I remembered what I was going to say. Hurray, Nefertiti.
COLLEEN: Is that educating people, because one of the things the report that I sent to the committee was how do we respect the past and progress to the future?
NEFERTITI: [light applause] That’s me clapping.
SCOTT N: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
COLLEEN: So, yes, you brought us here. You got us here. Fantastic. It’s, you know, we’ve gotta keep moving.
SCOTT N: Mmhmm.
COLLEEN: There’s all different kinds of people.
NEFERTITI: That’s right.
COLLEEN: Everyone has a different life experience that they bring to this. And the idea, they are, I think, a lot of people similar to in learning more about white privilege and the different sections of my life that became very apparent, people are terrified.
COLLEEN: I think they’re honestly, they feel very threatened because they’re like, it’s just that difficult conversation that people do not wanna have, and they don’t wanna be, “I’m not. I’m not. I have a Black friend. I have a Black, blind friend!”
COLLEEN: Like, just this panic of, like, you know, the fact that, hey. No, it is okay. The important thing is we have a safe space to have the conversation, we apologize, and get forward. Because that, I think, is part of the holdup for some of the larger names in AD is just they are older white men. And they are, that is, you know, not to throw old white men under the bus, but it’s just been, I have seen them respond to me the most with immediate defensive and like, “Well, I know you can’t be entirely objective, but it is, you know, as a describer, you are objective. And you” dah dah dah. And it’s like, it’s okay, it’s gonna be okay. So, I think part of it is remembering, bringing the passion to it, but also having to toe that line, walk that tightrope of respecting the past and moving forward-
COLLEEN: -especially when threatened and frustrated. And they don’t get it. They just, they can’t wrap their minds around it, or they haven’t had that light bulb moment. It’s like, just, you gotta have conversations, dude. So, yeah.
NEFERTITI: And if I may just say, Nefertiti speaking, hopefully they do have that light bulb moment. But in my world, whether they have it or not, it’s like if you have it, great, let’s go! If you don’t, I’m leaving you behind.
COLLEEN: Uh-huh! [guffaws]
NEFERTITI: Because I respect you. I respect you, absolutely. But I also gotta keep it moving. And I also wanna hear about myself. I wanna see more people like me. I wanna hear more people like me in everything.
NEFERTITI: And that absolutely disclude-, includes audio description. I’m sorry, you guys. I’m very tired. This is like a 16-hour day, so my words are a bit meh.
SCOTT N: Nah, you’re doing fine.
NEFERTITI: Thank you!
ROBERT: Amen, girl! Hell, yeah. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Yeah, I gotta go to bed, but, yeah. Like, come with us or get out of our way, okay? Because-
SCOTT N: Scott here, just quickly. Guys, it’s been a pleasure. It’s an honor to work with all of you. And I think we have really started something magnificent here. Let’s keep it going. Let’s keep it moving. But I have been sneaky, and I just had my own light bulb moment. We need to petition Disney+ and Deluxe who do any audio description for the Marvel movies to get our boy Thomas Reid in to redo Black Panther 1-
THOMAS: [laughs]
SCOTT N: -and do Wakanda Forever. Do it seriously. You would crush it.
NEFERTITI: Oh, my God. You know, the Social Audio Description Collective has been wanting the same thing. So, Thomas?
SCOTT B: Clear your schedule, Thomas.
NEFERTITI: I think so.
SCOTT N: [laughs]
THOMAS: Aw, I appreciate that. I appreciate that. Yeah.
COLLEEN: I’ve been talking about that since 2018. Don’t think I ain’t in on that, guys.
THOMAS: [laughs]
SCOTT N: So, yeah, guys, it’s been magnificent. And for me for now, follow me on @MrBrokenEyes, and I’ll talk to you guys next time. Peace.
NEFERTITI: Absolutely!
SCOTT B: So good to hear you, Scott.
NEFERTITI: Thank you, Scott Nixon!
THOMAS: This is a great start. And these conversations are definitely what we need. We need to get more people involved because the more I think about it, there are definitely organizations doing what they do and doing certain things when it comes to audio description. But obviously, it can’t be everything, but it doesn’t always need to be them doing the work. And I mean that by, you know, like, sometimes I think we leave it up to an organization to do certain work, right?
THOMAS: And I think there’s pressure that needs to come from within, and then there’s pressure that needs to come from without. And there’s some of this work is not gonna get done by the organizations. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just mean that’s what happens sometimes. Sometimes it’s not the organization’s place to do it, and sometimes they’re just not built to do it because they have other objectives.
THOMAS: And so, some of this stuff has to come from the people.
THOMAS: And we are the people, and we need to put some of this pressure and keep this up. And so, I think having these sorta conversations are absolutely great. And I think we also need to take a look at what we mean by support from the community, because to me, support is conversation. Support is not falling in line with what someone says. Support is conversation. Support can be disagreement and just discussion and doing that in a way that is for the greater good. Because I truly believe that we all wanna get to the same thing, right? But the way we get there is a little bit different. Some of us, you know, [clicks tongue] some of us wanna be a little, some of us are just tired. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: [chuckles]
THOMAS: Some of us are just tired, you know what I mean? We don’t have that much time.
THOMAS: We need to see some things. And we’ve seen a lot. And even if it’s a, you know, it might not be just, you know, it’s not just audio description. Because as we see, again, it’s not just entertainment, all of that. Yes, it’s true. It is not just entertainment. This is big. This is big. This has really serious implications.
THOMAS: And so, we need to remember that. And I think if we’re gonna be a community who’s gonna support one another, don’t think we have to always agree, but we do have to be civil about it and have these conversations and be respectful. And I don’t see anybody, I see most of us having that, doing that and being respectful. So, just keep that in mind. That’s all I’m saying. If that made sense, I hope it made sense.
SCOTT B: Mmhmm.
NEFERTITI: That made absolute sense. Love each other.
THOMAS: Absolutely.
NEFERTITI: Even if you don’t-
THOMAS: Respect.
NEFERTITI: Even if you’re not coming at something from the same perspective, or even if you might diverge from someone else, there’s no need to be rude or point fingers or degrade. There’s no need for all that.
THOMAS: Absolutely.
NEFERTITI: I think Thomas is absolutely right: We all have the same end goal, which is to improve, to enhance, to make it better, to make it more inclusive, to make it less gate-kept, right?
NEFERTITI: And again, there might be different ways that we get there, competing, sometimes conflicting priorities. But to someone, it might be about Dolby Atmos. To someone else it might be having people of color describing films that are of people of color. You know, it could range on what our priorities are. But ultimately, I think it comes back to what we first started talking about here: quality. We want the quality of audio description to improve and to be better every day.
THOMAS: Yeah. And let’s salute those who are actually doing that right now, because not everybody’s doing it. And I think we know. I don’t necessarily have to go through the list of companies who are doing it, but I think we need to start recognizing those who are doing it, those who put their name. Notice who doesn’t put their name. [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: [belly laugh]
THOMAS: There’s folks who, you know-
NEFERTITI: Very telling.
THOMAS: -their names just aren’t there. That’s very telling.
NEFERTITI: Very telling.
THOMAS: And if you can find out who that is, you’ll notice that means something. So, when the names are there, notice if that correlates with quality. Like, that’s real. That’s real. And then shout these people out because the HBOs, the Netflixes, I really do think that we’re the ones who should be, we should be determining who they work with.
THOMAS: But right now, it’s the dollar that is determining who they work with.
THOMAS: And so, I think we have power to be able to shut that down by just bigging up the folks who are doing it right. And let the Netflix know, “Hey, these guys do a good job. These guys you hired over here today? Uh…you know, they’re okay, but maybe not for this one. Maybe for something else.”
NEFERTITI: That’s right. Yeah.
THOMAS: “Maybe for something else.”
THOMAS: So, I think we need to explore that a little bit too.
NEFERTITI: We are the drivers of that.
THOMAS: Yeah, let’s drive this for real, for real.
NEFERTITI: I think we’re going to try to have, aim to have conversations with folks in positions of influence, I would say.
NEFERTITI: Power and the like. Because, yeah, we are the voices that need to be heard, right?
THOMAS: Absolutely.
NEFERTITI: Audio description by blind people, for blind people. We are blind people!
THOMAS: Yeah. So, what you’re saying, Nef, is that this is not just a, this is not a one and done here? Is that what you said?
NEFERTITI: Oh, no! I certainly hope not!
THOMAS: [laughs] Aight, cool. So, be on the lookout.
NEFERTITI: Like we said at the beginning, hopefully this is the first of many, and hopefully we will have many more people join us, whether you’re a listener or a speaker, a host at times, though, you know Thomas and Cheryl. Cheryl at the beginning of the said that she had a fan club for you and me, Thomas. I’m in the fan club for you and Cheryl, so.
THOMAS: I’m, pssh. Come on. Come on. Y’all know where I go. I’m Cheryl and Nefertiti all day. Come on. Come on. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: [giggles]
CHERYL: I’m president. Not just in the fan club. I’m president of both y’alls fan clubs.
THOMAS: [laughs] Well, I am definitely president, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of both of y’all!
NEFERTITI: Here, here.
NEFERTITI: I’m Prime Minister, bitch. Okay? All right. Who was it, Colleen? She said, “I’m gonna be the bad bitch!” I love that!
THOMAS: [laughs]
COLLEEN: I’m the, I, I, I’m gonna have to be the bad bitch of audio description. [laughs]
NEFERTITI: I love it!
SCOTT B: [laughs]
NEFERTITI: I’ll join you. I’ll join you anytime, girl. Anytime.
DARIUS: Thank you so much for organizing this. This was fantastic. I’m very excited, and I feel very inspired. And I look forward to engaging in conversation with all of you ongoing. I had no idea it was even happening! [laughs]
DARIUS: I literally woke up. I rolled out of bed, and I was like, oh, there’s an audio description chat happening. Fantastic.
SCOTT N: The more you know, Darius, the more you know.
SCOTT B: I just wanna say, this is Scott Blanks, I just wanna say we’re, yeah, we’re only getting started. There will be more. We’re gonna do these at different times, on different days. As we can clearly hear and see, there is a lot to be done and a lotta people who wanna do it. So, we have a lotta cause to be back here again and again. And I think that’s what it’s gonna take for us to see some of this change. So, thank you all for putting in the effort and for the effort that’s going to come I’m sure. It’s all really appreciated, and it’s gonna pay off. I feel that.
THOMAS: Excellent. Excellent.
SCOTT N: Yeah!
THOMAS: I salute y’all.
NEFERTITI: Galvanize, y’all. Gather and galvanize.
THOMAS: There it is. [laughs]

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

Hide the transcript

Something for the Radio – A 2022 Rap Up

Wednesday, December 14th, 2022

In gold writing on a black background reads: Reid My Mind Radio.  A gold vintage microphone with a gold sound wave bursting from it is visible underneath the text. Three gold stars are located to the right and left of the word Podcast, which is located beneath the mic. The phrase “Something For The Radio.” follows, and beneath it is a gold radio with gold musical notes all around it.

Radio is in the name of this podcast. Yet, for some reason, many people seem to leave it out when saying the name. It’s only two sylables and pretty common and by most accounts, it’s not even difficult to pronounce.

Today, I wanted to close 2022 with a bit about why the radio is important to this podcast. Plus let you know what you can expect from RMM Radio next year.

It’s been a while, but this year, I felt a desire to bring back the year end Rap Up.

Blind Centered Audio Description Chat:
Recordings of the live chats that take place on Twitter, Linked In and possibly other platforms are soon to be shared in the RMM Radio feed. They’ll appear separately under the “Blind Centered AD Chat” season.

To find out when and where the next live chat is taking place follow:
Nefertiti Matos Olivares Cheryl Green or me, Thomas Reid
More to come soon.

Happy Holidays and All the Best in 2023!



Show the transcript

Audio from 1944 On the Air: History of Radio Broadcasting
“Coming to us out of the sky, the familiar voice of radio brings endless hours of entertainment, information and cheer.” (“cheer” echoes and fades off)

Music Begins: A trumpeting melodic riff that opens to an accompanying piano loop that leads into a smooth inspiring Hip Hop track.

Over the past few years , this podcast has received a lot more attention.
I’ve been invited on panels, other podcasts and even interviewed for articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Ok, mainly in regards to things audio description, but the podcast gets mentioned.

Whenever I talk about the podcast I use the full name of the show; Reid My Mind Radio.

For some reason, many people seem to refer to the podcast as Reid My Mind… no radio.

This podcast, doesn’t exist without the radio.

— Sound of an FM radio tuning through multiple stations and coming to a stop.

Reid My Mind Radio began because I was creating original content for the Gatewave Radio Reading service in New York City.

To access the reading service, you had to have a special radio receiver.
I wanted to share the content with others outside of the service so I just put these audio files up on my already existing blog called Reid My Mind.
I figured anytime I added the audio files I’d just title it Reid My Mind Radio… it sounded better than Reid My Mind Audio.

I didn’t really intend to make it a podcast because there was no real focus at the time.

Well, I wasn’t focused.

When I did decide to make it a real podcast, I kept the name. It sounded cool to me.

I’m your host and producer, Thomas Reid and this is Reid My Mind Radio.

Today, (chuckles) this is just something for the radio!
Simultaneously, “This is just something for the radio.” Biz Markie
— “This is something for the radio.” Biz Markie

— Reid My Mind Radio Theme Music

When making that theme music, I chose to use the Radio from the Crash Crew, Hi Powered Rap. But I had others to choose from.

— A quick collage of songs with radio in the title:
— “I can’t live without my radio!” LL Cool J “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”
–“Said it on the air, on the radio, a woh ohh ohh ohh, on the radio” Donna Summer “On the Radio”
— “Video killed the radio star.” The Buggles
— Sound of song coming to an abrupt end!

Yeh, maybe not the last one. Hmm, just not funky enough for me. No hate!

Radio is not just a means of getting information, entertainment and more but
it’s also about actively using our imaginations.
It was audio description before there was a name for it.
News, sports entertainment all delivered via radio, well Blind people and the rest of the hearing public enjoyed a shared experience.

Radio was the way we discovered new music.
I remember having a tape ready to record that song I fell in love with or the Friday and Saturday night mix shows.
Chuck Chillout, Marly Marl.. and of course… Redddddd (Said in the famous style of Red Alert)

From a 1986 Red Alert Radio Show on 98.7 KISS in NYC
— Sound of a explosion followed by a deep voice announcing “DJ Red Alert! The song “P is Free” Boogie Down Productions

Some of y’all know what I’m talking about.

This was the time when I had aspirations of being a DJ. Not necessarily the jock or the announcer, but more so the DJ cuttin, scratchin’ blendin’ mixin!
— “Cuttin and scratchin are the aspects of his game!” RunDMC, Jay’s Jam

When I eventually began sharing my Gatewave productions on the blog, I can’t say that I consciously thought of any of this.

Reid My Mind Radio just came to me. And unless I change the name of the entire podcast… the radio is here to stay.
— “Radio, radio, radio” From On the Radio, Donna Summer

Reid My Mind, the blog, began in 2005.
I learned how to use my screen reader and other access technology.
I was no longer doing any sort of development work and I wanted to learn more about Content Management Systems, CMS.
I enjoyed writing and thought a blog would be a good place to share some of my experiences becoming Blind as an adult.

A friend one day said something like “What’s on your mind T?”
That led me to think about how often it felt like folks were asking me that same question.
I thought to myself; “I should just write it down and then point anyone to the blog who really wants to know.”
Giving them access to what I’m thinking or inviting them to read my mind…

The blog began with some commentary on my experience but I don’t think I was ready to share at that time.
I didn’t really know what I was feeling. I’m sure a lot of that would have been rants about how I was perceived in public spaces.
Some of that could have been the difference in how I was treated by friends and family following blindness.
All of these things have value, but it felt more like a rant that I preferred to keep private.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing these experiences, but for me it’s about doing so creatively and
in a way that can be of help to others.

that’s why podcasting and content creation in general by those with disabilities is so important.
Whether we’re talking to one another or to those outside of the community, our voices, I mean all of our voices are valuable.

Over the years we have and will continue to support disabled podcasters in various ways.

That could mean bringing other podcasters on as guests when it fits the theme, but I hope to show support by featuring some promos.

This year, I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to guest on other podcasts and talk about audio description, podcasting and even share some thoughts on being a Blind Dad. Some of you may know, I’m always ready to talk about my girls. In fact, some would say I often find a way to bring them into my conversations on just about anything.


Shout out to all of those podcasts who invited me on their platforms.

On that note, I need to apologize for a mistake in the last episode.
I incorrectly referred to Lisa Bryant’s podcast as whitestick Connect.
It’s actually White canes Connect.

— “White Canes Connect” theme music begins

shout out to whiteStick Music Fest in Australia! I guess they were on my mind!

— “Hey there PA Federationist, welcome to another episode of White Canes Connect. My name is David Goldstein, I am the Treasurer of the Keystone chapter. Joining me today is co-host and Keystone chapter Second Vice President Lisa Bryant.
— Sound of tape rewinding
— From a past interview
Lisa in conversation with Thomas: ” I cannot not ask you, about the AD illuminati.
Thomas: Hearty laugh. Is it real?
Lisa: You have to talk about this.
— Transitional sound
— Lisa: White Canes Connect… Bye everybody!
— David: Thanks everybody, take care.
— White Canes Connect theme music

Shout out to Chad over at Hindsight is 20/200
Chad: On social media please go To Twitter @unsytedradio. That’s @unsytedradio. And make sure you’re following on Anchor, Spotify and apple podcast. Just search for hindsight is 20/200.
Ambiguously Blind Podcast theme music
Hey, Hey, Hey, it’s John Grimes. Host of the Ambiguously Blind Podcast where we are challenging beliefs and revealing abilities that make people extraordinary. Check us out wherever podcasts are found and at

While it’s not officially a podcast…
— Clip from This Ability Clinic
— “Welcome to This Ability Clinic…”

big shout out to This Ability Clinic on YouTube with Dr. Stephanie…

— Clip from This Ability Clinic
— Dr. Stephanie: “I’m a Rehabilitation Doctor that specializes in Pain Medicine. But you’re here for the lepidopterist aren’t you?

Well no. You probably don’t know what that is if you never watched the film the Kingsman.

— “You’re here for the lepidopterist ain’t you?”
Dr. Stephanie:
So the disability that gets the most screen time in the Kingsman movies is Harry’s traumatic brain injury.

See Dr. Stephanie does these cool movie breakdowns where
she for example points out what’s real or not about medical situations in film.

— Clip from This Ability Clinic
— Loud gun shot) “Is he dead?”

Dr. Stephanie:
Yes, this should have killed him!”…

Other breakdowns include disability in films as well as interviews
with a bunch of disabled folks from different backgrounds.
She’s a doctor who understands that disability goes beyond the medical model.
She has a really cool edit style and a great personality.

— Clip from This Ability Clinic
Dr. Stephanie:
I’d agree with that!
“Harry’s like a computer that needs to be rebooted.”

Dr. Stephanie:
Harry’s like a computer that’s been shot in the hard drive point blank
— The Theia Show theme music.
Shout out to Jude Esposito in the UK.

— Clip from The Theia Show
Jude: “Welcome back to the Theia Show”

Jude’s a part of the family and is a young podcaster himself. he’s in high school and I think we’ll see big things from this young man…
Check out his podcast called The Theia Show.
— Clip from The Theia Show
I think we’ve really hit so many different aspects of the conversation and I’m so thankful that we were able to make this happen finally. Thanks for coming on!

See you soon!
— The Theia Show theme music

It doesn’t cost you anything to give them a listen:

— The Theia Show theme music ends.

One night, in 2014, I came across an application for the Association of Independence In Radio New Voice Scholarship.
It was only a few hours before the application deadline.
I listened to the voice inside that told me to go for it.

I got it!

Going for it was a gut reaction that honestly I don’t remember even questioning.
It was as if I knew it was for me and I just had to complete the process.

Mind you, I’ve felt that way multiple times since and let’s just say it wasn’t a success
But that’s ok, it wasn’t for me.

Becoming a New Voice Scholar set off a series of events that led to the opportunity to create original content for Gatewave Radio.

— Clip from Gatewave Radio episode.

Ever since, the opportunities continue to present themselves in ways I never even thought about.

Among them, my guests. I’ve had the chance to talk and build with really cool people doing cool stuff.
Occasionally, I’ll see articles online about someone doing great things or getting an award or receiving a new position and
I’m like, hey that’s R double M Radio Fam! I love that!

Many have become dear friends and colleagues on other projects.

Music Transition, A melancholy piano loop.

Unfortunately, we lost one of our RMM Radio family brothers this summer.
One of the original Holman Prize winners, Ojok Simon past away.
I don’t really know the details of his passing, but
I do know that his work teaching other Blind brothers and sisters in Uganda
how to support themselves and their families with through Bee keeping and farming honey will continue to benefit his community and others around the world.

When I think of Ojok, I always remember the part of our conversation when he told me how much he enjoyed the process of getting honey. Specifically, it was the praise he received from his grandmother…
It inspired me to just put that audio over a beat…

I love eating honey, I want to get praises”

That always makes me smile!

Rest in peace King!

Music comes to an end.
Music begins, a bass synth pulsates and builds into a driving energetic Hip Hop groove.

Hearing from listeners is a big benefit for me.
You know listeners like you are all over the world. Africa, Australia, New Zealand , Asia…

— “All of the Massive” KRS1

Did you know, an episode of Reid My Mind Radio titled, Let Me Hear You Say Black Lives Matter” is a chapter in a disability studies text book being used in universities.
Big shout out to Prof. Tanya Titchkosky and all those involved in putting together Disappearing: Encounters in Disability Studies. FYI, we’re chapter 4… let’s go!

No bragging, I’m truly sharing with y’all because you rock with the podcast.
You take time out of your day to listen which means you believe in what’s taking place here.
I’m just trying to let you know, others rock with your choice too. And I appreciate you all!

Every year, around the holiday season, I start to feel the effect of producing the podcast. I get tired and start to contemplate bringing it to an end.

I used to raise the idea to my youngest daughter as we chatted over dinner or cleaning up the kitchen together. She insisted that I should keep it going. I’d ask why but she didn’t really explain past, no you should keep it going.

I wonder if she could articulate that more today.

Call Raven:

Siri: A raven is several of any larger body birds…

What? I didn’t ask you that!

… shall I continue?

No. Call Raven.

Calling Raven Reid Mobil




Hey! You got a quick second (Laughs

Yeh, what’s up?

I’m recording you right now. This is for the podcast.

Oh gosh! (Giggles)


I’m nervous!

Back in the day, (sings back in the day)
Remember when I would say anything about…

You would say a lot.

I would say something about… (laughs)
stopping the podcast.

Yes, all the time.

It wasn’t all the time but toward this time of year.

Too often.

You would tell me not to.

I want to see if you have something articulate to say as to why. If you don’t have anything articulate to say I won’t put it in there.


So why did you always say no, keep the podcast going?

Well I think that the podcast has been more influential than you think and and I feel like you get to talk to a lot of cool people. You enjoy editing. I feel like you do enjoy this in general and like it reaches people. So I always thought you should keep it going.
Plus how am I supposed to get money for transcripts. Laughing….

I wanted the truth.

Now for those Dad’s out there I’m just saying, if you have more than one daughter and you include one on your podcast, you better make every attempt to include the other.

Hey Siri Call Riana

Calling Riana Reid iPhone


Hello sweetie how are you? It’s Daddy I’m recording you right now. (Laughs) For the podcast.

Ok, is this my big roll

Riana didn’t have much to say on that subject because honestly she was never a part of that conversation. She was away at school when Raven and I would be talking about that. But I gave her an opportunity and asked her to just give me one of her favorite moments of the podcast.

My favorite thing that I enjoyed about the podcast… (long pause)
I got nothing.

Well apparently my wife and I raised two brutally honest children.
— Sitcom stinger music

I’m not done yet, but I have to figure out where Reid My Mind Radio is going and how I’m going to get it there.
In order to do that, I need to do some work. That’s in addition to the other work and life and life and life.
Please, keep rockin’ with me! Stay subscribed or following the podcast.
I can say for certainty, I’ll be back next year with Flipping the Script on Audio Description.
I’m pretty sure I want to produce some bonus episodes.

If you’re someone who really cares about audio description,
you’ll be interested in some new additional content that will soon show up in the Reid My Mind Radio feed.
We call it Blind Centered Audio Description Chats or BCAD Chats.

The audio we’re sharing are edited versions of these audio description conversations that take place on Twitter Live, Linked In Audio and possibly some other live platforms.

They began from conversations between Nefertiti Matos Oliveras, Cheryl Green and myself.
We’re joined by Scott Blanks and Scott Nixon. AKA, the “Two Scotts” One of them is from Down Under. Come check it out, you’ll figure out which one it is.

I’ll be dropping those in the feed under a separate “season” in order to distinguish from R double M Radio content.

If you’re into the Flipping the Script on Audio Description, I think you will enjoy these edited versions of the live chats. Consider joining us live because that’s where it all really goes down! Check the blog post for this episode that will link you to the different ways of staying updated on the live events.

Allow me to wish you all a very happy holiday season.
The absolute best in 2023 – whatever that means for you.
As long as best for you doesn’t mean keeping someone else down, then I’m good with that.
Hi, this is Riana Reid. Allow me to introduce the 2022 Reid My Mind Radio Rap Up!

— Music begins, This is Something for the Radio, Instrumental, Biz Markie

TR talking (Filtered Voice)

Hmm! What goes better with the holiday season then a rap up!
It’s been a minute since I’ve done one.
But before I get into the 2022 seasons…
I’m gonna talk my talk!

TR Rapping:
We got a brand new hit from T R E ID
dedicated to the R double M family
For those new here, and paying attention
I want to take some time just to mention
My brothers and sisters who’ve been on this scene
rocking with a brother since 2014
There’s a lot of podcasts, many come and go
But ain’t nothing like Reid My Mind Radio

TR talking (Filtered Voice)

I don’t usually talk that huh!
But the success of this podcast is all about the guests
Yes, I make it funky, but it’s the guests.
Now if you will allow me 8 more bars
I want to get out my feelings
— DJ Scratch… “Yo!”
TR rapping…
Ok, my name, means a lot to me
I spell it every episode, R E I D
So if I do an interview or a panel presentation
Mess up the podcasts name, feel my frustration
It ain’t personal so I don’t assign blame
but I want to yell out,… Sample: “Put some respect on my Name” Birdman
But I play it cool, cause my Daddy told me so
But please don’t forget my radio!

TR talking (Filtered Voice)

Ok, I got all that off my chest…
Time for the wrap up and some shout outs
Three seasons in 2022
Plus bonus episodes…
But it all starts with the guests…

TR Rapping:
They come on as guest, then become fam
Marguerite kicked it off she’s like “Here I am”
Brandon Orlando Eron, just a few
Disabled Gamers, yeh, We Game Too!
She made Puffin out of nothing accessibility
Tell em’ your name… , , Adriana Malozzi
Closing the season called Doing Your thang
, Question Blind & Famous, “Gang, Gang”
— In a filtered voice, TR talking…
I need you all to understand, I’m not playing…
I’m tired of people thinking disability needs to sound like x y or Z
Update your perceptions son
it sounds like him, her, they and me!
Y’all goin’ learn today!
aight, let me chill!

The Access Lab, Prof. Arselli & Salima
AD in the making with Cheryl Green ahh!
Blind in AD, why the controversy
Nef, shouldn’t have to tell you; “We are worthy”
Ok, lemme chill, we should really move on
AD in Fashion, “Natalie Trevonne”
AD in Spanish, I got something for ya
Flipping the script con La Professora

TR talking (Filtered Voice)

Don’t get it twisted,
I have fun, but I take this AD thing seriously.
It’s why we drafted the pledge for cultural competency
People out here trying to hold back Blind people from working in this industry?
I see you!
People say their for diversity… well, put your money where your mouth is…
YGBD, Let’s go

TR rapping!
Disaster Prep with disability in mind
Justice shorter, Young gifted Black & Blind
self description with Haben Girma
Can’t describe yourself, why not learn bruh
The year’s almost up we don’t have much time
Marc Safman advocating for the Deafblind
Closing out the year, all ladies no misters
Lisa, Heather , supporting our sisters
— TR in filtered voice talking…
To the entire RMM Family,
I appreciate you and thank you sincerely for rocking with me!
I want to send a big shout out to :
Annie Are You Ok, our social media Maven… hooking up that FB and IG
both @ReidMyMindRadio
, appreciate you sis,
Shout out my guy Tony Swartz, he came through on the editing help this year…

My daughters… Raven, helped out with transcripts
Riana, one of my biggest supporters

My wife…

Marlett, helps out with graphics

Ah man, Daddy loves his babies!

Remember, we’ll be back in 2023!
Tell a friend, the catalog is outchere
Stay rockin’ with Reid My Mind Radio wherever you get podcasts.
We have transcripts and more at
Just remember… you know what?
Let’s do it like this…

— “Check this Out” RunDMC

R to the mother funky E I D!
I said it’s the R to the mother funky E I D
I said it’s the R to the mother funky E I D
I said it’s the R to the mother funky E, I, D
— Sample: (“D! And that’s me in the place to be.” Slick Rick)
Like my last name!
“This is something for the radio.”
— Reid My Mind Radio outro

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