Flipping the Script on Audio Description: We Are Worthy

June 29th, 2022  / Author: T.Reid

In vintage tan and black film, the words "Flipping the script on audio Description in capital letters &  “We are worthy” underneath. Framed in center is a photo of Nefertiti wearing a red top with light makeup on her brown eyes and full lips. She has clear brown skin, brown highlighted hair, and smiles toward the camera. Underneath the photo in capital letters reads, Reid My Mind Radio.

I’m excited to shine a spotlight on Nefertiti Matos Olivaras. She’s a bilingual, Blind Voice talent specializing in Audio Description. In addition to narration, Nefertiti is a Quality Control specialist, workshop facilitator and AD advocate and writer.
Unfortunately, it’s that last role, writer, that still continues to be a bit controversial. It’s expected that those with no understanding of blindness would doubt your ability, but receiving that from those within the community is another thing altogether.
In this series, it’s our objective to explore the exciting things taking place in the world of Audio Description that are less likely to be discussed. Perhaps the conversations we have here can filter through and effect the overall discussion. With that said, it feels like a great time to remind or inform; Blind people started Audio description. Even though several people have been trying to make this fact understood, I’m still not sure it is a part of the general AD conversation.
Today, I’m less interested in proving to the mainstream society that Blind people are fully capable and possess lots of talents. It doesn’t feel right having to convince people of our own humanity. However, I do understand that because these ablest ideas are so engrained into our society, many of us who are Blind or have low vision can unknowingly internalize these ideas and project them onto each other.
In this conversation, we talk about Nefertiti’s early experience with inaccessibility, ableist thoughts and the impact it had on her own life, her decision to pursue a passion and the response from the AD community when it was announced that she was writing description for an all Blind AD production project…
Hopefully, this conversation can filter through to all of the non-believers; we are worthy!

Want to continue the conversation? Join the Audio Description Twitter Community.

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Transcript

Show the transcript

Audio:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/fjtp3f1mwxog5gb/Draft-Nefertiti-001.mp3?dl=0

TR:

One Two! One, Two!
Greetings, beautiful people. And welcome back to another episode of Reid My mind radio where we continue with our second season of 2022. Flipping the script on audio description.

[drum beat fades in]

If you’re new here, it’s very nice to meet you. I’m Thomas Reid, host and producer of this podcast. And I’m glad you found it. If you’ve been rocking with ReidMYMindRadio Let me say sincerely and from the bottom of my heart. Thank you. And I truly appreciate you.

Have I ever told you how much I enjoy hearing from listeners? Sometimes it’s just finding out how you learned about the podcast. Some people like to let me know they enjoy it, and why. Others tell me a bit about who they are just let me know they support what we’re doing here.

All of that is fantastic. And I truly appreciate it. If you ever want to reach out please reidmymindradio@gmail.com is the email address. Feel free to holla at your brother.

I don’t know if y’all notice. But the Reid my MindRadio family is truly around the world. We’re not just in the States. We get some love in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa. That’s right. We on the motherland. Oh, yeah, and I’m definitely not forgetting my people up in Canada. I truly rock with y’all Canada.

I’d love to hear from more of my Caribbean brothers and sisters.

[shouting over a beat]

Puerto Rico! DR! Jamaica! Trinidad! Haiti! Come on. I know y’all out here. This is a podcast so we don’t deal with boundaries. We deal with energy. And there’s no border patrol for that. We don’t need no stinking passports.

Reid My Mind Radio family! Come on! Have you told friends about this podcast? What kind of friend are you just holding all this goodness to yourself? Sharing is caring. Baby girl. Tell them what time it is.

audio clip of TR’s youngest child:

Let’s start the show. One, two, three, four.
[RRMR intro]

Nefertiti

Hi, I’m Nefertiti Matos Olivares, I am a bilingual voice talent and professional audio description Narrator quality control specialist and writer. I also do a lot of work in museum accessibility. Everything from writing scholarly articles, to representing my Latino heritage at the first of its kind, Molina family gallery, at the National Mall, the Smithsonian Latino Center. I advocate a lot for health care, assistive technology, Braille literacy. These are our lifelines on a lot of cases.

I spent a long time teaching folks sort of helping them, even the playing field in their own lives a little bit through technology too. I keep busy,

TR [singing]:
She’s a hustler, baby, she just wants you to know. It ain’t where she’s been, it’s where she’s about to go.

[talking]

If hustler has a negative connotation for you, and swap that with entrepreneur, go getter driven, motivated, for Nefertiti it’s rooted in the quest for more access.

Nefertiti:
I live and breathe this sort of thing every day, the accessibility of a world that was not built for me, and having to constantly make my own space, just about everywhere I go. I believe in my innate worth as a human being. I know that I have a lot to offer. I claim my power and my value and I take that with me everywhere I go, and hopefully make waves so that other people behind me can trump on into the river to and get what they need to get out of this life and be their best selves. As cliche as that may sound.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
Can we talk a little bit about early life experience within accessibility, if you want to mention anything about your blindness.

Nefertiti
I was born fully sighted and everything was okay till around three and a half years old, I started exhibiting some odd behaviors. I had an astrocytoma, a brain tumor, and it was stopping the blood flow to my optic nerve. They were able to remove it ultimately, but it came at a price.

TR:
The result was blindness and no other complications. Growing up in New York City. Nefertiti attended schools for the blind through high school.

Nefertiti:
I knew there was a world outside of that. I have a sister and I have cousins and I knew there was mainstream stuff, but I kind of enjoyed being a big fish in a little pond. So I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything in the blind schools. Plus, I could be in sports in a way that I knew I was never going to be allowed to be in a mainstream school. In the schools, I was able to be a cheerleader and Run, track and be on the swim team and all these things. Then college came around. And it was a very different experience, I had to really reckon with my blindness now that I wasn’t protected anymore now that I wasn’t around everybody else being like me.

TR:
Unfortunately, this story is not unfamiliar, leaving the comfort and generally accessible environment of the School for the Blind, and answering a college, Mount St. Vincent’s about an hour and a half from home. Nefertiti first realized not everything is built for her.

Nefertiti
By the time I got to college. Braille wasn’t a thing. This was a private school, they barely had any funding for a disability office, heck Thomas, the first year I was there, there was no disability office, it came into play because me and another blind student joined. And then there was a student who identified as having a learning disability. And so they had to put something together.

TR:
She was forced to largely find her own way

Nefertiti:
To figure out what technology would scan my books for me, learning screen reading technology, more than I already had in high school, upping my typing speed, I had to do that pretty drastically because I was doing a lot of papers and even just the campus itself. It was some such Rocky, hilly terrain. And at that time, I was refusing to use my cane. I never used it in the blind school because in the blind school, I was considered somebody who had some sight. But in the real world, I’m blind. In a setting like that one. In the dark, especially, I had some really close calls, and some really kind of dangerous situations I found myself in. But because I was too proud, and too embarrassed, and too ashamed. I didn’t use my cane while I was in this school.

TR:
Living on campus, not using a cane definitely still has some valuable lessons.

Nefertiti:
That stress I put myself through just because I refuse to put that cane in my hands and how much easier it would have been for me, if I had accepted myself as a blind person back then.

TR:
Then the image of Nefertiti that I have is one of a strong, confident, proud woman

Nefertiti:
That finally did come. But I put myself through quite a bit. Before that happened. I had internalized a lot of ableism in my life, I just decided something had to give. And if this is the body, I have, and these are the things I have to put up with.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
Things like additional health challenges and relationships.

Nefertiti:
And that’s when I put myself in therapy and went back to school and got myself in better shape. I was a triathlete for a time, there’s got to be better. And if there’s going to be better than I’m the only one that can make that happen for myself. That’s really what has transformed my life and to what it is today.

TR:
Today, Nefertiti is playing a role in flipping the script on audio description. That’s both on this podcast and more so by using her voice in various ways, as far as AD goes.

Nefertiti:
And then pandemic, that’s what happened, the pandemic happened. I’m not unique in this, a lot of people had found themselves rethinking and reevaluating situations in their lives, and I was no exception. And one of the things that I found myself really thinking about was my job at the library and the fact that I was there already for seven years.

TR:

That’s the Andrew high scale, Braille and Talking Book Library, a branch of the New York Public Library over in my old stomping grounds on 23rd Street, shout out to Baruch College, City University of New York.

Nefertiti:
I was teaching blind people mostly but anybody with a disability and mainstream folks to how to use technology. In the case of blind people and people with low vision, it was teaching them how to use the accessibility features in their mainstream devices like iPhones and things like that. I would also teach screen reading technology.

TR:
She facilitated workshops on HTML code, working with Google products, like docs and calendar, iOS apps, and even more lifestyle centered workshops on getting more active. Oh, and by the way, that’s an English and Spanish tambien.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
And you did one on games because I attended it.

Nefertiti:
Ah, that was a fun one on games that you could do on iOS, like accessible gaming.

TR:
Over her seven years working at the library, I imagined she was able to really directly contribute to helping lots of people not only learn their technology, and more, but really provide a foundation for their career and personal pursuits, but she was ready for something new.

Nefertiti:
Honestly, I really believe in making room and making space. I wanted someone else to have my job. I don’t believe in scarcity. I think that there is a myth around scarcity that once you have you need to hold on for dear life, or that you need to continue accumulating. I think there’s enough for everybody that goes for everything. I just got to a point where I felt like I’ve learned everything I’m going to learn here I’ve gone as far as I’m gonna go. I want to leave this open, hopefully even better defined than when I started and with more possibilities for growth for the next person to come in.

During the pandemic, I did a lot of soul searching and a lot of therapy. Therapy has been a constant thing in my life since I started taking it seriously. Accepting the fact that I wanted to do something else, I wanted to leave a space for someone else to be employed a blind person, a person with a disability, leave an employment opportunity open for someone else to come in with their own flavor and their own view on things to continue the work because it’s very valuable, very important, crucial, beautiful work. And I decided to pursue a passion. And that passion is specifically for audio description, but more generally, voiceover work.

TR:
I know what you’re thinking, leave a good job, you’re disabled 50 to 75, maybe 80% unemployment rate, anywhere on that spectrum is bad. She admits it was scary.

Nefertiti:
Again, the pandemic happened. And I was like, let’s get real here, you’re not really happy. And I didn’t want that to affect my patrons. And I didn’t want that to continue affecting me. So I did take the jump, I did leap. And I’ve been pretty fortunate that so far it’s working out really well. But it was kind of scary to do. But I think that a lot of things in life that are worthwhile are frightening, but still worthwhile

TR:
Pursuing a passion, you won’t get any argument from me on that. Since taking the leap. Nefertiti has been doing AD work on projects like Netflix original short film, Heartshot. New York Times, op docs selection, My Disability Roadmap, and several other projects, including the Jennifer Lopez documentary, titled halftime, currently on Netflix.

Nefertiti:
AD is a bit of a gig economy, unless you’re employed at a company, staff writer or staff narrator and they can make a living with that maybe as a nine to five but audio description in my life, it’s very much a gig economy. That’s something that I think is true for any type of arts job, you have some boom times and you have some downtimes. But I thought that audio description as my passion was a little too narrow. So then I decided to explore outward and sort of make myself even more employable by trying to do more generalized voiceover work.

TR:
The gig economy, in general is a hustle. You have to constantly think about and act on generating your next assignment. It’s far different from being an employee. You’re more like a farmer. You’re cultivating the land, planting seeds and watering them. You respond to nation and do whatever you can to assure a rich harvest. Not bad for city kid, right?

Similar to farmers, I’m not talking about those corporate conglomerates. The harvest doesn’t automatically mean a set payment. That often depends on other factors, many of which are bogus, but out of their control in the freelance environment, those seeds planted generate opportunities to work, which should lead to payment. I say should because well you might be surprised how often free or extremely undervalue labor is expected. Honestly, that’s another episode yo, if you have stories about being expected to work for free, email me reidmymindradio@gmail.com. I need to hear from you. Seriously.

Nefertiti:
Can I go here? Is it too sensitive? I don’t know.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
You go wherever you want to go.

Nefertiti:
Okay, the pay in the audio description space is so unregulated, you could work for four or five different companies and they have different methods of paying some pay by the minute, some pay by the hour, some pay by the project, and some pay, not a lot. Some others pay out of other countries. And so by the time you convert, it’s not a lot of money here in this country. Hopefully the audio description viewer gets a quality product and enjoys the show, and has all sorts of access. But in the meanwhile, the folks who made that happen, are not even able to make a living.

TR:
That’s why you have to be a hustler, someone who can find multiple opportunities to make use of their talents.

Nefertiti:
I had the real privilege of going to Montclair State University to present to our lecture/workshop for Professor Maria Jose Garcia Vizcaino. She is this professor of language studies. And she’s built into her curriculum, this entire semester of audio description. It is a beautiful example of what’s possible when somebody is really dedicated and believes in something.

TR:
Hey, stay tuned to hear more about Professor Maria Jose in a future episode.

Nefertiti:
I lectured for an hour, took questions and answers from some really engaged, excited students. We broke into a hands-on workshop, I brought a movie trailer, which only really consisted of some music and some drumming. And I challenged the students to break into groups and describe the first 30 seconds of the trailer. What we had as a fun thing was somebody of the group designated to stand up and do the description, with the trailer playing in the background. And once that was all done, and we discuss what was good, what can be improved upon, we watched the trailers which had been already described in both English and Spanish to give the students an idea of how did you compare to a professional rendering, and I’m happy to say that they compared pretty well, Maria Jose, you’re doing a great job with your students. And again, it was a real privilege for me to be able to do that.

TR:
In addition to workshops for those interested in AD she’s presented to film students and more.

Nefertiti:
I participate on panels, I moderate panels, I facilitate workshops, did it in my tech job and continue to do it here. It’s one of my favorite aspects of this field that’s getting more and more recognition.

TR:
And don’t forget, that’s in English and Spanish tambien.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
In addition to us both being blind at narrators, we both come at this from intersectional space. So, ¿tú eres Latina? ¿Dominicana?

Nefertiti:
Sí! Dominicana! Me gente!

In terms of my more Latino side, I actually learned Spanish before I learned English. Some people have a hard time believing me, but it’s true. I’m first generation born American but I’m very Dominican. So I’m very lucky, not something I’m very proud of. Unfortunately, though, there doesn’t seem to be much by way of Spanish audio description, quality Spanish audio description, it’s getting better slowly but surely. But historically. And still right now, at the time of this recording. Spanish audio description is nowhere near as buttoned up as English audio description is and some people have complaints about English audio description. So imagine the condition of Spanish audio description. It is nowhere near as equitable as English audio description, this idea of more Latinos being on screen in movies and in TV shows documentaries about us. And that’s fantastic. We’re proliferating the cultural consciousness. But wow, I hear a lot of white people describing this stuff. And it’s like white people. Hey, you got enough to describe where are my Latinos at.

[In the Heights trailer begins playing in the background]

Nefertiti:
In the heights. It is by Lin Manuel Miranda, he of Hamilton fame. This was his big claim to fame before Hamilton actually. And it’s a play based in Washington Heights right here in New York City. I’ve got family living in Washington Heights. The person describing it in the American version, because there is also a UK version, I believe is a white woman. And I don’t agree with that choice.
She has a lovely voice, very clear, her diction is beautiful. She does a wonderful job. This is not a reflection on her as an artist, a narrator. You mean to tell me there wasn’t a Latina woman or even a man that could be casted to have done that job. I have a really hard time with that. That speaks to the cultural competency. Like we’re seeing more diversity on screen. The audio description should also reflect that diversity. It should match not just the script to the vision of what the director is trying to make happen trying to engender in viewers but also the narrator who is saying these things. Being part of that community and yes, the writer should also be I think of that community.
If I may give an example of the harder they fall. Excellent. I think audio description down to the point where they describe microbraids. They describe the different skin color. A really good example there of writing that clearly researched everything from what to call the different skin tones to the different hairstyles, all things that are of important to blind people of color other people to I’m sure, particularly since historically we haven’t heard about us, we haven’t heard about ourselves, having people who match the content to make a quality, audio description script and narration is, I think, crucial, and really speaks to the cultural competency that is still lacking in a lot of ways in this field.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
Personally, I like to see more people in the blind community, more people of color, talking about this issue. Do you hear the conversation?

Nefertiti:
I really don’t. And I think that’s part of this idea of, well, let’s just be grateful to even have it at all. Let’s not stir the pot, because they know that audio description is a thing. So many people aren’t aware that audio description exists? I know I live in sort of in this bubble where everybody knows what audio description is, of course, right? I’m in the field now. And I’m a consumer and all this and all my friends know about it. My family knows about it. Everyone I talked to if media comes up, I talk to them about audio description. So in my world, it seems like everybody’s aware. But in the grand scheme of things, there are many, many, many who don’t even know that this is an option for them. And those who do a lot of them don’t even question the fact that they don’t hear details such as hair texture, or skin color, or different types of clothing, etc. They just default to this all must be a white narrative. Unless we hear like an accent or something like that. We may not know.

TR:
As consumers of audio description. It’s our place to provide critical feedback. That includes those things we like and don’t.

Nefertiti:
Access access, access access to information. I want to hear about skin color. I want to hear about set design, I want to hear about lighting. I want to hear about steamy sex scenes. I want to hear about gender stuff that’s going on. If there’s space for it, I want to hear about it. It’s getting better. But historically, audio description has been very sanitized and in my opinion, almost infantilized. I don’t know if it’s because there’s this image of like, oh, protect the poor blind people. I don’t quite understand why that’s the way it’s been. People are waking up and people are listening and taking note to the fact that we are well rounded individuals, we are of this world. And so race does matter. representation matters.

TR:
Back on the professional side of AD networks, Nefertiti and I got to work together on multiple projects, including an appearance right here, where she provided the audio description in a YGBD episode featuring Latif McLeod. She was the AD narrator during the ACB Awards Gala, which I had the honor of hosting, and I had the privilege of narrating her AD script for a film by Syed Dyson titled Say His Name: Five Days for George Floyd.

Big shout out to Steven Lentinus, one of the films composers himself an AD consumer. He got the buyer from both sides to produce an AD track for the film. He contacted Roy Samuelson who curated the all blind scenes to produce the track.

Nefertiti:
This was a really fascinating opportunity. I as the writer, Serena Gilbert as the quality control specialists, the one and only Thomas Reid as the narrator, a combination, I believe, a team effort between Byron Lee and Chris Snyder, as the engineers, all blind folks, we have the opportunity to come together as an all blind team to make this documentary accessible by way of audio description. And I think we did that beautifully. It is something that I will always be honored to have been a part of, especially holding the role, the controversial role of being a writer, while blind.

TR:
It’s not the first time we talked about this here on the podcast. I think I’ve been talking about this idea before I even knew of a blind person writing AD. It’s understandable that some people, especially those who are not blind, would be curious as to how this is accomplished. I can see how other blind people would be interested to. What’s not cool is the fact that it became controversial.

Nefertiti:
Controversy came from both sides from the sighted folks who I totally expected to get some blowback from, but also my fellow blind people who couldn’t fathom how it was done. When you don’t understand something, I guess it’s human nature to question it or to maysay it or doubt it, or what have you. But through the use of technology and a sighted assistant and my skills as someone who writes, I was able to do it. And I’m very proud of the job that I did. Blind people, yes, they can write visual experiences.

TR:
I would think it would hurt when it comes from inside the community.

Nefertiti:
Yeah, when your own community, the community, you’re trying to represent the community, you’re trying to uplift the community, you are trying to model what’s possible for, says to you, you can’t do that. When your own community turns the ableism that the whole world slaps you with every day. That is very hurtful. And that is very discouraging. But for one thing I had already committed to it. And when I commit to something I see things through. I mean, there has to be a real tragedy for me to not follow through on something I committed to, like, My word is my bond. That’s true. I wasn’t going to let you and the rest of the team down. And I wasn’t going to let myself down. Yeah, it hurt. It hurt. There were Facebook posts and things on Twitter, and even people in my own life questioning and the like, and I just I decided I was gonna turn it around.

TR:
From my conversations with Nef. I don’t think she has a problem with questions. It’s more of the assumption and the insinuation or downright claim that she can’t, which by the way, you know, translates to we can’t.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
You were getting negativity before you even did it?

Nefertiti:
Yeah.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
I didn’t know that.

Nefertiti:
Yeah. Ableism is real and internalized. Ableism is real. I got a lot of positives too. But the aspect of all this, that hurts is the negative coming from your own kind, if you will. Very sad. It was a bit of a rude awakening for me. I’m glad I had it, because I’m definitely awake now. But at the time, yeah, it was bewildering. Honestly.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
Yeah, sorry, I didn’t deal with that. But at the same time, it’s one thing to deal with it when it’s done. But when you’re going in, like you going into the fight, quote, unquote, and everybody thinks you can’t do it, you can either start to believe that and it messes your whole stuff up. Or you can take that as fuel. Let’s see, I got this, I’m gonna show yall.

Nefertiti:
Belief itself I think is is a big part of it. The thing is that it was published early on to Facebook. And I was alerted to do you know, what’s going on on Facebook? And there are these comments available in. I log on, and I see this post and I see these comments. And I’m like, Okay, I’m in the fishbowl. Now, I guess I had to deal with it. I was fielding these questions and these negative comments and dealing with a lot of anger as well that I didn’t want to let show because that’s just not professional. I’m not about making enemies or what have you, a lot of keeping it to myself and venting to family. And having a quality product. At the end of it all. People out there if you have the opportunity, don’t squander it. Check this documentary out. It’s really beautiful work and a real example of what’s possible when folks come together with a shared passion and skills and a dedication. And we just happen to be blind. Big deal.

TR:
I have to tell you, I respect the way Nefertiti handled this situation. She’s classy. Word to the wise, be careful what you say on social media. Not everyone is as classy. Just saying.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
What did you take away from the experience?

Nefertiti:
Sometimes when you are trying to like maybe break a wall down or, or do away with a barrier or do something unorthodox. People who are in this field, who you would think are less encumbered by ableist thoughts and ablest ways of carrying themselves, a superiority complex. There were a couple of people who showed their real colors, I think throughout that situation of what, a blind writer That was a lesson for me to that just because you’re doing something that doesn’t mean that you are necessarily of that thing.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
You and some folks created a Twitter group for AD. What’s that all about?

Nefertiti:

It’s called the audio descriptions Twitter community. If you use the website and the Twitter app, you can participate in communities and these are spaces where people come together who are of like mind and I and my partner cofounded the audio description Twitter community and this is a pretty rapidly I’m very proud to say growing place for all things description, audio description, image description, self description, we want to know about all the panels the latest what we call #ADNews. Some companies announce oh we just did this, we just did that now on Netflix with audio description now on Amazon without a description etcetera and so we post that we post reviews of audio description that we’ve seen. We talk about the quality of audio description everything from mono audio to surround sound, all that sort of thing, jobs as well, in audio description, get posted on there, classes. It’s for all things ad and it’s on Twitter. Please join us. You just search for audio description.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
I’ll link to the group on this episode blog posts at reidmymind.com.

Nefertiti:
Whoever you may be professional consumer, it doesn’t matter we want you.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
continuing with that energy of sharing. Nefertiti offers advice for other blind AD enthusiasts interested in pursuing opportunities in the field as well as for advocates.

Nefertiti:
Be aware of what you’re getting into. It’s beautiful work. But like with anything, it does have its pitfalls, prepare yourself for those. But also really focus and celebrate your successes and improve on your craft. If you’re a voiceover artists coming into this, keep studying, keep learning. If you’re a writer coming into this, study other people’s work, and if you’re a consumer, consume as much as possible, let these companies know that you’re out here. Let them know what’s going wrong, but also let them know what’s going right. Remember, accessibility is a human right and part of accessibility is access to visual content. And audio description is one of the best ways to make that happen for us. We need to advocate for it. We need to through our collective voices amplify our cause. We are here and we are worthy.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
Where can people learn more about you follow you, find you.

Nefertiti:

You find me on LinkedIn. I’m Nefertiti Matos Olivares. I’m on Twitter at Nef Mat Oli. Email me if you’d like to NefMatOli@gmail.com.

TR in Conversation with Nefertiti:
That stands for Nefertiti Matos Olivares. All right. If there’s anybody out there who doesn’t realize this, let me let you know right now. Nefertiti is an official member of the Reid My Mind Radio family do not get it twisted. She is official!

Nefertiti:
And I got the t-shirt to prove it!

TR:
In addition to freelance work, Nefertiti is a part of the social audio description collective. Thats a group of diverse individuals who write QC, narrate, record and mix audio description for a variety of projects.
You can check out the episode featuring social ad from the 2021 flipping the script season, which I’ll link to on this episode’s blog post.

We’ve grown since that episode. Yeah, we. They had rule for our brother, and I’ve been wanting to hang with them for a while, a bunch of go getters. I’m just really honored to be a part of the collective.

I hope you all really felt the vibe of this episode. I’m sure many of you are contemplating breaking out on your own moving forward with your passion. Of course, be smart about it, but also be brave. That doesn’t mean you won’t have fear. It just means that you’ll do it anyway. On that note, I want to send a big shout out and thanks to my guy, Tony Swartz. For the audio editing assist with this episode.

I’ve been a bit nervous about finding a team to help with some production but Tony honestly made the process fun and easy. What the heck was I scared about. You know, it’s nothing to be scared about subscribing to read my mind radio. We’re available wherever you get your podcasts. In fact, we’re even available where you may not get your podcast. I’m talking about YouTube. For those who like to consume content on that platform with no visuals just the podcast artwork and the audio.

We’re available via your smart speaker too just ask it to play Reid my mind radio by t Reid on your favorite podcast app transcripts and more over on reidmymind.com. Well actually this could be the scary part you have to make sure you spell it correctly that’s R to the E… I… D.
Audio sample: (D! And that’s me in the place to be. Slick Rick)

Like my last name.

[outro music]

Peace.

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Flipping the Script on Audio Description: In the Making

June 15th, 2022  / Author: T.Reid

Light blue lab with series of beakers and two large flasks with the initial A in white on the right flask and The letter D in white on the left flask.  In the middle is a chemistry formula with movies incorporated in the cell. Jurassic on the top Avatar2 in the second and Popeye in the last cell.  Audio description in white letters on the top of the page and Reid My Mind Radio on the bottom

I’m excited to kick-off the 2022 FTS season with my friend and colleague, the Access Artist and Reid My Mind Radio Alum Cheryl Green. We’re talking about compliance based AD versus a more creative approach to developing description.

We hear from Prof. Arseli Dokumaci of Concordia University and the Director of the Access in the Making Lab in Montreal Canada who first invited Cheryl to help her and the AIM team explore the value of the creative approach to Audio Description.

We hear directly from workshop attendees about their projects and some of the many benefits of viewing AD through a creative lens.

Today, we’re going to pull on the edges a bit and explore how AD itself is not only artistic, but how it can be that inspiration, a catalyst for a new work of art.

Rather than talking about making AD, we’re talking about AD in the making!

Because, in this series, we’re going beyond the mainstream AD conversation.
We’re Flipping the Script on Audio Description!

PodAccess Survey – If you’re a Deaf/Disabled Podcaster or content creator or a consumer of Deaf/Disabled content, you’re going to want to know about this.

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Resources

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
Welcome back to the second 2022 season of Reid My Mind Radio.
My name is Thomas Reid and I’m the host and producer of this podcast which features compelling people impacted by all degrees of blindness and disability.

This season we continue with one of my favorite subjects, Audio Description or AD.

For those new to AD, you may understand it to be that additional audio track on your SAP channel or your favorite streaming app. Perhaps you experience AD live in a theater. That could be a movie or a live play as well. Either way, that additional audio is providing information about that content that is otherwise only communicated visually.

This includes museums, national parks, art galleries; there’s so many opportunities to add audio description to all sorts of art that enables access for those of us who are Blind or have low vision.

That’s why I say, “Give Me AD on everything.”

But we know, AD is about much more than entertainment!

Audio description is like a swiss army knife. At first glance you think it’s a tool with one function. But pull at its edges a bit; all of a sudden out pops another tool, another use, another benefit.

We know all sorts of reasons non-Blind people use and appreciate AD. However, the take away from curb cut affects or the idea that access for one group ultimately benefits others, isn’t to forget where it originated, but rather to remember that creating inclusive environments should be the goal in all we do.

Today is less about AD from the access perspective. It’s there, no doubt, but we’re gonna pull at the edges a bit. We’re exploring how AD itself is not only artistic, but how it can be that inspiration, a catalyst for a new work of art.

Rather than talking about making AD, we’re talking about AD in the making!

Because, in this series, we’re going beyond the mainstream AD conversation.
We’re Flipping the Script on Audio Description!

Let’s get it!

— Reid My Mind Radio Theme Music

Arseli:

My name is Arseli Dokumaci. My pronouns are she/her/hers. And I’m a female presenting person in her early 40s.
I have short black hair, black rounded glasses. I’m sitting in my office.

I was born and raised in Turkey and immigrated to Canada a few years ago.
I live in the unceded territory of Kenya and the Haida nation here, who are the custodians of lands and waters that give us life and I’m grateful to the Kenyan, bahagia nation, also known as Montreal.

I’m an assistant professor in Communication Studies Department in Concordia University. I am also Canada researcher in critical disability studies and media technologies. That’s a long title. I’m also the director of access in the making lab at Concordia.

TR:

Before we can get to Audio Description in the Making, we have to first begin with Access in the Making or AIM.

Arseli:
Access in the making lab is an anti ableist, anti colonialist lab, mainly run by students, community members who are disabled artists and activists. We are a group of around like 15 people right now.

Shout out to Prakash, Roy, Jesse, Diego, Raffaele, Nikolas, Amy, Sabina, Yolanda, Dres, and Salima. These are the wonderful people that are making up the Access in the Making Lab.

We are basically interested in developing creative and critical approaches to access. How can we think of access not as a checklist, but as a starting point for doing research differently for being in the work differently, and as more as a creative and critical intervention in the given order of things. To kind of shake up people a bit.

TR:

Hey, I want to shake people up. Just a bit!

Back to the lab.

Arseli:

Which is considering access as this kind of process without an endpoint as something that is continually being made and made, remade which is also open to failures and mistakes, and learning from goals and being accountable.

TR:

When we apply this idea to audio description, you can see why it’s the opposite of what takes place in the mainstream world where the final product is so heavily affected by constraints like time, guidelines and budgets. The AIM Lab is an environment that encourages experimentation.

Arseli:
The people of the AIM lab are doing amazing work. We kind of push this together collectively.

I have been working on creative approaches. I experimented with some formats like freeze framing.

I use this crip time method of like freezing the frames and inserting the audio description as something that is intervening in the video itself as a kind of almost a statement saying let the audio discussion take the time it takes.

It was always in the back of my head, like, how can we kind of further this creative approach to audio description. I’m obviously not the first person to do that, there are people doing amazing work on creative approaches to audio description.

TR:

Some of them have been featured right here on the podcast.

Arseli:

We were developing various posters, and we were also thinking about our visual identity as a lab and so on.

We realized that, even when you’re developing a visual identity for something like developing a logo, that logo is visual, and there is no description. And we were stuck with this question of Oh, we did the logo, but where’s the description. This need for audio description kept coming up that we need to do something about it, like we don’t have the, the answers, but the need, literally the need to and to learn more about it to experiment with it. So that’s where the idea of doing this workshop came about.

TR in Conversation with Arseli:
What made you reach out to Cheryl, how did that come about?

Arseli:
That’s also another story of relationship building, which goes back to 2018 actually. When we organized a symposium in Montreal called Vibe a symposium for Deaf and Disability Arts. And Cheryl was also a participant in that symposium, that’s where we got to meet.

TR:

That’s my friend and colleague, the Access Artist, Cheryl Green.

Cheryl
I am a captioner and audio describer. I also do some video and audio production.

I am a white Ashkenazi Jewish woman with a poof of curly dark brown hair and big black plastic glasses and olive complexion.

It’s still a little chilly in Portland, Oregon, where I live. I am sporting my Reid My Mind Radio hoodie, just the most comfortable hoodie that I own. Wear it all the time, except for laundry day.
I’m very excited to be back on your show Thomas.

TR:

That’s right, Cheryl is official. I’m sure you heard her name here before. In fact, there are other guests on this podcast that I only became aware of through Cheryl. Oh Man, I just introduced you to my connect.

Arseli:

Cheryl came to one of my courses and gave this beautiful lecture on audio description.

We also had you Thomas for that class as a listening material one of our podcasts so I had already this connection in mind and then we were really like, looking forward to doing something together.

So I reached out to Cheryl, we met, we discussed what we can do. Raffaele, our lab member, was also helping me to organization. And Cheryl had the idea of inviting you. And we were like, super excited about it. That’s how all this started.

Cheryl:
I told her that the best way for me to lead a workshop on audio description would be with a blind or low vision co teacher, it wouldn’t make sense for me to do it solo. And she needed zero convincing. She was completely on board with that, because she’s Arseli and she’s rad.

TR in Conversation with Cheryl:
What is it about including a blind consumer, a blind person, specifically in the process that’s important to you?

Cheryl:

I have taught workshops, by myself as a sighted producer of audio description and image descriptions. I have done that in the past, I’ve changed my ways now. Because it’s not fair.

And it’s not good enough for me to say, I am the ultimate authority. No sighted audio describers the ultimate authority. No one consumers the ultimate authority.

It’s a subjective artistic field anyway.

So it benefits the students to have more than one teacher first off.

Second of all, the subtleties and the nuances that a blind or low vision person brings to the discussion. It’s stuff that I’ll never think about on my own. No matter how hard I think about the wording, I’m still looking at the picture, I still see it. And I’m always writing from the perspective of what did I just see?

TR:

I so appreciate that honesty. It’s counter to what we’re taught in society and in business where’ it’s all about branding yourself as an expert. Yet, so often, lived experience is overlooked and under appreciated and x amount of hours in a room discussing the topic is considered more valuable.

Cheryl:

I think there’s a lot in the world of accessibility that’s modeled after the world of health care and rehab. Where ostensibly non disabled people are the authorities and the experts. And they give this thing to the user, the person who needs something. I’ve had clients literally refer to audio description as Services for the Blind and like, No, tI’m adding an artistic translation to your film. Is your film services for the sighted? No, then audio description’s, not “services for the blind.”

Co-teaching with a blind person helps remind the students in the audience that this is about collaboration, and artistry, and community building, and that the wants and needs and desires and perspectives of the ultimate consumers are super valid. And really what we should be focused on, who cares if I like the script. If the people using audio description don’t like the script.

So I told her that I would reach out to Oh, God, what is his name? I can’t remember this guy’s Thomas something. Yeah, I told her. Let me just check with this Thomas guy, might be decent at something like this.

TR:

Ok, yes, I have some opinions on Audio Description as many of us do. I like discussing the subject as it’s a gateway to larger conversations. But this specific idea that Cheryl approached me with felt like a way to test this idea that we’ve been promoting for a while; AD can improve your art.

Cheryl:

What if people took their artwork, wrote an audio description, threw away the artwork and made something brand new, based on the audio description instead of the audio description being based on the artwork.

She loved the idea right away. We called you and you said yes, and the end. And then we did the workshop, the end.

TR in Conversation with Cheryl:
Good night, everybody.

TR:

Mm mm, we’re taking our time with this one. In fact, the process is where you find a lot of the art and beauty. That’s why the lab is just the right environment for such a workshop. Here’s Arseli.

Arseli:
I didn’t come with a lot of expectations, I honestly wanted the process itself to take us to somewhere and see where we were going together. I totally trusted in the abilities of all the members and their commitment to access, and especially you and Cheryl’s work. So I knew that things will organically develop.

TR:

When I hear this, I can’t help but remember how I once approached just about all aspects of my life. It was a very corporate, productivity centered way of thinking. If you weren’t presenting a project plan with gantt charts, you were artsy fartsy to me.

I still have some of that way of thinking ingrained in me, but I also know and believe in organic creation and letting time do its thing.

Arseli:
I was just waiting to see the magic happen.

We had so much fun. It already created this atmosphere of being comfortable and being gentle with yourself. I feel that there’s this anxiety around doing access work or audio description work. If it’s an unknown territory for newcomers, they’re like, “What if I say something wrong when I’m working on tonight.”

All that anxiety was lifted away.

That was a great starting point. To start from that comfort zone, so to say, and knowing that you will make mistakes, and that’s okay. The question is not to make mistakes, the question is, okay, I’m gonna make mistakes, I might say something not okay. But I’m going to like, learn from it and take accountability and grow along the way. I think that was the whole atmosphere that I really appreciated and took away from the workshop.

TR:

And Cheryl’s expectation…

Cheryl:
Yeah, I really wanted people to take away from the workshop that that people with poofy hair can partner really well with bald people. It’s okay, we’re in an era now where we can just like

TR in Conversation with Cheryl: 10:41
Oh, this is News. Wait, audio description. I’m bald?

##TR:

Cheryl and I can get a bit silly. But yet serious.

Cheryl:
The real takeaways.

It’s valuing the teaching and perspective of disabled people.

the amazing, endless artistic possibility of audio description. I love anything that gets away from the compliance conversation. People are always asking me to do workshops or trainings or be on panels and talk about well, “what are the specs? And how do you do this? We want to be more compliant, we want to be more accessible.” Why? Why they never told me why. Why are you doing this? And if you don’t know why you’re doing it, then you’re going to live in that compliance based because we’re supposed to because we don’t want to get sued or it’s the hot thing to do right now to be accessible.

TR:

There’s that maximize productivity thing again. Tell me how to quickly implement this thing so I can get the biggest bang for my buck. All along, missing the opportunity, the experience, the beauty.

Cheryl:

It’s this negotiation, it’s this process. It’s a collaboration, it’s community. How can we talk about audio description in a way where we just don’t have to bother with compliance? We’re going to make stuff in this workshop, maybe it would be compliant, maybe it wouldn’t be. But let’s have fun and not be scared of audio description. Not feel like it’s a burden, or we have to do this. But how do we make it work?

I wanted people to get that playground vibe around audio description. I also wanted people to have fun with bringing any parts of themselves to the work. So this is not going to be an objective thing. You’re going to build the world that you want to build in your audio description. And it’s going to be yours, whatever you bring to it.

TR:

That approach allowed us to let attendees sometimes slightly modify the assignment. Some chose not to create new independent works of art but rather develop additional components supporting the original described piece.

Arseli who also attended and participated in the workshop came prepared to describe the Access in the Making logo and left with multiple components including audio…

Arseli:

and a textual component. And I had an idea of like a food component but that will happen if we ever meet in person. Don’t we all love food?

TR:

Heck yeah!

Arseli:
I worked on the logo of the aim Lab, which was created by our wonderful designer researcher Roi Saade.

We have been as the aim lab working with Roi for about a year to develop that logo. It was an ongoing conversation where Roi really pushed us to think about what is the access In the making lab? What would the characters of the aim lab be if it were a person? And how do you describe your approach and all these exercises with us to kind of better understand what we how we foresee this collective. And it was a long that idealogical process that Roi came up with this beautiful design of the aim lab.

TR:

The logo itself starts with the letters of the lab’s mame, AIM; Access in the Making.

It includes dashes between the first letter of each name representing the missing letters.

Arseli:

Which is maybe very simple. But when you think about it, we were literally thinking of access as something that we work towards, that we are committed to. We are in no way considering ourselves as the experts of access or that we will tell what access is or should be. But we are literally interested in experimenting, we are aspiring towards access and working towards access without big promises. And we are always thinking about what if we do this? What if we do that? What if we speculate and think about these new openings of access. So that kind of Roi designed around those dashes and letters reflected this approach. I wanted that story to be told.

TR:

There’s also the audio component representing the logo.

— Audio of AIM Logo

TR:

These dragging beeps sort of illustrate a dash or hyphen.

Arseli:

I looked for a way of translating what the image tells into a sonic version. It works in that sense. And it might not work in other senses. But of course it might sound entirely differently to another audio describer. And that’s the whole pitch of it. Not being objective, as you said, but giving room for all the subjectivity we could give and opening up new versions of that. That was a sonic version.

And I’m not an expert in audio editing. It was just the trial, I didn’t mind risk taking and trying it out.

TR:

Then there’s the second component, because really why should anyone be restricted to just one way of absorbing conceptual ideas.

How about poetry?

Arseli:

The poem, I guess it felt A bit more intimate. In the sense that I wanted to reflect on that journey we had as a lab together, how we reached that logo and what it meant for us as the aim lab as our values, our principles, what we are committed to this idea of leaving nobody behind, which is coming from Disability Justice committees, and I kind of really valued that. As the AIM we value that.

Where are the missing letters, right? Have they gone? And how can we hold space for the missing letters for the things that we don’t know, for the access needs that we will perhaps never know. So not hope not having assumptions, but keeping space holding space for the unknown.

TR:

Once again, I’m going to point out that I know this concept may make some uncomfortable. Especially if you only think of description as a word for word explanation of what something looks like. But audio description, image descriptions can go beyond that.

Arseli:

The audio description of that logo does not supplement the logo, it literally works with the logo together. And it brings everybody into that story of that logo making that we had with Roi, it tells that story.

So I find it beautiful. And also a way of like opening up new roles, telling the stories that are not otherwise told. And providing those openings to people like, Okay, here’s what we did. And audio description is enabling that story sharing and storytelling.

TR:

Enabling story telling and sharing that once again, goes beyond entertainment.

[smooth lounge music soothing your soul]
THOMAS: Hi. I’m Cheryl Green.
CHERYL: And I’m Thomas Reid. Uh, that do…. You don’t look like Cheryl Green.
THOMAS: What do you mean?
CHERYL: Well, I mean Cheryl, she’s got hair on her head, kind of curly, medium length brown hair and black-framed glasses and olive skin.
THOMAS: Okay. Now that you say that, you don’t sound like Thomas Reid. I think he’s a brown-skinned Black man with a shaven head and wears shades and has a full beard and might be wearing like a Wu-Tang Clan t-shirt or something like that.
CHERYL: But we are both disabled podcasters.
THOMAS: Do you think we should say podcasters with disabilities?
CHERYL: Oh, you know what? Let’s do a podcast about that.
THOMAS: Hmm. Good idea.
CHERYL: Actually, Thomas and I are working on a project that’s all about disabled podcasts. It’s called. Oh, wait, we don’t actually have the name yet, right? What should we call it?
THOMAS: We should call it Project Project?
CHERYL: Yeah, I love it. Project Project. Or like, I don’t know, POD Access.
THOMAS: Okay. We’ll go with POD Access… for now. With funding from the Disability Visibility Project, we’re creating a space for disabled podcasters or content creators to connect with each other and maybe be discovered by audiences who are interested in your content or share skills and resources.
CHERYL: So, we want to hear from you, current or former, Deaf or disabled podcasters, deaf or disabled people interested in starting a podcast, or consumers of content about disability or deafness.
THOMAS: We created a survey that should only take about 20 minutes to complete, and we’d really love your feedback.
CHERYL: You can find the survey at https://bit.ly/PODAccess. On that survey you can sign up to receive more information about Project Project as it develops.
THOMAS: Again, fill out the survey at https://bit.ly/PODAccess.
CHERYL: Good. Nice job, Cheryl.
THOMAS: Oh, you too, Thomas.
[smooth lounge music fades into the future]

TR in Conversation with Cheryl:
Were there any highlights from your perspective of the workshop?

Cheryl:
It was one of those things that was like non stop, highlight. Shout out to Arseli and your students and your staff.
One highlight is that the stuff that they made which you can find on audio description.access in the making.ca.

Every single piece is radically different from every other piece. They’re just so unique and distinctive and original. And that’s a real highlight for me. There were a lot of great questions. There was so much engagement.

TR:

It wouldn’t be right to ask Cheryl to pick a favorite project to discuss. I realized that after I asked Cheryl to pick a favorite project to discuss.

I did however reach out to one of the workshop attendees and creators.

Salima:
My name is Salima Panjwani. I’m a multi sensory artist based in Montreal in Canada. I would describe myself as a brown skinned woman with big curly hair, who laughs a lot and loves to have coffee around me at all times.

TR in Conversation with Salima:
Talk to me a little bit about any existing knowledge or experience with audio description. So prior to attending the workshop.

Salima:

I actually learned about Cheryl at the vibration symposium and Montreal in 2018. And I fell in love with her approach. I fell so madly in love with audio description, when I saw her speak. She shared some of her work. And I just thought it was so beautiful how she didn’t think about audio description after the fact. Like she really included it from the beginning of the process. I was really inspired by that.

So when I created a piece called the cost of entry as a heartbeat, in 2020, in Budapest, I decided to create documentation that included audio description planned and from the beginning. I included it in the performance film of the piece. And it’s been getting a lot of really good feedback. I love the process, Thomas like it was so much fun.

I love using language and that way of finding ways to describe things that aren’t just visual, but like really, the energy or the feeling.

TR:

Workshop attendees were asked to group into teams of two, possibly three and choose something to describe. That could be a picture, an object perhaps something not even visual like a song.

The team would then create a new piece of art totally based on that description. That could be anything, a poem, a two minute play, a dance. You can actually check out some of the creations at AudioDescription.AccessInTheMaking.ca.

Salima’s project began with a description of the fermentation process.

Salima:
The name of the project for the audio description workshop was iridescent constellations. And it was with Diego Pacheco Bravo.

Salima:

We didn’t know each other at all. So it was quite a funny process for me. Because we just kind of met and started talking about honey and fermentation. And I thought we were going to, like scientifically describe the process of fermentation.

What is fermentation? Like what does it look like? What’s going on?

I just thought that would be interesting in itself to really slow down that process.

I was very surprised when Diego came back with the full story.

I didn’t want to change anything, because I’m honoring his creative process and his writing process.

But what I did add were the audio descriptions.

TR:

The initial description of the fermentation process for creating mead, which is an ancient alcoholic beverage like wine, inspired a story.

Salima:

About two beekeepers in their 20s who kind of have some tension building as they’re caring for the bees and enjoying Mead together and it gets a bit sexy.

I actually love that because sometimes I feel like disabled folks aren’t considered as like sexual beings. And, and that whole, like erotic fiction audio described piece that we made, I think, speaks to that in a way where we’re not forgetting that like disabled folks also want to listen to sexy things.

TR:

Uh oh! We’re getting grown and sexy once again on the podcast! If you missed that episode from 2021 Flipping the Script series you should really check it out.

Salima:

I am really pleased with how it turned out. And even though I didn’t write the story, I wrote the audio descriptions that go with it. And so it’s my voice and Diego’s voice playing off each other using words like smacking and bubbling and the descriptors that add to the tension building up and releasing, and that’s complemented with a soundscape that I developed. That includes a lot of bubbles, and rustling of leaves and some voices and some moaning and a lot of different sounds that bring the peace to life.

TR:
In no way is this episode an advertisement for the workshop. If anything, it is a PSA for considering new approaches to how we think about audio description and access in general.

Salima:

I feel like when we think about accessibility, there’s so much fear of screwing up. Both you and Cheryl really created this environment where, like, I personally didn’t feel scared of screwing up at all, I just felt free to experiment and explore. I don’t think I would have necessarily felt as as open to create like an audio described erotic audio fiction piece with said stranger that had never met before.

I feel like it’s so important that people realize it’s okay to make a mistake, and then go back and repair, create the opportunities for repair.

Workshops like this, and the, and the pieces that are created through it kind of model what’s possible. And the more models we have, it opens up opportunities to kind of show like some different ways of looking at things.

Arseli:
Why not think of audio description or any other form or medium of access, as something that could be created, opening up new paths, not something restricting us or frightening us, but something that actually opens up our minds to things that we would otherwise not notice?

To me, that’s the difference between the two different approaches to audio description and access in general.

TR:

You know, this isn’t just for those new to Audio Description.

Cheryl:
I was losing my motivation, I wasn’t sure where to go with the artistry thing. And this workshop, getting so much enthusiastic buy in for bringing your full identities, bringing your full creativity, letting your heart break open, just soaring and playing.
It was the kind of validation and confirmation I needed for the creative side to audio description.

Arseli:

If you think about this creative aspect, and doing audio description in a creative way, and not pretending to be objective, or unbiased, which is awful, like admit it right? Nothing can be objective, we know that. So let’s just stop pretending about this all presumed objectivity, and actually being reflexive, consciously reflecting on the fact that it is you actually describing the work, not rejecting that subjectivity, that standpoint. But accepting and recognizing and actually cherishing that, and being accountable for who you are. And what you’re describing.

That’s really, that’s was one of the key takeaways that I got from our workshop together and learning from you and Cheryl is acknowledging your positionality as the describer.

I will make certain choices along the way because of my social positioning, my upbringing, my assumptions and privileges.

I will tell you certain things and I will not tell you certain other things. Being transparent about you as the describer.

TR:

There are people who are comfortable with the established or mainstream compliant approach to Audio description. Some perhaps even have a stake in solely promoting that perspective. I didn’t however realize there are some out here just straight hatin’…

Cheryl:
One thing that I’ve heard said is, if someone came across one of these very creative, very artistic, nonlinear things, and they thought that’s what audio description is, they might be turned off from audio description, and not realize that you can go out there and find this professionally made stuff that’s much more informative, and much more standardized.

Nobody’s in here saying, this is the only way to do it. And frankly, if people enjoy the creative audio description, then why would we withhold it from them. And I think that audio description is really good when it matches the tone of the piece.

TR:

As an example, Cheryl and I talked about a Netflix special called “The Twist.”

Cheryl:

Catherine Cohen’s stand up comedy routine.

It was just outrageous. Her outfit was so audacious and so phenomenal. It was like high society, Dallas meets New York, Jewish American princess meets, like 60s, go go boots. I mean, it was just outrageous. And you didn’t get to hear about any of it.

And the describer was like,

[softly]

“And here I am describing the visuals.”

Which did not match with Katherine’s like super over the top, loud, boisterous musical theater presentation.

I really feel like hers would have benefited from the creative style. Now it’s Netflix, maybe they can’t do that. It’s why I like to work independently. Not that Netflix has asked me to work for them, but it’s not like I’ve said no to them.

TR:

I always want to make sure y’all know, this isn’t shots against the AD writer, narrator or even Netflix. This is about constructive criticism, recognizing opportunities for growth and generating conversation within the community.

Cheryl:
The name of that comedy show was The Twist dot dot dot
If you don’t get a description of what she looks like, what on earth does that title even mean? Did you have a sense of what she looks like?

TR in Conversation with Cheryl:
No, not from that. No.

I didn’t watch the whole thing I turned it off.

TR:

I’m just saying.

Cheryl.
The audio description script identified her as wearing a pink dress. She was most assuredly wearing a romper. A very low cut romper.

TR in Conversation with Cheryl:
Actually after that description, she said she was wearing the romper. It was confusing. It was like, Well, why did you describe a pink dress? Did she just switch?

Cheryl:
You want to talk about following the rules. You got an inaccuracy in your second sentence. She’s not wearing a dress. She’s wearing a romper. They could have used that point to mention that it’s extremely low cut that the shorts part of the romper is they’re like really short shorts. She’s got knee high boots on. This is the most ludicrous outfit, it is so outrageous.

To wear a low cut romper as a person who’s not real thin, is a fabulous political statement that you don’t get.

TR:

The political statements continued.

Cheryl:

I had to look her up because like Catherine Cohen, what Jew names their kid Catherine, what is this about? So one of her parents is Jewish, when I figured that one out and the other is Catholic. Okay. Catherine Cohen, she has kind of the stereotypical Jewish knows that, by the way, is gorgeous.
In general, in the United States, not the nose, you see on models, fashion magazines. I know people with that nose who have really spent their childhoods being made fun of and feeling really self conscious about the nose. When you add those pieces together, she’s not a real thin model. She’s got this Jewish nose. Now all the sudden, the title of the show means something different. The twist is gorgeous.

To me it’s also a political statement as a Jew, especially in this time when those guys with their tiki torches think we’re, you know, gonna run them out of town.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know how you would effectively in one sentence, get that whole description that I just gave. But if we don’t have any understanding of the size of her body, in this low cut tiny romper, and then the Jewishness of her face. It’s such a disservice to this entire show that she wrote and choreographed.

TR in Conversation with Cheryl:

I wish I could remember his name.

It was a guy who worked for WGBH. And he was the only guy that I ever heard really get excited about a building blowing up in an action movie. IThe first time I heard that guy I was like, Oh, I love this. He’s like “an explosion!”
I’m okay with that because it matched. My problem would be if if he was doing that all the time. on things that didn’t even call for it, “oh, what a beautiful puppy!”

Cheryl:
Why is that a problem. I feel like audio description is a translation of the film. It’s not a thorough, complete translation of everything, because then the one hour movie with less 18 hours, and who wants to listen to 18 hours of description of every single thing that’s, like, that’s not what it’s about. But you want to do a faithful translation, and you want the audience using audio description, to come away with the story and the vibe that the people not using audio description got.

TR in Conversation with Cheryl:
If anybody’s listening from Netflix, from HBO, from anywhere. Create a little space like a sandbox. Let’s have an audio description sandbox.

TR:

A place to experiment?
Oh, wait, a lab.

Cheryl:

I mean it’s not that different from kinetic light, and their Audimance app where many tracks that are provided and you choose which audio description you want, what kind of description of this dance performance Do you want to listen to?

I love this idea of like beta testing it.

TR:

Let me be clear, something like this requires funding. I’m not expecting anyone to donate their time. Audio description is not a charity.

Recognizing the artistic possibility in AD, the curb cut effect or the additional benefits it has outside of the intended users, what we’re talking about here is investing in an exploration. More than likely, resulting in a new way of thinking about Audio description.

Cheryl:
We can stop having two camps of creative versus compliant. And you could just have one camp that is creative and compliant.

TR in Conversation with Cheryl:

I think a lot of times when we talk about AD as art, even consumers, I think probably are a little bit leery about that.
I don’t want to watch an action movie and have spoken word as the audio description.

[Cheryl laughs]

I don’t want that. I wonder if people think that that’s what is meant by audio description and art?

Cheryl:
Smoke, ash falling falling falling into my eyes. Oh, it burns.

TR in Conversation with Cheryl:
That was really good.

TR:

So where do we go from here?

Cheryl:

My fear is that if I or we tried to do the same workshop, because it was so amazing the first time, it would just be like a total failure the second time, or you’d get that group who doesn’t get it, and you’d spend the whole time answering compliance questions.

There’s a part of me that doesn’t ever want to teach the workshop the same way again, because it was just this perfect little thing.

Why not do something totally different every time? Or has some differences every time? I don’t know, if I wrote a book on audio description. I wouldn’t keep putting out the same edition for 20 years.

I would change it to not only keep with the times, what’s happening, what’s trendy, what’s current, what are people asking for. But also, you want to meet the people who are in your workshop. So if they’re not ready for the creative stuff, because they literally don’t even know what audio description is? Well, let’s start with something basic, but it will still be creative. So I would love to co teach more of these classes.

TR in Conversation with Cheryl:
Who do you think this workshop is right for? So is it for folks who want to get into audio description? Or is it for some other group. Artists?

Cheryl:
I think it can be adapted for any group, what I would really love to see people who are already trained in audio description, maybe even already working in that field, who feel like they got kind of a more standardized education in audio description. You’re an objective neutral observer. Folks who were trained in this would be nice to shake it up a little bit and broaden the way they look at it.

TR:

Cheryl sees the benefits for those not interested in directly creating AD.

Cheryl:

I’ve had the opportunity to speak in a filmmaking class recently.
One hour basic, little bits of information about captioning and audio description, not necessarily even how to do it, but what to consider in terms of high quality, accessibility, culturally responsive, culturally sensitive accessibility.

Just so that they know there’s resources out there, there’s people who can do this.

I wanted them to have that sense of relationship and conversation about accessibility.

So a workshop like this can also open that up, maybe you won’t do more audio description.
But I bet you will remember this workshop when you make your film or podcast or whatever, and be more mindful about, can you be creative and accessible in the piece, even more than you are going to be?

TR:

We’re talking about AD not only as a creative tool for artists such as filmmakers, musicians and designers, but what about its role in education.

Arseli:
Not many courses, not that I know, at least in my university are like thinking of audio description as an important project, pedagogical tool or an intervention in the courses being taught, and we have departments such as film studies or communication studies. I think that’s the kind of important intervention that such fields could have from the Disability Justice committees, disability activism, the kind of work that you, Cheryl, and wonderful other receptive disabled artists and activists are doing, how to think of the curriculum differently, how to think of the pedagogy is differently.

Anti ableist approaches, creating work that is more accessible in the future.

TR:

As a teacher, Arseli recognizes value in audio description.

Arseli:
You made me think about the work of Georgina Klieg, a disability scholar. She does this like audio description as creative pedagogical practice in her courses. And she wrote an article about that, which I also like using my courses, asking students to do audio describe things and how that actually itself becomes a process of learning for them.

But it is actually transforming the person doing the audio description in the process, as well as the viewer. The person describing it starts to see things themselves in certain ways perhaps they didn’t see before.

[fun funky music plays]

TR:
Audio description or any access in general is an experience.
It’s about the creation and the result. That strictly compliance approach treats AD like a chore and the end result often reflects that energy.

If we could only tap into the energy that Salima describes after attending an event where all, well most, access needs were considered and met.

Salima:

It felt like there was like sparkles in the air. And I’m not too sure if there were actually sparkles in the air. Just kind of felt like it. That’s how I feel about the disability arts world here.
I think I want to focus on being able to create that feeling of or that question of like, “Are there sparkles in the air or does it just feel like it because everyone’s cared for?”

TR in conversation with Salima:

I like that. I like that a lot.

TR:

Those sparkles, are the visual representation of where that access originated.
Shout out to Alice Wong, Mia Mingus and Sandy Ho. They have the term or the hashtag to be exact; #AccessIsLove.
Where accessibility is understood as an act of love.

You can’t mandate love!

I want to send much love out to all my wonderful guest:
My friend and colleague the Amazing Access Artist Cheryl Green.

Cheryl:
My website is whoamitostopit.com
I have a media access page. On that page, there’s a link to a Google form where people can tell me about their project and tell me what they’re looking for for access.
And that’s whoamItostopit.com/media-accessibility.

On Twitter and Facebook I’m at @whoamItostopit

WhoAmIToStopIt is actually the name of a documentary film that I made. It became my big film and I’ve only made a few very small films since then.
So I kindI moved all of my stuff onto the whoamitostopit website instead of maintaining two websites one for this film and one for my business.

TR:
Director of the Access in the Making Lab at Concordia University in Canada, Professor Arseli Dokumaci.

Arseli:
you can go to our website which is AccessInTheMaking all together as one word .ca
All the information is there and our lab members are there and our emails are there so just come on with that and reach out to us. Our doors are open to anyone.

TR:
Multi Sensory Artist, also up in Canada, Salima Panjwani.

Salima:
People can check out my website, which is www.CargoCollective.com/salima.
There’s the audio described videos of the cost of entry as a heartbeat there. And a lot of my other multi sensory work.
Instagram is @PictureSalima

TR:
Thats right you’re all official members of the Reid My Mind Radio family!

— Airhorn

TR:

Now don’t get confused by this idea of AD in the lab .
There are some who are thinking they’re experimenting with AD. I’m looking at you Amazon!
You are, but I don’t feel the love.

Let me see if I can frame this in a way that you’ll understand…

— Shift to a synthetic voice saying the following:

You’re starting from a place of how can we save money, how can we reduce human involvement but still be compliant
And I’m not fooled by the okey doke.
That’s where you say it will lead to more AD… don’tcha want that?

TR:

I want my AD like I want my food. Made with love!
The whole experience just feels better.

By the way, I appreciate synthetic speech, it’s what gives me access to my computer and phone.

I just don’t want it on a movie because Jeff Bezos wants to go to space.

Synthetic Speech:

Damn, T! There goes that Amazon sponsorship!

TR:

The AD lab that I’m thinking about is an environment where we can start with love, respect and creativity.

Am I taking this lab idea too far? I’m thinking of how I can apply it to my life in general.
A place for considering new concepts, ideas, free from judgement? A safe space to just try something new…?

For those of you who are new to blindness or any disability, I’m envisioning a safe space for us to confront new thoughts around things like ableism, our human experience
I remember how my early thoughts after disability were mostly about getting back to “normal”.
Wanting my prior life, as if that’s the only way to live. As if the only way to experience the world is visually.

Am I going to far with this lab thing? I’d love to hear what you all think. I’m at ReidMyMindRadio@gmail.com.

Here’s a cool experiment, go on over to ReidMyMind.com for transcripts, links and more.
But make sure you use the right formula;
That’s R to the E I D!
(“D! And that’s me in the place to be. Slick Rick)
Like my last name.

— Audio: Reid My Mind Radio Outro
Peace!

Hide the transcript

Black Art White Voices: A Flipping the Script Prequel

June 1st, 2022  / Author: T.Reid

A row of yellow light bulbs against a red horizontal border above and below the white movie screen. You are invited to REID MY MIND RADIO ENTERTAINMENT under the red frame. Black Art/White Voices: Flipping the script prequel on the following line in Bold Black capital letters. The picture is of a theater with red velvet chairs facing a white screen with movie images of Black panther, Insecure, Judas, and the black Messiah showing an all-black cast. There are two pictures of a blurry white man and a blurry white woman underneath the movie images.

Ever since producing the episode on Black Panther where among several critiques about the audio description, I voiced my complaint about using white narrators to voice what are obviously Black films. In general, AD narrators that are not from the culture of the film, where it’s obviously culturally specific, feels extremely disruptive and insensitive.

There’s been a significant amount of discussion on this topic here and elsewhere. It’s something I was hoping to see the Audio Description industry improve. To some extent that is the case, but when I finally sat down to watch Judas and the Black Messiah, a film about the FBI’s murder of Fred Hampton – Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, I couldn’t believe what I heard.

Black Panther? It’s starting to feel like a conspiracy… Here we go again!

Plus:
* Hear how you can help make a change
* Here about the next season; Flipping the Script on Audio Description.
* PodAccess Survey – If you’re a Deaf/Disabled Podcaster or content creator or a consumer of Deaf/Disabled content, you’re going to want to know about this.

Listen

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:

Music begins, a pulsating ominous synth that opens up to a dramatic mid-tempo beat.

TR:

What’s up Reid My Mind Radio?

We’re in between seasons but I wanted to share some thoughts with the family.

Truth is, I wish I didn’t feel obligated to share these thoughts on this particular subject.
I’m hoping one day it won’t be necessary.

Several years ago now, I produced this episode that has really sort of attached itself to me.
It’s the Black Panther episode.
The episode I almost threw away. I didn’t think anyone would care.
I published it anyway.

People cared!

I think.

I’m just ready to move past it.
Meaning, I would love to see those who say they understand and support the need for Audio description to be more culturally aware and competent, put it into practice.

but, it’s like…
Audio sample: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” From The Godfather.

— Reid My Mind Radio Intro Music

Sounds of a thunder and rain storm.

TR:

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories.

— Thunder clap

At least that’s how I felt before the phone call.

A day, I’ll never forget.
It was a Thursday.
Damn, it could’ve been Friday.
Either way… I don’t normally answer calls from unknown numbers.
Yet, this one evening, my cell phone rang and Voice Over told me to answer the phone.
Yo! That freaked me out.

Then, I realized after answering the phone that I heard it wrong.
The caller id really said Ann Sur Fonne. I think it’s French.

Wherever she’s from, she called to tell me a bit about the AD Illuminati.

— Thunder clap!

Well, sort of…

This mysterious phone call came on the same day my daughter Riana and I finally had the chance to sit together and watch Judas and the Black Messiah.

It’s a film that explores the FBI’s murder of Fred Hampton. The 21 year old Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party who was in the midst of uniting black and other organizations focusing on advancing rights and opportunities for Black, brown and other marginalized people.

The movie was first released in February 21 both in theaters and on HBOMax. I’m not certain about the theater release, but I do know that HBO Max did not yet provide audio description. My daughter refused to watch the film until it had AD and she could watch with her Dad. That’s me y’all!

It wasn’t until sometime during the summer of 2021 that the film received an audio description track on HBO.

Almost a year since its release, January 1, 2022, Riana and I sat down to watch the film.

As far as the movie goes, the two stars, Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield, playing Chairman Fred Hampton and the sell out under cover Bill O’Neil respectively, were both amazing.

It’s never easy to just watch a movie like this as if it were just a story. It’s not. It’s a reminder of a not so distant history a sobering acknowledgment that those in power won’t hesitate to kill when their way of life is threatened.

History shows, that’s often, when Black people are seeking their freedom, standing up for their rights and when there’s a hint of creating a unified front that challenges the establishment.

In 2018, I published an episode that focused on my response to the audio description in Marvel’s Black panther. If you never heard that, I’ll provide a link and hope you’ll take a listen. In summary, I discuss my reaction to the selected narrator. The episode actually goes into much more, but that’s often what’s recalled. I refer to the narrator as the voice of the colonizer – a British white man.

Unlike Marvel’s Black Panther, Judas and the Black Messiah doesn’t originate or belong to the MCU or the Marvel Comic Universe. This story is real. It belongs to us, this is the Black People’s Black Panthers.

I found it pretty ironic that , once again a film featuring a Black Panther is described by a British sounding white man.

— A mix of movie scenes with a dramatic “No” Including “Back to the Future” and “Independence Day”.

I always feel obligated to say, I have nothing against this person as an individual, he’s probably a nice guy.

Truth is, I really don’t have to. This isn’t about one person. It’s about an entire community of people being overlooked.

Anyone choosing to focus on individuals should really ask themselves if they’re really trying to deflect and avoid the real conversation.

— Cell Phone ringing

Not long after my daughter and I finished our post film review and conversation, my cell phone rang.

Yeah, that’s really the ring tone I use. I guess I’m nostalgic for telephones with actual bells on them.

Voice Over saying Ann Sur Fonne!

So I just had to pick it up.

TR in Conversation Flashback::
Hello? (Says hesitantly)

Ann:
What did you think of the AD?

TR in Conversation Flashback:
Excuse me?

Ann:
What did you think of the AD?

TR in Conversation Flashback:
Who’s this?

Ann:
I’m sorry Thomas, this is Ann Sur Fonne, you don’t know me… (Continues talking but fades down to an unintelligible murmur, with narration taking over)

TR:

She went on to explain she’s been listening, watching and reading the things that I and others have been talking about audio description and the need for more inclusion and proper representation of voices in all films especially those that are culturally specific.

She wouldn’t say exactly what power she had but she said she’s on the inside and wants to see change.

Ann:
Have you heard of the AD Illuminati?

TR in Conversation Flashback:
I have but always just thought that was a joke. I thought it referred to [beep]

Ann:
Thomas, whatever you do you can’t say those names out loud or use on your podcast. Your life is in danger if you do.

TR in Conversation Flashback:
What the heck! It’s audio description.

Ann:
Thomas, you said it before and made a damn t-shirt, it’s about more than entertainment.

TR:
Ann talked a bit more. Each time I tried to get more information or even some hint of why using Black voices in films about Black people is an issue, she’d just talk about how much she likes the podcast.

Ann:
I really like your podcast.

TR in Conversation Flashback:
Oh, thank you! Continues talking but fades out and narration over takes it.

TR:

I really need to work on not being easily distracted.

I did get to ask her if there’s any specific connection to Black Panther? I mean

I can’t tell you is all she’d say. Continue to be aware, pay attention and look beyond what you see. I reminded her I’m Blind. We laughed.

Ann:
But seriously, continue to be observant. There are things happening and people claiming they care and want to see change. But as you know now, the AD Illuminati is real and right now, their goals don’t align with yours.

TR in Conversation Flashback:
What exactly are their goals?

Ann:
Nice try Tomas, but I’m already risking my life calling you. I’ll be in touch when I can. Whenever you hear your phone say Ann Sur Fonne make sure you answer. No matter the time of day or night.
Goodbye.

TR:

And that was it, she was gone.

I didn’t mention this to anyone for a day or so because I was just shook.
I finally decided to tell my wife. She just stared at me. I took my phone out to show her my call history.

There was no record of the call.

“I didn’t dream it! I didn’t dream it!” I muttered to myself as I walked off to be alone.

Classic Radio Announcer:
“We interrupt this program for a special news announcement”

Hi, I’m Cheryl Green
And I’m Thomas Reid

Cheryl: That… wait, you don’t look like Cheryl Green.

Thomas: What do you mean?

Cheryl: Well, I mean Cheryl she’s got hair on her head, kinda curly medium length brown hair and she’s got black framed glasses and olive skin.

Thomas: Ok, now that you say that, you don’t sound like Thomas Reid. I think he’s a brown skin Black man with a shaven head and where’s shades and has a full beard and might be wearing like a Wu Tang Clan t-shirt or something like that.

Cheryl: But, we’re both disabled podcasters.

Thomas: Do you think we should say podcasters with disabilities?
Cheryl: – Oh oh, you know, let’s do a podcast about that.
Thomas: Mm! Good idea!

Cheryl: Actually, Thomas and I are working on a project that’s all about disabled podcasts…
It’s called… Oh wait, well, we don’t actually have a name just yet so we’re calling it… oh wait, we don’t actually have the name yet. What should we call it?

Thomas: We should call it, project, project!

Cheryl: Yeh, I love it! Project, Project or like I don’t know, PODAccess.

Thomas: Ok, we’ll go with PodAccess, for now.
With funding from the Disability Visibility Project we’re creating a space for disabled podcasters or
content creators to
Connect with each other, maybe be discovered by audiences interested in your content or share skills and resources

Cheryl: So we want to hear from you…
Current or former Deaf or Disabled podcasters, Deaf or Disabled people interested in starting a podcast or consumers of content about disability or Deafness.

Thomas: We’ve created a survey, that should only take about 20 minutes to complete and we’d really love your feedback.

Cheryl: You can find the survey at https://bit.ly/PODAccess
On that survey you can sign up to receive more information about
Project Project as it develops.

Thomas: Again, fill out the survey at http://bit.ly/PODAccess

Cheryl: Ah, nice job Cheryl!
Thomas: Ah, , you too Thomas! (Laughs)

Classic Radio Announcer: Now back to our show.

TR:
I needed something light to take my mind off this for a while.

I decided to watch the final season of Insecure also on HBO Max.

— Music begins, an anxious melody that continues of a mid-tempo Hip Hop beat. Hip hop

HBO did not provide description for their shows until 2021.

prior to this final season, Blind folks interested in watching Insecure with audio description would need to find an alternative way of accessing the series. Allegedly available somewhere.

If you’re not familiar with issa rae’s Insecure, according to her the show “examines “the complexities of ‘Blackness’ and the reality that you can’t escape being Black.”

While the show is a “black show” it’s characters and subject is universal and relatable.

Sort of like what people with disabilities like to think about disabled content. But you know many non-disabled hear that word and are like oh, that’s not for me!

Similarly, white disabled can hear black and disabled and say, oh boy that’s not for me.

Anyway! Humanity, right?

Insecure is a well done series. Young black people just living their lives searching and figuring out who they are and where they want to go. From Black law firms to the streets , all sorts of Black.

Well, guess what wasn’t Black?
That’s right! The audio description narrator.

And here’s where it gets tricky for me personally. I like and know the narrator. She’s been on the podcast y’all. That makes her Reid My Mind Radio Family!

Let’s be clear, I’m not trying to put people on blast or shame someone for their decisions. To return to the Godfather for a second…
“It’s not personal Sonny, It’s strictly business.”

That being the case, I won’t drop manes, but feel free to look it up. In fact, go ahead and watch the show, it’s entertaining and I support Black content creators.

I really wanted to call Ann Sur Fonne. I wanted to ask her what could be done about this. Does this at all relate to the AD Illuminati?

No need. I’m sure she’d be vague or even worse tell me how much she likes the podcast to distract me.

I really do need to stop falling for that one.

She did encourage me to continue to speak on it and suggested I do the same for others.

So that’s what I’m doing.

Is there really an AD Illuminati?

Is all of this part of some conspiracy?

I believe that those in charge are doing what they know. I recognize that it’s not malicious or done with bad intentions. Folks have jobs to do and deadlines to meet and all sorts of limited resources.

This has been the way it’s been done for years. It goes back to the early decision makers in audio description. They did great things, but they also bear responsibility for where we are today. They chose to not see color. They chose not to seek out culturally appropriate voices. They taught and some still teach the newbies. Has the curriculum been updated or is it the same ol’ thing. You know, that good Ol’ AD!?

I know for many, this isn’t a big deal, in comparison to other issues of injustice or representation. But I disagree! I think it’s just another one. One that will never grab the attention of the mainstream.
It’s black and disabled.

What they don’t see are the core elements that make up the other injustices;
White supremacy
Systemic racism
Ableism, It’s for the Blind so they’ll be happy with whatever we give them.

Ouch!

Yes, hard to hear? Well, it’s not easy to say.

Music begins, an optimistic, bouncy Hip Hop groove.

I offered some possible solutions in the Black Panther episode from 2018.

One worth repeating is seeing the selection of narrator as a casting choice and therefore a responsibility of the director and production team.

If content creators were more aware and involved in the audio description process, I don’t believe we’d have as many of these issues.

I don’t think Issa Rae is aware of the voice providing audio description narration for her show.

, when asked on the red carpet of an award show who she was rooting for, famously and unapologetically proclaimed;

Issa Rae: “Everybody Black. I am. Betting on Black tonight!”

Here’s another consideration for addressing this issue. Individual responsibility.

It’s not just the narrator, audio description is a team sport. No matter where you fall within the audio description life cycle, you play a role.

As I am aware of the process today, broadcasters who commission the AD track have the majority of the power. They are the true shot callers. They dictate what they want the script to look like and the type of voice they want to hear.

AD Directors, Managers, decision makers in general, it’s time to retire the excuses;
“we don’t have anyone on our team.”
“We had such a tight deadline to produce this track”
“We don’t know where to find qualified talent”
All of these excuses just represent the problem. It’s time for you to expand your network, recruit talent and be aware and prepared.

I’ve seen people find qualified voice talent … open your networks, they’re out here.

AD professionals, you have a choice.
If you’re aware of the inequity and say you want to see the change, well, recognize your power.

Narrators!

I find it really hard to believe that you don’t recognize when you’re not right for the project. Rather than finding a way to personally justify that with yourself, why not use your influence to suggest that someone else is hired for the position? Perhaps it’s someone you know and recommend, but in general, speaking up about the subject, being an ally, well that’s powerful.

— “You will not replace us” Chants of Alt Right Mob.
TR:

Is this call for equitable representation threatening?

When it comes to the voice of the narrator on films that are culturally specific, we’re talking about a small piece of the pie. The total number of films and television shows that are focused on BIPOC stories is still a fraction of the total films made today.

White narrators get plenty of work. I don’t see any reason for them to feel threatened by these comments.

This issue is just one part of a much bigger problem.
It goes beyond films like Black Panther or In the Heights. Shows like Insecure. It goes beyond the voice. It’s about the visibility of Black and other people of color

That’s seeing and acknowledging color on screen and stage. It’s recognizing that Blind and Low Vision includes people of color.

Writers!

If you’re assigned to a project, recognize your limitations and ask for help, seek the proper input or suggest that you’re not right for the job.

We don’t need color blind writers.

No silly, I’m not talking about those who can’t see red green or blue, but rather black and brown.

It’s one thing to see Black and brown people when we’re in the majority. At that point, I guess you can’t help it, right?

What about the other films that have a so called diverse cast and include BIPOC characters. The lack of audio description erases them from the Blind consumers screen; rendering people of color invisible.

For Black people and others of color, striving to be seen, heard and in general represented takes place in all aspects of life. What we experience in audio description isn’t unique, it’s a part of that systemic problem that persists throughout society. We can’t wait for it to be resolved outside of audio description and then trickle down. Why not do what we can to address these underlying issues that we’ve all inherited. At the very least acknowledge their existence and commit to doing better.

That’s what this episode is all about today. Doing better…

Music begins, a dramatic piano riff leads into a strong steady beat.

I reached out to some people who I know feel strongly about this issue. Audio description providers who already commit to this idea fully. The Social Audio Description Team who I featured here on the podcast last year.

Together, we’re drafting a pledge that we will invite everyone to sign. That is, everyone who believes in making audio description a representative, equitable and fair space. Those who want to truly see the world in all of its beautiful identities, shapes, sizes, abilities, ….

Do I think a pledge will resolve this? Not necessarily. Right now, I’m interested in eliminating the excuses. We’re in 2022, if you’re not interested in the proper representation of people of color then be firm in your stance and say that.

Don’t tell the community you’re for something while your actions say otherwise.

If you’re in support, raise your volume. I’m talking to consumers as well as AD professionals.

— From Judas and the Black Messiah:
“The whole neighborhood came out. Pushers, grannies, Crowns”
Fred Hampton:
Anywhere there’s people, there’s power”

TR:

I’m hoping to have this pledge published shortly and plan to report back to you. I’ll definitely link to the pledge from ReidMyMind .com and share on my social media pages; Facebook and Instagram @ReidMyMindRadio and
Twitter that’s @tsreid.

Join me in pledging to make audio description or our little microcosm of the world into an example of what we want this place to be. We can’t wait for the rest of them.

In the meantime, according to Ann Sur Fonne, she’s been putting me in position to meet people who want to see audio description recognized for the art it is. People ready and willing to help make AD better for all. People you’re going to meet in this upcoming season of Flipping the Script on Audio Description.
We’re talking:
AD in the lab; Creative approach or Compliance – do we have to choose?
Blind AD professionals, stand up, ya better recognize!
Get some AD to describe this outfit… Blind people are fly too!
And get ready, I’m bringing you La Professora…

The Flipping the Script on Audio Description season kicks-off Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Come rock with Reid My Mind Radio wherever you get podcasts.
We have transcripts and more at ReidMyMind.com
Just remember, that’s R to the E I D!
(“D! And that’s me in the place to be.” Slick Rick)
Ann Sur Fonne:
“Oh, like your last name Thomas!”

— Reid My Mind Radio outro
Peace!

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Doing Your Thing With Disability: Question Living Blind & Famous

April 27th, 2022  / Author: T.Reid

Question, a light skin black man with long locs, wearing a red shirt with white sunglasses and holding a white cane while leaning against a red brick wall.
We reached the final episode of the season where we salute and recognize individuals who are pursuing their interests and goals not in spite of their disability but rather with it. The difference may seem minor to some, but if you’re someone who wants to see disability normalized in society then you probably recognize this vast gap.

On a black background clouded in white smoke is the heading titled “Doing your thing with Disability”. Underneath are multiple images positioned in a circular clock face. the words Blind & Famous in Graffiti lettering in the center.  On top at 11, 12 and 1 o’clock are A traffic light with musical note draping the lights representing Migo Traffic,  followed by a picture of Question and Damasta respectively. At the 9 and 3 o’clock positions are Label and Matt Mac At the bottom positioned at 7, 6 and 5 o’clock are; J Mouse, GoldFingas and PDex in the lab respectively.
Question, a young Producer & Rapper from Atlanta, Blind from birth is one such example. He’s been into music ever since he can remember. Like the early Hip Hop producers he admires, Question started making music with the tools he had available to him.

A student of Hip Hop, he recognized the power of a squad, a team and along with his friends and fellow artists Damasta and Migo Traffic began curating the collective of fellow Blind rappers and producers known as Blind & Famous!

What a perfect way to conclude this inaugural season of 2022; Doing Your Thing With Disability.

Plus, the winner of the Reid My Mind Radio Twitter Giveaway… @SandraManwiller… Congratulations!!!

Listen

Resources

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
–at low volume
It’s time to get hype
–Clip from Yao from Mulan: I’m gonna hit you so hard, it’ll make your ancestors dizzy.
–Rhythmic electronic music fades in and becomes louder.

We’re back on the scene, crispy and clean and if you’re Hip Hop and from my generation especially, then you know what I mean!

My name is Thomas Reid and I’m the host and producer of this here podcast.

–“Reid My Mind Radio” echoes

I’m feeling good. Feeling accomplished as we wrap up this season: Doing Your Thing With Disability.

If you’ve been rockin’ with Reid My Mind Radio, you’re very familiar with our commitment to those adjusting to blindness.

We often talk about the power of people in that adjustment.
The value of their stories and experiences which include the direct lessons as well as how it expands our own beliefs of what is possible.

Today, I hope you all will recognize the additional value and power in individuals who have a shared identity, experience, goals, working together in support of one another.
Not letting you rest on your strengths alone, but encouraging you to go beyond with all that you have.

Today, I’m in my Hip Hop mode so we’re gonna call it what it is, your crew, your squad!

Family, let’s get ’em!

Audio: Reid My Mind Theme Music

Question:
Yo, this is Question man! Artist and producer coming out of East Point, primarily a hip hop, r&b EDM.

I am a biracial kid with dreadlocks wearing a long sleeve blue shirt and some sweatpants right now. Chillin in my home studio just vibing out.

Question:
I’ve been blind all my life. I was born with optic nerve hypoplasia. I don’t have any vision in my right eye. And I have like, a little bit of vision in my left eye so I read Braille. And I use a lot of accessible and adaptive technology.

TR in Conversation with Question:
Did you go to mainstream school?

Question:
I did both. I went to mainstream school really up until eighth grade. And then I went to Georgia Academy for the Blind until I graduated.
I feel like if you go to a blind school, your whole life or a school for the blind, you’re gonna be a little bit sheltered to certain cultural aspects.

TR:
The concern that I’m sure many people have in enrolling a Blind child in a mainstream school is what Question found helpful.

Question:
It’s a little bit easier to kind of duck off, find your own crowd. It’d be a whole lot going on, you know, games and homecoming, and like different organizations, different things where you’d be staying after school clubs and all type of that. They had that on a minimal scale at a Blind school because they want everybody to be included.
But it’s just different so you know you do be a little bit sheltered if you don’t make a point to step outside of that school for the blind.

TR:
Inclusion is great, but we also need a chance to find out who we are as an individual. Becoming our true selves. Music was a part of that discovery for Question. In fact, it’s his interest in different genres that inspired his name.

–Sample: So you’re a philosopher?

TR in conversation with Question:
Question. What’s the name about?

Question:
I study a lot of different things. I just really look at myself as a student and as a fan of a lot of different genres.
Hip Hop people like Logic, people like The Roots, De La, Tribe, even Kanye, to a degree have just like a certain aura to the music and to what’s going on. So that’s definitely one of the aesthetics that I have as a part of my material.

TR in Conversation with Question:
I think I read you kind of referred to yourself as a hippie.

Question:
Yeah, for sure

TR:
Less 1960 or early 70’s hippie, and more like a Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul style!

TR in Conversation with Question:
Tell me a little bit about your introduction to music and then specifically rap. I don’t know if rap was first.

Question:
Yeah, I think rap was first. So to break it all the way down, my mom is white, my dad is black. I was with my mom a lot of the time. You know, she a single parent. I know my dad, everything cool.
My mom is a crazy Hip Hop head. She really the one that put me on a lot of the first music I was listening to.
So she raised me up going to concerts. She went to see Goodie Ma, when she was pregnant.
She was listening to like The Roots and Biggie, and just people in that era. Jay Z, Bahamadia, Helter Skelter.
She was just like, around a lot of artists that was in ciphers. She was just like, connected to that culture. She wasn’t in music herself but she just always knew that was a vibe. So it low key like curated that energy in me, like right from jump.

TR in Conversation with Question:
Helter Skelter? Okay. That’s a name I don’t hear being dropped that often.

Question:
She definitely deep into it. She my manager.
Because of that she’s now grown in her understanding of the industry. Five years ago, it was nothing but just like being a fan, being just appreciative of everything. But now, because of just the way things move, it’s become like a professional thing.
TR:
It began however with a natural interest and love for the music.
At three years old he was copying melodies and beats heard on the radio using toy keyboards. Always asking those he was with to turn on the radio, play a CD, he wanted music.
He learned drums and percussions, taught himself keyboard.
After hearing a song by Ludacris and Trina that featured a violin, he wanted to join the orchestra but was dissuaded from pursuing the instrument.

Question:
“Nah you can’t do it because the string part is too hard for people to read. And if you try to read the Braille, like, you can’t read it and play it at the same time.”

And then they was like, “you could do the drums.”

And it was like, I already do the drums. Like, I had been playing drums from young to I have like, Jim Bayes and congas. I got a drum set in my house.
I was kind of like, nah, I wanted to do strings. I wanted to do violin. So they didn’t let me do it. It’s kind of weird.

TR:
Fortunately, that didn’t stop Question from pursuing music. He continued to be inspired from those things within his reach.

Question:
I used to remember, like, listening to CDs in a stereo of Rick Ross, Wayne, Jay Z, whatever. And then I could like, burn my beats to a CD and just go play it in that same stereo. And it’s like, I’m on a CD. It didn’t really matter how good it was because it was me. And I had done this and I had brought something that was in my head into a form that everybody else could interact with, whether they liked it or they don’t. It’s like, now it’s here. And it wasn’t before. And that’s like a crazy thing. To me to this day.

TR:

Whether you’re a kid or not, sometimes, the things we think about or aspire to seem mysterious or out of reach. Remove the veil, and we begin to realize that it is attainable.
That can definitely provide the fuel needed to work on the craft.

–Soft Rock&Roll starts to play

TR in Conversation with Question:
Talk to me about some of that work. You’re spending a lot of time in your room, you got some equipment you’re producing, talk to me about some of your early stuff, and how you’ve seen that change over the years.

Question:
I was in about middle school when I started really producing and getting into recording myself and exploring effects and making beats and all that type of thing.
That’s when I really got my first computer and really just got competent using a screen reader just navigating the internet and doing things independently.

TR:
You see how this young brother just dropped that on y’all?

That’s the work I refer to. I don’t care what work, art or hobby you’re trying to do, if you’re someone who is Blind or Low Vision and you haven’t adapted to your technology, you’re limiting yourself.

Question:
I made my first beats on a sound recorder program. In Windows, I just took my iPod and hooked it up to my computer and then I play songs that had some drums at the beginning and I take like the hi hat from one of them to clap from another one, take the kick, and then like make a pattern.
I take Beethoven sample out in a folder on our own XP computer and just make a beat, paste the sample in a different way. Take little parts of it, chop it over the drums, and then I record over it. But I was just making little freestyles and the quality was crazy bad because it was just sound recorder.

TR:
Hearing that difference didn’t discourage him. Rather, it drove him to improve his sound.

Question:
I started hearing a difference between what I was making and what my inspirations was making. Like, at that time I was a kid. Soulja boy was out going crazy. So I had like his albums. His was one of the ones that I was like taking the drums from. So I would listen to what I made and be like “why it dont sound like the same thing? I just got the drums from right here so what’s going on?”
You know what I’m saying? So like I started figuring out like, Okay, if I get a better program, if I learn what different things mean, I started learning about like compression, and just like being around people.
I would get around my friends. And they might say something, say a term like, oh, did you use a compressor on this? And I might be like “yeah,” knowing damn well I don’t know nothing about no compressor.
Then I go look, and I see what the compressor is, in the program I’m using and I started messing with it, figuring out the difference. What does it do? What does it change? Then I figure out how to incorporate it.

TR in Conversation with Question:
What were you using in the beginning? I know that’s not in sound recorder.

–both laugh

Question:
I went from Sound Recorder up to Sony Sound Forge eight.

TR:
Ok, not everyone geeks out on audio production, like me!
What you need to know is that there were, let’s say better tools for the job. But, those tools weren’t accessible to Question.
It’s as though he was making a smoothie by hand while others had their sophisticated electric blender.

Question:
If you want to do something bad enough, you’re gonna find a way to do it. It’s not the clippers, It’s the barber.
You can always find a way to make it happen.

TR:
When you’re passionate about something, you don’t think about time.

Question:
I got lost in it.
I started making music, whole music out of one sound. Like take a sine wave, which is just like a tone. It’s like the tone that they use to bleep somebody out on TV. I take like a long version of that, and figure out how to make drums out of it and make a base out of it and make melodies out of it and chords and everything just in Sound Forge. Not even like a keyboard.
Learning how to basically match my peers and people who are making beats with just Sound Forge. And eventually, what I figured out is that process that I was using in Sound Forge just took too long to beat build. So I switched to Reaper.

TR:
Upping his game to Reaper, a multi track digital audio workstation, improves the time it takes to produce, increases his access to plugins and effects, but his studio is far from optimal.

Question:
I’m gonna be so real bro. We’re not selling beats like that yet. All of that is coming, you know what I’m saying. I’m gonna get to that. But right now, we just doing what we got to do.

TR in Conversation with Question:
Yo, I love that you said that. Because, you know there’s a lot of people who are like, “when I get”, fill in the blank, “when I get my technology,” “when I get that piece of software,” you know, some people would have been like, “oh, I can’t mess with this whole Sound Recorder” but nah you starting and you work on what you have. What’s that all about?

Question:
I do believe in saying when, but only in certain circumstances, like I believe in when over if, you know what I’m saying. It definitely is when instead of if. You’re going to get there, but you have to work to make yourself get there.

I believe in a lot of manifestation and I believe a lot in practicing what you need to do to get to where you’re trying to go. So you have to kind of learn what you want, you have to figure out where it is that you want to end up what you’re trying to head for. And then just make sure that you take the steps that you can take and reason every day to put your life on that path and move in that direction.

When I was young, I didn’t even really know that. But I just wanted it so bad. Like I just knew, because it was something that I was good at. It was something that I naturally was winning in. And so I just knew I wanted to push further. Because like, why would I give up on that? It made me feel good.

TR:
Question’s art includes beat making, production, and rapping. He began freestyling at 5 years old.
For the uninformed, freestyling is the rapper form of improvisation. Making up rhymes off the top of your dome. (Your head).

–Question’s rhymes play on the background

Question:
I see a whole lot of divisiveness amongst us, but I have to address obvious problems and address inequality.

I identify as a black man. There’s still a lot of work that we have to do on a lot of fronts. But right now, there‘s a lot of people paying attention. So I do appreciate that.

TR in Conversation with Question:
Do you talk about anything like that in your music?

Question:
Yeah, I’m honestly getting into that more.
I’m a young kid still. You could be 25. And you can be like, stressed, and then there tired of the world. And, like, know so much from your life experience, that you feel like you’re 40. Or you can be 25 and you can just be like, having the best time like, party and every day, just like enjoying them having fun feeling like you 18. I feel like I’m both depending on the day. I’m trying to put more of that in my music. And as I evolve, you know, the music evolves too.
I’m a very energy based person. So I like to be in the energy of whatever I’m making. And so for me, like stepping away from something is like tough.
If it’s good enough I feel like that energy will be there waiting for you.

— Question’s music fades back in then fades back to the background

TR in Conversation with Question:
Performances? Do you perform on stage?

Question:
I love performing. I recently just got to perform with a live band up in New York. The homies June and the Pushas. We did like and hour set freestyling and with some original jams in mind, and it was just sick to see a band like reinterpret my jams and like real professional musicians, drummer going dumb, you know the guitar, it’s like shredding.
Crazy on the joint. It’s like an out of body experience. I’m just able to go nuts.

TR:
That opportunity to make music and then share that creation with an appreciative audience, giving you immediate feedback, must be exhilarating. But like anything in life, there’s real pros and cons.

Question:
Honestly, a lot of times, there are many cons to get to many more pros.
There’s a lot of rejection, there’s a lot of people who tell you yes, and they play the waiting game with you.
It’s a lot of like, going through situations, and waiting on certain outcomes and having to just like, adapt and adjust on the fly.
There is a lot of like paperwork.

As a producer, you do a lot of cataloging, you get things in order. If you have your beats organized in a certain folder by like what tempo they at, you know, how fast they are, what key they are, what VOD they are, what artists they’re for, you can literally like, send your catalogue to certain labels and to certain artists while you sleep and make money residually.

TR:
Of course , there’s all sorts of pros and cons no matter the career. Question offers some words that apply to us all.

Question:
You have to be very grounded in a sense that you got to take time for yourself, and remember who you are, you got to remember what you love, who has helped you.
For me, it’s a lot about just spending time in nostalgia. If you know your history, then you remember like, why you’re doing it.

TR:
Question understands the value of having a team. That includes his mom, also known as manager during business hours.

Question:
The artist’s job is to focus a lot on creation and creativity, and figuring out the next moves and how to steer the ship.
But at the same time, I think it is important for artists and all creatives to know the business and to be involved in the business and to be fluent in what’s happening because that is a major part of what you’re doing. And that controls a lot of what you’re able to do or not able to do.
That can get real deep and that can play a big role in anxiety.
If you’re trying to create, if you are trying to focus on sending a message and an album, celebration or you know, whatever it is that you’re focused on, but you have like, the possibility of not being able to release this music looming over your head, and you’re dealing with, like, numbers and figures and different things, it can make you question what you’re doing.
Stress too much. But it’s a necessary part of what you go through.
So you got to find a way to compartmentalize it or balance it. If you go through that, that’s forward motion. Nobody who is nobody has these problems.

TR:
The concept of having a team goes beyond managing his own career. For Question, it’s about…

TR in conversation with Question:
Blind and Famous! What’s that all about?

Question:
Yo gang gang! Man, that’s the movement. That’s the mob, that’s the team. That’s my family.

Honestly, I always knew that that was something I had to do something I wanted to do something that for me, was important to what was going on. The greats that I study, everybody, they reach back, and they help out and they show love.
BIG, he got Junior mafia, if you look at Pac, he got the outlaws. TI, he got Grand Hustle. If you look at Ye, he got Good Music.

All of these people, they start with family, people that they came up with recording with and then obviously it branches out and are able to find talent from around the world and to curate people that they haven’t known, which is the same way that it started with Blind and Famous.

–rhythmic pop music begins

TR:
Are you socially ReidSponsible

–sample: “I don’t even know what that means.” “No one knows what it means!”

It’s true, no one knows what it means. Not even me. I just think it sounds cool.

That’s right, it’s time to announce the winner of the March Twitter Giveaway.

–mouths drumroll

@SandraManwille, you, are socially ReidSponsible and will be receiving your very own Reid My Mind Radio coffee/tea, man or any beverage you want to put in it, mug!

Thanks to all those who participated. And a big shoutout and thanks to Annie who by the way is ok!

Now back to the episode…

–Music ends with a bouncing base…

TR:
There’s a point in any conversation when you realize what is really meaningful to a person. You can hear the excitement in their voice, you can feel their energy shift. Raising the topic of Blind and Famous with Question, it was definitely time for him to turn up!

Question:
Me and my boy, DaMasta and my boy Migo Traffic.

We all went to school down here at GaB in Georgia. And we used to just freestyle.
We will be just like in a dorms, recording on laptops. Literally on laptop mic. You can hear a fan in the background. But all the kids, they’ll be playing the music around school and we’ll perform and people knew us and we knew we was going up from that minute.

It wasn’t even Blind and Famous back then.

TR:
They each continued working on their art. Even after graduation they remained close.

One day, Question and DaMasta were serving as engineers on a song for Migo Traffic, who used the phrase Blind and famous.

Question:
And I said, bro, we need to take that, like that’s the title. That’s it. And we just turned it into a movement, started putting out mixtapes. We had a lot of blind supporters and fans and they started letting people know what it was and it was like, Yo, what’s this movement? What’s going on?

–sample of a song: “What goes on? Well…”
TR:
Allow me to present Blind & Famous.
Of course, you already met my man, Question…

Question:
Coming out of Atlanta, the hippie, kid, man, artist and producer, curator of Blind and Famous, but one equal participant of this collective. I’m gonna pass it to my brother, my slime, DaMasta.

–rap song from B&F plays in the background

Da Masta:
I’m originally from Washington County, a little country town in Georgia. I’m the second curator of B&F.

Question:
And he is an artist. He’s hella melodic. He really on his own wave. He’s unique, I always credit him with saying that he has his own sound that’s not like anybody else I really know.

Da Masta:
I’m also an upcoming producer as well.

TR:
Next up!

–rap song begins and fades to the background

MattMac:
Yo, what’s happening? My name is Matt Mac.
I am a music producer and recording artist based out of Garden Hill First Nation up in Canada.
I’m First Nation born. I make music full time for sure.

Question:
You can go stream all his projects right now on Spotify. He’s going nuts.

— “Play the Hero Remix” MattMac Featuring Question & Label “Blind & Famous Volume 5

Label:
Label, born and raised in Jersey, I am a radio show host, podcaster. I also sing, rap. And I’m getting back into the producing side of things.

Question:
J Mouse, out of Arizona but he travels internationally. With a couple bands actually.

J Mouse:
Been a part of this collective for like two years. I do a lot of stuff in the music industry.

Question
He is a producer, primarily R&B, drill, hip hop, trap. He’s a musician.

J Mouse:
I play guitar, piano, bass, I’m a drummer, harmonica. I used to play saxophone too. I’m an engineer so I master, I do a lot of mixing. Pretty much everything, mostly within the music industry.

Question:
J mouse is like a genius, he crazy.

TR:
Let’s jump across the pond to the latest member of the crew.

P Dex:
I’m P Dex in the lab, aka the laziest producer in the world, all the way in the UK from Liverpool. Learning to do engineering and all that stuff. Mainly just doing a lot of producing.

Question:
The drill genre has been taken a lot of places by storm over the past few years. UK drill, New York drill, Australian drill. And the UK, really is who kind of innovated and advanced it.
And Dex brings us a lot of knowledge and know how, and just like, really being in that scene and connect. Shows us what’s really going on.

— Gold Fingers Sample

GoldFingas:
What’s going on? This is GF, GoldFingas.
I’m a producer. I’m also a musician. I play keys, drums. I’m a mix engineer as well. I do mixing and mastering and all that stuff. So between all of us we got everything pretty much we need in house.
I’m down here in Virginia. I’m on that Missy, Timberland type vibe. You know that boom bap stuff.
I’m the oldest member of the group. I’m in my 40s.
I’ve known question, man, since he was like 14?

Question:
No cap.

GoldFingas:
Something like that.
Me and him used to mess around in Sound Board and he showed me a few things. Ever since then I knew that this kid was gonna do something.

TR in Conversation with BNF:
And this is the whole squad, right? Is anybody missing?

Question:
Yeah, Migo traffic is missing.

TR:
I love that name! I assume he has a friendly flow or perhaps his style makes other rappers slow down or stay in their lane.
Unfortunately, the brother who first dropped Blind and Famous in a verse couldn’t join the cipher.
Alright, it wasn’t really a cipher, there was no exchange of bars or raps, but honestly, if this were in person, it would have been on. And I’m telling you right now I keep a hot 16 ready to go, just in case!
Exchanging beats, rhymes, hooks, song concepts, that’s what they do! Together, making music, remotely.

Question:
We use something like this, like a conferencing app, but the one we use is called TeamTalk. It’s real common in the blind community. We basically just go in there, and we’ll send the audio from our computer through so that if we make a beat, if we playing beats, everybody that’s using that program can hear what we’re doing.
So we’ll just bounce ideas back and forth.
We got a group text too! It’s real family oriented.
We talk a lot, through the day, people just put beats in there, put songs in there.
And then it’s like, okay, I want to get a feature on this, I want to collab on this.
TR:
The magic of collaborating is that each person brings their own creativity and idea to the track.
Label explains more about the process.

Label:
If a beat is sent, it’s open to anybody. Kind of a first come first serve type of deal. And then we all kind of come together and say “alright I think these people will sound good on it.”
It’s a thing of pushing each other. And then we use an online platform like Dropbox, and we just drop sessions back and forth to each other.
The use of technology has been absolutely beautiful to be able to get a lot of these things done.

GoldFingas:
Because we know each other so well, we know what type of tracks each other likes. As far as like if he you know, if I wanted Question to feature on something, I know, what type of stuff you know that he’s into.
And then we also kind of branch out like, we’ll try something, he’ll try something different. The creative process is organized, but it’s all over the place at the same time. So many moving parts going at once, but it’s organized chaos. I love it, though.

–laughs

Question:
We all have like hella projects going at one time. We’ll have like a few different ideas. We start making songs. And then like, we might have, Matt got a project that’s ‘bout to come out under his management. So it’s like, alright, everybody, let’s sit down, let’s write for Matt. Let’s produce for Matt, let’s make sure Matt got everything that he need. Let’s make sure that he feels good about where he’s at.
Because the thing that we always want to do is make sure that each person is getting their fair shake and getting, you know, the love from everybody as far as like, collaboration, promotion, appreciation, it’s that real reciprocal type of thing.

TR in Conversation with BNF:
That’s fire, man.

— Continues talking underneath Voice Over…

TR:
I had to ask the squad to take me through an example of the process using an actual production.

Question:
Matt, what about Run It?

–drill/rap song begins

MattMac:
That beat was produced by P Dex and the J Mouse over here.

P Dex:
Originally, me and Johnny were having a session. We were just chillin. And then I had an idea, which is the main melody that runs through the whole track. And then I said, “this is a real nice drill beat.” So I started it off and then I sent it to Johnny.

J Mouse:
When I heard PDex’s idea, I sat down, started coming up with some ideas and just kind of happened. This particular beat I do like so much and it just came out so smoothly.

P Dex:
And then he did his magic on it and as we were doing it, Matt Mac came and he heard it. And we were like “you should do something with it.” But he was, you know, hesitant because he’s never done anything in that genre.

Question:
He passed it to me.

P Dex:
Yup

Matt Mac:
Question.

Question:
Matt and I work closely on a lot of verses and on a lot of songs. So me having done a lot of drill jams in the past, he just got with me in a session and kind of let me know how he wanted to attack and where he was coming from.
I think he had the idea for the hook already. And then we just filled it in, you know, with some words and he kind of let me know what he wanted to say, where he wanted to come from.
Every time I work with any artists on the song, as a songwriter or a producer, I always want to embody their energy and their complete message. So you always getting a lot of MattMac.

Label:
Now the song is playing on Canada radio. I mean it just blows my mind how one simple thing where an artist in this collective was hesitant to do it, ends up being a song on terrestrial radio.

Matt Mac:
It’s also been played on Sirius XM too, which is fire.

P Dex:
It’s funny because it originally started all the way over here in Liverpool. Then went to Johnny in Phoenix, and then went to Question in Atlanta, and then went to Matt Mac in Canada.

Matt Mac
I reached out to my management and I was like, “we have this fire song, bro, and it only has one verse.”
And “Okay, this is pretty fire. I think I might have someone in mind.”
He got me connected to K Jones. He’s not a part of the collective. He’s actually someone who’s doing his thing here in his city, specifically, Winnipeg. It’s where most of my music videos are shot right now. Big shout out to Winnipeg. He got on the second verse and he’s been doing some fire numbers.

Label:
40 thousand views on YouTube.

Question:
You can go listen to it on Spotify too. It’s doing the same type of crazy joint on Spotify too!

Matt Mac:
That particular song was a whole team effort. This is so fire, being able to work with these guys.

TR in Conversation with Question:
When it comes to the collective thing, B&F…

Question:
Gang.

TR in Conversation with Question:
Talk to me about some of the pros and cons of working with a collective.

Question:
Yeah, man. Working with a collective helps in a lot of ways,
I believe that when you have a project, it’s always a good idea to get more than a couple perspectives on it, because the more people that you allow in that have a bit of an accomplished ear, they can let you know things that a listener is going to let you know.
If you can work on a project with a team, it allows you to really focus on your strengths, and people can highlight things that you might not know. You can point out things, and you get a lot of versatility because people bring ideas from all sides of the world.

TR:
There’s the added bonus of learning from one another. That could be new genres, styles, process and more. DaMasta mentioned he decided to begin doing more production.

DaMasta:
Man it is phenomenal. I feel like I’ve been listening to these guys a lot. It helps like with different sound selection and stuff. I get influenced in the producing side and also the audio engineering.

Question:
He picks it up quick. People go through this trash phase, like I talked about a lot, when you first start out making beats or doing anything, you’re trash. But he kind of was able to get the ear for the sound selection a lot faster than a lot of people.

GoldFingas:
It set him up for success.

Question:
Personally knowing Q the longest, I’ve always wanted to see him make beats because he always had dope suggestions. When I was making beats, he’d be like ay put this in there, add this. And it’s like, bro, like.

GoldFingas:
He be doing the most. He over here back seat driving.

TR in Conversation with BNF:
Take the wheel, take the wheel.

DaMasta:
It’s truly a blessing, man. I really enjoy it. It helps with a lot like stress or anything. Like I could just make a beat or make a song, and I just feel better.

TR:
Team, family with any sort of group, you’re going to have disagreements.
While, there’s no hierarchical structure to B & F, I asked GoldFingas as the the person with the most life experience in the squad, if he had a specific approach to problem solving.

GoldFingas:
You really got to exercise a lot of diplomacy. Instead of putting somebody down for what they can’t do, take what they can do and try to strengthen that.

TR:
Bars!

Question:
The cons, really like, it can be hard to organize sometimes. Being virtual, we don’t really have the time to get in the studio and just like chill or have a meal or just chop it up the way that I like to build with a lot of artists.

TR:
Spending time with one another in person helps build the relationships. This increases trust which can help that creativity flow.
Question is hoping there will be opportunities for the squad to build and create under one roof. He’s made music in person with DaMasta and Migo Traffic of course. Prior to Matt Mac traveling out to Atlanta, the two used the NFB national conference as a way of connecting to make music.
The technology for making music now so portable, a hotel room can be a decent substitute for the studio.
GF, AKA GoldFingas, not only uses his knowledge and experience as a producer and musician to create, he’s teaching as well.

GoldFingas:
I actually am an instructor for a company called IC music, based out of Chicago.
Shout out to Byron Harden and the crew over at IC music making things happen.
We educate blind individuals. And I think we’re actually about to start taking everybody sighted, blind, it doesn’t matter. We train them on music technology.
We teach you everything from how to use your Mac computer, all the way up to mixing and mastering, we teach you about the business.

TR:
Today there are so many more options for working with audio. both on the Mac and PC side. In fact, you even have some pretty good options on your iPhone or Ipad.
My personal choice continues to be Reaper on the PC.

Label:
It’s Label. I also want to give credit to a lot of people in the blind community from all over the world, who take time out to create accessible scripts, and add ons for screen readers that do specific things, and read screens that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to read.
To be able to make these little scripts and add ons for us to use stuff like Reaper and get the full functionality. As if we were in a real studio working off of desks with Pro Tools, I mean, it’s just beautiful and amazing.

GoldFingas:
ProTools is also accessible.

TR:

And yes of course, today Pro Tools is accessible on the Mac, so that’s an option for many.

Even just within the past five years or so, more companies specializing in music hardware and software like virtual instruments and plugins are getting on board with accessibility. Here’s GF.

GoldFingas:
So we have people like
Native Instruments, Arturia, Ableton, these companies are approaching us and actually listening to us, listening to our needs.
And working through it and making these things accessible.
You’re absolutely right, five years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to even touch Machine and make beats and stuff.
Nowadays I could, that’s primarily what I use to make beats is Machine from Native Instruments.

Question:
Very slowly, the standard is becoming accessibility out of the box. Seamless accessibility. VoiceOver on the iPhone is a great example.
I think in another decade, people are going to be taking disability culture that much more seriously.

TR:
Often the conversation of access is about our consumption. But we’re makers too!
Access to the tools gives more of us the chance to creatively tell our stories, share our experiences and contribute to culture.
Culture can resonate through society. Influencing things like policy which can enable even more inclusion and affect more change.
Question joined up with another Reid My Mind Radio Alumni, Lachi, to even further expand his influence and that of all musicians with disabilities. The organization is called RAMPD, that’s R A M P D or
Recording Artists and Music Professionals with Disabilities

–TR voice fades into Question saying the organization’s name.

Question:
Recording artists and music professionals with disabilities.
I’m one of the founding members.
We basically trying to make sure that everybody is paying attention and taking heed to what people with disabilities need.
And we’re also trying to be a resource for people with disabilities so that they have somewhere that they can feel appreciated, accepted and find ways to tap in with the industry and get professional opportunities and places to work.

It’s a lot of professionals down with us. People that are already down with the Grammys and with the Recording Academy.
Accomplished musicians they got music out. It’s nothing to sneeze at. Make sure y’all pay attention to RAMPD and follow us @RAMPDUP_
Show love. We showing love back.

TR:
That love extends out in the form of advice to even younger artists developing their craft right now, in middle and high school.

Question:
The best thing I can say is like, have fun and try to really go to your limits. Push your limits a little bit.
Influence each other, big each other up, support each other.
Make sure everybody eating. Make sure everybody got a way to express what it is they’re doing. Because even if somebody is not an artist, they might know how to promote, they might know how to be a camera man.
Some people have low vision. Like Migo Traffic he’s one of the best that we know at promoting and just on social media because he’s real good with the graphics. He’s real good at knowing what people want to see , knowing how things are gonna come across. So there can be a different spot for all the homies.
If somebody’s gonna be there doing something, make sure they’re doing some don’t let people be around just like not contributing to nothing.
We are all influenced by the people we keep around us.

TR in Conversation with Question:
That’s dope..
You might have some aspiring rappers/musicians who are blind listening, like, damn, yo, I want to be down! How do you curate people into B & F?

Question:
We look for people that’s real hungry.
It’s just a matter of like, having some music that we can hear or having a way for us to hear your talent.
If we feel like you got a dope energy and something that’s really, really raw, you know what I’m saying, really ill, then we definitely gonna rock with you. Even if it’s not a thing where we can rock with you all the time in the collective, we collaborate with a lot of different people.
Everybody doesn’t fit the aesthetic of the collective. Or they might not want to be down with the collective, they may have their own movement. I ain’t trying to force nobody in or nothing.
Right now, people don’t have no paper sign, we might do a deal at some point for an album just to make sure everybody get the right type of income. I never wanted to feel like nobody can’t go off and get their own money. I always respect people’s own hustle.

TR:

The squad has been putting out EP’s every December and is currently up to BNF 5.

Question:
On our YouTube channel, Blind and Famous.

You can check the whole playlist, listen to the jams.

TR:
In addition to working on more music collectively as well as on their own, they’re hopeful for the day they can get out on the road for live performances.

Question:
We are a collective, We aren’t really a music group or a band.
We got a lot of jams together. But like, there’s room for everybody to shine individually. But that collective and that that full body is still very important. I would love to do you know, a whole showcase or a tour or something, you know, where everybody has a set and where we can feature each other and kind of everybody gets to direct what’s going on within their own space.

TR:
For those in my generation, the collective concept probably brings to mind Native Tongue. You know, Tribe Called Quest, De La, the JB’s. For younger listeners perhaps Internet Money.

MattMac:

They have like, a whole bunch of like producers on their team and they have like whole bunch of like artists on their team. And that’s like what we are. And I could definitely, like see a lot of similarities to us because Internet Money, like works with each other a lot. And they go back and forth with like loops, and beat collabs. And like with us, they’re an internet collective meaning. They were doing all that online.

TR:
Look I can’t lie y’all, I really enjoyed the energy of talking to the B&F squad.
This was one of those times where, I’m telling you, I wish the interviews were taking place in person.
I’m thinking it would have been a full blown cipher. Just freestylin over some beats… hmm!
— Beat starts…

TR in rap mode:
Yeah, gotta do it.

If you’ve been here before maybe it’s your first time
A little something special from Reid My Mind
Contact information, mic 1 2 check
Shout out Blind and Famous, ‘nuff Respect!
if the people want to find you, where do they go
Tell ‘em DaMasta

DaMasta:
I got you bro.

Y’all can find me on YouTube @Damasta1901 That’s D A M A S T A 1901
Twitter is @Q_DaMasta1000 And Instagram is @QDaMasta all together.

TR in rap mode:
First Nation born, my man is reppin that
Up next?

MattMac:
My name is MattMac

You can find me on youtube Matt Mac M A T T M A C. You can follow me on Instagram at MattMac online

TR in rap mode:

Producer and a rapper with much more to share
Ayo Label where you at?

Label:
@RomeroOnAir

TR in Conversation with BNF: 58:05
Where are you on the air bro?

Label:

I do two morning shows. I do a morning show for a online classic hit station. It’s actually a big powerhouse for the live 365 platform. It’s called eagle online radio and then I also do a top 40 Morning Show for a station out in Gainesville Florida. 105.7 Play FM.

So follow me @RomeroOnAir on all social media platforms Twitter, Tik Tok, Instagram @RomeroOnAIr. r o m e r o on air.

TR in rap mode:

GF from V A, with the gangsta lean
— Sample: “Gold Finger”
Nahmean!

GoldFingas:
I’m working on opening up a commercial studio here in the area.
It’s a studio and a rehearsal space. As well as a multipurpose venue.
When everybody gets big BNF has a place to record so we good.

TR in rap mode:
Here’s how you spell it, no need to guess.

GoldFingas:
G O L D…

TR in rap mode:

F I N G A S

GoldFingas:

On Instagram it’s the same thing @GoldFIngas1976

TR in Rap Mode:
Now, one had to leave , before we were done
J Mouse, my man’s always on the run
he’s a touring musician travels near and far
On twitter, @JCSteelGuitar
Across the pond, where the connection failed
He’s in Liverpool so he got to prevail
They call elevators, lifts. The vacs a jab
What’s your name, bruv?

P Dex:
Im PDex in the Lab

TR in rap mode:
The vibe is chill, no fret no fuss
Find them on Twitter @BlindFamous
The squad’s real, never artificial
–Young Hippie…
Sample from Scarface: “Who put this thing together?”

Question:
On YouTube @QuestionOfficial.
I got three EPS coming.
The first one on a hip hop vibe. The second one on the Drill vibe. The third one on like that melodic rage vibe. So y’all stay tuned, tap in with the kid.

I’m on Twitter, Instagram @QuestionATL

TR:
Question, Damasta, Migo Traffic, Matt Mac, Label, GoldFingas, J Mouse, and PDex in the Lab AKA
Blind and Famous.
You are all official, members of the Reid My Mind Radio family!
— Airhorn
What a perfect way to close out this season, Doing Your Thing With Disability!
Like adjusting to blindness, disability in general, it’s not something we actually do on our own.
When you have a squad, a team a family that you can call on to lift you up when necessary.
Doesn’t that sound like a better experience?
I’m inspired by these young cats doing their thing. It doesn’t appear to be dictated by anyone but them, together. I can’t wait to hear more from all of them as they continue on their journey.
So look, this is family now y’all, join me in sending positive energy their way.
As mentioned, this is the last episode of the Doing Your Thing with Disability season.
We will be back in June with the next season.
In the meantime, if you’re not subscribed, you should really ask yourself what you’re doing with your life.
All you have to do is hit the button that says subscribe or follow in your favorite podcast app.
Tell a friend and tell them to tell another friend to do the same!
We have transcripts and more on ReidMyMind.com.

Alright, now if you’re family, I need you to stop what you’re doing right now. I’m dead serious.
If you family, I need you to stop what you’re doing right now and say it with me…
That’s R to the E I D…
— Sample: (“D!” And that’s me in the place to be!)
Like my last name.
— Reid My Mind Outro
Peace!

Question:
Gang, Gang!

Hide the transcript

Doing Your Thing With Disability: We Play Too

April 13th, 2022  / Author: T.Reid

An old fashion television in black and white with an antenna that has purple tips.  The outline of the Television is in the color teal and the knobs of the TV are purple.  On the screen is the game, Pong. The puck is in the middle and on the right is a chalk figure of a blind person with a white cane playing against a chalk figure of a person in a wheelchair on the left.  Above the figures is the score of 8 to 1 and on top of the score is the word pong in between white thick lines.  Above the TV is the Reid MY MIND Logo and next to the logo the wording says “Doing your thing with Disability. Under the TV says We play too!
From all sorts of sports and activities to video games; people with disabilities find ways to not only play, but excel. In this latest episode [Accessibility Consultant Brandon Cole](http://BrandonCole dotnet/) joins me to talk about the various barriers, adaptations and finally, accessibility, being built into video games.

We’ll hear from players like Orlando Johnson. Once an avid sighted gamer who even owned his own arcade version of Mortal Kombat and now benefits from adaptations and access. Eron Zeno talks to us about his experience as a gamer with mobility disabilities. In each case, all of my guests continue to do their thing, specifically, video games, with their disability.

Listen

Resources

Jerry Lawson – Father of the video game cartridge

Transcript

Transcript

Show the transcript


– Sound of Pong

TR:
No! There’s nothing wrong with the audio.
You’re listening to the OG of video games, Pong *Pong noise* from Atari.

Growing up, whenever my mom would announce that she had to go to Sears or another department store with an electronics section, I’d get excited and ask to go with her.

When we’d get there, I’d make a B-line right to the electronics department and hope no one else was already planted in front of the television playing Pong.

— Space Invaders sounds

That later turned into going to a local Five & Dime store called “Lamstons,” which had two or three arcade games in the corner of the store. Space Invaders… that was my ish!

I thought nothing could ever beat getting Space Invaders at home when we finally got our Atari system.

-introduction from Duke Nukem

Years later as an adult, I played games on my computer, Duke Nukem. At least, until that awful day.

Following one of my marathon sessions, I stood up after playing for maybe about two hours and nearly collapsed. The room was spinning and I was nauseous.

I figured I overdid it. I stopped playing for a few days and the same thing happened the next time, only sooner. I tried changing the perspective from a first person view to something else. It just wasn’t fun!

A few years later, I thought I’d try again, this time with a Playstation. Grand Theft Auto, Madden. It was good for a while, but ultimately, I didn’t have a choice, I just wasn’t able to play. Gaming was literally making me sick.

I believe the reason was monocular vision and the lack of depth perception.

Ironically, today, after becoming Blind, I have more opportunity to actually play video games.

— “Let them play!” (The phrase continues as more join in) Sample from The Bad News Bears

For years now, the call for developers to make their games accessible to disabled gamers has grown louder.

There’s been lots of things happening!

Welcome to Reid My Mind Radio y’all! I’m Thomas Reid. As we continue with our theme, Doing Your Thing With Disability, we’re talking about gaming, because we play too!

–“Time to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And I’m all out of gum!” Duke Nukem

— Reid My Mind Radio Theme Music

Brandon:
Video games are life! I’m a pretty hardcore gamer these days.

The idea to me, that my past self had was, “how can you play video games, you’re blind?” is really kind of based on the same philosophy that some sighted people who don’t understand blind gamers have.

“How can blind people play games?” I didn’t understand it. Because I didn’t realize that audio was such a big part of games, such an important part of games that you could use that, to learn patterns and to learn what things meant and to figure out how to play a game.

TR:

This is Brandon Cole, an award winning Accessibility Consultant

Brandon:

He/him. I have black hair. I am six feet tall, exactly. Just an awesome looking dude.

TR:

Well, we have something in common.

Brandon:
I was born with a type of cancer called Retinoblastoma. Totally blind. From the age of two months.

TR:

His introduction to video games began with his older brother.

Brandon:

He was like, hey, Brandon.

–Mario Bros coin collecting and upgrading sounds

You want to go play some Mario Brothers on our Super Nintendo. And at the time, little six year old me was like, what, how? That’s a video game, which means I can’t play it because I can’t see the video.

That was past me. I used to not think the way I do now.

We begin to play and before you know it, I’m breaking bricks, and collecting coins and extra lives and saving princesses and defeating bosses. And it’s amazing and I’m feeling this great sense of accomplishment!

And the game ends. Yes. Somehow I beat the entire game in one shot!

TR:

Then?

Brandon:

My loving brother handed me the unplugged second player controller while he played the entire game, the entire game.

I mean, what do you even say to that?

TR in Conversation with Brandon:
That’s an older brother.

TR:

Of course, he felt crushed. He thought he was somehow in the gameplay, just like his older brother.

But all wasn’t lost. The experience made him realize something.

Brandon:

I did learn that I could follow sound effect patterns.

I decided that I would one day, beat a game without his help.

From then on, I just started trying games and seeing what I could learn about games and seeing what I could do. Eventually I did it! And the first game I beat without my brother’s help, was the original Killer Instinct for the Super Nintendo.

And I never looked back since.

TR in conversation with Brandon:

There you go. Older siblings.

Brandon:

Take that!

Brandon:

Once I started gaming, I never stopped, I just kept trying different games.

I tried a lot of games that I couldn’t play. Sometimes I just flopped completely, depending on how complex the game was. But like, there were plenty of games where I would start to play the game and I would start to figure out some of the things that might help me get through some part of the game.

TR:

Take the game Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation One as an example.

-– Metal Gear Solid music plays

Brandon:

That game is a stealth game, where you’re not supposed to be seen, you’re supposed to hide all the time. So it’s not easy if you’re blind, because you can’t see the guards , but you can hear them and they have very audible footsteps. You can hide from the guards based on where your location is versus where their location is.

TR:

Brandon’s step Dad couldn’t get past a certain level during the game.

Brandon:

It’s a room that is filled with infrared lasers. And if you break any of these laser beams that are going all across the room, up and down, at different intervals, the doors slam shut. The room is flooded with gas and you die and there’s nothing you can do about it.

TR:

So step Dad let Brandon figure it out.

Brandon:

I spent maybe two hours working that room, failing over and over and over again. But little by little, figuring out the amount of steps to take before I had to stop to wait for the beam to move again. Then when I had to crawl when I had to walk to get past the lower beams or higher beams. I trialed and errored my way through that entire room and made it to the other side eventually without breaking any of the laser beams.

Technically, it wasn’t an accessible game. It’s just that I managed to figure out a way through that part.

TR:

Failing over and over again, but continuing to work at it. Crawling, walking to get past laser beams. Trial and error to make it to the other side?

Qualities many disabled people seem to have in abundance.

This isn’t just about gaming, we’re talking about the real skills behind leveling up in life.

But honestly, we shouldn’t have to do all that. We just want to play too, right?

Let’s take a look at the inaccessibility faced by disabled gamers and some of the creative adaptations they find in order to be in the game. Let’s start with blind and low vision gamers.

Orlando:

My name is Orlando Johnson, I am an African American male approximately 46 years of age, bald, I have a beard.

TR in Conversation with Orlando:

Shout out to the black bald beard gang. Let’s go.

Orlando:

Let’s get it!

TR:

Again, I have something in common with my guest.

Orlando:

And also love spending time with my family and my grandchildren. Every time I get to spend time with them is a joyous moment for me.

TR:

Ok, for the record, having something in common with the host isn’t part of the criteria I employ when selecting guests.

In this case, I was really just looking for the perspective of someone who once enjoyed the games visually.

–Music Begins, an 8 bit game melody that morphs into a Hip Hop beat.

Orlando:

Let me take you back to Christmas back in the 80s. I got my first Atari 800 video game console.
That first year my brother and I that Christmas morning, we played Donkey Kong all morning. Space Invaders. That started the love of the games right there.

TR in Conversation with Orlando:
In terms of the Atari, let me just test your knowledge for a second, brother. How do you repair a cartridge? How do you fix a cartridge?

Orlando:

First thing you do is take it out and blow on it.

TR in Conversation with Orlando:

There you go! He knows what he’s talking about!

Orlando:

A matter of fact, I have an interesting little anecdote about cartridges. And it’s about a gentleman named Jerry Lawson – an African American engineer who helped design and engineer those video game cartridges.

TR in Conversation with Orlando:

Talk about it!

Orlando:

I would like to expose more people to that knowledge of this gentleman. I’ll send the link to who this gentleman was and what he accomplished in the video game industry.

TR:

Check out this episode’s blog post for that link over on ReidMyMind.com.

Orlando:

I’ve just continued to evolve with the gaming industry. Back in 2001, I purchased a full size Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine and I kept that thing for over 10 years. And played it all the time. I loved it.

TR in Conversation with Orlando:

That is so cool!

TR:

I think it’s fair to say he really enjoyed and invested in his gaming.

Orlando:

April of 2015, I experienced a lot of migraines and didn’t know what was causing them. After my wife and I got back from our honeymoon, we just got married the year before. I wound up going to the hospital two weeks after the honeymoon. My brain swelled up and it crushed my optic nerves. And that was it for me for sight.

TR in Conversation with Orlando:

What did that mean to you, when you could no longer play that Mortal Kombat?

Orlando:
You want to be a part of the community of your friends, everybody else is doing things. And when you’re not a part of that community, you feel isolated. And that isolation can drive you crazy. That’s one of the things that I needed to change. I’m like, I got to explore different ways for me to play games. It’s not just that I can’t play games, I have to find a way that I can get back into playing games.

TR:

And that’s exactly what this former Las Vegas bouncer has been doing.

Orlando:

Technology was always my jam.

After I was done with bouncing, I went over and started working in the telecommunications industry, and I worked for Sprint for about eight years.

Then the smartphones took over. I went to work for Apple for a little bit. Six months into the job at Apple, I went blind.

TR in Conversation with Orlando:

Did you know about voiceover at the time?

Orlando:
No, I didn’t. Not when I lost my sight. A week or two in the hospital, I had a second generation iPad. My wife, she did a little research and said “hey, you should check out this thing called VoiceOver.

And that was the first time I heard of it or heard anything about it. And I figured since I knew how to use an iPad as a sighted person, Voiceover thing shouldn’t be that difficult. Well, when you’re first starting out, it is difficult.

TR:

Orlando not only learned the technology, but later shared that knowledge as an Access Technology instructor. His advice for anyone getting back into gaming after any degree of blindness? Learn your technology!

Orlando:

I had to master that first before I can start playing a video game. On a computer, if you don’t know how to insert a drive and copy a file from somewhere or unzip something, you’re not going to play the game that you want to play.

TR:

No matter the platform you choose to play on, computer, console like an XBox or PlayStation, smart phone, inaccessibility is there.

Brandon:

There’s things like navigating the games menus. And it’s a challenge we overcame in the past by just memorizing the menus.

TR:

But even first reading the menu requires some work.

Orlando:

In my journey in playing games, one of the workarounds I found is, anybody thats aware of, apps that help blind people see things like Seeing AI or Super Sense.

One of the things that I used to do was load up that app on my tablet. And I would stand my tablet in front of the monitor. And I would listen to the OCR coming out of the app, so I can make the choices on the screen for the game that I’m trying to play.

Brandon:

I use NVDA. Since I stream games, I have a capture card. Even if the game was a console game, I can still send the game’s video feed to my PC, because I have a capture card anyway.
I will then scan that image with NVDA as OCR and read the text from there.

I even play entire games that way, there’s a visual novel called The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. It has a little bit of voice acting, but not much voice acting. It’s almost all text. But it’s literally OCR that allows us to play it, because we can read the text with it, and it reads out pretty well.

TR:

Gamers with low vision used magnifiers to enlarge on screen text. Today there are more games including zoom mode, text enlargement, contrast modes and multiple color blind modes tested by people with varying color blindness. More games are being shipped with menu narration making that process accessible to those who are Blind or have low vision.

Brandon:

The biggest challenge I’d say these days, though, is navigation of the game itself. The game world itself.

The thing about video games is they’ve been a growing industry for years and years and years. When I say growing, I mean, everything about games has grown, the production value has grown, and the size of the game worlds have grown significantly.

Games these days have huge open worlds filled with buildings and giant areas you can explore and find new quests and new things. Thats a big challenge these days.

Games aren’t simple anymore. Games used to be easy to work around in a lot of cases back in the day, because there wasn’t much to them. Nowadays, it’s a much bigger task to try to find workarounds like that.

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

What about folks who are deaf or hard of hearing?

Brandon:

The actual spoken dialogue is a huge part of games these days. Because story and narrative have become so much more important these days than they used to be in video games. Games are telling very, very deep stories now.

TR:

Complex narratives and the sound design that is useful to Blind players, can help Deaf and Hard of Hearing players by incorporating both subtitles and captions.

Brandon:

Subtitles would be like, character dialogue, speaker names followed by what they said. Whereas captions would be everything else.

More and more games are starting to support this nowadays. You will have a caption that appears. Like, “wooden floorboard creeks.” And it will have an arrow that points to the location of that sound. Where that sound took place in relation to you, the character.

That arrow pointing down? You’re like, oh, god, there’s something behind me.

You have to do it right. You have to fill the appropriate screen space with it, because you don’t want to block anything else on screen while you’re captioning things.

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

What about language? I’m assuming most of these games are in English,?

Brandon:

Sure, a lot of these games are in English, but many of them have alternate language choices as well.

A little bit of a shout out.

So the Last of Us Two, and you’ll hear me do this a lot because I really loved the work that we did on that game. The Last of Us Two is available in 14 different languages.

So when we worked on that game, we decided that any language the game was available in for people to play in general, then the text to speech narration that the game has should also be available in that language. So I’m happy to announce Last of Us Two is available for the Blind in 14 different languages, because narration is supported on every language that the game is supported on.

Boom!

–Jazzy hip hop music begins to play

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

What about mobility? What about folks with mobility related disabilities?

Brandon:
As games have become more complex, so have their controls.

You have controllers these days that have 12, 13 buttons on them. Those who have mobility issues can’t always press every single one of those buttons when there’s something they need to do with those buttons.

Eron:
My name is Eron Zeno. He/him. I’m a light skinned black man. A bit on the larger side, a bit hefty.

–laughs

I rock a Mohawk 24/7.

I am missing my right arm completely. And the left is more of a nub. I have the upper part of my left arm, I’m missing my forearm, and my wrist and elbow are connected. I only have one finger. A fun fact, through X rays and examinations, it has been deemed by my physicians my middle finger actually.

TR in conversation with Eron:

–Laughing

Nice!

TR:

Eron is also a wheelchair user.

TR in Conversation with Eron:

Why don’t you tell me a little bit about when you first sort of got into gaming?

Eron:
I was born in August. When I was brought home, it was very close to Christmas. We were all sitting around and opening presents and everything. And one of my brothers got a Super Nintendo. And I was actually in his lap and he was trying to put the controller under my feet to get me to play. I was too young to realize what was going on. But that was my first introduction. Through some happenstance, I actually wound up inheriting that Super Nintendo and that was my first console.

TR:

Coincidence? Or is there something to be said about gaming and the opportunities it presents to bond with family?

I’m sure there are other benefits.

For Eron, as a child doctors suggested removing the nub on his left side in order to fit him with a prosthetic arm. Yet one doctor specifically had alternative views.

Eron:

He suggested a lot of children actually grow up using both the nub and their feet to a better availability than having no arms at all. So he suggested instead of trying to coax a surgery around that, it would be better to one, get me used to my finger, and then also promote the usage of my feet. And I mean really promote.

So anything you would give your child normally like a rattle or toy or anything like that. He said, give it to his feet. Make his feet known as his compatibility to the world.

One of the things that was suggested by the doctor was video games, they built hand eye coordination very quickly.

TR:

If game controllers were made specifically for hands, there has to be lots of challenges adapting them for use with feet.

Eron:
When I first started with the SNEZ controller, there’s a D pad and two buttons, that’s easy. It’s straightforward.

My second console was another hand me down, I had an N64 drom my uncle.

Now, that controller has the worst background.

–Laughs

Just the convoluted layout that makes no sense. And for a person with hands complaining, giving it to a person with no hands, only maybe 30% of the controller was usable for me.

I made my way around that. And years went by, I got into the GameCube, and the PlayStation 2. And I actually stopped using consoles around the Xbox.

TR:

Eron realized there were lots of games he just couldn’t play. Some involved using a controller with a trigger.

Eron:

I managed. I liked video games, but I was just kind of disappointed at how far it was moving from my capabilities.

That’s actually when I started getting into PC gaming.

TR:

At first, he found games that didn’t require complicated controllers.

Eron:

My first introduction to PC gaming was actually RuneScape. There’s not a lot of controllers required. It’s right click and left click. That’s it.

Years later, I actually found out that you could download programs to your computer that allow you to rebind keyboard controllers, mice even.

My first introduction to that was actually a program called X pattern. I actually found that at the end of its life cycle. And that allows you to implement key bindings on a controller. And most people they’re like, “Well, why aren’t you just using the controller on a computer?”

Well, most developers don’t allow for rebinding the controls. And the controller is actually really easy interface for me to use on my feet. The keyboard you can imagine, a little painful.

TR in Conversation with Eron:

So what is your setup?

Eron:

I change out a lot due to certain games or setups or things I need, but by default, I have a controller front and center on the floor right in front my office chair. I do sit at a desk.

My keyboard is plugged into my computer but led down below the desk on the floor, next to the controller. I use my right foot to type and only my right foot. It’s a pain to use both feet.
You gotta balance on your butt and hover.

I use both feet for my controller, but what if I need to type.

On my desk, I do have a mouse that I use with my aforementioned nub. I can’t use the mouse buttons, but what I do is I have a setup where it’s a bunch of zip ties and cat collars essentially. And I MacGyvered a harness that I can attach to my hand and move the mouse around.

My mouse actually failed on me a few days ago. There’s something with these new braided cable wires and they give out way too easily. But I’m using an art tablet right now as a mouse. Same setup, a bunch of cat collars and zip ties.

–Both Thomas and Eron laugh

I make it work, though.

TR:

Like MacGyver, finding off the shelf supplies and just rigging things together. It just works for him.

Eron:

You’ve seen tablet holders? It’s like an arm you can adjust in your car or on your bed rest or whatever. You can have it hold your tablet up to your chest. I have one of those kind of coiled up into a stand that I hold a cutting board on. And it’s at an angle just so I can reach it.

Because I don’t have full arm length. I can’t even reach my desk from sitting up straight. So I have this like brought right up to my chest. I have that for mouse movement and stuff.

TR:

Although Eron moved away from consoles when it seemed it surpassed his capabilities. today he finds himself playing again.

Eron:

One thing I found out is that you can buy adapters that can enable you to use other controllers on the console, as well as mice and keyboards.

I bought a switch a while back. I love the thing.

I’ve been using an adapter to play shooters and Legend of Zelda and all that stuff. And it’s really nice to be able to use a mouse to aim instead of fiddling with the joysticks.

There’s still no controller bindings. I’m talking about third party controllers. If you buy a pro controller meant for the Switch, you can actually rebind the bindings on a Nintendo Switch controller.

I have one. But for sizing reasons, I can’t use the whole thing with my feet.

Brandon:

The accessibility conversation has been happening, and things like button remapping now exist.
Some games even go so far as to have a one touch option. It’s more difficult than you might think. But it is fantastic when it happens.

We have accessories now like the Xbox adaptive controller, which allows mobility, disabled folks to basically attach whatever switches they want to use, or their controller, they can attach it to that controller, and configure buttons however they like, based on whatever switches they have.

Eron:

It’s this giant disc jockey looking table. It’s got like two giant soft pads on it that look like records.
But they’re actually just giant buttons. They figured you have a large surface to hit, you don’t have to be necessarily that accurate with your buttons.

If you plug in a controller, it actually only lets you use half the controller. They expect you to be so disabled, you cant use a full controller. Which made no sense, it’s like if this is for adaptability, everybody’s got a different thing they can do. Why not enable it so that you can split up something or you can use the whole something? Instead of assuming everybody is bound to “oh, I can only use this specific apparatus.”

TR in Conversation with Eron:

Are you in touch with any other gaming companies? Do you ever reach out?

Eron:

The few times that I have, I’ve gotten kind of copy pasted responses. So I don’t really bother. I find my own solutions at this point.

TR:

Some other challenges include what’s known as quick time events. These require holding down or rapid tapping of buttons.

Game developers are slowly becoming more inclusive when thinking about game play.

Implementing skip puzzle options, for example, in order to help those with cognitive disabilities who may need a bit of assistance advancing to the next level of game play. Time pressure for some can be really difficult as well.

Brandon:

They’ll be in a situation where they have three seconds to make an important game decision that will affect the game story.

When you’re in the middle of a game story, and you become attached to the characters and you really care about what happens to them and then you have to make this life or death decision. “Okay, this person lives and this person dies.”

If you’ve grown to care about them, that’s intense pressure to put on someone.

Some games these days have the ability to either extend timers like that or remove them entirely. That’s great. That’s a really, really good move.

TR:

Okay, Not a gamer? Perhaps you felt the pressure when using an automated phone system and trying to quickly enter your date of birth before the time expires. How many times have you just wanted to throw your phone? Come on, I know it’s not just me.

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

Are there any considerations for folks with monocular vision today?

Brandon:

I don’t know anything specifically for monocular vision.

There is the ability these days to remove screen shake from games, so a lot of games have special effects. You do this really big hit and the screen shakes to make you feel like it was a big hit. You can turn that off nowadays.

Games use an effect called motion blur. So if things are moving very quickly, they will kind of blur as if they’re moving fast to kind of give you that illusion of speed. Some people can’t handle the motion blur either. And so these days, you can either dull that or turn it off.

Some people get headaches afterwhile if they see those effects or some people get sick to their stomach, or they see too much screen shake.

TR:

Headaches, nausea, not the result you want when trying to relieve a bit of stress or having a good time while playing video games. But that’s not life threatening.

Brandon:
These days, there is actually a required warning in video games when something in a game could spark a seizure.

This recently came into controversy because of a game called Cyberpunk 2077, which didn’t very clearly outline this, and did have a sequence that actually did cause people to have seizures. Their outline was buried in their license agreement, you know, the thing that no one ever reads?

That’s where they put their warning, instead of putting it in the front and center of the game when you first load it up which is usually what is required.

When you load up a game, if there is something that could cause a seizure, there should be a warning right away. And most games that have these things will do that.

Although I will say in the case of cyberpunk, because of all the backlash, they actually patched the sequence itself. The video in question where that lighting sequence was shown that caused those seizures actually changed it to be a different pattern of light that didn’t cause seizures.

TR:

Would you be surprised if I told you there’s a segment of the population that is just straight hatin’ on adaptations.

Brandon:

Some people complain about accessibility features, saying that they make games too easy and blah, blah, blah, blah, and they’re cheating and whatever.

It’s not that people like to use them as cheat codes, although some do that too, I’m sure. But people tend to complain about them, because they feel that it’s dulling the game itself.
My response to that is, it’s better to allow people to actually play the game and experience it than to worry so much about how hard the game is.

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

It’s not really impacting them, though, right? They don’t have to use it.

Brandon:

Right, right. That’s what I don’t understand.

Especially with single player games. If a game isn’t multiplayer, then what does it matter to you what other people do to complete the game? It doesn’t matter.

TR:

That goes beyond gaming, doesn’t it? Some people don’t want to consider that they themselves may have an advantage or a privilege. Working senses, dexterity, financial means to afford the equipment, games, time to play. These overly competitive types of dudes have no desire to be in the same class as a disabled player.

But who has time for them?

Fortunately, companies like Microsoft recognize that we game too! They’re making sure that we’re included from the start or out the box.

Orlando:

With the XBox Series S it’s one of the newer generation consoles that were hard to find for a while, but I managed to get myself one. The setup of that, I watched videos of Brandon Cole and other people on YouTube, they were discussing, the unboxing experience. When they said it has Braille on the thing, so you know where to plug things in at. I was impressed just with that level of accessibility.

I set it up all by myself. And it was so easy to set up because everything talked to me. There’s a QR code on the screen and you just aim your phone at the QR code to set up your account login. And it was just super simple.

TR:

And he tried a lot of platforms.

Orlando:

I’ve done everything from retro gaming on a Raspberry Pi. Gaming on my MacBook, gaming on a PlayStation four, Xbox console, Apple TV, I’ve tried to do all of it.

I’ve got it set up to the point right now where I don’t have it hooked up to a computer or a monitor. I played my Xbox console through the Xbox app. I’ve paired a controller to my phone or tablet. And then I log into the app and I remotely access my console through the app.

TR in Conversation with Orlando:

Why?

Orlando:

Well one, I can go anywhere around the house. I can go to the backyard and play videogames if I wanted to.

It opens up that freedom of just movement. I don’t need to be bound to a television now. I’ve learned to embrace the audio side of things where you can just go sit down at dinner and you have your controller and some headphones, you’re still playing your game and everybody else is doing their thing.

TR in Conversation with Orlando:

Now that’s not appropriate during family time. Come on!

TR:

It is cool though!

Notice what actually is happening here. He not only accepted the tools he has to game with, but he continues to seek out ways to really make it work for him.

It sounds like maybe a metaphor about adjusting to disability?

Hmm? I mean, we’re talking about more than fun and games here!

As if video games could provide some other benefits.

Brandon:

There’s an app, called Microsoft landscape. It actually takes your Google Maps idea and projects that in 3D audio around you. You can have a real life beacon that you set that plays in 3D audio, while you wear headphones. And you literally follow that beacon, like the same way you would in a video game that will take you to your actual destination.

TR:

There’s games to help make exercise fun.

Rather than forcing yourself to get on your treadmill, why not gamify that experience by playing a game that transports you to the Zombie Apocalypse.

–Sounds of shooting and dialouge from Zombies Run plays in the background.

Brandon:
There’s a game called Zombies Run. Its a game that has a story.

It’s literally a game about you running. Your character is called a runner. And runners are the ones that are dispatched out to get supplies for the base.

You’re running. The better you do at the running. You won’t get eaten by zombies for one thing, but the other thing is…

TR:

You’re working out. Getting that heart pumping for real and increasing those endorphins!

Brandon:

The same effect getting an achievement on Xbox or a trophy on Playstation has on people just getting a little reward spike.

TR:

The gaming industry has changed a lot since Pong, huh!

As accessibility continues to become part of the game, it’s important to recognize future technologies. Virtual Reality for example.

Eron:

It’s not really off the ground yet. There’s some things that are cool, some things that are like, eh that’s not really working right now.

If anybody’s familiar with the Half Life series. We got the first one, the second one was great. And then the third one comes out. And it’s a VR game.

What’s the problem with that? Well, the first and second ones were first person shooters, you got a mouse, you got a keyboard, or you’re on a controller, you can manage that. You can rebind controls to make it suit your needs.

A VR setup, besides the headset in the immersion and all that. You have two controllers.
There’s no way to interface the controllers. You have to use the two motion controls. And those are purely for hands. There is no foot or nub or stumped interface. It’s just you got hands or you don’t.

TR:

That all too familiar feeling that accompanies any sort of technology. Access gained rarely feels permanent.

Eron:

A lot of my friends actually jumped into VR, and they’re like, “oh, man, you gotta check out like, VR chat, new half life, this MMO or that?” And I’m like, how?

“Bro you could put the headset on and let your wife play?”

wha… What?!

TR in converswation with Brandon:

Why do they always go there?

TR:

Newsflash y’all, family members are not personal assistants.

As if they’re just sitting around waiting to play a game for you, describe the latest picture that the sender could have easily described.

Eron raised some other good points about the financial cost to access for those with mobility disabilities. Adapters have a real cost to them that not everyone can afford. Would you want to pay more for an accessible game?

But there are other reasons to be excited.

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

What about the process of creating? Do you know about the accessibility of that? Do we have some blind folks who are actually developing games?

Brandon:

We do have blind game developers out there. Primarily those developers are working on audio games.

I will say that there are some advances coming to blind game development in the form of at least one engine that is made for the blind to develop games, although this engine is geared towards role playing games specifically. But there is an engine called Sable that’s coming out. Hopefully, in the next couple of years.

And that engine is literally designed so that blind people can create their own custom made RPGs, role playing games.

TR:

That’s what I’m talking about! Not only do we game too, but we make as well.

Ok, Reid My Mind Radio family, I know some of y’all are TVI’s or teachers of the visually impaired. Please, make sure you put this information into the brains of your students. I want to play a game in the not so distant future, that is truly FUBU – for us by us!

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

What about, in-game audio description? Is that something we can look forward to?

Brandon:

I think it’s fair to say that the future is bright for video games and audio description. I think people will be surprised at the level of quality you’re going to get when that happens.

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

The developer has to be involved in that.

Brandon:

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah heavily.

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

The audio quality right there has just been raised, you know, exponentially because they’re gonna care.

Brandon:

Oh yeah, they are, for sure are.

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

Yeah, so that’s fantastic.

Brandon:

The future is very bright. I cant say much more, I wish I could. But oh man, are things coming up that are going to blow peoples’ minds.

TR:

In the meantime, you can check out Brandon doing the narration for several video game trailers.

Brandon:

For a game called Rainbow Six extraction, I did the Audio Description narration for most of those.

TR:

I’m really thinking about getting back into gaming. I’ve played some audio games on my IPhone. I’m wondering if it’s time to try some titles on the PC or maybe even get an XBox.

I guess I’m just trying to figure out if it’s really going to feel as entertaining as it once was?

Orlando:

I would say that it depends on the person and the level of enjoyment that they’re looking for. Yes, there will be those frustrations.

If somebody’s brand new to something, they don’t know, there’s always a learning curve. If you’re somebody that likes to learn new things, accept the challenge of trying to play a video game, because that’s going to be the ultimate learning curve right there.

You have to learn, where does the character need to go, because if I think I’m moving forward, it might be going on a spiral staircase, or something like that. Whereas I’m thinking north, south, east, west, on my controller, I can get around, but visually, the interpretation may be something different.

The frustration part is part of the learning, I feel.

You got to learn where to balance those things out to balance out the frustration levels, where it’s not as frustrating for you.

TR in Conversation with Orlando:

It doesn’t sound like we’re just talking about gaming any more, man.

Orlando:

I don’t want to be left out of things, I want to be involved. For me, the way I apply it is, if I want to eat something, and I know what I want to eat, and I’ve got the ingredients, I can put it together.

But do I need to get other assistants to put it together? No.

Or do I need to deal with the frustration of maybe burning myself or hurting myself while I’m trying to do it?

In the end, the result should be better than the experience. You got to go through it to get to it.

It’s something I applied to everything that I do in my life.

TR:

Being included means welcoming people with disabilities into all aspects of the industry. From development, gameplay, marketing and more. And being recognized for our contributions.

Brandon:

The Last of Us Two is officially the world record holding, most awarded video game of all time, in terms of general awards. Some of the awards that it won are accessibility related which I, happen to be, a ginormous part of.

When the PlayStation five came out. In 2020. I was given, by Sony, a special award PlayStation five, with an inscription on a perspex case that they have sent.

Perspex, it’s kind of like a combination of like plastic and glass.

The inscription was essentially thanking me for teaching PlayStation that play is not just about what we see, it’s more about what we hear, about what we feel.

I consider that one of my greatest accomplishments. And I consider that of an award of its own from PlayStation itself to make something that’s just for me.

And by the way that message was in Braille on the perspex case.

TR:

That’s, Brandon Cole AKA

Brandon:

SuperBlindMan on Twitch , YouTube and Twitter and even PlayStation Network.

If you want to add me as a Hearthstone friend, you can do that too. When I was making that account, I didn’t realize there was a character limit.

So on Battlenet I’m SuperBlindMa.

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

SuperBlindMa?! M A?

–Laughs….

Brandon:

Yes, yes. M A.

Brandon:

SuperBlindMa#1859 is my Battlenet tech tag.

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

And they could battle you to a game or something. Right?

Brandon:

They sure can.

TR in Conversation with Brandon:

If they want to lose!

Brandon:
You can find the blog at Brandon Cole.net. If you want the blind perspective on accessible gaming, that’s where you find it.

The podcast is at breakdownwalls.net/podcast If you want an easly link to that.

Break Down Walls is a movement that I started with my fiance. The idea is to break down the barriers between sighted and non sighted and disabled and non disabled gamers and human beings. Basically just make us all one.

TR:

Orlando!

Orlando:

Peachy Zatoichi on Twitter, my email address is PeachyZatoichi@gmail.com.
That is spelled; P E A C H Y Z, as in zebra, A T, as in Tom, O I C H I @gmail.com

Tr in conversation with Orlando:

And that was a Japanese Blind swordsman, right?

Orlando:

That’s exactly right!

TR:

And of course Eron.

Eron:

My twitch is X A N O D I A @ twitch.tv

It’s mostly just me gaming, talking to people. That’s about it. But yeah, it does turn into a rant occasionally.

–Laughs

TR:

Now, in order to be a player, you have to be in the game. These gentlemen are true players and they’re all official…

-Airhorn

…members of the Reid My Mind Radio family!

Eron:

Dude I’ve got to say, I checked out an episode the other day, loving it.

TR:

It’s not just about the opportunity to play that I’m happy to see. It’s about the change in mindset that’s taking place.

Game developers are slowly creating inclusive spaces where everyone is welcomed. The truly successful ones are seeking input from the community to figure how we can play with our disability.

Accepting people where they are, allowing them to work with what they have and enabling anyone to be in the game. Because yeah,We Play Too!

If you want to be sure you can play all new episodes of Reid My Mind Radio, all you have to do is subscribe wherever you get podcasts.

We have transcripts and more over on ReidMyMind.com

You don’t need a cheat code to level up, just remember, it’s R to the E I D
— (“D! And that’s me in the place to be” Slick Rick)

Like my last name!
Audio: Reid My Mind Outro
Peace!

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