Blind Centered Audio Description Chat: Describing Yourself

Self-description continues to be a controversial subject, especially among those who are Blind or have low vision. We invited the community to come share their opinions; pro and con.

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

To stay up to date with the latest information and join us live follow:
* Nefertiti Matos Olivares
* [Cheryl Green]*(https://twitter.com/whoamitostopit)
* Thomas Reid](https://twitter.com/tsreid)

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Transcript – Created By Cheryl Green

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

SCOTT B: Hey. Good afternoon, evening, morning, I guess in some cases, as you’ll hear from Scott Nixon in a moment. This is Scott Blanks. I am co-founder of the Audio Description Twitter Community as well as a audio description LinkedIn group recently formed. Happy to see people coming together around all manner of issues in audio description. Excited to talk today about self-description. We’ll get into that after we go through our intros. Scott Nixon, over to you.
SCOTT N: Good morning from Australia, everybody. It’s Scott Nixon here. I am co-moderator of the Audio Description Twitter Community, now featuring 501 members. Congratulations to everybody involved, especially Nefertiti and Scott B., who have done an absolutely magnificent job in getting this community off the ground and creating such a welcome and warm and caring community of like-minded people who want to forward the cause of audio description around the world, really. So, yeah. Thank you very much, everybody, and welcome. And I’m looking forward to a really great chat today.
NEFERTITI: Excellent. And thank you, Scott N. for being up so early and joining us.
SCOTT N: Yeah, it is 6 AM here. And yeah, the things I do for love.
NEFERTITI: [laughs] There you go. Excellent.
Folks, welcome, welcome to this latest Twitter Space. For those who can’t be with us live, thank you for catching it on the replay. Today should be, will be all about image description, the controversy of it, sort of the hi, why people like it, what we think is useful about it, why we think it should be a thing that sticks around. But also, those who are detractors, who don’t really care for it, who don’t think it’s important, it’s a waste of time, it’s extra sort of sensory overload, we wanna hear about all of it.
CHERYL: Actually, I’ll do a self-description to just get us started.
NEFERTITI: Excellent. Thank you, Cheryl.
CHERYL: You bet. So, yes, I am Cheryl. I am a non-blind audio describer. I am for no particular reason wearing a bright orange, safety orange, down vest, even though I think it’s like 75 here. But it’s my comfort vest. It makes me happy. And let’s see. I am a white Ashkenazi Jewish woman with olive complexion and a froth, a frothy, fizzy, dark brown, curly, fuzzy hair that I’m so glad is not on camera! I love audio only.
SCOTT N: I’m Scott once again, a, let’s say, heavyset white gentleman with short brown hair with streaks of gray through it and a neatly trimmed salt and pepper beard, gray eyes, and I’m currently the wearing track pants and a red t-shirt.
SCOTT B: Hi. I am Scott. I’m a tall white man wearing a short-sleeved button down shirt with some…with some toucans on it. And I have green eyes…and a beard. And you can tell that I don’t actually do this so often. But that’s me! So, thanks for the chance for me to describe myself. And I think we have Thomas Reid in the house.
THOMAS: I got a really quick and simple one. I’m Thomas Reid. I’m a brown skin black man with a smooth-shaven bald head, a full, neat beard. And actually, I should say that it has a little bit of salt and pepper. [chuckles]
SCOTT N: [chuckles]
THOMAS: And yeah, and I’m wearing dark shades, and I am seated in my vocal booth. Let’s put it right there. I’ll end it right there. There you go.
SCOTT N: Very nice. I’ve always thought it’s a bit of an Isaac Hayes vibe going on there, Thomas. [chuckles]
THOMAS: [laughs]
NEFERTITI: Alrighty. So, in the spirit of doing a self-description, I like to keep it even quicker than Thomas. I am a Latina woman with brown skin, hair, and eyes. Boom.
THOMAS: [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: Okay. So—
THOMAS: Does that mean you have brown skin, brown hair, brown eyes, or is it that you have brown skin with hair and eyes? [laughs]
CHERYL: [laughing] Stop!
NEFERTITI: I mean, yeah! All of it. [laughs] I have all those things. But no. Yeah, light brown skin, golden brown eyes, and dark brown hair.
THOMAS: Okay. All right. There you go.
NEFERTITI: So, a little more detail there, which is interesting. That’s one of the things we wanna talk about today: What makes for good image description, right? What’s too much? What’s not enough? So, Thomas, as our fearless host, you wanna get us started?
THOMAS: Sure. So, I guess why don’t we start off with a little bit about, I mean, we just went through the idea that these are self-description. So, that is a little bit of a definition, right? So, really, the opp-, a self-description is providing some information for folks who are blind or visually impaired or low vision, whatever the terminology is, and to provide access to some of that visual content—again, it is visual—and some visual information during meetings and conferences and things like that. Aight? Anybody wanna add to that sort of a quote-unquote definition about what a self-description is, so we’re all working with it, and we know when we’re using these, when they come into play? You think about Zoom conferences and live conferences when there’s a meeting, a person speaking, this is an opportunity for that person to sort of describe the information themselves, their own information. So, even if there was an audio description person present in such an event, I would say that it’s probably better to have a person describe themselves as opposed to having someone describe that person. So, I don’t know if anybody wants to add on to that or subtract. Subtract.
NEFERTITI: This is Nefertiti. I just wanna say that I absolutely agree with that. Better that it come from the person themselves than someone else. We could get vital details wrong, right?
THOMAS: Yeah.
NEFERTITI: Based on, let’s say, a person’s skin color, you know, there’s tons of hues of brown, but there’s tons of nationalities and ethnic backgrounds and things of that sort, too, so you might mislabel someone. So, better to get it from the person themselves whenever possible, for sure.
THOMAS: But this topic has been a little bit controversial, so maybe we should take folks who are, why don’t we do a pro and con, right, almost meeting style where we allow folks to kind of take the floor for two minutes to talk a little bit about why you are pro or why you are con.
SCOTT N: Scott Nixon here. I am for, I am personally 100% for it. But I can also see some negative connotations, not necessarily connotations, negative aspects to it. Some people simply aren’t comfortable describing themselves or don’t feel confident in describing themselves. I have quite a few friends who are vision impaired who are also on the autism spectrum who have great difficulty expressing themselves, and doing something like describing themselves can be a source of great anxiety to them. So, in cases like that, I think we all need to be a little bit sensitive and aware that not everyone is going to be 100% comfortable and support them in whatever choice they decide to make. If they decide that they’re not comfortable describing themselves, we should let them just do whatever they’re comfortable with. So, really, at the end of the day, it really does come down to a personal choice as to whether someone does do the description or not. And if you don’t think they’ve done a good enough description, well, that’s your deal type thing. You don’t ask for more or less or whatever. You just let them to do what they’re most comfortable with.
THOMAS: That’s a fantastic point there, Scott. And I think for most folks, you know, we’re gonna talk a little bit about it, but we’re in the process of, some folks are in the process of writing up some guidelines, because that’s one of the things that we don’t have. And one of the guidelines— And I don’t think any, I don’t think I ever heard anyone ever say that it is absolutely mandatory. It is a suggested practice. It’s a practice about providing that, providing information. And so, I agree 100%. If it’s something that makes someone uncomfortable, by all means, I don’t think anyone would want you to make yourself uncomfortable at the, you know, in order to get some information. So, great point.
NEFERTITI: This is Nefertiti, and I 100%. It’s never, and never has it been, never should it ever be about making someone uncomfortable, right? We don’t want to prioritize access needs. If, for example, in Scott’s example, friends with, friends on the spectrum and it makes them anxious and all that, I do not think that my access needs should preclude or usurp those of someone with an anxiety disorder or on the spectrum, discomfort, etc., whatever it is. Where I have a problem—and maybe this is part of the con, I’m not sure, even though I’m very, very much pro. Don’t get it twisted, y’all. I think this is a very good practice that needs to stick around—other folks who say, “It’s useless, it’s pointless, it just wastes time. I’m here for X, Y, Z, topic, or meeting or whatever it is. And I don’t care what your skin color is. I don’t care that you’re wearing a blue blazer, you know? I don’t care that your whatever,” you know. So, yes. These folks that, these folks that want, their…their sort of dislike for the practice to do away with someone like me who thinks it adds great value to whatever setting I’m in. How was it that you put it, Thomas? Like, why should your…. I don’t wanna butcher it. But do you remember what I’m talking about, where you asked somebody point blank?
THOMAS: Yeah.
NEFERTITI: Can you say that, please?
THOMAS: Yeah. It may not be verbatim, but I know I wrote it. But, you know, basically it’s like, why should…. Oh, damn. Now you got me all messed up.
NEFERTITI: [laughs] Oh no!
THOMAS: Why should—
NEFERTITI: Sorry.
THOMAS: No, but. But my access, right, shouldn’t be limited by your, the fact that you don’t like it, right?
NEFERTITI: Yes.
THOMAS: Why ruin my access, is what I was saying.
SCOTT N: Absolutely.
NEFERTITI: Yes! Don’t curtail my access because it’s something that you don’t appreciate, or you can go through life without. That’s great. I’m glad. But I wanna go through life with it. So, you know, yeah. Thank you, Thomas. That’s what I was talking about.
CHERYL: This is Cheryl. Can I jump in for a second?
NEFERTITI: Please.
CHERYL: Because, Thomas, the way I remember it, you didn’t even mention access. ‘Cause I think a lotta people get on the access conversation. They don’t go a step deeper. You went a step deeper, and I think you said something like, “Why are you trying to withhold information from me?”
THOMAS: That’s right.
CHERYL: Or “why are you trying to exclude me from this conversation?” So, I really appreciated that because it does go to the heart of it. And that’s, I also agree with what Scott Nixon said. If it is an access conflict, if you can’t or are not comfortable or not, for any reason, it doesn’t meet your access needs to self-describe, that’s a different, that’s different. That’s fine. But if it’s just like, “I don’t like this. I don’t see why people have to say they’re white,” then you are excluding somebody who could benefit from that description. Audio 5000.
THOMAS: Audio 5000. [chuckles]
SCOTT N: Exactly right, Cheryl. Scott Nixon here again, folks. It’s exactly right. The exclusionary side of it and wanting to know. I understand that there are people out there who’ve been totally blind from birth and who don’t have a necessary concept of color, tone, that sort of thing. And once again, that’s perfectly understandable. And for them, they may not need to or want to understand that someone’s wearing a blue jacket or a red shirt or whatever like that. And when it comes to skin tone, it can sometimes be the same thing. Some people, who, for lack of a better term don’t see or need to see color. But for me personally—I can only speak from my experience—I find it incredibly valuable to recognize someone’s ethnicity, background, culture, or that sort of thing, and that all comes into that. And yeah, so, I think it’s a really, really important thing.
And sometimes I can be quite surprised by what I learn. I was speaking to someone in the audio description field some time ago, and I had always assumed that he was African American. And then I find out that the guy has what we call a “computer tan,” which means whiter than white. And my mind just completely changed over what my, you know, I have like a mental picture of him, and I just instantly changed it over. And it’s not that my attitude changed or the way I talk to him changed or anything like that. It was just that my mental Rolodex instantly changed the skin tone, and I had a better example of who they were like. And Batmobile.
NEFERTITI: Thank you, Scott N. I think that’s a really good point too. I’ve thought people were white before, and they haven’t been, because of how they speak. I get that a lot sometimes too. People think I’m white. It’s like, no. Do we wanna hear from Scott B. before we open it up to folks who want to come up and speak?
SCOTT B: I don’t know. Do you? [laughs]
NEFERTITI: I mean, I always do, Scott B., but do you wanna speak?
SCOTT B: Yes! I’ll jump in, and so then we can make some room for people up here, too. I’m definitely a pro self-description from a personal perspective. As a congenitally blind person, no light perception since birth, yes, I’m in that space of someone who has not seen those colors and who only has sort of a conceptual understanding of what different colors are. For me, self-description is, in many cases, it’s less about things like the red jacket, the blue kerchief. It is, I’m really interested in understanding who I’m interacting with. I wanna know if someone describes himself. I am very interested in gender, in race, in things like that, because I think from, again, my personal perspective is that we are in a society where those things are really important. And I can’t put myself in that position of saying race doesn’t matter because I feel like it does. It always has, and it probably always will one way or another. And as a blind person, if I don’t have that information, then I am at a disadvantage. And so, wherever I can have that playing field leveled it feels like I can be more a complete part of the conversation. And if I get information about what people are sporting, hairdos, things like that, that’s just, that’s frosting on the cake.
And then the last thing I’ll say is my only sort of concern about it is, and I think this is where things like guidelines can help, is that when someone schedules a meeting, there’s ten people in the meeting, and it’s a 15-minute meeting, and everyone’s gonna go around and give a description, you’ve lost much of your time. And I think there is like a balance, right? How do we balance between access and actually getting something done? So, that is the kind of thing that the guidelines can address and people doing this more and just getting into the habit of it, becoming more smooth. I mean, the way that folks like Thomas and Nefertiti rattled off their descriptions, I aspire to this. I need to work on mine. But, you know, that’s, I think, where you see some people pushing back against description ‘cause they’re in a meeting, and they sit through 10 minutes of description, and there’s five minutes left in the meeting. So, there’s a need for balance. And I think that’s an easy thing for us to achieve. And especially for the value of the access that’s provided by self-description when it can be shared by people far outweighs the little bumps in the road like this. That’s it for me.
THOMAS: I wanna go to meetings where Scott is because they’re only 15 minutes. [laughs]
SCOTT B: [chuckles] You don’t. You don’t, actually. [laughs]
THOMAS: Probably not. You’re right. But they’re fast, though, 15-minute meetings. But no, you have a fantastic point, and it’s a very true point. And I think that would, even for those who favor audio description, you’re quite right. The fact that—I’m sorry favor self-description—the fact that yes, they can take up a lot of time is a problem. But it’s not a problem to throw it away, right?
SCOTT B: Absolutely.
THOMAS: It’s a problem to get fixed. Right.
SCOTT B: Right. You don’t say, “Oh, it’s not working, so we’re just gonna stop.”
THOMAS: Yeah.
SCOTT B: That’s not how we approach this or many other things.
THOMAS: Absolutely.
SCOTT B: But a lot of people like to do that.
THOMAS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so, right? So, part of those guidelines should, are going to include, and they do, most people will tell you keep it less than a minute. I personally say that your whole introduction shouldn’t exceed a minute. And so, if you’re going around a table and introducing yourself, this is something that I think we all need to sort of take a look at and improve, the same way you tell business owners to have an elevator pitch, right? Even just not business owners. I mean, we say that. We hear that from career counselors. This could be sort of looked at the same way. This should be part of your elevator pitch in meetings that are online meetings and things like that where this is going to be done. And just think about it in advance.
The thing that I find really interesting about this argument is that it’s forcing people to think about things that either they never had to or they don’t want to that often come, you know, are aligned with the idea of white privilege. And to me, quite honestly, the most that I hear in terms of the negative feedback, like “we shouldn’t do this” are actually from mainly white folks who don’t have to describe themselves, who are not used to describing themselves. They didn’t have to. They don’t look at their color. Their color has never been a part of the conversation. Where you ask any person of color, whether they’re light, whether they’re dark, their lightness or their darkness is part of a conversation. Whether it be internal in their own community or externally in public, it comes up. And so, we are quite used to describing the color of our skin, right? We are quite used to that. For some of us, it can definitely save your life. So, this is the thing that we have to be very cognizant about. But the idea that it’s forcing people to sort of think about their own privilege and come to realize that it exists, wow. That, I guess, is kinda tough. That can be really rough for people. But, hey, it’s something that we should be doing.
So, again, whether it be audio description or whether it be self-descriptions, right, it goes beyond what you think it’s all about. And to me, if we’re really going to look at this thing called white supremacy, if we’re really gonna be talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and all of this stuff, and we want people to include disability, and we want access and all that, well, you know, we’re gonna have to look at the whole thing. We can’t just look at the blindness. We’re gonna have to look at all of those intersections, and we’re gonna have to challenge all of these things. And freaking description is a beautiful way to start doing that. So, maybe you’re not comfortable with it, but that’s okay. We all have to do a little bit if we want to make this world a little better place. So, description is actually a part of that, so. Thomas out.
NEFERTITI: Yes, we all— Thomas Reid, everybody! [chuckles]
SCOTT N: Absolutely. But I just wanted to thank Thomas for the mention there of white privilege. The greatest example of that in recent times is what happened with Vice President Kamala Harris when she was at an event, and there were several vision impaired people around. So, she gave a self-description of herself, which I thought was absolutely fantastic. It was clear, concise, gave us a little bit more information, gave us a nice little extra card for our visual Rolodexes. And my God, did the fragile white boys lose their little minds online about how unnecessary it was, how stupid it was. All of this ableist language was flying around. And I’m trying to explain to them that this is valuable information and things like that. But in time, I eventually ended up giving up because once you start arguing with someone who identifies himself as #FloridaMan, you know you’ve already lost the fight. So, just trying to get past that sense of entitlement that so many people have.
And look, I, at the risk of sounding mildly controversial, I’ll put it out there that a lot of people of all different races have this similar issue that, “Oh, I don’t see race. I don’t recognize race,” dah dah dah dah dah, all that sorta stuff. But for some people, it’s critically important, as Thomas said. So, yeah, I believe that it is important. And us trying to educate people on how important it is for us, for those of us who are into it—I know there are some detractors out there—but I think it’s really, really important to show them and help them understand that this is something that is as important to us as them being able to go up to someone and say, “Yo, what kind of car do you drive?” Scott out.
NEFERTITI: Beautiful. Thank you, both Thomas and Scott and the other Scott, [giggles] both Scotts. I think the takeaway from what I just heard is that we need to keep getting comfortable with our discomfort, and that blindness is not where it stops, right? It’s just where it begins. It’s a systemic situation we’re trying to battle here, and description is a really great way to do that. So, we have Robert Kingett with us. Robert, would you like to speak?
ROBERT: Yay! Cool beans. Okay. So, I am gonna repeat most of what others have said here. But to give a little self-description of myself, I’m a pale white male with one blue eye and one green eye, and I have a short nose, and that goes along with my short stature. So, there you go. As for the self-description debate, I’m very, very pro self-description. If you have an access need that makes, that you have social anxiety or something, it’s totally okay if you want to opt out of self-description. But what I have a problem with is fellow blind people trying to take away my right to information. You, as a blind person, don’t have any right whatsoever to take away my access, period. If sighted people don’t have the right, what makes you think you have the right?
Lastly, I mean, self-descriptions could help in multiple ways. For example, it can help you craft elevator pitches. Most importantly, it can teach you to be a better listener. When I listen to self-descriptions, I’m listening for the words that people use and how they use those words to describe themselves ‘cause it tells me a lot about a person depending on what words you choose to use to describe yourself. And that’s it. I’m all done. [chuckles]
CHERYL: This is Cheryl here. Thank you, Robert. I’m wondering if now would be a good moment to listen to another really cool example of a self-description that I believe Thomas might have cued up. Is now a good time for that? Or we can move to Gretchen, who just became a speaker, while we wait for Thomas or Nefertiti. Gretchen, do you wanna have a moment to speak?
GRETCHEN: Very excited about these two minutes. So, thank you. My name is Gretchen Maune. I am a pale 40-year-old white woman with chin length, brown hair in a bob, wearing dark denim overalls, and a Sailor Moon t-shirt ‘cause I’m really channeling the ‘90s today, so. [laughs] I am blind. And just to give you a little perspective, I went blind in my mid-20s, about 15 years ago. And I also, just to call back to what some people were saying, I am autistic, and I live with anxiety. So, I am definitely pro self-description, and my perspective is that I want access to all the information that my sighted peers have and all the information I used to be able to have access to when I was sighted. For me, it’s about inclusion, first and foremost, and that’s really important to me. Also, I, this is probably controversial based on what some folks have said, but I say if a meeting is rather short and the audio, self-descriptions rather, would take up a lot of time, allot more time in the meeting for it and plan for that.
The three ways that I find it useful, well, first, I mentioned the inclusion. It makes me feel more a part of things because most of the people I spend time around are sighted. And so, I’m getting access to what they have access to. Second is that, well, I guess going back to what one of the Scotts—sorry, can’t remember which one—mentioned is that being able to have that perspective. I know amongst many of my friends and folks that gender and race are very important, and the way they present themselves is important. And so, being able to have my mental image of that is important in my Rolodex, if you will. But also, if I’m in an in-person meeting, it’s been very helpful before when people have described themselves to then later on, after the speaker’s done, the presentation’s over, to talk to a sighted friend and be like, “Hey, I can’t remember the person’s name, but they said they were white and wearing a red jacket. Can you help me find that person so I can go talk to them for a minute?” when you’re in a big group or something so I can go have a conversation with them. That can be very helpful, and I have taken advantage of that information before so I can locate a person.
Another thing is that one time I found out that someone was wearing some awesome white cane earrings, and I didn’t even know such a thing existed. And later on, found some for myself on Etsy. So, that was another thing I liked about getting a description is finding out about, oh, their hair sounds really cool, or their earrings sound cool. But those are all different reasons for me. Thank you so much.
NEFERTITI: Thank you, Gretchen! I want those earrings, too! Oh, my God.
NEFERTITI and GRETCHEN: [laugh]
NEFERTITI: They sound amazing! Wow. And thank you for being with us in this space and making such great points. Yeah, I love that idea of, “Hey, help me find that person with the red jacket.” If you’re in a room with however many people remembering a name, I don’t know about y’all, but that’s really difficult for me. But having something like, oh, okay, cane earrings, let’s go find that person, that’s really useful. Thank you. That’s a great example. Thomas, are you with us?
THOMAS: I am with you. And I know who that person is, too, with the cane earrings. [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: Yeah?!
THOMAS: That’s her thing. Yeah! That’s Cathy, Cathy Kudlick. Yeah. [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: That is so, I love that. Wow. Love it.
THOMAS: So, let’s see. I think I have what we’re looking for. Let’s see if it works. I set it up real quick. Let’s see if this works. I’ll give this for Gretchen. Let’s see if you hear it. [air horn blasts]
NEFERTITI: Hey!!!!!
SEVERAL PEOPLE: [laugh]
CHERYL: Yes!
THOMAS: All right, all right.
NEFERTITI: I love that sound! [giggles]
THOMAS: All right. Well, tell me what you think about this one, then.
[recorded clip plays, starting with a bit of cute, cheery music, then Nefertiti’s voice comes on as Meggy Eggy]
MEGGY EGGY: Oh, Meggy Eggy’s in the building, folks. Whoo! This is so fun already.
MOLLIE: Before we get too far, would you like to introduce yourself to our listeners?
MEGGY EGGY: Oh, of course. Hi, listeners. I’m Meggy Eggy, like I said, but my real name is Meg. My pronouns are she/her, and I’m an egg timer! A very cute little yellow timer in the shape of an egg with numbers in a circle around my waist. I’m a kitchen timer, so you can use me when you need to set a time for two minutes or one hour. Whatever you need, Meggy has got you covered! [delighted giggle] Oh, and I speak Spanish. ¡Qué bien! [recorded clip ends]
THOMAS: Okay. Y’all explain? Explain, Nef! [laughs]
SCOTT N: Just before Nef does that, I would just like to say that I have just suffered a cuteness overload.
SEVERAL PEOPLE: [laugh]
NEFERTITI: Wow. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s me as Meggy Eggy on the Mystery Recipe Podcast, part of America’s Test Kitchen Kids! And I’m honored that y’all wanted to play that. That’s so cool.
SCOTT N: It was efficient, too. It got it done, like, one, two, three.
THOMAS: Absolutely.
NEFERTITI: Yeah. I mean, it has a lot of information, right? She’s yellow, she’s an egg timer, she tells you what she can do. She can speak Spanish. I mean, a lot of information. And how long was that? Like, 30 seconds, maybe?
SCOTT B: Probably 30 seconds. Yeah. I’m guessing.
MEGGY EGGY: [recorded portion plays on a loop with the cheery music behind it] Whoo this! Whoo! Whoo this!
SEVERAL PEOPLE: [laugh]
NEFERTITI: Okay. Remix!
THOMAS: Oh, you want the remix? Okay. Hold on, hold on. Wait.
NEFERTITI: Uh-oh.
THOMAS: We gonna do, gonna do the remix. Let’s see. Here we go. You ready?
MEGGY EGGY: [sound effect like a tape rewinding] Oh, Meggy Eggy’s in the building, folks!
SEVERAL PEOPLE: [laugh]
NEFERTITI: This is what happens when you have a skilled producer as a co-host, you guys. How fun.
THOMAS: [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: How fun. I’m gonna have you help me put my, one of my reels together, Thomas, just so you know. Anyway.
THOMAS: Ah. [air horn blasts]
SEVERAL PEOPLE: [laugh]
NEFERTITI: So, yeah! You guys, this is a major podcast who has this character as an intern for Season Six, and she is, she identifies as blind, low vision, visually impaired, etc. And not only do the folks on the podcast just make it like, “Okay, you tell us you can get around in the kitchen and you know what you’re doing and all that, we’re gonna trust that you’re telling us the truth about that. And if you need help, then you’ll let us know when.” So, that’s fantastic, super good representation and modeling there. But also, this self-description just as part of introducing herself to the young chefs, the listeners, and their grown-ups, I think, is a really fantastic example of what we’re talking about here today. And this is making it to the children. Hopefully those children will grow up with the understanding and the belief that this is okay and even necessary.
THOMAS: Yeah. And setting this precedent as about access, right? We’re talking about access at the end of the day and just making it, you know, normalizing it, right, just really normalizing this thing so we don’t have, “What are they doing?” You know, we don’t have all of that nonsense going on. So, I think that’s part of it.
NEFERTITI: Yeah. #NormalizeAccess.
THOMAS: Yeah. Yeah. For real.
CHERYL: This is Cheryl. I wanted to weigh in on that, too, ‘cause I think I was pushing that we play that clip ‘cause I just, I love it so much. It’s a great description. It’s succinct, and it’s mixed in with all this other information about your character. She speaks Spanish. She’s a yellow egg timer. Like, it’s just part of the description. And I thought that that, it’s just so beautiful as a part of a well-rounded description of who you are. And I have heard on the other side people say—and I think sometimes this is used as a straw man—I’ve heard some people say, “You shouldn’t do self-descriptions because you will never be able to describe every single thing about what you look like. And so, that’s just not fair. And why do you get to pick and choose?” And I mean, it’s a straw man. It’s not, like, that argument is just it…it’s not looking for a really genuine answer. But, you know, Meggy Eggy, the egg timer doesn’t just wear glasses. I looked at her. She’s got gigantic, oversized, retro round eyeglasses.
SCOTT N: [chuckles]
CHERYL: She has hash marks around her waist, not just numbers, but hash marks where the numbers are. Did you say all that? No. Do we still know a lot about Meggy Eggy? Yes. And so, you don’t wanna, I guess, throw the baby out with the bathwater. You’re never gonna be able to describe every single thing. Especially if you’re in a meeting with Scott, and you only have 15 minutes, you can’t describe.
THOMAS: [chuckles]
CHERYL: It would be a 14-and-a-half minute description for one person.
SCOTT B: Right.
CHERYL: But that’s not a reason to not do it. And part of making this space welcoming and accessible and safe is to allow people to say some things about their description, and they’re not gonna say all. Because some people, it’s not safe for them to say all the description. Some people may have a kind of dysmorphia where bringing it up to a bunch of strangers is a really bad thing for them. But like we talked about earlier, not making it mandatory, but making it part of a negotiable accessibility practice seems like a fine way to try to do it.
MEGGY EGGY: Ooh, this is so fun already!
SEVERAL PEOPLE: [laugh]
SCOTT N: Love it. Thomas—
CHERYL: Thomas, please follow me around every day with your machine.
THOMAS: [laughing] Yeah, exactly.
SCOTT B: Play our cards with sounds when we fall down. Do all of it.
SCOTT N: Yeah. Just, Scott Nixon here again, just going back to what Cheryl was just saying there about some people being uncomfortable, maybe, about describing themselves because of dysmorphia or things like that. You may’ve noticed at the top of the hour when we were giving our initial descriptions, I hesitated for a moment before calling myself a heavyset gentleman. That is because I am currently having a bit of a struggle with my weight. But then I remind myself that my physical frame is a part of who I am, and I shouldn’t be embarrassed by the current state of my scars or anything like that. So, giving me that little extra push to describe myself that little bit more was a good thing. But, as Cheryl said, some people may be uncomfortable with that, and we have to respect people’s wishes it comes to that sort of thing.
NEFERTITI: Here’s a question for you all. A bit of a…of something I just thought, thanks to Scott N.’s most recent contribution. There’s someone on social media who I’ve encountered who is blind, and I’ll say “they” ‘cause I don’t really wanna gender them. They…describe themselves in a way that doesn’t quite match up with what sighted people would say about them. So, what do we feel about that? Is that something we should be wary of? Like, okay, you’re giving me information, but is it accurate information? And who’s to make that judgment? For example, if this person thinks that they have, say, an hourglass figure, and a sighted person would be like, “Uh…no. You’re more like an apple,” does that matter to us? Should it matter?
THOMAS: That’s an interesting question. I think it goes back to the fact that it’s a self-description.
NEFERTITI: Mmhmm.
THOMAS: So, I feel like if this is how the person sees themselves, you know, who are we to say about true or false? I mean, that gets to a, yeah, I don’t think we can do that. I think what we have to, we have to sort of be…. I think we have to come in this with the idea that folks are going to be true to what this is about.
NEFERTITI: Mmhmm.
THOMAS: And, but I can’t, you know, if I— All right. So, maybe not as, but I leave out, occasionally because I don’t remember, that my beard is salt and pepper, right? And so, thinking about this more now, I’m like, well, wait, no. My beard is salt and pepper. That’s right. I should say that that is. I should sprinkle that in, right? [chuckles] I should sprinkle that in, into my description. But that’s my choice. If I leave it out, I’m not necessarily lying. But if this person sees themselves having an hourglass, maybe this is part of their, this is part of their vision board. Maybe this is where they’re heading. And so, if they wanna affirm that, you know, aight. Yeah, go ahead, girl! I’m thinking it’s a girl ‘cause the girl would say that, right?
NEFERTITI: Get it, girl!
THOMAS: So, yeah, I’d be like, I’m in support of that if that’s where you trying to go. I’m also in support if you a apple, you know. I love me some apples. But anyway, [laughs] but, you know.
NEFERTITI: [laughs]
THOMAS: Like….
NEFERTITI: [still laughing]
SCOTT N: [chuckles]
THOMAS: But I’m just trying to say, like, [laughs] I shouldn’t have say that. But I…. [busts a gut laughing]
NEFERTITI: [laugh-crying] Thomas!
THOMAS: I’m just trying to say that, you know, if the, we gonna have to give people the benefit of the doubt, I think. And the idea is that, you know, because if a person comes into the room who is sighted and says that, and somebody’s like, “Well, you an apple. You’re not a hour-.” Who are they, you know, who’s to, I don’t feel like someone should be policing this. I really don’t. That makes me uncomfortable, so. Thomas, I’m out. And when I meant apple, I meant Granny Smiths. I meant red apples. [laughs]
SEVERAL PEOPLE: [laughs]
CHERYL: Cosmic crunch.
THOMAS: Macintosh, you know what I’m saying.
SCOTT N: Absolutely, Thomas. I mean, you know, if say, just for example’s sake, you’ve got two sighted people at a party. A person walks in wearing a bright orange jacket, green pants, yellow shoes, and they think they look like the absolute business, and they think they’re con-, they feel confident. They feel sassy. They feel great about themselves. And then you got this other person on the other side of the room going, “Oh, my God! Look at that absolutely disgusting color explosion over there.” It’s two people’s opinions. And for me, I will take the person who is wearing the outfit rather than the person on the other side who’s giving you an opinion about the outfit. It’s all about self-expression. It’s all about self-worth and things like that. If people wanna talk themselves up a little bit in their description, hell, why not? If I had a nice, smooth, bald, shaven African-American head, dude, I would be blasting that from the rooftops ‘cause, you know, that’s a good look, man.
THOMAS: Thank you, sir.
THOMAS and SCOTT N: [laugh]
NEFERTITI: Yeah, interesting. I think, you know, my question, I think, leaves a lot of open room for judgment and for things of that sort, and that’s not what this is about, right?
THOMAS: Mm-mm.
NEFERTITI: This is about access to information, plain and simple.
THOMAS: But on the other hand, right, like that’s what folks do with the information. And so, we’re not policing what anybody does with this.
NEFERTITI: Right.
THOMAS: If blind folks wanna be judgmental about it, well, go ahead. That’s what you wanna do, that’s what you wanna be.
NEFERTITI: That’s a very human thing, blind or not.
THOMAS: That’s a human thing. That’s right. That’s right. So, absolutely. So, it’s the access to the information isn’t about policing what you do with that information at all. At all.
NEFERTITI: Mmhmm, mmhmm. Absolutely.
All right, folks. Well, I think this has been super interesting. I wish we would’ve gotten some folks who don’t like it come up and make their case for it. Sorry we missed you, but maybe if this conversation comes back around, you out there listening right now who are like, “Nope. I’m a detractor,” maybe next time you’ll wanna share with us.
THOMAS: Yeah.
NEFERTITI: And you all know you can always keep the conversation going in the Twitter, Audio Description Twitter Community. You know what I say? If you’re not a member, what are you waiting for? We just hit 500 members. I think we’re at 501! Whoo.
SCOTT N: [chuckles]
NEFERTITI: And, you know, you can always keep the conversation going also with the hashtag AD for us, by us. That’s ADFUBU. Do we have any closing remarks?
THOMAS: Well, I do wanna say, I’m just gonna do a little promotion of a episode coming out later on this month that is gonna continue this topic and is gonna talk more about the guidelines that are sort of being formed and who’s forming it and possibly participating in that maybe ‘cause we have already. It’s an episode with Haben Girma, and I think it’s gonna be a cool episode. So, take, you know, get ready for that on the, on Reid My Mind Radio. It’s gonna be a conversation Haben Girma all about self-descriptions, and we’re talking about the guidelines, talking about some of these same issues and how to approach it. So, I like her take on things.
NEFERTITI: Excellent. Looking forward to that for sure. Haben Girma, for those who are not in the know, is a DeafBlind activist, lawyer, and just all-around wonderful person who’s out there every day fighting the good fight. So, I’m really excited that she’s on your show, Thomas.
THOMAS: She part of the family now. Yeah, she part of the family.
NEFERTITI: Heck yeah. Nice, nice. All right. Do we wanna quickly go through, or do we wanna just throw out there what would make for good description? I know this is something we talked about, giving people tips on what makes a good description.
THOMAS: The guidelines are coming. But I think right now I would say, you know, think about it in advance, right?
NEFERTITI: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
THOMAS: If you’re a person who’s going to be sort of facilitating a meeting, it would be great to let folks know that you’re going to do that so folks can think about it in advance. Put time limits on it, like we talked about. Be concise. Think about describing the things that are in the line of vision for someone. If you’re on a Zoom, ain’t no need to really talk about that painting on the wall in your bedroom if you’re not, you know, if that’s not behind you.
NEFERTITI: Uh-huh.
THOMAS: So, things like that. And just keep it to what’s visible. I don’t need, you know, don’t talk about your shoes ‘cause nobody sees your shoes.
NEFERTITI: Yeah.
THOMAS: So, that sort of thing.
NEFERTITI: Most of the time, people are shoeless and pantless anyway!
THOMAS: Yeah. And please don’t talk about that, so.
THOMAS and NEFERTITI: [laugh]
SCOTT N: [snort-laughs]
THOMAS: So, yeah, I mean, we can—
NEFERTITI: Absolutely.
THOMAS: This is doable.
NEFERTITI: And really quick, something that I think Gretchen said, which was wonderful, which is, “Hey, for you facilitators out there, build time into whatever you’re doing for this practice.”
THOMAS: Exactly.
NEFERTITI: I think that’s hugely important.
THOMAS: Yeah.
SCOTT N: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Just thanks to everyone for being involved. And like Nefertiti said, if you are someone who does have an opposing view to those held by the majority or even one or two people in the space, please come in and talk to us. We aren’t gonna bite. We are going to listen to you. We’re not gonna shut you down or anything like that. It’s a, you know, we try and make a kind and welcoming space here and something that everyone can be a part of. So, pros, cons, whatever, please be a part of it.
And just before we go, I have a quick announcement to make. As I have mentioned in a couple of Spaces so far, I am planning to begin my journey into becoming an audio description narrator, and I have decided to chronicle this on the community. So, keep an eye out for it. It’s gonna be under the hashtag #BrokenEyesVO, and I’m gonna be talking about everything from setting up my rig to hopefully my first job and moving forward as I move into the career to hopefully give a bit of advice and even inspiration to people who want to become a part of the audio description community. Because there are many blind narrators out there, and I know a lot of companies who are looking for more. So, keep an eye out for it, and be a part of it. Ask me questions as I go along. I’m more than happy to answer them. And ladies and gentlemen, that’s me for today. I have been Scott Nixon. And I’m going back to bed!
NEFERTITI: Whoo! I’m Nefertiti Matos Olivares, and I approve this message.
Thank you, everybody. Thank you, Cheryl, Thomas, Scott B. Scott N., Gretchen, and Robert as our two guests who came up to the Space. Really appreciate hearing from you all. All right, y’all. Thank you again for such a wonderful time. This was a great hour or so.
SCOTT B: Quality conversation, as always. Thanks, everyone.

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

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