Posts Tagged ‘Blind’

Doing Your Thing With Disability: We Play Too

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

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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Doing Your Thing With Disability: Marguerite Woods – Here I Am

Wednesday, March 9th, 2022

A full body shot of marguerite Woods smiling brightly while waiting for a fresh protein drink order.  She is seated sideways on a black & Silver upholstered chaise lounge with her right elbow slightly leaning towards the rolled back of the lounge. Marguerite is dressed in white slacks and a black blouse with white panels along the yolk and sleeves, black sunshades, beaded mecklace, large  silver hoop earrings & bangle accessorizing her outfit and bald head.  Behind & off to her right side is, a small blonde wood bookcase with a painting of Bob Marley on the wall above.
Can I kick it? (Yes you can!)

Welcome to the kick off episode for the first season of 2022; Doing Your Thing with Disability!

In this series, we’re not talking about overcoming blindness, getting passed our disability, no, we’re going to hear from some awesome people who do the things they love to do and they’re doing it with their disability. That’s a whole different energy.

We begin with a Reid My Mind Radio alumni, Marguerite Woods, who’s all about energy. She was last on the podcast during the 2021 Flipping the Script on Audio Description season.

I just knew during that first conversation, I had to have her back on to discuss more of her experiences as an advocate, philosophy as it pertains to blindness and disability. Plus I wanted to hear more about her trip to India and all that meant to her.

In this episode we get into self-reflection, a kinder gentler advocacy, love of self and skin bleaching? You’re going to have to listen in…

Listen

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:

— Theme from Welcome back Kotter
— A hip hop drum loop…

Greetings, Reid My Mind Radio Family.

— from song, “Welcome Back!”

I feel like I’m home. Well, I am.

You know what I mean right?

That familiar place where you’re comfortable, your needs are being met and you feel loved and appreciated. That’s what I want you to feel when you rock with Reid My Mind Radio!

Let’s start this off right!
Can I kick it?

— “Yes you can”

Can I kick it?

— “Yes you can”

I’m excited to kick off this first season. If you caught the Black History Month bonus episode, you already know, this season is called Doing Your Thing with Disability. Now I know some of y’all may say that a bit differently as in Doing’ Your Thang with Disability! You should know, that indeed is the feeling behind the season. I chose not to formally name it that way because not everyone gets that energy right when saying it. If you do appreciate and respect that vibe, by all means feel free. If you do not or if you question whether you’re qualified to do so, well, don’t it’s cool, say it phonetically. Doing your thing with disability.

What I hope to deliver during this season are 4 episodes with varying examples of people pursuing different goals in their lives for a variety of reasons. We’re touching on Accessibility, entrepreneurship, music expression, self-discovery and more.

I encourage you to listen between the words.
(Filtered Voice:) Is that a thing?
Sort of like reading between the lines?

Throughout each episode, the energy is not about getting passed or overcoming, nah, that’s what they talk about over there…

The way we get down, right here, we’re doing it with disability – and to me that’s something to celebrate.

— Reid My Mind Theme Music

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:
This first season of Reid My Mind Radio in 2022 is all about doing your thing with disability. And I want to know, what does that mean to you?

Marguerite:
Wow. It to me, it means being my authentic self. And disability is just a part of my shell. And it’s a part of the filter that I’m experiencing this physical life through. And so I can’t escape that. So it’s a part of who I am. It’s just not all of who I am.

— Music begins, a mid tempo smooth jazzy Hip Hop beat.

TR:

Who she is? Well, this is Marguerite Woods.

Marguerite:

I am a woman, a black woman with many interests, and mainly, I am having an experience as a spiritual being in my humanity, and so the roles that come up for me are absolutely a mom, family member friend, a community person.

She, her are my pronouns. And I have on a suit jacket, I think it’s black and white, I have one little flower under it with little fringe around the top yoke.

I normally wear earrings, because I like them, I’m a little artsy, and they usually feel really creative to me. And I have on, dark shades.

I am black. I am bald. I am beautiful. And I am bold.

TR:

It’s been a while now that I’ve been incorporating image descriptions as part of the podcast.
I know there are some who may wonder why, it is a podcast after all.
A big part of that is identity for me. I want you to know as much about the people I’m presenting here on the podcast.
Truth is, sighted folks still get the opportunity to access this information via a nonvisual medium, because podcasts require an image to accompany the audio file.

But there’s more than identity in what we hear in an image description.

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:
Your outfit today, is there any particular reason that you wore what you wore?

Marguerite:
I decided deliberately to wear what I’m wearing. It feels comfortable. I think it looks good. And we talked about possibly video at the end. I wanted to project a certain image. I wanted to feel a certain way while doing the video. I feel very feminine. My outfit helps me to feel like that.

And the earrings are just an added touch that I really like, because I’m bald, I think that it highlights my frame.

TR:

Being intentional, goes beyond her wardrobe choices. Marguerite is thoughtful with her words. It’s one of the things that really stands out when first meeting her. It’s evident in the way she approaches each of the questions posed to her. Like…

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:

How do you identify with disability?

Marguerite 04:

Wow Thomas, that’s a loaded question, how do I identify with disabilities?
It’s been a progression of things and when where I am today is because of that progression.

So I don’t want this to sound flat or linear. I arrived here.
I’ve been toying with how do I talk about what we’ve been calling disabilities. And as I think about them my blindness and and others with a variety of different things. What I keep coming up with is this whole idea of diversity. We have diverse abilities.

my relationship is that whatever I’m dealing with, and in my case, it’s blindness, it’s given me an opportunity to explore the life that I’m living from a very different perspective, than I started out exploring life. living life, because I think of each of us as an explorer, or pioneer in our particular part of life.

TR:

That exploration can take her to foreign places, but much of it is within herself. In fact, she sees it as selfish.

Marguerite:

Everything that I experience, think about relate to is totally through my filters. And that in itself is selfish. But not in the way that I grew up thinking about the word selfish.

There’s no way to relate to life and be neutral, because I’m relating to it through my filters. And every other person is as well. And the best I can do with that is expand my filters, and expand the understanding, from having experiences with other folks.
TR:

If you prefer your ideas presented in a more concrete form, Marguerite offers a bit of a disability toolkit.

Marguerite:

in a practical way, the way I relate to disabilities is understanding that each one of us has to have an ideal of what we’d like to be able to do, where we find ourselves how we’d like to be able to manage whatever it is we’re trying to move through. And so, philosophy, some skills, some technology and some techniques, and absolutely some guidance in any way that you can find it to help you better do what it is you’re trying to do.

TR:

One of those skills that Marguerite has built over the years is advocacy. It goes back to her childhood growing up in Baltimore City, the area Marguerite describes as being designated for African Americans.

Marguerite:
There was a lot of feelings of just being done wrong, not being treated well. There was an energy of distrust, anger. But in the middle of all of that, I enjoyed the connection with family members and community members. And this sense of looking out for each other, a desire to move forward in a positive way, enjoying whatever life had to offer. And I felt that the elders in my community, were very interested in assuring that their children, and the younger people in the community were able to enjoy the things they felt they had not been able to.

— Music ends

And so the whole advocacy around that felt noble and it felt right to me.

TR:

That relationship with the community equipped Marguerite with a strong solid foundation.

Marguerite:

I grew up through the elementary and high school years, with all black teachers in the black community. And I could feel the desire for them to give us their best. And they wanted us to be sent into a world with our best doing our best.

I ended up in senior high school going to a predominantly white school on the other side of town. I deliberately chose that because I wanted to know what it felt like to have that experience. I was curious and interested,

When I did get to that senior high school, I felt like I was very well equipped, even though I began to hear stories that said we were marginalized, and that we were lacking.

TR:

Stories meant to weaken that foundation or penetrate her spirit.

Advocacy became more than a way to impact her community, it helped her realize things about herself.

Marguerite:

For me advocacy was about fighting for the underdog. And so it felt aggressive. And I thought it was very necessary and that there was a certain way that you had to go about it in order to gain the results that you were asking for.

It didn’t feel good in my spirit.

That anger and their venom and using it to ask for what you wanted. While it seemed to be effective, it was not a good space for me.

TR:

Over time, Marguerite came to realize that in the way she and
so many of us view advocacy, trained her to only consider what
was not working.

Marguerite:

it started to make sense to me that if that’s what you’re pointing out all the time, that’s all you’re setting yourself up to see. And so when things are coming, that are, what you do want, how will you recognize if all you’re focused on are the things that don’t work?

Sometimes the things that I’m wanting to experience, they reveal themselves in small ways.

The more that I’m open to understanding and realizing those smaller things, the momentum can pick up, but if I don’t recognize it, then how will I be able to enjoy it becoming larger in my space, in my experience for myself and for my community.

TR:

Yet only focusing on the things you want or those things that feel good can prove to be quite unfulfilling.

Marguerite:

I’ve got to own how I feel, and accept that as where I am. And recognize that I want to be in a space, that feels a lot better. But that causes me to have to identify, what is it that I’m asking for? And I’m telling you that that’s not been the easiest thing to do. Because even when I’m talking to people that I asked, What do you want, we even talk about what we want in the negative. I know most people can easily tell you what we don’t want, but ask them what they do want. It’s a very different conversation. And so that was not just a conversation for others. That was a conversation for myself, as well.

— Music begins, piano keys leading into a mid tempo smooth bouncy Hip Hop beat.

TR:

This really seems about knowing yourself. And there’s some real value in that.

Marguerite:

I’m getting to the space in the place where I have an opinion, I have a thought and it’s authentic.

You have a thought and an opinion and it is yours, no matter what I think about it, it is yours.

I do have the right to my opinions and my thoughts. And I want to be respected. So if I’m going to respect myself, I’ve got to respect you. Even if I don’t agree with you. I’ve got to respect that you have it. But that does not stop me from asking for what I want. That’s how you see it. And you can be very right. And I’m not telling you that you’re wrong. But I’m asking for what I want and what I need, which is a very different space.

I need to articulate and be really clear about what I’m asking for. So I have to keep asking, and keep defining and keep gaining the clarity.

I’m not recommending this as a way for anybody to go, I’m just merely trying to tell you what’s happening with me.

TR:

She really is on an exploration.

Her advocacy continues to have practical applications.
As the president of the At Large Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind in Maryland, she’s ready when necessary to respond to issues of particular concern to her community.

Marguerite:
We discovered that the state of Maryland was planning to discontinue bus transportation from Baltimore City. To the surrounding counties, for the most part, and they quietly were holding community meetings.

I was thinking about my community that I actually live in not just the blind community, but the community of Baltimore City, which is being affected. And I knew about a group that I been in connection with for many years, I would go there and talk to them.

TR:

The organization is called BDS healthy aging networks. Marguerite built a relationship with them over the years where she along with a group of members from her chapter would speak to the organization as a way to allow people to see into the community.

Marguerite:

I knew that they had gone virtual, I got in touch with the woman who runs it, Betsy Simon, and told her what I’d like to do. So she invited me to the call to share with the partners that met with her and the partners were different community agencies, city and state agencies, as well as community organizations and community leaders. And ask them to participate in the testimonies as well.

Well, I’m not exactly sure what happened. But that idea of dropping the bus service was discontinued.

TR:

There’s real power in organizing with those who share a mutual interest.

Marguerite continued attending the meetings of the network – which extends out to many different agencies and organizations. Their main mandate is advocating for older adults in the city.
They recently showed their ability to organize and get things done after the city made a failed attempt to help vaccinate older adults for Covid 19.

Marguerite:

One of the ladies in our group had been writing directly to the CVS is in the Walgreens saying, Look, we in Baltimore City want vaccinations and our officials are not helping us. Can you help us get vaccinated? So they were ignoring her letters and Walgreens somehow had these extra vaccinations, like 850 of them. They went to the Baltimore City Health Department and said, Listen, we’ve got these vaccinations. We can show up on Saturday with the pharmacists. You get the people.

This was on a Tuesday, the Health Department told them no, there’s no way we can do that. It’s not enough time.

They remembered the woman in our group who had been writing to them. They did shout it out to her. And she got in touch with Betsy Simon. And she sent a call out to everybody on her list. Can we do this? And so we said, yes.

TR:

With Some quick planning and putting people into action, they got it done.

Marguerite:

Advocacy, asking for what you want. And that’s what that woman did. She kept asking for what she wanted, in the midst of them saying, No, we can’t. And the health department did not help us, they said that they couldn’t do it. And after we did it, it showed that we could.

TR:

She continues showing up to Zoom calls. Reminding organizations to make sure their materials and information is getting to the low vision and blind community. She’s actually seeing progress in this area.

Again, the advocacy work teaches her things about herself and how that can benefit others.

Marguerite:

I think that the key for me is to take what I’ve been able to get in terms of training, philosophy and skills and so forth. And just come right back into my community and be a person in the community teaching from my example.

— Music Ends

If it helps the blind community, it’s helping the rest of the community as well. Those things are created and envisioned by the blind. And so we are contributors to what the society is and what it can become.

Music begins, a bouncy upbeat Hip Hop track.

TR:

Are you socially Reidsponsible?

— Sample from Blades of Glory:
“I don’t even know what that means.
No one knows what it means. But it’s provocative.”

TR:

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

Cool, like the Reid My Mind Radio Giveaway happening right now on Twitter.

We started in January on Facebook. Then moved to Instagram and during the month of March we’re focusing on the final platform, Twitter.
All you have to do to be entered into the drawing is like and retweet any of the posts I tweet out related to the Reid My Mind Radio Giveaway during the month of March.
So go on over and follow @tsreid and again, like and retweet any of the posts related to the giveaway.

Our social media manager, Annie, will gather all the names at the end of the month and we will draw a winner, which we’ll announce in April.

During the next episode in March, we’ll announce the winner of the Instagram contest.

Make sure you follow ReidMyMindRadio on Facebook and Instagram

Oh, wait, that’s being socially Reidsponsible!

Now, let’s get back to the episode!

— Music ends with a bouncing base drum echoing into silence.

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:
So during your first time on the podcast, you suddenly and quite nonchalantly dropped this thing about spending some time in India?

Can you share the story of how that came about? And what you actually did in India?

Marguerite:
I went to something in Baltimore called Blind industries and services in Maryland, which is a training facility for adults and older adults who want to gain skills and be able to manage blindness.

When I finished there, the director at the time sent me an email and in the subject, it said, only two days left.

TR:
She actually discovered and read the email the next day.

That’s when she found out she had one day left to apply to the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs. It’s in Trivandrum, which is in the southernmost part of India.

Marguerite:

I got these thrill bumps all over me when I was reading it. It just filled me up.

You had to have it in, I think that day. I’m amazed at myself that I was able to do all that and I was able to submit it. And you know, they sent back and asked for some more information, I sent it to them.

And later on, they sent me a letter and told me that I was accepted and I was going to get a full scholarship to come there.

— Music begins, a dramatic introduction that feels like an eastern vibe that opens to a rhythmic electronic dance track.

TR:

Marguerite didn’t tell anyone about applying to the program.
That is until she received her acceptance letter.
p
Coincidentally, that good news arrived near her birthday. So when her family asked what she wanted to do, she was prepared.

Marguerite:

I want to go to an Indian restaurant.

When we sat down, we were talking and eating. And When they got to wishing me a happy birthday, I told them that I wanted to share something with them and told them that I would be going to India, and they were all shocked. They were like, Who are you going with? Who are these people? Bla bla bla.

Mind you, I’m totally blind at that point. I’m going alone , I don’t know the people, whether they met them online. And so they were like, oh, no, this, this, you’re not doing that. And they had all these what ifs, and no, they were really afraid for me. But something that I learned a while back and was able to practice is when you get an idea about something that you want to do, and, and you’re trusting that it feels good inside of you. That is not the time to share it. Because you’ve heard of dream killers. And they don’t even mean to be they were very good intentioned, but they will kill your dream before it gets off the ground.

TR:

Many of us have fallen victim to or have been a Dream Killer.

Perhaps one or two bodies.

Maybe you know some real serial killers. You know, those who just throw daggers at anyone with an idea or a plan to step out and try something new.

Chances are, they don’t mean to discourage. It’s more about a fear or lack of information on they’re part.

The point is, we need to protect our dreams, like they’re our babies.

Marguerite:

You can’t share it when it’s in it’s infancy, you got to let it mature. And so that’s what I did. And when it felt solid in me, and I’d worked out my own kinks about it and realize I had no fear and no reservations. So when they came with all that they had, it didn’t sway me because I had already worked it through, and I was solid and how I felt and so I let them go through what they needed to, as I continue to get myself prepared to go.

TR:

She received the news in July and left for India in January.

Marguerite:

I stayed there for a year came back in December. It was quite an experience.

I got to work with NGO’s, Non-Government Organizations. They’re sort of like our charitable organizations.

We worked with gay and lesbian organization.

In India, as you might imagine being a, quote unquote, third world country.
homosexuality is not something that is readily accepted.

With all of the challenges that we have here in the United States, the magnitude of it there is beyond the scope of what we can expect. It’s so dangerous. But these people are so adamant about being able to live their lives out loud, that they’re risking their lives for even just saying that they belong to an organization like that.

TR:

Wherever you go in the world, marginalized groups exist. The language and faces may appear to be different but underneath it all things look familiar.

Marguerite:
In India, lots of people wanted to bleach their skin.
— Music ends with a crescendo cymbal crash

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:
For the folks who haven’t seen, they may not necessarily know that the complexion of Indians are black.
I mean, some of them might not. Right?

Marguerite:
Yes. Yes, yes. Yes. And some of them are very dark in their complexion, and they want to be they want to be white. They want to be fair skin, it’s important to them, and so they do bleaching creams. I’ve heard of people who families would make these potions, so when the woman was pregnant, she would drink these potions that would help to ensure that her child would be fair when it was born.

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:
Oh, my goodness. Drinking it? Man, woof!

TR:

To get a sense of how much of an issue this is, Marguerite shares some description of a commercial on Indian television.

Marguerite:

It was a woman in a park, she’s walking with her boyfriend. She was darker complexion. And he was fair. And he sees a, another girl in the park. And she’s fair skinned. And so he drops the arm of his darker skin girlfriend. And he dances off with this fair skinned girlfriend. The darker girl is hurt and upset.
So she gets this cream, and she uses it for a prescribed period of time. And he sees her again, and she’s fair skinned now.
So he drops the other person, and now they’re happily ever after.

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:
This was a commercial?

Marguerite:
Yeah.
TR in Conversation with Marguerite:

On regular TV?

Marguerite 46:21

Yeah, yeah.

The idea was to go and fight against the companies that were making creams. And my thing was, well, before you can fight against the company that’s making the creams. I think we need to educate the people, let’s start with the children, because they were doing it with kids as well. And they were doing it with the boys as well as the girls. And so we went into the schools, and we were talking to them about melanin and for the schools that we went to none of them knew about melanin.

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:
Do you want to break that down a little bit? It’s well, just power of melanin.

Marguerite 47:21
Melanin is such a protective coating and that a lot of things can’t even happen without a melanin protection.

I remember, way back when I was much younger, hearing and reading about first the spaceships using the idea of melanin as a protective coating on some of their vessels.

Even here in this United States, even though we have it, there’s not a whole lot of talk about melanin and how powerful it is, and how wonderful it is.

TR:

You can tell people about Melanin, about a rich history where people who look like them weren’t colonized, robbed of their resources, but ultimately, it’s about self-love.

Marguerite:

My idea. And the group that I worked with, we felt like, it was just as important for individuals to decide that they wanted to embrace who they are, right where they are, and fall in love with that before, you can start telling a company not to sell bleaching creams.
Until people are educated and can find a way to feel good about themselves. It to me is a moot point. I don’t think you can do one without the other.

TR:

This problem isn’t at all unique to India. It was a bigger thing here in the states, several islands in the Caribbean including Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

( FILTERED VOICE:) White supremacy is a hell of a drug!

— Music begins, an inspiring ambient track that grows as it progresses.

Marguerite:
We’re not supposed to be the same. And because one group is one way and another group is a different way, does not at all indicate that you are better than or less than the next group, although we use that as our vehicle to control and manipulate and because it has worked so well. It continues to happen that way. But we can’t just throw our hands up, we have to I think, continue to help people understand that it’s okay to embrace yourself where you are.

TR:

Embracing yourself as in the color of your skin whether you’re in India, Africa, the Caribbean or here in the states. The texture of your hair, your sexuality and yes your disability.

It’s what makes adjusting to disability so challenging for many. You may not even realize how you felt about disability and that can then impact how you feel about yourself.

Marguerite:

When I became blind, I realized that I had some very negative thoughts and feelings about blind individuals that I did not realize I had. I realized that when I saw a blind person, I felt something that I didn’t bother to identify. But what I did recognize was that I was glad it was not me. And that was with any disability, or anything that wasn’t held up as a beautiful thing, by the society norms, and that even meant, the color of my skin, the texture of my hair, all of that was a part of it. And those were feelings that were held inside in secret, depending on what company I was in. And so blindness exposed me not just to the blindness, but to the other beliefs that I was holding. And what I also discovered was that I could not really know what I was holding on to, unless I had an experience that brought it out. Because I tended to think that I was who I wanted to be not able to see who I actually was being.

As an adult, I had to find my way to that. I remember having to make a decision, a literal decision, that I wanted to live as a person with blindness. It was very different from living as a person with low vision. Total blindness was a totally different experience for me! And so I had to make a decision for me!

TR:

You know this isn’t about which level of visual acuity is more challenging, right?
it’s not a competition between disabilities, in fact, it has less to do with any external factor at all.

Not confronting the question was the source of anxiety.

Marguerite:

I just remember saying to myself, I have got to make a decision about how I want to be because
the anxiety was because I did not want to be blind. But I’m blind.

I really did know that the question for me to answer was, do you want to live as a blind person, and I realized I had not made up my mind, which also contributed to the panic attacks that I was having. I was scared to know what I really thought.

that was a very traumatic time for me. And I went through that solo, because I couldn’t talk to anybody about it. And I had tried to find a counselor at one point, but I couldn’t find counselors that knew blindness from the experience. And so I didn’t trust them enough to share that.

I had done enough spiritual practices during my life, that I use the tools that I gained. And I made a decision that I did want to live. So here I am.

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:

Here you are! (Chuckles)

Marguerite:

Here I am… Yes…. (chuckles)

— Music ends into momentary silence

— Music begins, a lively up beat R & B drum opening to a happy groove.

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:

That’s right, that’s right!

Marguerite:

Yeh! (Reflectively says) Here I am!

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:
Marguerite, because of all the things you do, to advocate, coming on a podcast to share and help others, doing your thing with disability. You Ms. Marguerite are an official member of the Reid My Mind Radio family.

You was already official but I don’t know, should I make more levels of officiality?
The two share in a silly laugh.

TR:

I truly respect and appreciate Marguerite for her honesty and sharing her wisdom and insight that I just know, will be of real value to many.

In fact, check out how generous she wanted to be when I asked her to share contact information.

Marguerite:

So you can call me you can call my mobile number which is 443-271-1668

TR in Conversation with Marguerite:
Marguerite! This is on the internet. Are you sure you want to put your number out there? Laughing…

Marguerite:
Oh no, no, I guess I don’t, I guess I don’t…

They can go to the NFB page NFBMD.org.

TR:
Orr go ahead and email her and tell her how much you appreciate her valuable perspective!
Marguerite:

MWoods719 at Gmail.

TR:

I don’t think there’s anyone I’d rather have kicked off this season with more than Ms. Marguerite Woods.

Did you listen between the words?

(Filtered Voice:) Dude, I really don’t think that’s a term.

She shared valuable ideas. Some were very practical like;
suggesting we create our toolkit to manage aspects of our lives.

And others were more philosophical like;
– exploring life through blindness and other identities…
– Choosing to think about and speak in terms of what we want.

That to me is so Powerful and honestly feels important for me where I am in my life right now.
You know, let me put that into practice right now.
I want you to share this episode with at least one other person. And let them know they can follow or subscribe to the podcast, just as you did, to make sure they don’t miss any episodes.
I want you to tell them, they can do that wherever they get podcasts.
Let them know they can find transcripts and more over at ReidMyMind.com.
And of course, make sure they know , that’s R to the E I D…
— (D! And that’s me in the place to be!, Slick Rick)

Marguerite:

Like his last name!

TR in conversation with Marguerite:
Ouu! I like that!
(The two laugh)

Audio: Reid My Mind Outro

Peace!

Hide the transcript

If Williams Met Woodard – A Black History Mash Up

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022

Picture Discription: Total of 6 sections.  The top picture is of Mr. Isaac Woodard standing next to the bus with the sheriff and one of his men confronting him with the words If Williams met Woodard a black History Mash up in white letters at the bottom of the picture.  In the second-row left side is a picture of Robert & Mable Williams with a pistol in their hands. Next to that picture is Mr. Woodard in his uniform with dark glasses.  On the third row is Robert & Mable Williams dress up. In the Middle is the Reid My Mind Logo and the last picture in that row is of Mr. Woodard with his closed and puffy eyelids. Courtesy M.Reid

Dropping a bonus episode, right on time for Black History Month.

While I love programming that features the Black experience, it doesn’t always leave me feeling uplifted. Sometimes it stirs me to imagine alternative outcomes. Endings where we can honestly say, we won that! A win, in my mind is sadly, way too simple. Can we just live our lives without the interference and violence? Is that too much to ask for.

Check out this Black History Mash Up where I take two real world individuals from history; Isaac Woodard & Robert Williams and imagine if they met on one specific day.

Plus help me congratulate our first Social Media Give Away winner…

Listen

Transcript

Show the transcript


TR:

Greetings Reid My Mind Radio Family. A very happy 2022 to you and yours. My name is Thomas Reid, I’m the host and producer of this podcast which brings you compelling people impacted by all degrees of blindness and disability.
As I mentioned in the final episode of 2021, the plan for 2022, is to return some time in the first quarter.
Well, I still have another month. The official start of the first season will be the second Tuesday of March. March 8th!

However, as I also said, I thought there was a chance that I’d add an episode or two to the feed that doesn’t necessarily fall into the seasonal theme. I’ll share more on the themes for this year later, but for now I want to focus on this month – February, Black History Month.

— Music begins, …African drums

Over the years, I recall discussions questioning whether we need Black History Month. The argument was that Black History should just be a part of the curriculum. I agree, it should be, but it’s pretty obvious today that some want to fight against that.

— Music ends.

— Montage of CRT news
A series of different voices:
“Critical Race Theory, critical race theory, critical race theory”

A woman:

“There are thousands of parents all over the US of all races, who have been speaking out against CRT and rightfully so. These are my babies, not yours. If you are embarrassed or ashamed of your skin color. That’s your issue, not mine nor my children.”

Man:

“We do not want our children to be taught that America is systemically racist.”

Reporter:

“Republican politicians have been hyping critical race theory as a threat to the impressionable minds of America’s children.”

Ted Cruz:

“Critical Race Theory says every white person is a racist, critical race theory says America’s fundamentally racist irredeemably racist,”

Reporter:

“critical race theory is an academic framework that says racial inequality is perpetuated by the racism embedded in America’s laws, not by individual bigotry.”

Teacher:

“critical race theory is not being taught in schools. It is a theory. It is a lens by which to view history and the way that law and race kind of overlaps and connects in society. Can it influence the way that some teachers teach? Yeah, but that’s a good thing, right? Because race, and racism is literally the building blocks of this country. So how can you not talk about it?”

— Music begins, African drums.
TR:

Now more than ever, Black History Month seems even more important, especially if we’re key on seeing Black in the future.

February has always been the time of year, unlike any other, where I’d have access to programming, most often on PBS, that focuses on the Black experience.

It’s the independent producers who bring stories about the lesser known activists, stories of insurrection that offer a different perspective. Stories that challenge what we get from the mainstream productions. Often, that’s the white washing of history, corporate coopting or propaganda to convince the country that we’re making racial progress.

We’re shown scenes from the Civil Rights movement where police are releasing dogs and using water hoses, so called riots and destruction of Black communities. That was back then we’re told. Black people are encouraged to keep our eyes on the prize, focus on our strength, determination, resilience, courage. There’s very little conversation about the generational trauma. Little discussion about the responsibility of white people to reconcile and own up to the crimes against humanity.

I’ve come to realize that I have to be aware of the content I consume. There’s way too many things that leave me wondering; when will there be a story where we win? A story where we can just live our lives without worrying about discrimination, racism, murder.

A true optimist will say, our existence today, our survival, the fact that our creativity and art and more leads the world is an example of a win. sometimes I just need more.

Today, I’ll bring you that. It’s a Black history mash up where I borrow from two real world figures from the past. Merging a bit of fact with fiction in order to give you an example of that kind of win I’m talking about. It’s probably way more simple than some think.
Y’all with me? Let’s go fam!
— Music ends.
— Audio: Reid My Mind Theme Music

— Sounds of nature outdoors…, tilling the land
-Music begins, – old blues singer and guitar …
“”Yes I rolled and I rolled and I cried all night long
“Yes I rolled and I rolled and I cried all night long”

TR:
Meet Uncle Zeke
He was born in South Carolina, but grew up in Goldsboro, North Carolina. His father was a sharecropper. I hate that name. It implies there was some form of cooperation happening when there really wasn’t. The way it worked, the landowner or the former enslavers, offered a part of their land to be farmed by the share cropper. The land owner would provide other things as well including housing, tools, seed, or working animals. Things like food and other supplies were exchanged on credit.

— Music fades out

\The share cropper would pay the owner a share of the crop at the end of the season, typically one-half to two-thirds. If there was any cash left over, the cropper kept it—but if his share came to less than what he owed, he remained in debt. Knowing the share cropper could do little to refute any disagreements, the practice kept share croppers bound to the land owners. Slavery without the chains.

Diabolical!

There wasn’t much in the way of educational opportunities for Uncle Zeke. School for him stopped at 11 and he began working the fields full time.

In 1942, at 23 years old, Uncle Zeke saw a chance to improve his future. He \enlisted in the Army.

— Sounds ofmultiple bomber planes . while a newscaster speaks:
Men like these are not to be stopped. No individual no evasive words or deeds. No group action or selfish interests will be allowed to impede their growing strength, effectiveness and safety. While it is they are sacrificing every advantage of civilian life, they who hold the torch of freedom causes.

TR:

Serving as a longshoreman, Uncle Zeke earned a battle star for unloading ships under enemy fire in New Guinea. He was promoted to sergeant.

After being honorably discharged from the service in 1946
Uncle Zeke headed back home to North Carolina.
While traveling via Greyhound, at a rest stop just outside Augusta, Zeke asked the bus driver if there was time for him to use a restroom.
The driver cursed at him and the two got into an argument.
“Boy, get back in your seat”

Not that it should make a difference, but Uncle Zeke was traveling in his United States Army uniform. He spent 4 years fighting to protect democracy around the world. At least, that’s the propaganda often repeated.

“Talk to me like I am talking to you,” Uncle Zeke insisted. “I am a man just like you.”

The encounter ended without any incident.

However, unknown to Uncle Zeke, at the next stop, in the small South Carolina town of Batesburg, the driver called on the local police. The driver claimed Uncle Zeke was being disorderly.

Uncle Zeke was ordered off the bus by the town’s sheriff.

— Bus door opens and sounds of a outdoors in a small unactive town.

TR:

The sheriff and his men began surrounding Zeke who glimpsed a familiar face in his peripheral. He then heard a voice that immediately gave him a sense of comfort.

“You boys are going to want to leave that man, that soldier alone.”

Uncle Zeke didn’t take his eyes off the sheriff. He watched as the cops and the sheriff turned their attention to that booming voice. It was his friend and fellow veteran, Big Rob.

— Music begins with a base drop. An onimous base heavy Hip Hop beat.

Discharged just a few months earlier, Robert Williams, a childhood friend of Zeke, wanted to assure his old friend made it home safely.

His own encounter lead him to understand that what he and many other Black soldiers thought their lives would be like upon returning home as decorated veterans , was wishful thinking.

Arriving back home in North Carolina after a long bus ride, Big Rob, stopped into a convenient store to get something to drink. As he enters the store, his greeting felt familiar.

What you want boy?

Boy, he thought I don’t think he’s talking to me. Quickly looking around the store noticing the two were alone, Rob just went about his business of gathering the few things he wanted to purchase. He walked up to the counter, nodded at the white clerk and paid. He even told the clerk to keep the change. I’m just happy to be back home he said.

As he exited the store, the clerk timidly told Rob to remember he’s back home now.

Rob was fully aware that the only reason there wasn’t an incident, is the clerk was by himself. If there’d been another white person in that store with him, things would have been different.

Soon after, Rob quickly learned of thousands of Black veterans who were beaten and or lynched. Something so many thought wouldn’t happen to them after serving in the country’s military.

When he heard his old friend Zeke was coming home, he wanted to surprise him. At least that’s what he told Zeke. Truth is he always worried about his friend. Zeke was never the type to not say what was on his mind. He knew Zeke could handle himself in a fair fight, but Black men don’t get fair fights with white men in Jim Crow’s south.

“You heard me Sheriff, let that man be and we’ll be out of your town”

“We?” The Sherriff chuckled. This boy is staying here and if you do leave here, I don’t see anyone else with you.

— Someone whistling!

It came from behind him. A car with 4 black soldiers each holding shot guns pointed in the sheriffs direction. This was followed by more whistles all in different locations. The sheriff immediately realized Rob wasn’t alone. The police were surrounded by 20 plus armed Black men, all veterans in uniform.

Ever since his experience and learning about what was happening to his returning brothers, Big Rob decided to put together his own welcoming committee. Zeke never got word that Rob was going to meet him in Georgia and they missed each other by only a few minutes. Rob decided to follow the bus and realized there was a problem when he saw the driver exit and saw the police arrive on the scene.

The team, known as the Black Armed Guard, always alert and trained for this sort of thing, went into formation.

We don’t want no problems Sherriff. We just want to take our brother there and make sure he makes it home to his family. I’m sure you know what that feels like. Wanting to make it home safely?”

The Sherriff slowly looks around. That’s when he notices the driver of the car about 20 feet to the side of Big Rob. Mable, Big Rob’s wife was expertly pointing her rifle at the Sheriff.

He knows he’s out numbered. And these soldiers won’t hesitate to use their weapons. Defeat plastered all over his face, the Sheriff looks at Uncle Zeke and motions for him to go.

Zeke calmly walks over to Rob who nods toward another long gun at his side. Zeke picks it up and the two slowly back up and get into the car. All the while, Mable keeps her gun pointed at the Sheriff. It’s only when the two are safely in the car with their guns pointed at the sheriff that Mable starts the engine after checking her hair in the rear view mirror.

— Music ends and car starts.

Now please don’t attempt to follow us, we’re headed out of your town. I travel with more than you see in front of you so don’t try anything. We just want everyone to make it home safely tonight. And I do mean everyone.

With that said, Mable, Big Rob, Uncle Zeke and the rest of the brothers caravan out of town without incident.

— 1940’s car driving out of town.

That’s a win.

While some of the details in this story are true, unfortunately it never actually went this way.

More on what really happened, after this!

— Old jazzy sounding commercial with woman singing… “Who listens to radio?”
Music begins, a bouncy upbeat Hip Hop track.

TR in Conversation with Marlett:
Are you socially Reidsponsible?
y– Sample from Blades of Glory:
“I don’t even know what that means.
No one knows what it means. But it’s provocative.”

TR:
A great way to stay informed and help spread the word about Reid My Mind Radio; social media! Reid My Mind Radio is on Facebook and Instagram at Reid My Mind Radio. We’re in the midst of a social media giveaway. It began in January on Facebook. All you had to do was to like the post announcing the giveaway, and you’d be automatically entered. Some of you didn’t fully follow the directions and like the page, instead of just liking the post, but that’s cool. I appreciate you liking the page. We decided to include everyone who liked the page plus those who liked the post in this giveaway. And now we’re gonna announce the winner for January’s Facebook giveaway. To help me out I’m going to ask Marlett to come in and help.

(Thomas yells out) Marlett, Marlett! can you come and help? Let’s do the giveaway.
Marlett off in the distance: “Huh!”

TR:
I told her we were going to do the giveaway.

TR in Conversation with Marlett:
Hello. Can you help me with the giveaway?

Marlett:
Yes.

TR in Conversation with Marlett:
Alright, so ladies and gentlemen, we’re here with Marlett. Marlett say hi to the people.

Marlett:
Hello.

(Audio coming from Marlatt’s phone)

TR in Conversation with Marlett:
What is that?

Marlett:

Sorry!… Giggles…

TR in Conversation with Marlett:

The person responsible for our social media is Annie. She’s a friend of the family who decided she wanted to help Reid My Mind Radio get a little bit more exposure. I appreciate that Annie.
But any can be here today. She’s little under the weather. It’s raining right now but Annie, the sun will come out tomorrow. (Cracks up at his own joke) Sorry, she probably heard that all her life. I hope it wasn’t a hard knock life. (Laughs again)

Okay, the winner of this year’s Facebook giveaway, will get…

Marlett:

You’re gonna get a Reid My Mind Radio mug.

TR in Conversation with Marlett:
So here we go. You ready to shake it up? And the winner is?

Marlett:

Justin Romac.

TR in Conversation with Marlett:

Hey! Okay, cool. Justin Romac.
We will be getting in contact with you to get your address and send you your very own Reid My Mind Radio, mug, coffee mug.
But you could put whatever you want in that; coffee, tea. adult beverages water pens, you know people put pens in mugs, put it someplace where people could see it. If you have an office, put it in your office. If you, if you’re either… Do you have something?

Marlett:
No!

TR in Conversation with Marlett:
Thank you for supporting Reid My Mind Radio.

Marlett:
Thank you.

TR in Conversation with Marlett:

So the next giveaway will be on what social media platform?

Marlett:
Instagram. And so all people would have to do is to follow, like, share and comment on it.

TR in Conversation with Marlett:
Alright, yeah, you got some work to do.

Marlett:
All they have to do is say hello. Hi!

TR in Conversation with Marlett:
Yeah, that’s true. That could be a comment. So what we want you to do is do what she just said. And you have until February 28. And then again, we’ll reveal the winner in March and then in March The giveaway will be on Twitter. Thank you Marlett. Bye!
I’ll probably edit all of that out.
Marlett leaves giggling… fades out.

You can find Reid My Mind Radio wherever you get your podcast. That’s the perfect place to follow or subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.
Tell your friends to do the same. Let them also know that we have transcripts and more over at ReidMyMind.com.
Just make sure you tell them that’s R, to the E I D…

— Sample: (“D! And that’s me in the place to be. Slick Rick)

TR:
Like my last name.

Now back to the episode

TR:

Uncle Zeke, not my uncle, is Isaac Woodard. He and Big Rob, Robert Williams, while they both grew up in North Carolina, to my knowledge didn’t know one another.

Robert F. Williams was drafted into the Marines in 1944 and served a year and a half. When he returned home he joined the local chapter of the NAACP and soon became president.
His chapter worked to integrate the public library. After that success, in 1957 Williams also led efforts to integrate the public swimming pools.

The NAACP members organized peaceful demonstrations, but those in opposition fired guns at them.

In a town of about 12, 000 people it was estimated that 7500 belonged to the Klan.

That’s the Ku Klux Klan, not the Wu-Tang!

Williams started a local rifle club which was a chapter of the NRA he called the Black Armed Guard. It consisted of at least 60 former soldiers along with several women including his wife Mable.

Williams and the Black Armed Guard defended the home of a local Black doctor who was targeted by the Klan. Effectively chasing the Klan away and forcing a city ordinance banning the Klan from the town.

As he writes in his book, Negroes with Guns about the racists who inflict violence on Black people.
>They are most vicious and violent when they can practice violence with impunity.”
“It has always been an accepted right of Americans, as the history of our Western states proves, that where the law is unable, or unwilling, to enforce order, the citizens can, and must act in self-defense against lawless violence.”

— Music begins, a melancholy piano and ambience track.

Isaac Woodard was greeted at that stop in Batesburg (now Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t Big Rob or any other person who would see Isaac as a brother or even as another human being.

It was Sherriff Lynwood Shull. He was there to arrest Woodard,
beat him with a blackjack and gouge his eyes with it. Mr. Woodard, making his way home from serving this country laid in the Batesburg jail overnight, without medical treatment. Totally Blind, he was taken again, still in uniform, to the city court, where he was fined for drunk and disorderly conduct.

When he did eventually get to a VA hospital in Columbia, South Carolina, doctors determined there was nothing to be done to restore his vision.

It’s said his story which actor and filmmaker Orson Welles shared on his ABC radio show Orson Welles Commentaries, helped move the Justice Department to call for action.

When it comes to violence perpetrated against Black people, let the record show that the systematic response reveals that’s just not for everyone.

It only took the jury 30 minutes of deliberation to find the Sherriff not guilty on all charges. Meanwhile, he admitted that he had blinded Uncle Zeke or rather Mr. Woodard.
It’s said, upon hearing the verdict, the courtroom broke into applause.

That’s a room full of people who could never see Isaac Woodard as a man, a veteran who served his country to protect their freedom. I guess they’d never see him as their uncle. Not even a human being?

I could have met Mr. Woodard. We lived in the same town.

After the trial, he traveled with his two sisters to re-unite with his family who moved north as part of that great migration of Black southerners seeking opportunity in the north.
They moved to New York City, specifically the Bronx.

Isaac Woodard died at 73 years old in the VA Administration hospital in the Bronx on September 23, 1992.
My Dad was in and out of the VA hospital in the Bronx for years beginning in 1989 and during his time with Parkinson’s.

Isaac Woodard was buried with military honors at the Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton, New York.

Buried with honor?

In this country, Black leaders, those who confront injustice and fight for freedom are hated while they’re alive and among us. After they’re death, they’re celebrated, honored and often quoted by those who hated them.

This past MLK Day, we watched as the same politicians who actively work to eliminate voter rights and support the home grown terrorist who tried to take the capital, simultaneously honor Dr. King.

— Martin Luther King Jr.
“Unknown Speaker 00:00
It didn’t costs a nation, one penny to guarantee the right to vote. And a lot of people really supported us in Alabama and Mississippi and all across the south. Because they were really against something not because they were for genuine equality for the black man. They looked at Bo Khan and saw how he was beating us and how brutal he was. And they were really outraged. They looked at Jim Clark and Selma, and they were outraged about it. And so they took a stand for decency. But it was never really a stand for genuine equality for the black man. TS Elliot has said on one occasion that there is no greater Harrison than to do the right thing for the wrong reason. A lot of people were doing the right thing, but they were doing it for the wrong reasons. And now when we demand that people do the right thing, for the right reason, they began making excuses and giving all kinds of rationalizations. Now the time has come for genuine equality to come to all beings born of God.”

TR:

Y’all should really keep his name out your mouth and be true to who you are.

Diabolical!

I’m sure half way through this episode, some who may listen to this will wonder; what in the world does this have to do with blindness or disability? Then they’ll find out Uncle Zeke too was Blind. He too was disabled.

Isaac Woodard could have been a member of the ACB or NFB. Another member of the local chapter of the XYZ organization. perhaps someone who joined a monthly support group meeting?

Would they have known who he was or what was done to him? Would they have spoken to him? Is his experience a blindness related issue that warrants their organization’s attention?

Black history month is an opportunity to reconcile with the past. A time to begin the process of figuring out how to do better. A time to celebrate the rich history of Black people that didn’t start with slavery. It started way before that. Before any other people’s history. That’s not in any way a flex or some statement of superiority. It’s a fact.

My Black history mash up isn’t as much of a re-write of history, but rather a draft of the future. It doesn’t have to end with physical violence. Everyone makes it home safely to just live their lives. That shouldn’t be much to ask for, should it?

— Music begins, a bright uplifting Hip Hop track.creschendo

Here’s another win for the Reid My Mind Radio family…

Three seasons of Reid My Mind Radio planned for 2022. I’ve lined up some awesome guests and I’m talking to some more for later in the year.
We’re starting with what I always believe is the core of this podcast; the stories of compelling people impacted by blindness and disability.

Season 1 this year is called Doing Your Thing with Disability.

Yeh, that’s heavy emphasis on the with!
When I wake up, I’m Blind.
When I’m working on this podcast, I’m Blind…
When folks enjoy and appreciate the result of that work I’m still Blind.
Everything I do, I do it Blind! Or, with my disability.
I’m not overcoming it, I’m not getting around or over it… It’s here with me all day and night.

This first season, you’ll get some dope examples of people just doing their thing… with disability!

Season 2, We’re going to re-up on the flip! We’re lining up some the episodes to expand on these conversations about AD. You know what it is;
Flipping the Script on Audio Description, because it’s about more than entertainment.

Season 3 we got YGBD
That’s Young Gifted Black & Disabled.
And yes, there’s some fire here headed your way to close out the year.

Between seasons, I want to either try some ideas out or share some opinions. That’s why I hope you follow and subscribe to the podcast, it’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss out.

I’m excited for 2022 and that’s one thing that I hope is infectious. If so, can you help me spread it! There’s a lot of people who I think can benefit from what we have. I believe it! I’ve been told this from many of y’all. It’s the power of people. It’s more about their stories than anything else.

— Music ends.

I just make blindness and disability sound funky!

Audio: Reid My Mind Outro

Peace!

Hide the transcript

Young Gifted Black & Disabled – The Price of Blind Girl Magic

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Jeanetta Price is an advocate, writer, spoken word artist and the CEO of Blind Girl Magic. She’s using her talents and experience to reach out to women adjusting to vision loss.

Blind Girl Magic Logo: Blind girl written in black bold letters, outlined in white. The white cane is in between the "G" and the "R" Symbolizing the letter "I" in Girl. Magic is written in bold red letters outlined in black  and white accompanied with black stars

I can’t think of a better way to kick-off this final season of 2021 than with a bit of magic! Not that hocus pocus stuff. Rather the kind of magic that we all possess somewhere inside

In this episode, we’re taken on a magical journey that includes some familiar experiences, unexpected turns, and some passionate spoken word poetry.

I’m not a magician, but today, please allow me to show you one of my hidden talents; I can Reid your mind!

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Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:

Greetings Reid My Mind Radio Family!
Welcome back to the final series of 2021. We call this one: Young, Gifted, Black and Disabled.

Shout out to my brother AJ Murray who co-hosted and produced an episode with me last year with that same title. It is the inspiration for this series.

Young: Well, that’s relative. It’s up to each of us to define how we feel.

My maturity level has probably never passed 5 years old. I’m extremely silly, y’all!

I’ve been working on the gifted part since the other areas are undeniable. I’d like to share with you today and let you judge my progress.

I’ve been enhancing my own ability to read minds. I know, it makes sense right, Reid my mind. Now, I’ll attempt to read yours.
But first, I need your full attention.

If you’re walking on a treadmill, don’t stop, I don’t want to be your excuse. Just listen carefully and follow along.

Choose a number between 1 and 10.
Now multiply that number by 2. I’ll wait! Come on y’all I shouldn’t have to wait this long.
Again, choose a number between 1 and 10 and then multiply it by 2.
Ok, add 8 to that number. That’s right, 8.
Now, I need you to divide that number by 2.
Ok, you with me?
Subtract your original number from that number.
Ok, Braille users should get this part quickly, take the corresponding letter from the alphabet where A is equal to 1. B is 2 and so on.
Now think of a country that starts with that letter.
Now take the next letter in that country and think of an animal that starts with that letter. What color is that animal?

Now just say, out loud, “Reid My Mind Radio is my favorite podcast!”

Got it, You are thinking of a gray elephant!

If I got it right, well you need to show a brother some love. Head on over to ReidMyMind.com and hit that link that says survey. It only takes a few minutes. Or hit that link that says Shop and get yourself some of our cool Reid My Mind Radio inspired merch.
Or give us a shout out on social media. @tsreid on Twitter and check us out on InstaGram at ReidMyMindRadio.

Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Thomas Reid. I’m your host and producer and I’m really not a magician. But we are about to hit you with some magic!

AbraCadabra baby!

— Reid My Mind Radio Theme Music —

Jeanetta:
I am Jeanetta Mary Alice Price, founder and CEO of Blind Girl Magic.

I am a chocolate voluptuous sister with a big ol curly Chaka Khan looking black wig that really compliments my outfit, which is a black dress.
It’s a little, but I guess we don’t need to know that. It goes down to my knees.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:
Alright! That was a very nice image description. That Chaka Khan’ thing, that paints an image for somebody who knows what Chaka Khan look like.

— “Chaka Khan… From “I Feel for You”–

TR:

Chaka Khan represents a strong, confident, proud Black woman. In fact, she said she’s every woman, and it’s all in her.

— “Woh, woh!” Chaka Khan, “I’m Every Woman” —

Confidence we know can be tested. Blindness, disability that’s like a graduate level exam.

Jeanetta: 02:02
At the age of 25, I began to lose sight due to aggressive glaucoma and also Cornea disease.

After the cornea transplant, the glaucoma became uncontrollable. So glaucoma is the primary cause of me losing sight.

TR:

The causes of blindness are unique to everyone, but there are some common reactions: like isolation.

Jeanetta:

When you isolate yourself, then, you know you allow the negative thoughts. A lot of the misconceptions just begin to take over.

I lost my fiance, but finding out losing him was a game. So that was because he was not my husband. But we was engaged and this is what I said.

I was having my procedures back to back. And I was like, Oh, I’m going down the aisle as no Blind woman, who does that? That’s how naive I was about blindness.

We bought our home. And I just kept pushing away and back cuz I was like, No, I can’t do this. But it took for me to really walk away from this situation to begin the healing process.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:
Did you have any sort of experience with blindness and disability?

Jeanetta:

You never know when you’re looking at your destiny. When I was younger, like say, junior high school. There was a blind man in my community. I used to see him walking with his white cane.
I recall being on a school bus, sometimes just staring at this man. He was independent. But when it came to younger, blind women, I’m 25 I felt like I was at the prime of my life. I didn’t see that. I’m from a small community, Beaumont, Texas about an hour and a half away from Houston, Texas.

TR:

Of course blind skills training is crucial, but one of the most important aspects of adjusting to blindness is meeting the people like you or those you can relate to who have similar experiences.

Jeanetta:

One of my professors introduced me to the Federation. And I went out for a scholarship. I did not receive the scholarship. But I did gain a community. And I knew I wasn’t alone. So that was the game changer.

I was using my resources with division of blind services locally but to be able to begin to network and build sisterhood with other blind sisters. That was priceless for me. Because I knew if they can do it, then I can do it as well.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:

How’d you find them? Other blind sisters?

Jeanetta:
I went to my first national convention, with the National Federation of the Blind. It was in Texas at the time in 2012.

I never seen that many blind people in my life.

I don’t do dogs. I’d just never seen blind people, and they moved so fast. And they was a little rude too. They would run you over! I’d tell anybody, it’ll make you gain blind skills, because you have to protect yourself.

I begin to just go to the different seminars. They had a talent show. And I was like, I don’t do talent shows, but they asked me to do a poem, and I did.

Once I became open, then I began to meet other blind people

I believe in networking, and the Federation allowed me to meet other blind people my age and people that I could connect with as well.

I love networking with my blind brothers and sisters. I believe it’s priceless. Because if there’s something I don’t know, then I can tap into one of my resources, and they can definitely help me out.

TR:

When we talk about adjusting to blindness and other disabilities, so much of the conversation focuses on learning to accept help. It can take some time to recognize the other side of that coin. That is, you too, as a person with a disability, have a lot to offer others.

But after all, it’s called an adjustment process, because it takes time.

Jeanetta:
From 25 to 29, I suffered with severe depression.

Everything that I’ve always associated blindness with, like losing my job, just not able to drive, everything was negative. I didn’t want anything to do with blindness.

Long as you’re in denial, your healing cannot start.

I’m a writer, I didn’t write from 25 to 29. I didn’t pick up a pen. I didn’t do anything. I was angry. I was bitter. I was non productive.

TR:

That desire to write and create seems to be a part of Jeanetta’s identity.

Jeanetta: 17:14

My fifth grade teacher actually told me I had a gift from God. She placed me in theater arts when I was in sixth grade.

Everybody in class, they used to say she don’t really read, she reads! (Strong emphasis on the latter “reads”)

When it comes to expressing myself, I’ve always been very vocal, very bold.

Ever since then, not only did my school embrace me, my church, my family, everybody embraced my gift.

TR:
An obvious challenge for a writer new to blindness is access.

Jeanetta:
I use all tools.

I’m on my computer if the spirit Hits me, two or three o’clock in the morning, I’m on my phone, I do voice audio.

Sometimes I get up real early, in the morning that’s a time where I love to write and I just pull up my laptop. Sometimes my Victor Reader Stream, you know, it’s whatever I have my hands on at that time will serve as my tool of writing.

I tell people, whatever your style of writing is, just embrace it. Before I became knowledgeable of different tools I used to just get a sharpie. But even though I really couldn’t see, I was still releasing what I was feeling. That was my way out.

As I begin to just really grow in my blindness, then here come the poetry, where now I can write from a healing place.

TR:

Notice how for Jeanetta the act of writing soon after blindness wasn’t really about editing her own words as much as it was an opportunity to purge some heavy emotions.

Her passion for writing was obviously strong enough where she wasn’t deterred from finding new ways. Proving when it comes to the art it’s just never really about the tool.

Jeanetta:

I was always a paper queen. I wrote everything. It was definitely hard. But once you accept what you’re going through, then you start finding ways.

I was like, Okay, well, I can’t do this. But what can I do? So I stopped focusing on the I can’t and the I can’ts became my best friend. I never forget that same fifth grade teacher. Miss Maduro, we used to call her Miss Mad when we worked her nerve. She said she gave us those 10 two letter words if it is to be it is up to me.

As I began to lose sight, I thought about my fifth grade teacher so much. And how she really changed my life because she helped me find my purpose.

TR:

That ability to accept what you’re going through is so important to really understand the challenge. A very common experience is to blame blindness. Therefore it’s natural to reject any association with it.

Jeanetta:

I don’t know if they thought it was a compliment. And maybe they’ve done this to you before.

“Are you blind? You don’t look blind!” Okay, what does blindness look like?

So when people would tell me, Are you blind, like, No, I’m not blind. But then, when I began to embrace my blindness, I begin to just walk in my purpose in my truth, and I knew all the time that blindness is a mindset.

TR:

I think we should really hear Jeanetta express how she feels, in her way.

Jeanetta:

Are you blind?
That’s the question at hand. Before they even shake my hand. The only thing that they see for sure is not me, of course, is my b l i n d. Standing bold and beautiful as I tap across the room shoreline and with a burst of confidence.
Excuse me, ma’am. You don’t look blind? Well, could you please explain to me how blindness look? See, blindness is not the presenting problem. The lack of knowledge and misconceptions of blindness serve as society blindfolds. Low expectations, create social barriers that prevent us from reaching our goals.
Excuse me, ma’am? Why do you walk with that stick? That is the question. Correction. This is not nor would it ever be a stick. It’s my cane. And in the Blind community, we name our cane. So please, show some love for my bestie. She never leave my side. And a matter of fact, she’s my eyes. I walk with faith into a world of possibilities. Believing that I can tap into my vision. Faith that detects roadblocks allowing me to overcome life obstacles, change direction and discover the impossible.
Excuse me, ma’am. Are you blind? That is the question at hand before they even shake my hand. Are you blind? Yes. Once I finally said it with no shame I took back my name is Jeanetta Price and I am blind. That’s when I realized that the question all this time was not for me. But for you who have sight but no vision. Are you blind?

— Music begins – an energetic, upbeat bouncy Hip Hop beat–

— Sample: “: Now wait a minute” “Shout”, The Isley Brothers–

TR:

Hey did you know;
Reid My Mind Radio, is now on Facebook and InstaGram.
We’re going to do some things on these platforms so stay tuned.
You can find us on each platform @ReidMyMindRadio.

Don’t forget you can also ask your smart device to play
ReidMyMindRadio by T.Reid on your
preferred podcast provider.

Make sure you say that full statement including, T.Reid.

Finally, you know we’re on most podcast platforms so why not just follow or subscribe there.
That way, you’ll never miss an episode.

Tell a friend to do the same. Let them also know that we have transcripts and more at ReidMyMind.com. Now you’re already family so you know, that’s R to the E I D!
(“D” and that’s me in the place to be. Slick Rick)
Like my last name.

Now back to the episode.

— Music comes to a slow end.–

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:
So tell me what is Blind girl magic?

Jeanetta:

Oh, I thought you’d never ask? (Spoken in an ultra innocent tone with a Southern twang!)

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:

(A very hearty laugh in recognition of her surprised response!)

TR:

That right there is a part of Blind Girl Magic. It’s subtle, but not really!
Like her eye catching fashionable t-shirts.

Jeanetta:

My last shirt was in May, my mother’s day edition. It said “I got it from my mama”

It’s A beautiful teal turquoise shirt with a shimmery I. The M, one of the legs was the white cane. And the letters were shimmery and purple. And it was like Mama was big. I sold over 200 shirts all over the world.

Blind Girl magic is for everybody. Not only do I rock Blind Girl Magic, my niece’s, my co-workers. It’s not just a blind thing, it’s a movement.
TR:

A movement that’s about starting conversations.

Jeanetta:
Many people tell me how when they out and about in the community and they rock in Blind Girl Magic it’s an eye catcher, because the shirts are beautiful. We are beautiful.

We don’t have to force feed people when we want to share about blindness. But if we rockin’ Blind Girl Magic gear, and they looking at all this like is that a white cane?Yeah, my cane is symbolic for independence and blindness. We can have those conversations and we don’t have to feel alone. I felt alone in my community.

TR:

Starting conversations not only through random encounters, but
by partnering with peers and hosting events within our community that embrace and highlight blindness.

Like one titled I Am Black History.

Jeanetta:

It was a total of 20 blind and sighted Individuals which did monologues. Each monologues were like five minutes. And each person was able to pick somebody in the past or present in history. At the end of that monologue, they flipped it. And they began to say, I am black history and began to share about themselves. We are history makers as well.
So many times we don’t acknowledge I know, I’m bad at it, you know, people like, “Jeanetta, I didn’t even know you had a master’s in counseling, or I didn’t know you did, you know. So many times, we don’t really acknowledge our greatness.

TR:

Part of Jeanetta’s greatness is using her talents and experience to help those who as she mentioned earlier feel alone as a result of blindness.

Blind Girl Magic offers workshops that provide an opportunity to explore the inner emotions through words. It’s called the Write to Heal.

Jeanetta:
That’s W R I T E.

I believe in the power of writing. God poured in me that there’s healing in your words, not just for you, but for others as well.

What we have is a line up of poets. So I’ll have some of my poetic Blind sisters with me. We’ll perform, we’ll share our truth. And because we want to be vulnerable, so people can feel comfortable and share their truth.

People think, Oh, she got this “S” on her chest. And they don’t even have a clue of some of the things that I went through. I’ve been there. And every day is healing for me.

TR:

After performances and Q&A, participants are encouraged to take about 30 minutes to write.

Jeanetta:

Maybe 20 minutes to write and I’m gonna put a little heat on them. I don’t want them to think about it. I want them to write about it. Because if you have too much time to think then you might try to change some things and just allow it to flow. And so, afterwards, if those who participated, they want to recite the spoken word they can, but sometimes it’s personal. I respect that too.

We can also encourage them and then you know that you’re not alone.

TR:

These workshops aren’t just for those experiencing blindness.

Jeanetta:

I’ve worked as a behavior specialist for like, four years. My Master’s is in clinical mental health counseling. Writing was a way that I was able to help my students to express themselves without using profanity and end up being suspended from school.

I used to do the Write to Heal seminars. I made them write. They say, “Miss Price we write more here than we write in English.”

One of my most recent was for a school in New Jersey. I did the Write to Heal seminar for the administrators and the teachers.

If I have a teacher that’s real with me and just sharing, you know, not afraid to be open as well then they respect that as well. You know, so more of your kids are coming to talk to you.

TR:

Jeanetta says student’s can feel when authority figures are authentic and encourages teachers and staff to recognize that.

Getting them to be vulnerable is part of accessing their authentic selves. Jeanetta was kind enough to share some of that vulnerability with the Reid My Mind Radio Family. She calls this one: My Left Eye.

Jeanetta:

My left eye left me long time ago.
My left eye is lazy. It drives me crazy, baby.
My left eye, always causing problems.
Attention seeker.
Stop sighted people in their tracks stare at the glare of my left eye.
I wish I was invisible like air.
Can you feel me?
My left eye just refuse to be a right eye.
Never following procedure, failed attempts after failed attempts.
See my left eye is clouded with insecurities.
My left eye sings the Blues clueless of the melody rocking and rolling.
My left eye has no rhythm, grove to his own beat.
My left eye left me numb to the pain of the spoken words in the curiosity of the unknown.
I should have known not to write this poem about my left eye.
As I recite I want to punch the lights out my left eye!
See, I’m not mad that you left, but it’s how you left.
No warning signs or trace of evidence in sight.
I swear my left eye left me in the darkest place, spiritually blind, my left eye.
Trust me, I tried to resuscitate my left eye performance, see people realize that I am hiding behind my designers.
Blinded by the bling, my left eye is a shady queen.
I’m taking back my crown.
My left eye do not define me.
I am a queen perfectly designed by the King.
See, my left eye is beautifully created.
Ocean blue scenery mixed with the clouds of joy.
My left eye is my testimony.
How I gained vision on my journey of losing sight.
See, my left eye is the center of attention.
Did I mention?
Today starts the shades off movement.
This is not just about me.
Let’s take our shades off together on three.
You will no longer have power over me, two.
I am perfectly designed by the King, one.
Today I removed the shades of self hate, doubt, and negative self talk.
Remove it!
Generational curses, addiction, physical and mental abuse.
Remove it!
Dream snatchers, haters, envy, jealousy.
Remove it!
Remove the mental mass and join the movement by setting yourself free and share with the world boldly, your beauty.

So that’s what you’ll get at the Write to Heal.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:

Wow. (in awe)

TR:

Blind Girl Magic is the fashionable gear, the workshops and events, the healing. Ultimately though, it’s about that movement or journey.

Jeanetta:

At the age of 21, I had a brain aneurysm. I don’t know if I shared that with you.

They told my mom that I wasn’t gonna live. If I did, I’d be a vegetable and I wouldn’t be able to walk or talk and you know. And you know I aint stop talking now, right.

TR:

So by 25, when the vision loss occurred, Jeanetta was once again really just finding her stride.

Jeanetta:

I took it pretty hard. And I remember just for days not getting out of bed not wanting to live. I was too afraid due to my Christian background to take my life but I will wake up and ask him Why did you still give me life? I used to sleep a lot because I actually just wanted to just leave this place. I just thank God for not listening to me right? Because I was blinded by my blindness. I had no clue that I could live my best life out of sight.

TR:

We don’t often talk about these feelings when it comes to adjusting to disability. Here or elsewhere.
I’m guilty of wanting to promote positivity and optimism.
But I want to also be honest and these feelings are real.

If you find yourself struggling with these thoughts, call this number;
1-800-273-8255. There’s no shame.

Things get better. And our feelings change. This is Blind Girl Magic!

— From
Jeanetta:
Blind girl magic is the type of magic that struts in a row with her white cane extended.
Her hips shift like the motion of the eyes of the sighted.
Who would have guessed that this blind girl possessed magic.
Abracadabra.
Now you’re convinced that I have some magical superpowers with a supernatural S on my chest
Well, that will be yes for success.
As I leap over obstacles in life, dodge negativity, slam misconception of society, slap our kids in the face when I did that is a fact that blind girl magic goes back to Helen Keller.
Way back to Harriet Tubman, born into slavery escaped the freedom but she did not stop. She went back and back and back to leave us the freedom.
Blind girl magic is built off the shoulders of phenomenal women.
Blind girl magic is the independent movement that is leading our blind sisters to freedom of depression, low self esteem, lack of confidence, anger, bitterness, rejection, Abracadabra, You are set free, blind girl magic lives within me.

TR:

Sometimes I think I should stop and give you a bit of audio description of what was taking place during the conversation. Hmm, I’ll call it Audio ReidScription”

— Rewind —
— Portion of Jeanetta’s poetry begins and is lowered as “Audio ReidScription” begins. —

Jeanetta’s audio:

Way back to Harriet Tubman, born into slavery escaped to freedom but she did not stop. She went back and back and back to lead us to freedom.

Audio ReidScription over Jeanetta’s audio:

All of a sudden, as if driving with a diamond in the back, sun roof top…, Thomas leans back in his chair with a big toothy grin.

Jeanetta’s audio:
…that is leading our blind sisters to freedom of depression, low self esteem, lack of confidence, anger, bitterness, rejection,

In a comic strip thought bubble hovering over his head, text appears : Go head Sis!

Jeanetta:

I recall when you couldn’t say “Jeanetta” and “Blind” in the same breath, now I have the nerve to own a company, Blind Girl Magic. I took back the power.

In my blind journey, I accomplished much more as a blind woman than I ever did as a sighted woman. I went back to school and received my bachelor’s, my masters have my own company.

I always tell people it took for me to lose sight to gain vision and once I gained vision God allowed me to see better.
But then I knew it wasn’t just about blindness.

TR:
At first I thought that was poetic or a metaphorical way of seeing her blindness.

For years, Jeanetta was in and out of surgeries and eye procedures. Her doctor offered different specialized contact lenses. They did nothing to provide more sight. In fact, the left eye only offered a bit of light perception, but the doctor determined there was more available in the right eye. Jeanetta just didn’t want to experience the eye pain.

Jeanetta:


Doc I have blind skills. Leave me alone.

But my doctor knows I’m a little feisty or whatever. But he knows that I trust him and I follow his lead.

TR:

The doctor wanted to try a new contact lens

Jeanetta:

They say the older you get, and people of color, our glaucoma begins to simmer down.

My doctor, he was just like, you still have something there and your Glaucoma is stable at this time. So he was super excited about it.

It was a challenge getting the contact in. Because my eyes were pointed, it was just a struggle, and I was crying, and everything.

My doctor said, Now look at your face. I haven’t seen my face in over 15 years.
So the doctors expected me to see better. But they did not expect me to see 2040.

I receive a special contact collar square lens that I put in, insert every day and take out every night. But sometimes, I don’t use my contact lens. I don’t ever want to lose, is my blind skills.

TR:

I’m sure there were all sorts of thoughts and feelings taking place, plus Jeanetta had to learn how to use vision once again.

Jeanetta:

I had to train myself not to trust my eyes, because I always had enough sight to get me in trouble if I ended up falling off the curb and stuff like that.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:
That’s a really interesting sort of twist, but I think that says a lot because you could have bounced, you could bounce you could be like, I’m out of here. (Chuckles)

Jeanetta:
I’m gonna be honest with you.

I know a young lady, we had the exact same condition, she received that contact, and we have not heard from her in the Blind community at all.

Everybody wasn’t happy for me. Sighted or blind.

So now it’s like, oh, you’re not blind enough to be a part anymore. It was bittersweet.

God had to remind me like who I am, and I have to walk in my purpose.

I’m going to continue on my journey of where he want me to be. Yeah, I could have bounced. But I’ll never, never this, this is who I am. And just like He gave it to me, He could take it away. And if you take it away today or tomorrow, I know, I’m okay.

My thing is this, I know that I can do it without sight. Because that’s what I did for years.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta: 52:00
Okay, I believe you, and you reppin, that Blind Girl Magic. You rocking it. You can’t get away from it. You don’t want to get away.

TR:

I’m really not sure how one could just give up what has become a strong part of their identity. Especially, when you can see the impact it has on those you care about. For Jeanetta, working as a school Behavioral Specialist, those were her students.

Jeanetta:

Our kids were victims of their environment, a lot of violence, crime, everything. However, for my kids, to see me tap into this school as a blind woman. And then to see me to be able to drive to school as a blind woman that’s been gifted an opportunity to see better again, that gave them hope that it’s not over.

As the behavior specialist at the school, I worked with all the kids at risk. I really was having a hard time, cuz, I see the greatness up on my kids and I see some of my kids drop out and just give up. My story, my testimony. It gave them hope. They like for them to witness that was priceless.

TR:

Jeanetta’s whole story is poetic.
Meaning it’s a chance for all of us to interpret for ourselves.

This was sort of a challenge for me.
Not on a personal level but rather as someone who is thinking of the listener who’s possibly in the early phase of their adjustment.

I hope you didn’t in any way check out.
I need you to know that I know hearing this can spark all sorts of feelings that don’t necessarily equate to jealousy of another person, but maybe questioning your own worth or value.

For me, the hope in Jeanetta’s story isn’t really about her getting access to some vision. That’s another tool. Similar to the way I wouldn’t be jealous of someone who has a fancy powerful computer or gadget nicer car. What it really comes down to is, whatcha gonna do with it!

Jeanetta’s continuing to find ways of spreading her magic to help heal.

She was a finalist in the 2021 Holman PrizeContest. This conversation was recorded prior to the announcement of the winners.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t selected. But don’t get it twisted, she definitely won!

Jeanetta:

When I made it to the final list, that opened my eyes that being real with you and sharing your truth. People will respect that.

There’s so many times that we, especially as an African American woman, we’re frowned upon. You’re too loud, or you’re too big, or you’re too this.

It’s okay to be you.

It took me a while to get here to be unapologetically Jeanetta Price and to have people to just really embrace me and appreciate my truth.

TR:

Understanding and accepting that what makes us different should be appreciated, well yeah, that’s priceless.

Jeanetta

I am a bold, black, voluptuous, advocate not only for the blind, but for beyond. I stand in my truth.

I am healed from insecurities and I am healed from negative self-talk.

Every time I get in front of the audience, I have that white cane. I’m tapping and making room for the next Jeanetta .
Everybody else that come behind me that you don’t look like the norm. We all have a purpose on this earth. It’s okay to be you.

TR:

You all can reach out to Jeanetta Price as she rocks that Blind Girl Magic and serves her purpose.

Jeanetta:

Facebook and Instagram and also Club House Jeanetta Price, Blind Girl Magic either one, it’ll pull up.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta: 1:01:39
Jeanetta Price. Let me tell you right now, you are definitely now an official member of the Reid My Mind Radio family!

Jeanetta:

(Giggles)

TR:

Not only did she share her journey with us, but she even gave a little something extra, check this out

Jeanetta:

It’s called I’m From.

I’m from double dutch to hopscotch.
From what your mama gave you a hoola hoop?
I’m from what cartoon said yabba dabba do not. Screw you.
I’m from pressing combs to Jheri curls from skipping just for me.
Graduating straight to Super TCB.
I’m from 123, red light, Duck Duck goose, hide-n-go-seek what?
I’m from mayonnaise sandwiches and syrup sandwiches and peanut butter, Mama where is my jelly at sandwich.
I’m from grandfather hustle selling 25 cent cool cups.
I’m from when grown folks talk children shut up.
I’m from when your mama made you go to church every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
You was there too.
I’m from what a church folks did the holy dance and now they TikToking.
Well, chicken thunder, that reminds me I’m from a family of big mouths that cause big fights and Big Mama stepping and everybody got right.
I’m from God first family next in line come on down to the price is right even when we wrong. I’m from box fans in the windows of the projects .
I’m from my sister sitting on the front porch doing my crochet braids drinking Thunderbird mixed with a pack of cherry Kool Aid.
I’m from finders keepers losers weepers.
I’m from one size fit all but not all this.
I’m from when stripper poles hung our clean clothes.
I’m from stop, everybody get down, it’s a stick up. Psych. That’s just my cam folks running from the popo. My brother on the dice with his pocket swole. Baby daddy in jail, sister on the corner selling fruit cocktails.
I’m from telling on big sister and hiding behind big brother.
I’m from begging my siblings to please take me to the playground because that’s where all the kids hung around.
Question: when the last time you seen some children at the playground?
I’m from when it ain’t gonna cost you a dime to stay out of mines?
I’m from ain’t no ones where we come from and adversity don’t want none.
I’m from losing sight to gaining vision. Rewind I’m from losing sight to gaining vision.
I’m from where my brother reid My Mind and my sisters feel my words.
It’s not about the sight loss but the vision gain.
I’m from when we get up, dress up, and show up.
I’m from backstroking in the river of faith.
I’m from what a blind is the new vision.
I’m from living my best life out of sight, let the truth be told I am chosen.

TR in Conversation with Jeanetta:
Huh! See, that’s how you do it! That’s how you do it right there. Appreciate that, look at that, look Ma. I made it, I made it.
Jeanetta:

You so crazy!

TR:

Holman Prize, y’all missed out! From my humble perspective, you had two dynamite opportunities. One with Ms. Jeanetta Price and another with Reid My Mind Radio alumni Dena Lambert.

Her ambition, archive the experiences of the remaining Black & Blind men and women who grew up in segregated Blind schools. Here, in the United States.

That to me sounds like an exploration that is truly worth supporting.

Coming out of 2020 when it was fashionable and safe to say Black Lives Matter. I guess in 2021 it’s back to playing attention.

I didn’t grow up Blind, but I do know that those who were Blind before me gave me the opportunity to have what I do. They were Young Gifted Black and Disabled and to them, I dedicate this episode.

Audio: Reid My Mind Outro

Peace!

Hide the transcript

Flipping the Script on Audio Description – A Hip Hop Approach

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Nathan Geering, a mixed race man of afro carribean and British descent is wearing an orange sweat shirt with a patchwork pocket on his chest and elbow pads that are patchwork also. He has navy blue jeans and grey shoes with red shoelaces. He is balancing upside down on his right hand with both of his knees tucked into his chest as he executes a handstand freeze on one hand.

Take the elements of Hip Hop culture; Rap, DJ’ing, Break Dancing, Graffiti and Knowledge of Self and apply that not only to Audio Description but disability in general, and you have the Rationale method.

Finding a way or a reason to bridge the disabled and non-disabled world of theater goers has been one of Nathan Geering’s goals. He’s the founder of the Rationale Method, a non-objective means of providing description that incorporates immersive artistic expressions including poetry, beat boxing and sound design to create accessible and inclusive performances for all.

His award winning short film “Still a Slave” will be a part of the 2021 Superfest Film Festival. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to experience this innovative approach to Audio Description.

Combining Hip Hop with blindness has always been a theme on this podcast whether you recognize it or not. It goes beyond the music, it’s in the small references, the samples … it’s in the DNA. Therefore, it’s fitting that I open this final episode of the 2021 Flipping the Script series with a hot 16 and my beatbox debut. So has we use to do it… “From the south to the west, to the east to the north, T.Reid go off, go off!”

This episode is dedicated to all the Hip Hop pioneers.

Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamp. – Chuck D, Public Enemy

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Transcript

Show the transcript


TR:

Greetings y’all!

Before we get into this last episode of the Flipping the Script series,
I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be off in October.
The podcast will return in November for our
final season of 2021, Young Gifted Black & Disabled.

the best way to be sure you don’t miss anything is to simply subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast app.
The next season starts in November, but you never know, I may have something to say in October.

Let’s kick it!

— Sample: “Ok, party people in the house. You’re about to witness something you’ve never witnessed before!” Slick Rick & Doug E Fresh
— Sample “Listen carefully” Daffy Duck
— Sounds of city streets and kids playing & hanging out

TR:
Once upon a time, in the 1980’s
Kids like me, well our parents said we were crazy
Hanging in the park, or in front of the building
Doing nothing wrong, we were just children
Sometimes we had music and it would be rocking
If not, someone was beat boxing
— Beat Box begins with TR now rapping…
All of a sudden, someone would start rapping
breakout the carboard time for break dancing
These were the early days of Hip Hop
Back then Most adults said it would stop
Today, please, it’s an unstoppable force
Fashion, Movies, and entertainment of course
Ladies & Gentlemen may I have your attention
This episode has a whole new dimension
Pump up the volume I need you to listen
Flipping the script on Audio Description

– Reid My Mind Theme Music

Nathan:

I’m a firm believer that wherever possible, we should be having audio description as part of the main soundscape for any kind of artistic endeavor, not just for television or film.

TR:

That’s Nathan Geering, Accessibility Innovator and my guest today. He’s the director of the Rationale Method and the registered charity Rationale Arts.

Nathan:

I’m six foot one, I have an afro Caribbean heritage so from Antigua and Jamaica, and also British and Romany Gypsy heritage on my other side of the family. I have a short afro hair slightly longer on top of this tight Afro curls, I have a beard so I guess a sound that would go along with the texture, my beard is kind of like a kind of like a rough course kind of texture. I’m wearing a grade sports t shirt, which has “Move More” on one side, which is in white and yellow lettering.
The texture of the T shirt is very smooth. (Makes a smooth sounding sound)
I go by the pronouns of he or him.

TR:

Nathan didn’t mention that he’s also a Break Dancer , and that’s where this story begins. In fact, he shares some things in common with the early pioneers of the art.

Nathan:

I grew up watching old school kung fu movies with my grandmother and the rest of my family. And when I would be falling asleep, I could still picture the movements of the kung fu fight based on the sound effects from the kung fu movies. So you can tell it’s like a punch or a kick, or if it landed.

— Music begins, a dramatic intro leads into a pulsating groove.

TR:

Before we get to the sound effects, let’s hear more about the dancing.

Nathan:

I studied kung fu as a kid. And then I was a B-boy. From my early 20s, I did a couple of breaking moves as a kid, but I never really had anybody to teach me breaking. Then I went to university. And then there was like a breaking society there.

Within a couple months, because of my approach with Kung Fu, I ended up teaching the classes.

I picked up a lot of movements like really quickly.

And then from there, I ended up being an internationally touring performer. I work with a guy in the UK called Jonzi D. who runs a big hip hop Theater Festival called breaking convention. And he kind of like gave me my break into theater. And it just snowballed on from there.

TR:

He soon started his own Hip Hop Theater company called Rationale.
The company’s approach to developing their performances is interactive. It starts with what Nathan calls a scratch performance.

Nathan:
We show the audience certain scenes, and then they’ll give feedback based on those scenes. And then, based on that feedback will further develop our show.

This one particular time, we just didn’t have enough material.

TR:

So they borrowed an idea from another company called New Art Club.
It sort of creates a stop animation performance or creating what appears to be movement from still images.

Nathan:

We decided to remix that into a hip hop version. So when the audience would open their eyes we’d be stood up right and then when they close their eyes and open their eyes again, we’d be upside down spinning on our head or jumping up and down on one hand or doing freezes and poses, and the audience went crazy for it.

We couldn’t believe that we got such a profound response from just kind of taking the audience’s site away and bringing it back. So we decided that we were going to really focus on the theme of visual impairment, but sort of real superficial level.

TR:

That superficial turned to a real genuine interest after one of the members of the company explained how any of them could really be impacted by blindness.

Nathan:

And then that’s when it really hit home to me. My daughter at the time, she was about two years old. And I thought what if I was to wake up tomorrow, and I couldn’t see my daughter. And I wasn’t emotionally prepared for that, if I’m honest, I was a mess, I broke down in tears.

I was really afraid. And so with me, if I’m afraid of something, I develop a curiosity about it. And so I decided to find out as much as I could about visual impairment in depth.

TR:

We often talk about the correlation between the limited opportunities for people who are Blind or have Low Vision and the fear associated with blindness.

So I can’t help but wonder, what if the default response to that fear was more like Nathan’s.

Nathan:

I want to be able to get to know myself as a human being as best I possibly can.

I became quite aware, like in my, in my 20s, that
if I’m afraid of something, that fear can stop me living a happy and fulfilling life. And just because I’m afraid of something, it may be, because actually, I don’t know enough about it. And obviously, you can find great beauty on the other side of fear, but sometimes you just have to go through fear. Or sometimes it’s good to tolerate uncertainty.

I would say to anybody out there, if there’s something that you’re afraid of, develop a curiosity about it, because you may find some incredible things not only about yourself, but also about the thing that you’re actually afraid of, and it’ll help you grow as a human being.

we just had so many incredible discoveries that it became my life’s work.

— Music ends

The more I found out, the more I was just inspired.

TR:

In case this sounds like using disability as a gimmick.

— Sample “I don’t think so!” LL Cool J, “Going Back to Cali”

Nathan:

We worked with blind and partially sighted communities every step of the way.

It was really great that they were willing to come on this journey with us, because it meant that we were getting the information straight from the people that needed these provisions, they were helping to shape it and develop it. And we were always in consultation with them.

TR:

Nathan worked with various blindness organizations where he
met all sorts of people with varying degrees of blindness and low vision.

He asked why more blind people weren’t attending performances and what he could do about that.

Nathan:

they said, they need the dynamics of the movement to change quite abruptly from like, wide to narrow or high to low.

It’s not the case with every type of visual impairment but some kinds of vision impairment, the audience see better when you look down towards the floor, because the floor gives such a blank canvas for contrast. I was like, Okay, well, where does most breaking happen, kind of like on the floor.

We worked with a visually impaired playwright called Kate O’Reilly. She sees the world in 2d, so the world’s like a flat picture to her. And she said that when she watched my company break in person, she said, she got an experience of what it was like to see in 3d. Something gave her like a sense of depth and perception that she didn’t see in any other art form. And she thinks it’s something to do with the access, which we were spinning out with our power moves, or the kind of like, non typical positions, we put our bodies in, when we do freezes, or poses, she thinks there’s something that our brain is trying to make sense of that.

TR:

Blind people in the audience, that’s one thing. With help from Kate, Nathan sought out Blind breakers but couldn’t find any.

He wanted to do more than include Blind performers in his show. He wanted to provide value.

Nathan:

I realized that braking actually is increased my spatial awareness. And because with braking we have go down. So we go from standing to the floor very quickly, but we do that in very stylish ways, but also in very safe ways.

We teach people how to sustain the momentum and keep moving and keep rolling. And a lot of injuries happen when somebody falls and all the shock gets absorbed into one part of their body.

We teach how to sustain the momentum, therefore the force gets dissipated for a larger surface area of the body. So it means that it greatly reduces the chance of injuries and things.

TR:

In addition to schools and organizations for the Blind, He taught these lessons at the Royal Opera House.
During the pandemic, he began teaching one on one classes online via Zoom.

Nathan:

I have a blind student that can’t speak, that I teach in Italy, but we communicate through, obviously, my verbal directions and his hand signals. We’re still able to have that dialogue and to be able to teach him the techniques effectively.

TR in Conversation with Nathan:
You work with adults, and children?

Nathan:
Oh, yeah. So I think the youngest kid we work with is like six. And the oldest person we’ve worked with is about 7374.

We have them do like CCS and Zulu spins and handstands. So it’s a real life intergenerational style.

TR:

As far as attending these performances, Nathan began to learn that the Audio Description provided just wasn’t doing it for these consumers.

Nathan:

in the UK, it was common practice for the audio description to be really kind of like objective.
And the way it was delivered was almost like a science experiment, there was like, a monotone voice, it was like the dancer lifts her up, moves her head to the side. And the thing is, our art is subjective. If you have that objective voice coming in over it, it can be quite disturbing and take you out of the immersive artistic experience.

— Music begins, a slow Hip Hop groove.
— Sample, Acapella “it’s Bigger Than Hip Hop” Dead Prez

TR:

So what does Nathan do?

Nathan:

I again turned to hip hop.

What are the more vocal elements of hip hop, obviously, we have emceeing, rapping and we have beatboxing and vocal percussion.
I started to pair beatboxing sound effects with certain movements.

We got people with visual impairment to basically like physicalize each sound effects a beatboxer makes. So for example, if a majority of people were saying that (makes a sound) represents a jump, we’d always use that for a jump or (makes a sound) represents like a low spin to the floor, we’d always use that is to represent the low spin. We created our own language, which is known as RM notation. Rationale Method – a way of giving people a richer soundscape really. Within the sound effects, you can get an idea of like the speed of a movement, or if a movement is traveling from high to low, all those kinds of directional input that it would take a very long time to describe through words.

TR in Conversation with Nathan::

Explained to me the name rationale method.

Nathan:

Rationale means a reason or a way. And we were like, We always will, or we will always find a way and a reason for doing good in the world. And so, that kind of stuck. We really try and find a way to bridge the gap between disabled and non disabled artists and audiences across the world.

TR:

The Rationale Method also includes poetic elements.

The goal is to provide a choice of aesthetics for implementing immersive, non objective Audio Description.

Nathan:

So there’s tons of audio description companies that deliver objective audio description

, We’re not saying that what we’re doing is a substitute for that we’re just trying to offer choice. Everybody has different tastes, some people will prefer objective audio description, some people prefer subjective, some people prefer, like beatboxing. Some people prefer poetics some people for emotive text. And so we just tried to open up the choice of what is available to blind and partially sighted audiences within what we’re doing.

TR:

The applications go beyond dance and artistic performances.

Nathan:

It can be used to describe like sport.

If you were to have a basketball game, or a football game, or a soccer game, for example, you, you can have an excited commentator delivering the commentary. But you don’t know, for example, if a ball is being passed from one person to another How long it takes for that pass, to travel from one person to another, if it’s a high pass, or low pass, but with the sound effects that we have, you can give a person an idea of how long it takes the ball to travel from one person to another based on the sound effects used.

TR:

Nathan couldn’t speak about the details for such an application, but he’s working on something that in his words, if it comes to fruition;

Nathan:

It’s gonna be big. It’s gonna be big.

TR in Conversation with Nathan:

I know, you can’t talk about it too much. But is that something that would be over TV? Or is that live in the venue or something?

Nathan:

So we’re looking at both. Obviously, with a live element, there may be like a slight split second of delay in terms of reaction times, right? It wouldn’t be enough to disrupt the experience. But again, when we go to the post production in the Edit, we can then tighten those elements up.

— Music ends.

TR:

I don’t really watch sports, but this does sound intriguing.

— Audio from Still a Slave

TR:

Another example of the Rationale Method at work is in a short film titled Still A Slave. It pairs emotive poetry and sound effects as subjective Audio Description.

The film itself runs about five minutes and is directed, written and stars Nathan.
It comes out of the same energy as the Black Lives Matter movement and all of the trauma that was resurfaced following the murders of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor.

Nathan:

There was a lot of, I guess, throwaway comments on social media from people saying, all lives matter, slavery doesn’t exist anymore.

These were really kind of like gaslighting comments and painful comments to us and myself.

It was getting to the point where I was like this is going to consume me if I don’t transform this energy.
I decided to take all that energy and transform it into a source of power, rather than keep it as a source of pain.

TR:

Nathan incorporates break dancing, fire and rope to convey his message.
In line with his martial arts background, he redirects that negative energy from the social media comments to reveal them for what they are.

Another key element of the film is the setting.

Nathan:

I shot it in Morecambe, which is one of Britain’s oldest slave ports, and the body of the first black slave is actually buried in marking, it’s called, like Sambo’s grave.

I was harnessing the energy from that space.

TR:

Combining the art with the activism, Nathan included a live performance of Still a Slave during a peaceful protest he organized outside a venue in his home city of Sheffield. He describes this venue as institutionally racist.

Nathan:

I made sure that I audio described all of the images leading up to the protest. I wanted to ensure that the protest was accessible. There’s so many people that organize protests that don’t think about the accessibility elements of a protest. For example, if you have physical content, is that physical content audio described?
Do you have a sign language interpreter there? If there’s people with neurological differences, Is there a space that they can go to where it’s not so noisy or not so hectic? If you’re doing a march? Is it an accessible route on the march that a wheelchair user can take. within the protest.

TR:
The response from the Blind Community?

Nathan:

Thank you, we felt because of this, we were able to take part in activism in a way that we typically don’t get to take part in activism, due to the inaccessibility that some protests have.

So for me, it was really important when I did Still a Slave to ensure that it was made accessible to as many people as possible when I made the film.

I’m a firm believer that wherever possible, we should be having audio description as part of the main soundscape for any kind of artistic endeavor, not just for television or film.
It was sort of right from the inception of the production I always knew it would have audio description within that.

TR:

That’s the goal we always strive for; being considered at the point of creation or design.

In this case, the choice of aesthetic from the Rationale Method toolbox was poetry along with enhanced sound design.

Nathan:

I beefed up some of this sound effects from the fire. Just so again, you’ve got a bi t of an idea of the speed at which the fire was spinning and traveling from one point to another

we work with an incredible audio describer, Tashinga Matewe, who provided the beautiful poetry. I coached her in terms of what elements we needed to focus on to make it more accessible and the dynamics she needed to add to her voice at certain parts.

I made sure that the person I worked with to do the audio description came from African descent. I also made sure that the person that did the music, track the sound score that he came from African descent as well, just to make sure that there was authenticity running right through the entire short film in production.

— Sound of a record spinning backwards, into a scratch
— Music begins, a bouncy Hip Hop beat

TR:
What’s up family, I need to interrupt the episode for a brief moment.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoy bringing them to you.
I really want to make this podcast a sustainable venture.
Will you help me?

All I need is a bit of your time.
Please, go on over to ReidMyMind.com and check out the post for this episode and hit the link that says survey. It takes about 5 minutes to fill that out.
— DJ Scratch leads into “Check it out y’all!”

TR:
Reid My Mind Radio now has merch!
T-shirts and more on sale now!
Show your support for the Flipping the Script series directly or show some love for the podcast with an Official Reid My Mind Radio t-shirt, hoodie, cap or more. Just go on over to Reid My Mind.com and hit the link that says Shop!

I appreciate you family!

And now,
— Sample: “What we’re gonna do right here is go back, …”

TR:
Back to the episode!

— Music ends

TR:

Both The Blind and the non Blind communities responded favorably never seeing this kind of approach before. The non Blind community acknowledging that it also adds an extra layer for them to understand what’s happening.

And, that venue in Sheffield, they decided to begin adding more programming from people of color on their main stage. And that includes locally within the city of Sheffield. This includes a performance from Nathan’s Rationale company.

Nathan:

We did a hip hop fair production called trusting care. And that production was made with young people and carers are artistic consultants on the production.
We would work with them on some artistic residencies, and then we create scenes with them, and then they’d watch the scenes back, like, Nah, that doesn’t represent me, or they’ve like, yeah, that’s, that’s exactly how I feel. So based on that, that’s how we create the production.

The audio description, again, was for everybody to hear.

TR:

No headphone and receiver? Open Audio Description?

Nathan:
We set the parameters at the beginning of the production.

TR:

That’s right, they did a pre-show for all attendees.
The cast was invited out along with the Audio Describer and British Sign Language interpreter.

Nathan:

We were like, okay, so right now, you know, you’re going to have this unique technique, this unique method, rationale method of audio description and accessibility can be fully embedded, and you may hear certain elements that you feel is like why are you stating the obvious, but we have to remember that there’s blind and partially sighted audience members here. So these elements are key in order to ensure that everybody has the same level of access. But not only that, you know, some of you sighted people may actually get a deeper understanding to some of the subtext or elements within the production as well. So it may just heighten accessibility for you as well.

We explained that the BSL interpretation was fully integrated within the performance and the production as well. So we have the sign interpreter dancing throughout the whole production,

We sold out the venue, we got a standing ovation.

It was just a massive hit.

TR:

That open Audio Description, even helped a Blind cast member who became disoriented while on stage.
— Music begins, a slow dramatic Hip Hop beat

Nathan:

The audio describer would literally be guiding her back to her space and where she needs to be to help her get a sense of direction or a sense of bearings within the audio description. It enabled the blind performer to be able to safely navigate the space without taking away from the aesthetic. So people got to see that firsthand in terms of audio description being used as a form of accessibility for performers as well as for audience members. It was incredible.

TR:

When something is new and starts to receive a level of attention and success, two things are likely to happen. First, people want to learn how they can implement it.

Nathan:

I’ve just been teaching the accessibility techniques, to some organizations out in Peru, in terms of how they can enhance accessibility not only through the rationale method, but also through creative techniques within audio description.

There’s loads of ways that people can get creative with audio description. We’re just scratching the surface.

I’m trying to give people the tools to unlock their own creativity and to try and tap into their authentic self,

Hopefully they’ll be able to unlock their own techniques.

the rationale method is just another alternative is it’s not a one size fits all. And I think there’s enough room for everybody in the more choice that we can provide for people the better.

TR in Conversation with Nathan:

Are you getting love from the other audio description companies or are they hatin’??

(Tr & Nathan share in a hearty laugh!)

Nathan:
Well, it’s really funny. It’s a mixed bag.

So we got the audio description company in Canada, the main audio description organization, they’ve given us nothing but love.

Even though the Rational Method has its roots deeply embedded in hip hop, it doesn’t mean that the aesthetic that you will get will be a hip hop aesthetic.
We’ve audio described award winning contemporary dance and like ballet and even children’s, even children’s short films.

Just because it has its roots in hip hop doesn’t mean that the aesthetic is gonna always be hip hop. Sometimes it will be if that’s what it calls for.

We have one of the main audio description companies here in the UK. I approached them when I first started out kind of like can we partner on this? And they were just like, yeah. And then nothing. I tried to reach out since and nothing good. So I’m just like, Okay, well, we can just offer choice, you know, and that’s it. For me, I’m not competing with anybody. I’m just here just trying to do my part to provide accessibility.

So, because the way I, the way I see it, you know, everybody is different. And so, like I said, before, you know, our rational method, maybe ideal for some people, not ideal for others and other organizations aesthetic may be ideal for some people and not ideal for others. So that’s, that’s where it’s at. But yeah, but yeah,

We got hate because they know what we do is dope, that’s fine. You know,

TR in conversation with Nathan:
That’s when you know you’re doing something good.

— Sample: “Play on Playa”
TR:

Haters are always gonna hate.

— Sample: “No diggity, no doubt!”

Nathan really does have greater aspirations which include visions of the future of Audio Description.

Nathan:
For example, people could turn on the TV They have a button for audio description. And they have about 10 different aesthetics that they can choose from that suits their particular personality or taste or style. For me, that would be dope because for so long, it’s always been one size fits all for audio description for when there’s a production or performance.

TR:

Talking technology!

Nathan:
There’s like an event I run called demystifying tech, where we get people to play with both cutting edge technologies and basic technologies.

There’s so many artists still scared of technology and working with it. So we just try and demystify some of these preconceptions and talk about how we can utilize them to enhance accessibility in a variety of ways.

— Music ends
— Sample: “This is a journey into sound”

TR:

Nathan’s working on incorporating the sounds into a pad that can be triggered.

Essentially, taking the language of the Rationale Method which pairs sounds to movements, and making it easily available to anyone, Blind or not, at any time.

Nathan:

Then a sighted or blind dancer can then interpret those sounds.
And then all of a sudden, you’re opening up career pathways for blind and partially sighted choreographers and movement directors. Because there’s not that many of them out there. I don’t think it’s because they don’t want to I think it’s more so because they haven’t had an accessible pathway created for them to be able to do that.

We just finished in the second stage of prototyping. And we’ve had incredible responses. We’ve had people saying that Yo, if I had this in college I would have passed my drama and dance exams.

TR:

Sounds as language, a means of communicating. Enabling a Blind choreographer to easily relay their idea or
conversely a Blind dancer to perform a desired move.

Nathan:

for example, if you were to do a Zulu spin. Zulu spin is if somebody is crouched low to the floor, and they’re spinning on the floor with both their hands and their feet in contact with the floor, but they’re keeping a tight ball. You get an idea of how fast the spin would happen.

TR:

Again, the applications go beyond dancing; maybe a Blind martial artist, actor or athlete.

Nathan:

Also, like fashion shows, if people can get a feel of the, energy of the person walking down the catwalk, and if they’re spinning around, the flow of dress on or a different style dress, the sound effect can also reflect the, you know, the movement quality of the dress as well. So, you know, there’s lots of applications that this sound pad can be used for.

I’m just in the second lot of prototyping, then hopefully, after that, we’re going to do a bit more triangulation in terms of research. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get it to production and get it out to people in the world. And yeah, hopefully, we’ll be able to have some more blind and partially sighted directors and choreographers.

TR:

Assuring value for those who are Blind and disabled was always part of Nathan’s objective.
Nathan:

Me not being disabled myself, I had a lot of skepticism from the disabled community and quite rightly so. But I think once they talk to me and understand, actually this guy’s coming from a genuine place. It’s just been nothing but love from the disabled community which I’m eternally grateful for.

– Sample: “Nothing But Love For You Baby” Heavy D

TR:

That relationship and understanding the importance of centering the community is probably one reason Nathan was selected to coordinate the opening ceremony of the 2017 Special Olympics
— Audio from Special Olympics in 20xx.

Nathan:

I was adamant that the non disabled art companies and artists, they weren’t about to impose their choreography on the disabled artist. It had to be disability led The opening ceremony.
The people with disabilities, they would take the lead on what movements that they wanted and what themes they wanted to explore.

The non disabled artists they would fit in their choreography around and it just be a real mix. But it was disability led.

There have been other breakers that had performed the opening ceremonies, like the New York City break is done in the 80s, but I think I made history is the first ever B boy to be in charge of an entire Olympic opening ceremony.

So that was kind of like a big achievement for hip hop within that kind of context.

— Sample Hip Hop Hooray

TR in Conversation with Nathan:
So it sounds like you have a lot of the elements of hip hop kind of incorporated into what you’re doing is that something that you specifically looked at?

Nathan:
Yeah! My route was hip hop. I know how hip hop can save lives.

I’d always look to hip hop first, within everything that we do and see how that can work.

We haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on what hip hop can really do.

So for me, it was really important to connect with those ways that how hip hop saved my life, and influenced me as a human being.

TR:

Through his charity Rationale Arts, Nathan’s incorporating the elements of Hip Hop
or
Rapping or Emceeing, Break Dancing, Graffiti or Street Art, DJaying and the final Knowledge of Self ) to help hospitalized children.

Nathan:

We teach them bedside beatboxing. Hip Hop hand play, hand dance movements, we teach them smashing street art, graffiti writing, and how to write their own name. And then we also have a thing called Doctor Decks where somebody dressed up in Doctor scrubs and pushes like a trolley around the ward and has like DJ Decks on them and teaches the kids how to mix and scratch

There’s so many great like accessibility elements with that.

A beatboxes best friend can be a loop station.

TR:

Okay, for those who may not be familiar, a loop station is a recording device that repeats or loops a sound at a given tempo recorded.
For example:
— beat box…

The applications can go beyond beats.

Nathan:
With people that have trouble forming speech, we can sample their voice into that. And then that can be then part of their main soundscape that we create within that loop station, then if they want to, they can trigger their voice whenever they want it to come on and off.

TR:

Working directly with the children in real situations helped Nathan really understand the value of this work.

Nathan:
We’re actually teaching these kids like distress tolerance and emotional regulation,
Beatboxing is just meditation because meditation is controlled breathing.

— Music begins, a bouncy, upbeat Hip Hop beat

We’re teaching these kids life skills through these elements of hip hop in ways that people wouldn’t normally think that hip hop can help people’s lives.

Even down to the graffiti writing. We even teach them how powerful and important it is to put in your intention, even down to how you hold your pen. We teach them that if you want to write your name, and you’re holding your pen sloppy, then your name is going to come out sloppy. Where if you put your emotional intention everything your heart and soul into it, even just that how you hold your pen, you’re going to give not only yourself, but the world, the best representation of yourself.

I’m just trying to spread as much knowledge as possible in terms of ways in how we can utilize hip hop to enhance people’s quality of life.

TR:

This truly does go back to the essence of Hip Hop culture.

Nathan:

Within Hip Hop, originality is so important. Everybody thought about original style, original flow, and all that kind of thing. But the originality of thought, is something that we’re really trying to push with this.

This is a hip hop approach to accessibility and inclusion.

TR:

Yes, and ya don’t stop!
That’s right, Hip Hop don’t stop. And Nathan Geering, you brother…

Tr in conversation with Nathan:

you are now official.!

TR:

Member of the Reid My Mind Radio Family!

— Air Horn

Nathan:

Dope, dope!

TR in Conversation with Nathan:
Give me some contact information, brother, where can people, check you out,

Nathan:

yeah. Yeah, yeah. So if you want to check out the work that my charity does all the community based work and theatrical work that I mentioned, it’s www dot RationaleArts.com

If you’re interested in the audio description, service and provision, that’s www dot RationaleMethod.com.

On Instagram it’s RationaleArts, RationaleMethod or NathaGeering.

On Twitter RationaleArts again or MethodRationale.
if y’all want to hit me up via email, hit me up at Nathan at rationale method.calm

TR:

You can check out Still A Slave during the 2021 Superfest Film Festival. You know, the premier disability film festival that you can attend online.

— We should do something on CH in conjunction with SF —

All you have to do is point that handy dandy browser of yours at SuperfestFilm.com. There are multiple options for tickets that fit in all budgets.

Just like Reid My Mind Radio! Which by the way is available for only free 99 wherever you like to consume podcasts.

Plus, we have transcripts and more over at ReidMyMind.com.

So there’s no confusion, like a true Emcee, I spell it out, that’s R to the E I D…
(“D)” And that’s me in the place to be!

Like my last name.

— Sample from Kung Fu movie “Were you just using the Wu Tang School method against me?”
Nathan:
Wicked!
— Reid My Mind Radio Outro

Peace!

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