Posts Tagged ‘Clowns’

Flipping the Script on Audio Description: NO ONE WILL SAVE US Part 2

Wednesday, September 27th, 2023

Graphic: Amidst the isolation of a barren island and beach, an eerie scene unfolds. The darkness is punctuated only by the desperate silhouette of people, grasping towards a distant beam of light in the starry night sky. The text reads: NO ONE WILL SAVE US.  PART TWO

Joining me to discuss some of the challenges facing the production of quality audio description are Eric Wickstrom, Director of Audio Description at International Digital Center – IDC and Head of Studios at Descriptive Video Works, Rhys Lloyd.

We’re not just talking about the problems. These two offer some real tangible solutions to many of the most pressing obstacles facing broadcast & streaming audio description.

I couldn’t think of a better way to conclude both this two part episode and the 2023 Flipping the Script season.

If you haven’t taken a listen to part one, pause here and check it out. When you’re done, come right back…glad you’re back!! Let’s go!



Show the transcript

Last time on Reid My Mind Radio

— Audio Transition
— From Flipping the Script on Audio Description: NO ONE WILL SAVE US

Now that we heard from someone quite familiar with captions, do you think that’s the bar we as advocates for audio description should be striving to reach?

Think about that while I bring on our next guests

— Music begins, a bright mid-tempo beat!
Hi, my name is Eric Wickstrom. I am the director of audio description for international digital center. pronouns are he him?

Hi, my name is Rhys Lloyd. I’m the studio head for Descriptive Video Works. My pronouns are he him.

When anyone asks me for examples of quality audio description tracks for networks and streaming platforms, IDC and DVW are the two I tell people to check out.

Are their others? Yes. But they don’t check off the boxes that these two do.
Let’s keep it real! IDC helped kick off the inclusion and hiring of Blind narrators. Their not the first, but to my knowledge they’ve done the most. If I’m wrong, please educate me –

DVW also is doing the same and employs Blind QC.

— Audio Transition
Welcome back to Reid My Mind Radio.

We’re in the final episode of the Flipping the Script on Audio Description season or part two of No One Will Save Us.
We’re taking a look at the current state of audio description in order to determine how
we can best advocate for improved quality and a wider adoption.

If you haven’t listened to part one, pause here and take a listen. We’ll wait!

Ok, you’re back? Let’s get it!

— Reid My Mind Radio Intro


When I invited Eric and Rhys to join me on the podcast,
I asked them each to bring three to five issues that most threaten the future of AD and some thoughts as to what we can do about them.

I mean, there’s a few things that stand out. Obviously, TTS synthetic speech, however you want to phrase it, I think that’s a problem.
It impacts our voiceover folks. But it also affects every area downstream for audio description.

A lot of companies that have no business being in this space are in this space. And they’re in it in major ways.

I don’t have access to enough quality writers day in and day out. Sometimes I feel like really, truly great writers. So if I don’t have access to it, these companies definitely don’t. But somehow they’re managing to crank out absurd amounts of audio description, with people that have no business writing it or being involved in it.

The quantity is more than it’s ever been. And because of that the quality is lesser than it’s ever been, which is a sad reflection on it.


While there’s definitely a relationship between TTS and the influx of companies less concerned with quality, we’ll consider these as two separate issues.

And then we have ongoing problems, in my opinion, with a lack of folks of color, being involved in the writing process, and in the voice over process.

I think the fourth thing that’s problematic right now still is the lack of involvement from members of the blind community in the process of creating audio description, whether it be voiceover writing, QC, what have you. I don’t think many companies are doing a good enough job still involving folks in the community.

TR in Conversation with Eric & Rhys:
Cool. Rhys?



TR in Conversation with Eric & Rhys:


The only thing that sits outside of that, that I would add to it is that we still haven’t solved this devilish problem of accessibility content, traveling with the content and moving from service to service

I feel like this is my sort of, DaVinci Code like I’m trying to solve this, this and solvable mystery, and I think the answer is that there that that is really, really straightforward. because it’s so straightforward, it’s remained unsolved.

And then maybe one other thing I would throw in is that I don’t think there’s enough people in prominent positions in audio description that are thinking about what it could be, who are pushing the industry forward. I think there’s Eric, there’s the folks at DVW that I work with, but I don’t sense pressure coming from behind to make me go, oh, I need to be even more on it. Because there’s other people who are like really pushing the envelope out there, both whether it’s creatively, or whether it’s like looking at the broad reach. We’re really, at a really early stage of audio description, if you think about how visual our world is, and how inaccessible that is, including all the video content that exists on the internet that is untouched.

Let’s start with the problem of the pass through or the idea that audio description should travel with the content.
This would eliminate the problem of turning on one channel to watch a film that you know had AD in the theater or on a different streaming network,
but it’s not available on the current platform.

This is my opinion, Rhys , you can correct me if you think I’m wrong. Unlike captioning, which is mandated federally to be on everything, everything has to have captioning, we’re still picking and choosing based on I don’t know what criteria is, what has to have audio description, and what doesn’t. So it’s only when that content comes into the worlds of the big top cable networks at the top streaming services, places where they’re being legally mandated, where they have to commission those files. So those files, then live at that individual streaming service, or that individual network, instead of living with the content from inception, like it should. Like the captioning does. captioning has to live with the asset before it goes anywhere.

So if we can get audio description being mandated on every asset level, like captioning, that would solve that problem entirely.

The other way to solve that is networks communicating.

Doesn’t that seem like a simple solution; communication?

I think the simplest answer is, it’s too much still left to the individual networks to deal with, instead of having it being, you know, inherent to the assets at inception every time.

I would totally agree with you on that.

I sort of see the solution to the pass through being that instead of it being a pull, it has to be a push instead of the downstream content rights holder, remembering to ask for it. It should be pushed with all the other assets, it should just be automatic. If those who have the asset and are licensing it to someone else, we’re just to go, Hey, here’s the AD track. I mean, I don’t know what happens in those negotiations. But I can’t imagine the cost of that being exponential given the investment. I do see a push model works better than a pull model in this case.

With all of the technology available to us today, communication shouldn’t be an issue.
It’s such a quicker fix compared to enacting legislation.

I’ll take a slightly more optimistic view.

I don’t think it necessarily requires the legislation to be enacted, I think people like to get ahead of legislation because they don’t want to be slammed by the requirement and have no idea what they’re going to do. And because I think this is a relatively simple problem to solve, I think it any hint that this is going to be included in future legislation would probably Unbreak that dam.

I’ve had this dream of like getting everybody in a room and going can we all have a grown up conversation. There are impediments, but none of them are insurmountable, and just require somebody at each of these organizations to focus on it. And, and then however we up making that happen, as an industry remains to be seen.

The other issue is, quantity is important but we need to focus on quality because, you know, if we mandate that every network has to have audio description, I can promise you, Rhys and I are not going to get much busier, but there’s gonna be a bunch of companies that are going to be slammed with work and doing a very poor job.

It’s important that everything is accessible, but it needs to be properly accessible.
There has to be a quality product otherwise why are we doing it in the first place? Take some pride in it.

Next up, let’s talk about getting more Blind people involved in every aspect of the AD production process.

I go a step further. It’s not just about the production aspects of this. I think that there’s all too many people involved in the creation of audio description, whether that be our clients or the companies that produce audio description, who’ve never met a blind person, never had a conversation with a blind person about audio description.

It’s also I think, incumbent on companies like ours that specialized in this field, to elevate the voices of the community and to put people in positions where they’ll interact with the clients. And so that that is an opportunity organically, to start to hear from the community.

I’ll just say that I think it’s shameful in our industry, how few companies are actively trying to hire, Blind talent. The impediments not significant, and I think both, I don’t want to speak for Eric, but I know that he’s been open about sharing information with me and with other companies, I’ve been the same in terms of like, the talent that’s out there, the approach the how we work in the recording booths, how we work with blind QC talent, and, and so it’s not like there’s this like, secret sauce, that we’re all keeping hidden. We were both out there talking about it. Because we want other people to do it.

I think the secret sauce is the understanding that the impediment is not significant. It’s the willingness to go beyond the current process and consider accommodations.
That goes beyond anything Blind talent can bring to the table.

It’s almost understandable when you consider how from it’s start, the production of AD has closely aligned with a charity model. Like rehab or social services where the so called experts who studies blindness
determine what Blind people need with little to no involvement FROM THE COMMUNITY.

I will say that I think more blind involvement raises the quality of the audio description, simply because it getting that voice into the creation. And it’s making sure that perspective is represented in the creation. And if you don’t think that’s important, then you don’t think quality is important.

100%. What I’ve said many times is that I don’t think there should be anything proprietary about accessible workflows, I think that that if you figure something out, share it.

Actually, Thomas, to your credit, if we’re going to go even one step further back through talking to you and onboarding you, and working through our first project together and developing the workflows to work with blind voice over talent, I learned a lot. And then I worked with other folks, and they wanted to do a different way. So you know, over the course of the first year and a half, we had four to five different workflows that we just developed. And Reese called me up, and he said, tell me what’s up. And so we did, we got on a call. And we talked and I made that same offer to half a dozen other people and only one other person has ever taken me up on it.

While not many companies reached out to Eric, there were some who were still interested in working with Blind talent.

Personally, I don’t want my accommodation to remotely approach being an over burdening task for someone.
Then again, over burdening is in the eye of the beholder.

Remember, during the pandemic, the workflow changed for everyone.
AD Narrators were scrambling to setup home studios.
Scripts and voice files were being delivered via the internet. Whether that was through some secured proprietary system or via cloud services like Drop Box, the workflow was similar.

Here’s the thing, once a company realizes it’s process is inaccessible to assistive technology
and refuses to adjust or accommodate for that,
that company is making a decision to exclude Blind professionals. Period!

just three weeks ago, Thomas I had a phone call or an email from another company seeking to work with a blind talent. But telling me, they’re not set up for it. They’re not planning on getting set up for it. So would I mind doing all of the work to record the talent, s them the raw stems, they would then take credit for the project and put it out there like look, we’re working with Bline people, but they didn’t want to do any of the legwork to actually set themselves up to do the work.

They wanted me to do all the work so they could take all the credit this happened like within the last month, and
This is a big company. I’m not going to name names But I could, but it’s a big, much bigger company.

The conversation was embarrassing, but they felt no shame having it with me.
I don’t know if it’s coming across that it’s frustrating. I’m annoyed by it.

TR in Conversation with Eric & Rhys:
A little bit.

I appreciate that frustration.

This conversation is specifically about audio description, but as we approach National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, we need to consider that whatever is at the core of keeping Blind people out of AD is applicable to every other industry.

What can be done to change this?

I engage on social media. But it wasn’t really until you and I connected Thomas, where like, it started becoming this, this really accelerated workflow, to try to get people involved in the process, But in fairness, that’s because Liz Guttman and I had that conversation, hey, we think this is important. We need to start doing this.

And then as soon as we started doing it, I think Rhys kind of around the same timeframe. He was like, Yeah, us too.
I thought that after we did it, everybody will be like, Yeah, let’s all do it, and not the case, which is incredible.

To that point, I think part of the reason we would have had that expectation is I think it coincided with an increase in the quality of work that both our companies are producing. I don’t know if that’s coincidental or directly related, but I think that’s true. And also, I like to be perfectly blunt, it’s more interesting and more fun to do it this way. And why wouldn’t you try to make the work you do more interesting and more fun, and more meaningful?
It’s a little bit of additional thought. Your thoughts are free, so spend a bit of that thought.

TR in Conversation with Eric & Rhys:
The lack of BIPOC writers and narrators.
How does this get resolved?

I think anyone with a conscience and a sense of things can step back from AD and recognize that we have a representation issue is industry. I think that the vast, the overwhelming majority of speaking only about English audio description, but the English audio description that’s being produced is being written by white people.

I know that every AD writer strives for some level of objectivity. But the reality is that everybody sees things through subjective lens.
I think we are getting homogeneity of description, just demographically.

In terms of what can you do about it?

That’s a little bit more complicated. It requires a little bit of investment, and willingness to spend some time digging, willingness to find allies willingness to push harder, and to call out that it’s a problem and then do something about it, instead of just calling up that its a problem and walking away from it.

When it comes to this issue of representation, if we really want to fix it, it can’t be a patch work approach. It needs to be a part of the foundation.
And with all do respect to those who laid the AD foundation, cultural competence was never a part of that core structure.

I’ve been asked why it’s important. What is the value of having culturally appropriate casting in a show?

One aspect of it is not discord for the audience, that’s important. But the thing is, the actual work done is going to be done better by somebody for whom the content is meaningful. And the experience of working on that project for everyone involved is going to be better if the content is meaningful to the people who are working on it. You actually elevate the product. Not only are you not doing something wrong, you’re doing something better.

As far as the writers, Rhys and I are gonna have some cross pollination on this one.

So there’s a film festival out of Philadelphia called the BlackStar Film Festival, that we’ve worked with at IDC for a couple of years now doing some tracks for them. And last year, they did a Writing Lab, where we were not involved with. But then after the festival, I reached out to the organizers of the festival and Liz Guttman , and I talk to them.
So this year, Liz did level one training with them. And then I got wind that the next step was going to be Rhys , taking them in the fall and doing a level two.

We’re launching an initiative to train some writers from underrepresented communities in the AD scripting community where that’s happening in September.
It’s an internal initiative. We’re doing it on our own dime. These AD writers will come up with strong training and be available for anybody to hire. There’s no like, they’ll become DVW employees so that there’s opportunities for Eric to benefit from that for any of the other AD providers to benefit from that.

It was something where I tried to figure out this problem was like how do I like leverage this for my Helping companies benefit for years. And then I realized, you know what the rationale is? I don’t I just need to do it for the services benefit. So we’re trying to increase it, or at least we DVW are. And I know IDC are very much aligned with us on, from this perspective, trying to increase the number of different voices that are allowed to participate in this conversation about AD.

Meanwhile, IDC continued to work with the BlackStar cohort of writers. They even received some level 2 training from IDC head writer Liz Guttman.

And they got to work hand in hand with Steven Christopher, one of my writers, and one of the best QC guys in the business and did really in depth feedback on all the scripts.

some really took to it well, others obviously needed some more work, like anything, but it was really encouraging. I think there was eight to 10 people we got to work with. And I think the vast majority are going to be going on now to DVW and continuing on into more training. I actually onboarded one of them this morning officially to write something for Netflix for me, which is super exciting.

And coincidentally, a documentary based around the black experience in America in the history of racism. So like timing wise, it’s exactly the kind of project that we’ve been clamoring to have folks from the community available to write to reach this point. Today, because it’s important for the perspective and the point of view.

It’s been something that I know I’ve been personally frustrated about because we’ve tried over the years we have tried outreach, we’ve on boarded folks. This has been an ongoing pursuit for the last couple of years. And I think we finally found a pipeline through Blackstar to do this.

I for one am excited about growing the AD space to include more representation. But let’s be clear, that’s not a replacement for cultural competence.

just because you’re white doesn’t mean you can’t write something that’s sensitive, and proper that focuses around black issues, you just have to be curious enough to want to do a good job.

There was a movie a few years ago called The harder they fall on Netflix, that Liz wrote. And she spent a lot of time researching the clothes in the hairstyles and reaching out the people and saying, How would you like that to be described?

Really trying to do a good job to the point where it actually got written up on a blog for being so well done in terms of representing skin tones and hairstyles and being called out for members of the Black community for being so culturally proper or sensitive or trying to do a good job in those regards.

Now, at the time, do we wish we had a writer of color to write that script? We absolutely did. But that doesn’t mean that we can take the excuse of like, Oh, we’re just white folks. No, you have to still try to get in there and honor the material and be proper and respectful of it.

It’s worth taking a look at how that curiosity works to strengthen the final product.

I always credit when I hired Liz, to write for me, I had a great base of writers. But that’s really when we took the next step to becoming what I feel like we’ve become one of the leaders in the field.

A lot of what made Liz great and makes her great now, is her curiosity. She’s constantly going to workshops, she’s constantly talking to members in the community. She’s constantly reading research papers and things that I can’t even my brain, I just glaze over.

She’s always digging deeper and figuring more stuff out.
How do we make it better? How do we get to the next level.
And again, it’s never good enough for us, we want to be better.
We don’t always get there when we try.
If that’s not your goal every day getting up going to work. Like if you’re not taking pride in your job every day, like I’m going to do a great, I’m gonna do better today than I did yesterday, then you should find something else to do that fulfills you in some way, because clearly this is not it.

I think there’s a dearth of people in our field that are driven by curiosity. I think we need more people who are looking broadly at like, what can be done, or is the industry ready for this? What little steps can I take today to get the industry ready for that tomorrow?
And so whereas I think, and justifiably so to some degree, the vast majority of people who work in our field are very production focused. We are because the production deadlines are intense. The expectations of our clients are quite substantial. And there’s contractual obligations that we have to hit. But at the same time, sometimes, especially in a field like ours, which is still really in a nascent stage, the ability to step back and go, oh, like, I wonder about this. I’m curious about this. I want to find out more about it. We need more people being able to do that. We need more people driven by the interest in doing that.

That’s writing AD. What about cultural awareness when it comes to narration?

There’s just no excuse, like.
The reality is that there’s a vast array of voice talent that’s out there. It’s not all equivalent, right? There’s some really kick ass scenario, here’s and there’s some less skilled ones. But there is no excuse not to find a narrator that’s a appropriate cultural match for the content that you’re describing.

You can get really, really down in the weeds about it, if you want to, we’ve gone to great depths to try to find somebody who’s very specifically aligned with that skill set. And we’ve had some successes and some where we came up a little bit short, but that’s because we try we pushed it out there as far as we could.

Could I find a Kurdish narrator in the UK who’s deaf to just do the narration for this track? Well, no, but I did find a Kurdish narrator in the UK. And so that was a win in that respect. We found somebody who’s culturally appropriate for the content that we were describing. And that was the first very specific project.
Thoughtful casting cost you nothing to think about.
And not every show requires thoughtful casting, there are very generic shows that can just be relatively generically assigned, but there are shows that demand it. And if you as an AD provider, don’t take that responsibility seriously. Why not? What is your impediment?

I mean, come on. It’s at the point now where it’s, it’s literally embarrassing.
I had well over a dozen narrators of color on my roster. I probably posted 20 At this point between Latin and black backgrounds in Caribbean and you know, down the line, East Asian.
I have a wide collection of narrators. Again, anybody listening? They’re available, you just have to email me.
Rhys has called me before and hey, is this person available? And then I s the email address and he reaches out and they go from there.
These are freelancers, they are available. So if you’re stuck and you need somebody, call me.

It’s now August 2023. And there are no good excuses. There was no good excuses five years ago for this and now it’s pathetic.

If your basis of diversity in your voiceover roster is still man woman, the end, you’re a clown.
If you’re justifying that to anyone that that’s good enough, you’re a clown, and you deserve to be called out for it.
I would be embarrassed to do some of these things that some of these companies are doing. It’s shameful. And I hope more people shame them publicly, because I don’t know what it’s gonna take just to do the minimal right thing. I don’t get it.

By the way, this being an audio format, there was some vigorous nodding.

TR in Conversation with Eric & Rhys:
So far, the quote of the day is you are a clown!

we needn’t stop it like culturally appropriate casting of people of color.
People of color can narrate the generic stuff too.

Oh a thousand percent!

You won’t find those great narrators if you don’t work with them.

That’s a great point Rhys . Thank you.
If you’re a narrator of color working with me, you will work it’s like the stuff that is meant to be voiced by people of color. That’s the stuff exclusive to that part of the roster.
right, like people like me are not going to narrate things, you know, from the Black community. But, yes, you can cross pollinate to any other generic content.


Eric shares some additional advice for voice over artists who traditionally
choose not to disclose their various identities in hopes of having their voice judged on it’s quality alone.

Don’t be afraid to put a picture on your website, or put a little thing in your bio, about your background, whether it be your nationality, LGBTQ we’re looking for that.

Make it easier to find you. I think more companies are now scrambling, pathetically, to try to catch up a little bit. Now standing out is actually I think, a good thing in some cases.

We reached our final two categories;
the influx of companies less concerned with quality or as Eric so eloquently described them,
You’re a clown.

And then there’s the dreaded TTS.

Since the clowns and TTS are so closely aligned, we’ll discuss them as one.

The clowns are companies that first, saw the need for audio description production as an opportunity.
While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, based on their actions and quality of production,
it’s apparent, that’s their greatest concern.

So they look for cost cutting like hiring anyone to write the scripts and
skip parts of the process like quality control.

All of this to undercut competitors and offer below market rates for AD production.

it’s a free market, right.

The issue you run into is that companies come in and throw a wide net out there, and they say, Hey, give me bids.

And then you have other companies out there, streaming services and stuff that’s coming online recently, that don’t really put any effort or any, any research into trying to identify the good providers. They don’t try to narrow it down to five or six providers that do good work, and then set a rate. In a perfect world, that’s what would happen, every company would have a set group of providers they work with, they would set the rate internally, across the board. So nobody can undercut anybody or has any real incentive to undercut anybody. And that would be it. But we’re in a free market. And we live in North America.

— “And now it’s time to play everybody’s favorite game show, Say the Word!” Audio from Sesame Street

Can you say capitalism?

The truth is, everywhere you look, there’s someone trying to make a fast dollar by cutting costs and sacrificing quality.

Remember Economics class? Caveat Emptor or Let the buyer beware. Consumers of all types should be educated enough to know the value of what they’re buying.
In this case, we’re talking about large companies, networks and streaming services that frankly have no experience with audio description. So, how can they even begin to define quality AD? Yet still they’re procuring millions of dollars in AD for old and new content.

They’re being misguided, misled because they’re talking to the clowns. They’re talking to people who are trying to sell them on something. They’re not necessarily talking to the audience.

I always encourage them, Are you sure, have you spoken to anybody about this? Has anybody told you by the way the audience doesn’t like this.

But the other part of this is an AD providers. If you’re confronted with that conversation, what do you do? Do you just go? Yes, sir, we can do it? Or do you go and take that opportunity to talk to them about what they’re asking for, to take that opportunity to go? Are you sure that the experience you want your audience to have of your content? That is your precious, precious item is a subpar experience? Because it doesn’t need to be.

TR in Conversation with Eric & Rhys:
Wow, so you telling me that companies come to you? And they say we want TTS?

100 percent.


So it’s not just that these platforms are being sold TTS,we’re in a place now where they’re actually shopping for it.

There’s this thing with some companies that are starting to divide what they think is important content, and what they don’t think is such important content.
A lot of kids programming is being thrown into that not as important pile where synthetic is being used. And that, to me is a complete bummer. Because if anybody needs a real voice to engage with, and if anybody’s gonna get turned off by a computer voice, it’s a kid, and especially kids on the spectrum, kids with ADHD, they’re immediately going to just walk away from that content.

Too often , I hear members of the community who seem to feel these distinctions are warranted.

Just because you may not have an interest in specific content, that doesn’t mean it’s less important.

And quite honestly if you’re not of the intended audience and don’t require AD to consume visual content,
perhaps you should speak less on it and pass the mic so the community can speak for it’s self.

There are people out there that are pretty big in the industry in terms of visibility, saying TTS is okay, for certain things for backfill or movies that are more than 20 years old. And we should just be happy that things are getting described.

I don’t think anybody should be happy getting scraps and crumbs to make up for the fact that they weren’t fed 30 years ago originally.

I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry! And I know I deserve a full hearty delicious meal.

There are clients coming to us that have produced some of the great, I’m talking some of the greatest content in the history of television in North America. And they’re talking to me about synthetic.
And I’m like I would feel bad putting a synthetic track on this.
I feel bad, you should feel worse, because it’s your content, you should have more pride in getting this described properly.

The cost difference for companies like us to do synthetic versus real Voicing is minimal.
for Rhys and I, companies that really care, the cost difference between TTS and real voice. It’s not worth it. It’s not a huge number, where the cost saving is so extreme that a client should even really want to entertain at this point, in my opinion.

We spent so much time in this conversation talking about diversity of casting and thoughtful casting, and then you give me a computer program that has three usable voices. Well, what am I supposed to do with that? How thoughtful can I get about the casting of A, B, or C voice? I can’t.

Now, they’re starting to do this TTS stuff where they have black voices, quote, unquote, you know what I mean, and it’s just this, like, over the top, almost character voice.

This idea that like, black people sound the same, white people sound the same.
There’s dialects and there’s accents, and there’s nuance.
It’s like this generic voice, it’s quasi racist in all ways. It’s silly.

And it goes beyond just the sound of the voice, right? Great narration track is often done by somebody who’s connecting to the material. Well, you know, who doesn’t connect to material? TTS doesn’t connect to the material, there’s no lived experience of being LGBTQ for a TTS voice. Whereas you get the human narrator, skilled, who’s doing content of that type, in the connection that they come through, it’s not performative, but it’s subtle, but it’s there, and it’s present. If you’re an adept listener of audio description, you can hear it, that person gives a crap about what they’re doing. And
we stand to lose all of that.
Does TTS serve a function in audio description? 100%.
How to videos on YouTube, go for it. That’s an entirely reasonable application for TTS. But if you’re taking premium content, what is it you’re trying to achieve by doing that?

The answer all your questions in life is money. That’s the old cliche.
It’s a pathetic thing that I have to say, but that’s really the answer. It’s always comes down to money.

For some reason, no one’s been able to figure out how to make money on AD at this point, which I don’t understand. There’s still a very big void and lack of audio description in commercials, which I think you know, how we never as a business came around to like, Procter and Gamble sponsoring this AD track.
Figuring out a way into product placement into the AD track, kind of like they’ve done in movies over the years.
There should have been a more thoughtful approach to monetizing this art form years ago, and that would have solved a lot of these problems, but were the horses out of the barn and made a left and it’s for four farms over at this point.

I liked the idea here Eric of an AD narrate or drinking a grimace shake while narrating mentioning that that’s what they’re doing.
sponsored AD track, I like this,

It sounds a little silly and out there, but McDonald’s is gonna want a high quality product to go with their product.

We see that in live audio description, a lot of the times we’ll have a corporate sponsorship, whether it’s the Olympics or an award show, there’s no reason that that couldn’t trickle down.

It sounds like a natural fit, especially for network broadcasters who already have relationships with advertisers.
But I’m sure the streaming services like Netflix, Max and others could make this happen.
Then just leave it to the accountants to identify other financial benefits for the company.

From the consumer position, we’re already used to sponsored ads and programming.

With all of the issues we identified and discussed today, it’s extremely important that we as consumers are fully aware of our power.
And we shouldn’t be scared to flex or put it to use.

Thomas, the first time I was on your podcast, I talked about this. Streaming companies, businesses in general, yes, they are forced to respond to negative things, but they would much rather not deal with negative things. And the best way to not deal with it, is to just give the consumer a product that they just enjoy, and that they’ll just be quiet about, right.

I want to keep encouraging people, hold all of us accountable. Like Eric and I are out here talking the talk, hold us accountable for walking that walk if we do something that you think is subpar, or could be done better.

We make mistakes, we know, but we want to hear about them. That’s why we put our names on our tracks. That’s why we’re out there on social media. That’s why we’re reachable.
It’s telling, the circus providers, the clown shows, they don’t put their names on tracks.

continue to call out the bad stuff, and especially stuff that’s not being culturally appropriate because That’s disgraceful.

I think equally important, highlight the good, because it will matter, it will filter more that work to the companies that are taking pride in doing it well.

And that’s the goal. The goal is to get the product to be as good as possible. And so sometimes you just kind of have to shine a light and push the client towards that direction.

There’s sort of historically been the mindset of gratitude. Thank you so much for giving us audio description. And I get that because it wasn’t there. And now it’s more prevalent, but it’s not enough.

The focus on gratitude should shift into, what makes good AD. There’s different schools of thought, we’re not all going to agree on everything. That’s fine. But I think we all should have some accountability to producing that quality AD.

From a consumer advocacy standpoint, I’m glad people are grateful for the access that they have.
But access isn’t enough, it has to be better access.

It’s not much harder to perform this work well than it is to perform it badly. It’s not that much more of a time investment, it’s not that much more of a money investment, and the audience deserves better.

TR in Conversation with Eric & Rhys:
Has there ever been any conversation about the post production companies, the AD production companies coming together?

bringing everybody to a summit and saying, here are the problems? Let’s solve this?

TR in Conversation with Eric & Rhys:

Yeah, that’s an idea! (Chuckles)

It’s a great idea. I’ve proposed it numerous times to numerous entities, that I thought it had more ability to sway that I won’t name them.
It’s problematic, but I think there are ways in which it could happen.

I think we’re nearing a point where more of these organizations, the content owners, the bigger studios have people who actually are focused on caring about the quality of their accessibility. Individuals within their company were tasked with it, not just project managers on a given title, but like actually overarching people who are looking at this within their organization.

The more that that exists, the more likely we are able to have productive collective conversations.

there’s a collegiality amongst this group, those who actually care about it, and those who are invested in it, to help elevate the product. And to push each other.

I pay very close attention to what Eric is doing. I support it. But I also want to know if he zigs, I want to make sure that we’re also zigging at the same time, because philosophically, there’s an alignment.
If he uncovered some awesome new thing I want to make sure we’re doing it too. And I think vice versa.
That’s where I’m also hoping others can join this idea and get behind us and start pushing Eric, and I to think in different ways, and I’m very open to that sort of level of competition.

Big thanks goes out to Eric Wickstrom and Rhys Lloyd and of course Michael McNeely from part one.
Gentlemen, I truly appreciate your time and honesty.
I’m not sure if you know this but you are each official Reid My Mind Radio family!

— Airhorn

If you want to reach out to Eric and or Rhys,
you can do that first via the formerly cool app known as Twitter now annoyingly called X.

at IDC underscore, Eric, E R I C (Spelled out.)


RazLoyd R A Zed that’s my Canadian, or for those of you in the states are a Z Lloyd (spelled out)

Find them both on Linked In

Eric Wickstrom

Rhys Lloyd R H Y S L L O Y D (Spelled out).

Or reach out via their respective companies.

I DC is our corporate website and you can always send a message there, it will filter to me.

info at Descriptive Video
We do answer those emails.

After reviewing all of these issues and their proposed solutions,
it still feels like…


But, if I modify that slightly, it can feel a bit more optimistic and potentially something we can solve.

No one, will save us.
So we all need to work together.
We! As in:
* AD consumers and their loved ones
* Anyone involved in the AD process (writers, audio engineers narrators etc. )
* Those in solidarity, no matter the access need
* Film makers, storytellers, producers – who want their creative work consumed and appreciated
* Broadcasters, streaming platforms

We, can each do something.

Broadcasters, streaming platforms

Hire a dedicated person and or team of individuals responsible for content accessibility. Preferably from the user communities.

Caveat Emptor – Let the buyer Beware
Can you imagine going to a car dealership and realizing there’s only a five percent difference
between the used beat up car with a hundred thousand miles, torn seats and a crappy mis match paint job versus a brand new shiny Mercedes Benz?

Unless you have a thing for hooptie’s , I’m pretty sure you’re leaving that dealership in the Benzo.

So why in the world would you purchase AD for your content that’s the equivalent of a hooptie, a lemon, junk?

How about getting together with other content platforms to assure you all play nice and share the existing AD tracks. There’s no reason titles with AD shouldn’t have AD everywhere.

Film makers, storytellers, producers – who want their creative work consumed and appreciated

Learn about AD. Consume accessible content. Consider it’s benefits to your storytelling process.
Make your content accessible, reach out to the community and increase your views.

Those in solidarity with others no matter the access need

Share! Experience AD for yourself, tell other people about it. If you have a platform invite others to talk about it.

Anyone involved in the AD process (writers, audio engineers narrators etc. )

Meet and talk to a diverse group of consumers who are Blind or have low vision. Reach out to a local organization of the Blind. Ask for input and feedback on AD. You never know, you might make a new friend.

Hopefully you are or have consumed AD.

Take pride in your work and like any career, keep getting better and don’t be scared to innovate.

— Sample “Say it with your chest!” Kevin Hart

Take the pledge – sign on to show your commitment to culturally competent AD.

If your organization isn’t currently or in the process of making space for Blind professionals in the production process,
I guess I have to just ask; how do all of you in those big red shoes fit in that little car?

AD consumers and their loved ones

First, I got a message from the gratitude gods. They said enough is enough. We deserve true access.

For those who want to accept sub par anything, that’s your choice.
But be quiet. Say less! Your not helping anyone.
Some of us know our value and we’re not lowering our standards.
Why in the world would you advocate for that.

Advocacy comes in so many forms. I know lots of folks who struggle because they feel there’s only one way.
For many, that’s through some formal organization.
Yet, some of these organizations aren’t equally welcoming
Some seem as though they exist to maintain their existence.

Some of you are great letter writers
Why not put that skill to use to seek support for the
Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility Act.

Advocacy is taking place when we provide real feedback.
As Eric and Rhys said, that’s holding everyone accountable and sharing both the good and bad. Do it publicly, we have the tools.

Advocacy is keeping people informed. I think of Stanley Yarnell, the Sherrif of the Blind Posse.
If you haven’t heard of them, it’s a crew of AD enthusiasts who appreciate audio description in museums and galleries.
The Sherrif sends out email blasts at least monthly informing the posse of events online and in the Bay area.

Feel free to let me know what you’re doing in your area.

After hearing from Michael McNeely in part one, I’m convinced,
the state of captions are not what we’re trying to attain.
Yes, there’s a greater level of awareness, but the take away lesson to me, quality has to be the goal.

Hopefully, you can recognize that quality is something I try to pour into every episode of this podcast including
this season of Flipping the Script on Audio Description.
This is the last episode of the 2023 season and I already have some things I want to bring you next year.

Due to some existing commitments, I’m not producing another season this year.

But I truly recommend you stay tuned in because sometimes, I just get inspired.
And I’m hoping we will have more Blind Centered Audio Description Chats to share in the feed soon.

So make sure you rock with Reid My Mind Radio by following or subscribing wherever you get podcasts.
We have transcripts and more at
Just remember, that’s R to the E I D!
— Sample: (“D! And that’s me in the place to be.” Slick Rick)

Like my last name!
— Reid My Mind Radio outro

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