Posts Tagged ‘Equity’

Flipping the Script on Audio Description: White Washing Continues

Wednesday, July 26th, 2023

A Black  woman looking away from the camera as a white feminine hand is reaching in to touch her  locs. The text "White Washing Continues" is written in white dripping paint above the woman's head.

Many Audio Description consumers have been calling for an increase in cultural competency. From the script to the voice of the narrator. In addition to wanting authentic experiences of film and television, we believe #RepresentationMatters!

Last year, I published an episode, Black Art White Voices:A Flipping the Script Prequel where I posed that if the decision makers, AD Directors, were not going to practice cultural responsiveness, others in the production process including writers and narrators could use their power to help make AD more of an equitable experience for all.

But the problem persists – the “white washing” of Black content.

Considering all that’s going on in the world today including;
* The Reversal of College Affirmative Action
* Voter Suppression
* Banning books

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised!

But that doesn’t mean I have to be quiet. I couldn’t after learning that “The Hair Tales” a documentary all about Black women and their hair, featured a white narrator. That’s an egregious offense in my book!



The Urgency of Intersectionality | Kimberlé Crenshaw


Show the transcript

Crowd applause
“We’re about to let our hair down. Woo!”


The episodes I least enjoy producing, are those in response to an injustice, unfairness or something I find plain wrong.

I’m not the type of person who looks for drama.
Reid My Mind Radio family knows I put time into explaining my perspective and I treat people fairly.

Ever since fourth grade, I knew, I have to be cautious about how I respond. My resting face or my angry face, was perceived to be “looking for a problem”. Especially to my white teachers.

Physically responding to being pushed or punched would inevitably classify me as the aggressor.

The challenge is not only to effectively make a case for my position, but also be respectful.

Honestly, saying that bothers me.


The truth is it’s not so much about my behavior. More than often, it’s about how I’m perceived – the aggressor.
There are those who will try and dismiss what I’m saying as the ramblings of an angry Black Blind man.

But that ain’t new!

— A montage of Black athletes speaking out against injustice and the resulting response
Muhammad Ali;: It has been said that I have two alternatives, either go to jail or go to the army, but I will like to say there is another alternative. And that alternative is justice!

News Reporter: Mr. Muhammad Ali has just refused to be inducted into the United States Armed Forces.

Narrator: The reaction was swift and severe. within hours, the Chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission denounced his conduct as detrimental to the interests of boxing, stripping him of his license to fight in New York. Almost every other boxing commission in the United States followed suit.

News Reporter: Overnight San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand during the national anthem again. (Over singing of the anthem)
This time he took a knee right behind hundreds of service members being honored on military appreciation night. As the crowd and players stand you can see Kaepernick kneeling on the sideline. Teammate Eric Reid joining him.

The crowd booing every time he took a snap.

Fox Commentator: I’m gonna create a new banner, this is a dumb jock alert. (Ding, ding ding!) NBA superstar Lebron James is talking politics again…

Reporter: You spoke out on the Sterling issue. And you were also outspoken on Travon Martin.
Lebron James: Yes!

Fox Commentator: Keep the political commentary to yourself or as someone once said; “Shut up and dribble!”

It’s the same old story , when Black people call out any form of injustice.
Shut up and dribble. Stay in your place. Just keep your head down and do your work.

Speaking out, well that just leads to some form of punishment or being made an example to discourage anyone else from doing the same.
So they’re stripped of their ability to earn a living. They’re branded as ignorant and made to appear to be a joke.

Do everything, but deal with inequality.

Of course, once society acknowledges the inequity then they praise that outspoken person for their courage
and act as though popular culture always supported their efforts.

Now, I’m in no way comparing myself to these individuals or anyone else for that matter. I’m simply giving you some context for why
these are my least favorite types of episodes to produce.

For Black people especially, truly speaking out can have real repercussions. Some might say backlash.

Woof! What’s the origin of that word?

Yet, sitting by and saying nothing, well that isn’t really an option!

My mother made it clear, none of her children were going to be bullied.
Just watching her move through life, as her child, I learned as she would say, you don’t hold your tongue.
She believed, if you were about what was right and fair, then there’s no need for being shy about what you have to say. That was until she and I disagreed about something, but that’s another story!

I’m Marcy’s son, Thomas Reid. this is Reid My Mind Radio!
— “Here we go again! ” Chuck D, Public Enemy “Bring the Noise”

— Reid My Mind Radio Theme Music
— Turn it up!”

— Broken record effect

You ever feel like a broken record?

— Dream harp sound
— audio from the 2022 episode titled Black Art White Voices

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


What’s up Reid My Mind Radio?

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

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

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

People cared!

I think.

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

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


That was the opening of the 2022 episode titled Black Art White Voices.
I feel like the title says it all, but apparently not enough.

This issue didn’t start in 2022, it’s way before Black Panther in 2018.
In fact, it begins before audio description.

— Collage of audio clips —
— “European institutions like the British Museum and the Love are home to some of the world’s finest art. But some of the treasures on display were stolen during colonial times. Experts believe up to 90 % of African cultural artifacts were taken from the continent.”

— “Cultural theft has been, especially when it comes to Black culture, as American as apple pie.”
— “From the time we were brought over here on slave ships and our very lives were stolen from us.”
— “From white artists that put Black face on” … “Elvis Presley” …
— “Don’t do my thing and not give me my share. So that’s where it becomes theft.”
— Chuck Berry’s song followed by a replica from the Beach Boys.


The “white washing” of Black art and history is alive and just a part of this country’s fabric.

— “This fight against teaching America’s racist past has now been integrated into the broader Republican cancel culture wokeness moral panic being stoked with Joe Biden in office and since he’s a less appealing target than other recent Democratic presidents for oh gosh who knows what reasons, Mitch McConnell and his party decided the biggest threat to America is white people finding out America’s institutions are racist.”


Black art and culture isn’t made to be filtered through whiteness.

Non-Blind consumers are free to experience the art in the way it was intended. And so should Blind people.

Well exactly who are Blind people?

— From Kimberlé Crenshaw’s TED Talk
“Many years ago I began to use the term intersectionality… intersections of race, and gender of heterosexism, transphobia, xenophobia, ableism , all of these social dynamics come together and create challenges that are sometimes quite unique.”

That’s Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw , the person who first articulated and coined the term intersectionality.
Chances are, most of you are aware of intersectionality. It’s a pretty simple concept that’s often ignored.
Our lives consist of multiple identities and issues.
Recognizing these identities isn’t about ranking one over the other, it’s about acknowledging that we’re impacted differently and need to take this into consideration.

Blind people consist of every identity. (Hopefully that’s not news to you.

Audio description should center Blind people. (Again, I feel like the majority of you agree with this!)

All Blind people, not just those who are white and cisgendered. (Now this may be new for some.)

But, I’m going to move forward working under the assumption that we all agree that:
Blind people intersect with multiple identities. We are;
Black, indigenous, people of color, and white
We’re straight, gay, non-binary, trans
we’re from every socio economic background

I’ll also assume we can agree that we all have a right to experience content as it was intended by its creators.

With that said. let’s get into it.

— audio from “Hair Tales” show intro with Oprah

Tracey Ellis Ross: We created a space for us to gather our stories…

Unknown voice over:
“I never know what my hair will do”
Tracey Ellis Ross: Honoring our identity culture beauty and humanity.

Series of unknown voice overs:
“Braided locs, corn rows, twist out, hot comb, relaxed, any style you want; big, versatile, lush, beautiful, resilient hair. What version of myself do I want to be. You do not need hair to wear a crown. Whoop!
My hair is like laced…. laughs.

Tracey Ellis Ross: I’m Tracey Ellis Ross join me as we celebrate the truth of who we are through the wonderous world of our hair. So my hope is that these conversations we have create more space for belonging, self-actualization and I think there’s so much about our hair that’s community that sort of centers through our hair. And it can feel like it’s just a conversation about hair, but it’s not. Especially not for Black women.

Oprah: It never is.

Tracey Ellis Ross: No!


If you’ve been flipping the script on audio description with me over the past few years, you should be quite familiar with this idea.
I’m talking about conversations being about more than what they appear to be on the surface.

Black women and their hair is definitely about beauty, but it’s also political,

— Music Begins: “a dark, driving hip hop beat

it’s a reason for multiple generations to gather and share history,
it’s about economics. I’m sure someone can if they haven’t already, tell the story of humanity through Black women and their hair. The Black woman is the mother of us all! (Facts, not opinion)

Hair and the stories that come with them are personal.
Hair is a big deal to me, which is why my locks are past my glutes and reaching the back of my thighs. I have locks. And I’ve had them since I was 16. And I am 33 years old now. So I don’t see myself in any other style other than locs for as long as I can have them on my scalp.


That’s Casandra Xavier.

I mostly go by the screen name Caspher (spelled out) CASPHER. I am in Boston and grew up in Boston, originally from Florida.
I am identified as deaf blind, mixed combination of vision and hearing loss. AKA deaf blind champion, an African American woman. And I enjoy a good storytelling session. Whether it be on stage or in a small group setting. Great to be here.


The decision to grow her hair in locs is very personal to Caspher.

When I was younger, I was going through a lot of medical procedures that involved hair cutting. And so I had to wait till I was done with that awful passage of my life of surgeries every now and then to finally say okay, this is the hairstyle that I’ve always wanted.

I Couldn’t stand any other style because that would involve constantly getting your hair pulled on. And contorted into all kinds of styles. I just didn’t like people in my hair all the time.

I’ve always wanted locks.

— Audio collage on not letting people touch your head.


I don’t know if this is a spiritual thing, a Black thing but I’ve heard this all my life with different explanations.

I hear it mainly from Black people throughout the diaspora as well as LatinEx especially those from the Caribbean really

it’s the whole energy thing.

Where do they come from?
Did they even wash their hands?
What are their hand hygiene like?
Because you with your hair and then touching it. Later on? You’re gonna go lay down in the bed on the pillow with that? Mm hmm.

If there’s one thing we all should understand, three years after the pandemic, germs are passed through physical contact.

What may be more complicated for some to accept is the idea of transferring negative energy through touch.

Either way, the kindergarten lesson remains true;
Don’t put your f*%#ing hands on people.

I was actually taking my hair down from a style. And when it came out, it was extra curly. So the next day, I had to, like stand as far apart from everybody. Because once they saw those, like locks in the curls hanging down my thigh. Everybody wanted to be hands on.

They would just walk up to me first, touch the hair and then ask afterwards.

So as soon as you catch them coming closer, I’m already moving all the way away. I’m not anywhere near you.

TR in Conversation with Casandra:
Can we be specific about the they and them?

I have an assumption.

The White folks. okay, a lot of black people they know better, so they won’t even.

TR in Conversation with Casandra:
So they just do it. They don’t even ask, Do they ask?

They just touch. This is like the classic line that comes out of their lips. So this is all yours. It’s all natural.

Yes. Absolutely.

And I do have to answer with attitude, because it is my hair since I was 16.

They asked me if they can touch my hair. I will say no.

Hairstyles have different meaning to different people.

Caspher’s mom for example felt locs were bad. And then Caspher’s older brother went an grew his hair in locs.

It was almost like he went and signed up for the army without telling her.
And she’s like, Oh, so you’re one of the troublemakers now.

And then she realized really quickly now that her son has locks, it’s not all as bad as it seems.

I wanted to get locks, when she was a lot more lenient about it and was like, Okay, you can get it.
Just wait until all your medical procedures are done.

I said once I’m done with all these surgeries and when everything is healed, I want locks. And I meant it. So she let me try out twist for a year. And she’s like, do you still want it? I said absolutely. And that’s when it happened.

— Music Ends

I started growing my locs and I couldn’t be any more happy. I don’t regret My decision at all.

Tracey Ellis Ross: Every kink, curl and coil in a Black woman’s hair has a hair tale…

And now, let me ask.

Who should voice the audio description for the Hair Tales documentary?
Who should be the filter through which Blind Black women experience their stories?

— Audio Description Narrator: “A title appears, The Hair Tales” Tracey Ellis Ross sits across a table from Oprah. Flowers decorate the room. Photos of Oprah and her family.


If you watch television and films with audio description, you recognize that voice.

Hi I’m Tansy Alexander. I’m a Caucasian woman. I’m five foot seven, I have Auburn hair. I’m very athletic and active. I do all variety from narration to audio books, to commercials, promos trailers, IVR phone systems. I’ve done pretty much it all.


That’s from the time she joined me right here on the podcast in 2020.

— Original audio from episode

And if I may broach this subject, I do think that we need to see more inclusiveness on the narrator side.


Well that’s exactly the point of this episode, these continued series of episodes.

I reached out to Tansy to have a conversation on the podcast.
Here’s my email to her for context.

— Music begins: A slow piano with lots of ambience evoking a purposefully over dramatic melancholy vibe.

— With sounds of typing on a keyboard layered underneath, TR reads his email.

Hello Tansy
I hope you’re doing well.
I wanted to invite you back on the podcast.
I’m producing an episode continuing the conversation on the topic of cultural competency specifically as it relates to the choice of the narrator.
I’ve been vocal about this subject and I’m hoping you would want to share your point of view.
When you first appeared on the podcast you expressed that you agreed with the idea of equitable experiences in AD.
Last year, I referred to the HBO series “Insecure” which you narrated.
I expressed that I didn’t feel you should have been cast in that role as the series is heavily based in Black culture.
In this episode, I discussed the idea that narrators and others in the industry who believe in equity have the power to help
advance the change we want to see in the industry.
That is, turn down roles and or help find other narrators who are of the film’s or project’s culture.
In this current episode I’m producing, once again, you are narrating a series heavily entrenched in Black culture.
Would you be interested in speaking to me about your feelings on this?
You should know, I don’t want this to come across like any sort of personal attack on you, because it isn’t at all.
This is about making the AD consumers experience of film and television as close to what was imagined during its creation.
I look forward to hearing from you.


That’s me!

I really do believe someone like Tansy who says she’s interested in…
— Tansy “more inclusiveness on the narrator side.”

could really help the AD industry become more equitable in their practice.

But, when listening back to the 2020 episode, the equity she’s seeking doesn’t seem to be about the AD consumer.

— From “2020 Episode

And if I may broach this subject, I do think that we need to see more inclusiveness on the narrator side.

I get plenty of work, but I still think there’s a gender bias in the industry for males to succeed.

It’s the same it’s been for the whole spectrum of Voice Over since I started over twenty years ago, the belief that a male will sell it better. For whatever reason; the voice will cut through or people listen more to a man than a woman. These are stereotypes that probably aren’t true at all. These decisions to use a man or a woman are extraordinarily subjective.


I get it! Subjective AF!


I used to do a lot of action, landing on the moon, war movies, I’ve done a few last year. I can do a romantic comedy, I can do a children’s thing, I can get in there and get gritty. But all of a sudden they decide oh well for all the Marvel we need to have men.


That’s what makes her response to my invitation difficult.

Hi Thomas.

How are you doing? I just saw this last night and wanted to think about it before I responded.

I appreciate that you’re take on the casting decisions in audio description.
I am an actress first and foremost, who accepts roles based on casting’s advice.
I work on all genres of projects including Sci-Fi, documentary, rom-com, adventure, animation, horror, etc.

It would seem a better fit for this interview if you interviewed casting directors/project managers for audio description.
In that way, you could outline that you feel like all people who narrate a project should always look like the majority of people in the project, or
at least always be from the group that the project is based on.
Those casting people are the decision makers who could enact that change.

Although I always enjoy a great discussion with you, I have to take a pass this time.
Really appreciate you thinking of me!

Warm regards



Thankfully, I have the audio to pull from last year’s episode that directly responds to Tansy’s point.

— Sample: “Rewind Selecta”

— Original audio from 2022 Black Art White Voices

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


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

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

Is this call for equitable representation threatening?

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

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

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

That’s seeing and acknowledging color on screen and stage. It’s recognizing that Blind and Low Vision includes people of color.
— Reverse Dream Harp bringing back to present


Let’s be clear, I’ve come across other shows with insensitive casting; Abbott Elementary, Reasonable Doubt and others.
But this isn’t about individual shows.
It’s not about my individual point of view,
it’s not about one narrator.
This is about centering the Blind community in audio description.

(The full community!)

— Law and Order scene change sound


When I finally decided I had to speak about this here on the podcast, I knew I needed to hear from Black women.
I’m Black, but I’m also a bald man!
I like to think it’s still by choice but let’s be real, my options are limited when it comes to my crown.

Hair tales isn’t something I would probably choose to watch on my own.
However, I could see where I’d watch this with my daughters.
I’d enjoy sitting back and listening to their comments as they agree or disagree with one of the experts or explains something to me about a particular hairstyle.

today’s conversation is specific to the audio description.

audio description should always center Blind people.

I needed to hear from Black Blind women.

So I put the word out that I was seeking input on this topic.
to be clear, I was looking for opinion not a specific point of view.
If someone wanted to speak in favor of color Blind casting for AD narrators, cool, bring it.

I didn’t get much in the way of feedback. I shouldn’t be surprised.

I’ve come to recognize phases we go through as consumers of audio description. I’ll use my own experience as an example.

— Music Begins: An upbeat dance track…

Phase 1: Shock

“What? I can experience movies again?”

Phase 2: Denial
“I don’t know, this is probably going to suck. How will this work, someone explaining what’s happening? Augh! I don’t know.”

Phase 3: Bliss, Over Appreciation

How was the movie?

Oh my goodness! It was so good, it had audio description!
I can’t say anything bad about this film because it has audio description.
— Fades down while talking continues

Phase 4: Back on Earth

How was the movie?

Two thumbs down! I’ll never get those 90 minutes back.
— Fades down while talking continues

No longer are you easily entertained. Access alone isn’t cutting it.

Phase 5: Critical

How was the movie?

There was this one scene that stands out to me. The production is incredible.
— Fades out to an enthusiastic monolog…

Considering the fact that AD honestly hasn’t been that accessible for that long, I imagine there are a lot of people in the early phases.

— “It’s a man’s world”… James Brown

Let’s be honest, I have some privileges in this world.
I’m a straight cisgendered man. I don’t have all the privilege afforded to my white brethren, but I do recognize those within my reach.

— Roland Martin Clip:

Roland Martin: Recent study shows the most abused group on social media, Black women and women of color.
Jennifer Farmer: So what we’re seeing is pervasive attack. If you’re a Black woman and have a social media account, if you’ve been on Twitter, chances are you already experienced abuse. Eighty-four percent of the tweets that go to Black women contain some type of abusive or harassing message. The other thing that we’re finding is that if you have the courage to state your opinion, you’re also going to be attacked.

TR in Conversation with Casandra:
On that note, if you ever get any sort of pushback from this episode, please let me know.
I don’t want none of that going on.
you know, it’s fine.
I’ve had people give me pushback for certain things that I put on Tik Tok.
I have like, nearly 9000 followers on there. Honestly, people are gonna have their opinions
I don’t care.

TR in Conversation with Casandra: 22:45
Okay, there you go.

No one should have to deal with harassment, bullying or threats for their opinion. Especially when we’re talking about fairness and equity.

I’m more than willing to listen to contrary opinions but I’m not interested in racist nonsense.

If you have anything to say, please send it my way.

— Sample: Sesame Street “Ok all you cats and kitties, it’s time for a little addition. Can you dig it! Here we go. Now! Adding is putting together! Mm.”

Factoring all of this into consideration, perhaps it helps explain the lack of public engagement and critical feedback on audio description.

— Sample “You got the mic… use it!” Ice Cube

I’m sure there are many Blind people who for them, this isn’t a concern.
Yes, they consume and enjoy audio description. Maybe they’re in that Bliss phase – just so happy to have access.
I don’t fault them for that because I understand the history of not having access to content.

Some people may think this is just a Black issue. A POC issue.
Meanwhile though, all AD consumers are affected.
The white washing of content denies all AD consumers access to a more authentic experience.
And isn’t that what we want?

(I guess it depends on how we define, we!)

— Music Begins: A bright, chill Hip Hop beat.

I want to send big shout outs to;
* Casandra Xavier AKA Caspher.
You can find her on Tick Tock.


At Caspher 31 CASPHER 31
On Instagram Cassandra dot Xavier(Spells out)
For those that can see. You want to look for the profile picture of a black lady wearing a crop top sweater standing next to a boxing bag, flexing her muscles.

Uh oh!

To all my sisters who shared my request for input as well as some others who talked to me for this episode. Your voices may have not made it into the final edit, but you were in my mind throughout the production.

— Airhorn!

You know you’re all official members of the Reid My Mind Radio family!

You too Tansy! Family can disagree, but I believe in leaving a place at the table to have a conversation.

You know, you too can be Reid My Mind Radio Fam!;
Subscribe or Follow Reid My Mind Radio 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

Hide the transcript

The Art of Access with Cheryl Green

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

The camera catches Cheryl & Cynthia from a jaunty angle. Cynthia holds a beautiful plaque for Superfest Disability Justice Award for New Day Films’ Who Am I To Stop It. The plaque has text, Braille, and raised lettering. Cynthia smiles at Cheryl as she burst into excited laughter at the passer-by who shouted “Superfest, whoo!” she holds a bouquet of sunflowers by her face.

Meet Cheryl Green, a filmmaker focusing on disability identity and culture and making media accessible.

She began making films after acquiring disabilities from brain injury. Her media combine personal narrative and activism to create
dynamic tools that critically challenge misconceptions and stereotypes of disability, celebrate pride in disability experiences, and amplify marginalized
voices. Cheryl works to create a platform for people to use the arts to increase connectedness and to promote dialogue and change within the larger community.

Hear why Cheryl views Captions and Audio Description as an artistic part of the film/media and a means of achieving disability justice and equity.

Her latest film Who Am I To Stop it is a documentary on isolation, art, and transformation after brain injury.

She’s a fellow Association of Independence in Radio New Voice Scholar… hit play below and hear how that worked out for yours truly!




Show the transcript


Audio: “Fellow Americans, it’s with the utmost pride and sincerity that I present this recording …” PSA, Jay Z (Just Blaze)
— Beat rides underneath…


Welcome back to another episode of Reid My Mind Radio.

Audio: “Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is…” PSA, Jay Z


T.R E I D, Moving podcasts by the GB!

. I’m your host and producer of this podcast.
Bringing you stories and profiles of compelling people impacted by all degrees of vision loss and disability. Plus, I occasionally explore my own experience around becoming blind as an adult. I try to present that in my own way blending my words with audio and sound design.

Before we get into it, you know movin’

Audio: “Moving’ doin’ it you know” Sex machine, James Brown

I want to send a shout out to those of you who subscribe to the podcast. I truly appreciate you. That simple act of hitting that subscribe button especially if you subscribe via Apple Podcast, increases the chances for others to discover the show.

Audio: Music stops…

I don’t know why, that’s just what they do!..

Music re-starts…

One of my main goals of producing this show is to hopefully reach those who are new to the experience of blindness, low vision, vision loss I think the people across the Atlantic refer to it as sight loss. Maybe you are recently experiencing some form of disability. I think there’s something for you here.

It’s a shift in attitude that is not based on changing just to change but it’s based on experience. Experience from people who have been where you are right now and worked their way through it. People who accepted what they were given, people who didn’t feel the need to overcome but rather embrace and continue.


If you are new to disability let me send you a very warm welcome. A virtual hug going out to you. I’m referring to anyone impacted by disability. Whether you are Blind or Low Vision or maybe you are the spouse, parent or child or even the friend of… we got something for you right chere. And yes, I said right chere!

So with all of that said, I hope you are ready because I want to introduce you to a new friend of mine who brings a different perspective to how we view accessible media content.

I just hyped myself up and I hope you can feel it too!

Let’s go!

Audio: Reid My Mind Radio Intro

# Cheryl Intro

My name is Cheryl Green. I am an independent documentary producer and audio producer.


She’s also a strong advocate and maker of accessible media content including subtitles, captions and audio description.

As an independent film maker, we see that’s just one of the unique perspectives she brings to her work.

# On Disability

[TR in conversation with CG:]
What is your relationship with disability?


I like that question. It’s so much nice and more nuanced then what’s your disability and what’s your diagnosis because disability experience is so much more than medical diagnosis.

One of my relationships to disability is political. I’m always looking at cultural and political things from a disability rights and disability justice platform. Another relationship is that almost all of my friends and significant people in my life are disabled people. And then because I like things in three’s; my relationship to disability is that I have multiple invisible disabilities, but I’m not sure that invisible makes sense as a term. Non-apparent or easy to hide. Some of them are acquired and some are stuff that I was born with that has shown up later in life from kind of living as a knucklehead and now it’s coming up. Laughs.

[TR in conversation with CG:]

Oh boy there’s a lot of stories right there. In that one statement, living as a knucklehead. Oh boy!



But it’s funny because that’s the one that I was born with. It’s a connective tissue disorder and for me it’s very mild , but I have dislocations and I have chronic pain chronic tendonitis, ligaments that are over stretched. I was born with it. The knucklehead part is that I over did it as an athlete through most of my life. So just chronic injuries and stuff but it’s nothing as fun and exciting as you know…what did she do?

[TR in conversation with CG:]

# Captioning

## TR:

Cheryl also experienced a Traumatic Brain Injury that she says is indirectly related to the complications of the connective tissue disorder.

Our conversation however, focused on accessible media content. Beginning first with captioning.

Now I know most of you listening are way smarter than me but I needed a clarification between sub titles and captions.


Subtitles are just a typed out version of what people are saying. It’s just words on the screen as the words are being spoken. Captions also provide descriptions of the sounds music, whether there’s traffic going by, dogs barking. When possible you can add in a description like whispering or tense voice . There’s all sorts of descriptors you can add in there.
They should identify who’s speaking and when the speaker switches.

The thing about subtitles is that they actually assume that it’s only hearing audiences watching a film that has subtitles because there’s no indication when the speakers change. And if you’re looking at a sunrise and two people are off screen talking and you just see sentence after sentence after sentence there’s actually no way to know who’s talking and when the speaker’s switching. And to me I don’t see how you can follow what’s happening if you don’t know when the different people are talking.


Maybe you can’t tell yet, but this subject has a special place in her heart. It’s not just about words on the screen.


I love captioning more than anything else that I do. One thing that I love about captioning is that it is so precise, detailed, tedious and repetitive. That just works for me.

I look at captioning as part of the art. I do not think of it as a piece of accessibility that you have to add or want to add at the end. To me it’s artistic. Translating things. I can’t literally caption every single sound that is in a piece of art. That doesn’t make sense it’s not even possible. So I have to make creative decisions based on what I think it most important from the creator’s perspective and what I think audiences will want to get from something. I don’t want to be like “Speaks slowly, whispers quietly, birds chirp” I want it to be rich and lush especially when the film or the show is rich and lush. I feel like it’s my duty to make the captions as interesting and beautiful and artistic as the film is.

For me captioning is something that I can do in a move towards justice and equity. It is access to information. Whether that’s the news or pure entertainment or something that’s informational or somethings that’s on a social issue. it’s about equity. It’s not just about meeting compliance. I love doing it and I love what it can bring to people and how it can include more people in media and in conversations.

# Audio Description

Captioning eventually led Cheryl to find an additional way to make media more inclusive and engaging.


Through one more piece of access that’s very artistic , very subjective and hopefully integrate it into the art itself.


Maybe that’s not the way you’re used to thinking about or even hearing Audio Description discussed. . but that’s what she’s talking about.

Cheryl recalls first thinking about AD after providing captions for a client and then reading their Facebook post which read;
“Hey my video has captions now it’s accessible to everyone!”

## TR:

This just wasn’t true!


You have to be able to read quite well and quite quickly to follow captions. No, captions are not accessible to all people because not everybody can read in whatever given language there in but also I looked at that and thought well these captions are just visible on screen and if you’re not
looking at the captions there not there.


There’s all sorts of benefits gained from captioning and Audio description. And not just for the consumer.


I think it takes a lot to acknowledge you know what, I made a great film here but I recognize that not everybody can access it because of the way I made it.

There’s a big piece of acknowledging this film is not complete until more people can come in.

From a capitalistic sense if you have great content and you want an audience why not make your content available to a bigger audience. It just makes sense.

But I hate capitalism so I do also value more of a disability justice and social justice and equity lens to say people need to be participating in civic engagement, arts, culture, entertainment and all of it. And What can I do to make that more accessible and available to more people.

# Film


She’s answering that question from multiple points of view. That’s a Caption & Audio Description provider and as a film maker.

Following the brain injury which impacted her ability to cook as well as organize she did what anyone would do;


I made a comedy film about it and it took off.

Audio: “Cooking with Brain Injury”

Okay, maybe that’s not what everyone does.

That first film was called “Cooking with Brain Injury”

A short film looking at daily struggles of life after traumatic brain injury with dark, honest humor.


I sold many copies of it. I’ve taken it to state and national speech therapy conferences. I’ve done Continuing Ed. trainings around it and it was totally impairment based. It was a window into my world.


After other films around brain injury, she decided it was time to close that window.

Audio: window closing


I realized I need to get out of the spotlight and get behind the camera and do more. Over the years my films have become much less about impairment and much more about disability experience, marginalization, self-empowerment, autonomy and decision making. I do a lot of cross disability work now. It was all brain injuries in the beginning but that didn’t hold my attention because it can be so impairment focused.


Cheryl’s first film didn’t start out with Captions or Audio Description.


I didn’t know about access at all when I started, but as soon as I found out I could copy down the spoken words and put them up on the screen; it didn’t look good , but those words were on the screen. And I loved it!
Then I got educated about Captioning software

She became quite serious about the craft.


I read up on the FCC guidelines. I love it when the FCC issues new guidelines new recommendations. I’m there with those white papers reading them to make things the best that I can.

I have seen some people criticize the FCC guidelines for example saying, “I don’t care what the guidelines are I want to know what Deaf people want.”

Number one, Captions are not just for Deaf people. There’s a lot of different kind of people who want and need Captions.

Number two, there were Caption users on the committee that wrote the FCC guidelines.

They’re really good guidelines . They make for beautiful Captions They included actual consumers actual Caption users in their creation and that’s another reason I really value them.

[TR in conversation with CG:]

You really are a Caption nerd! Laughs…


Laughs… I’m such a nerd!


Deep passion for a given subject. That’s what separates the nerds from the rest.

In this case, the passion is all about inclusion, social justice and equity.


I have a lot of clients a lot of filmmakers who come to me for captioning and they have a lot of complaints about the way captions look. Or they make requests that I find unreasonable. They’re unreasonable because they are centering that hearing filmmaker who doesn’t actually know what Captions are or can’t really articulate what Captions are for. And I say, your aesthetics around Captions are not what I’m working with. I am working to serve Caption users and I have very explicit reasons why I make the choices that I make. I’ll negotiate with you. I’ll talk with you on the phone but you have to understand that Caption users come firsthand I’m not interested in your aesthetic choices around the Captions.

If you want access you would make captions the most accessible that I know how to make. I get into fights with people all of the time and it’s so much fun!

[TR in conversation with CG:]


Don’t worry, know one’s out here recklessly out starting fights. This is all about advocating for the user.


IF content creators always included Caption users and Audio Description users in their minds and their target audience then it wouldn’t be a thing. But it’s specifically because people whether it’s willfully or they just have somehow remained oblivious through their careers, they don’t even consider people who would benefit from the access as part of their target audience. That’s why I harp on it . I would love to get to a place where it’s just we have to do color correction, we have to do sound sweetening, we have to trim off 35 seconds on this, we have to add the Audio Description. Boom, boom,boom boomboom!

When it’s just part of the practice, yeh, I won’t have to be so political and I won’t enjoy fighting with people. But until we’re at that day for whatever reason I enjoy being super fired up and political about it.

[TR in conversation with CG:]

The order in which you laid that out where you said ok, they have to do some color correction, do this and let’s add Audio Description. I want that thought about in the writing because to me the end result would be better. I still think that when it comes to things like Audio Description and Captions, there’s a charity model that starts off the process.. Let’s do this because you know (the following said mockingly) it’s a good thing to do for the people. Let’s give this to them so they can be happy.

If they thought about it has what you said which is it’s going to make our film better Not just because more people are seeing it but it actually may do something better to the film Meaning, if you think about Audio Description at the time of writing it at the time of producing that film chances are you’re going to think of something that’s going to enhance it.


Oh, hundred percent! Oh my gosh, I just got interviewed yesterday they were like what’s the one take home message that you 3want filmmakers to have.

I say, you put access in your budget in the pre-production phase. You put it in your budget so there’s no “oh we didn’t know”. And then you always consider it. You don’t just get the supplementary footage or the daily footage.

There’s kind of this idea that you find something beautiful you hold the camera on it for at least 10 seconds, get a good shot. You know what? Do it for 40 seconds because then when we’re editing there’s the opportunity to say let’s stretch out this shot a little more because then we can put the Audio Description in.

I am totally with you that if you are considering this stuff from the beginning you’re going to film it differently. You’re going to edit it differently. It is going to be better.


This is coming from an experienced film maker.


When I filmed my documentary and I was still new to this, I told my Director of Photography, “Don’t ever do extreme close ups. Ever” I don’t want any extreme close ups. Even with the mouth off to the side because we are going to have captions in every version of this film ever shown. I told the Editor, “I need you to put in spots, stretched out spots where Audio Description can come in.”

Now unfortunately I wasn’t trained in Audio Description back then, and so we didn’t nail that as well. We didn’t have enough stretched out spaces and the Audio Description isn’t as lush as it could be.

We did some re-editing and we added in more space. I re-wrote the script, the original Audio Description script, hired other voices to do it. As you watch my film progress over time the same film different versions Audio Description becomes more lush, more engaging more honest because now I understand Audio Description a little better. So there were things that were a little vague in the description.


For many such re-writes would feel like a chore.

Like her latest production, “Who AM I to Stop it”, a documentary film on isolation, art, and transformation after brain injury, was selected for Superfest International Disability Film Festival.

The longest running disability film festival in the world – co-hosted by San Francisco’s Lighthouse and the
Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State.

Superfest is one of the few festivals worldwide that is accessible to disabled filmgoers of all kinds.  

I got an email from the director, hey we love your film it got in, it got an award, but we had to stop during the screening a few times because our Blind jurors felt left out by a joke in the film. It wasn’t described well enough. She said I’m sorry I don’t mean to be negative but are you at all available to re-record.


I suppose it’s viewing this process as art that produces Cheryl’s response.


Negative, this is the biggest gift in the world are you kidding me let’s go.

I rewrote several parts but I specifically rewrote the part that people felt left out by. My Blind Audio description teacher helped point out some spots where she still felt a little bit excluded or maybe even confused about what was happening. It’s just more descriptive. That’s how art should be. As you learn and develop your skills it gets more wonderful.

Audio: Basic Able


Wonderful, like the time she described an improvised dance segment for a video podcast. It featured Antoine Hunter


He is a really phenomenal person. He’s a dancer, choreographer and healing artist. He teaches dance. He’s marvelous. He’s Deaf and he’s the Artistic Director I think, of the Real Urban Jazz dance Company.

I’ve never done dance before. It was so fun and it was so exciting to try and get the dance moves and match them. And because he’s Deaf he incorporates some sign into the way he dances.

I’m not fluent at all, but I’m familiar with Sign language and I’m familiar with the role that facial expression plays in the grammar and expression of Sign language. So I was able to make references to his hand gestures as being Sign and references to his facial expressions.

I think I said his facial expressions mirror the expansiveness of his bodies motion.

Audio: from podcast if available…


Hopefully, by now, you too should at least start to see the art. It’s the familiarity with the culture that enables Cheryl to recognize such detail.


Everything that I do has something about disability or Deaf culture in it. I engage with it seven days a week. Whether I’m making something or reading or watching something. I try to immerse myself in the cultural aspects of Deafness and Disability. That brings a more lush Audio Description


That level of detail and equity goes as far as seeking input from those being described.


I sent Antoine the script because it wasn’t going to be in the captions for him to read. He really liked it and he corrected one part that he didn’t like. It didn’t feel fair to him and he gave me words that not only feel more fair to him, but were more beautiful than the words I had chosen. It was so collaborative and so beautiful.

When I’m describing what somebody’s body looks like or how it moves I send them my script. I ask them what they think about how I wrote it. or I tell them I’m going to audio describe this please tell me how you want time to describe what you look like. Sometimes people will send me a description that’s actually not very visual.

[TR in conversation with CG:]
Like what?


Like when I say how do you want me to describe how you’re moving? And the response is a man with Cerebral Palsy. That doesn’t give me a sense of how you move, but I asked and you answered. And I respect your answer. But it is tricky because the point of audio description is to give people a flavor of the visuals and man with Cerebral Palsy that’s not very visual is it?

[TR in conversation with CG:]
No, not at all.


If it’s your content and I’m describing you and that’s all you give me ok, that’s what I’ll use.

When it’s my content I’ll use their words as the starting point and expand to make it more descriptive and more visual oriented.

[TR in conversation with CG:]

Give me an idea of the types of things that you would include in a description of someone.


I try to always describe something that relates to race or ethnicity. If I know how the person identifies then I can use those terms. If I don’t then I might be more descriptive. for instance, I describe myself as a white woman, which is kind of descriptive but not really because my skin tone is darker than any of my white friends. I’m the darkest person I know in my circle of white friends so it’s not super descriptive to say that I’m white. But it wouldn’t be useful to say I’m a brown woman because I’m white. I just have kind of light brown skin. If I don’t know their ethnicity I might say someone with a dark skin tone, someone with a fair skin tone. Sometimes I’ll defer to hair. A woman with bright red hair.. She’s probably white if she has bright red hair. now not necessarily of course.

[TR in conversation with CG:]

(Laughs…) Now-a-days!

There are different reasons why someone would have red hair regardless of their ethnicity.

[TR in conversation with CG:]

What would make you choose their hair and what would make you include that in the description. I wonder why would they say that? Why did they now tell me that this person is a Black person or whatever. And I’m like hmm, let me see if this is going to be really necessary to the story line.

[TR in conversation with CG:]

Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. And it leaves me wondering why they made that choice and why they didn’t describe the white person.


Ok, get ready!

[TR in conversation with CG:]
Yeh, ok! (Laughs.)


Oh my! I cannot tell you how with you I am. I’m going to describe something if it feels relevant to the story or for political reasons.

Just end my career now if I ever put something out there where I say the black person and the person meaning white. I don’t know if I would ever recover from my remorse.

I don’t do, a wheel chair user and a person. Huh! No! If there’s a wheelchair user and there’s someone else standing. One person sitting in a wheel chair and one person standing. I make political choices If one person’s race or ethnicity or nationality becomes relevant to the story, I am going to make a point to name everybody’s so that I’m not singling one person out as the other or the weirdo or the outsider.

There is no way that someone is ethnic and some other person is not ethnic. I just cannot even wrap my head around … I don’t even know what ethnic food means, what on earth, what? (Said with a lot of annoyance!)

What food doesn’t come from a culture? What? (Said exasperatingly)

No, I will name them all or I will name nobody. And it really depends on the content creator, what they’re going for, how much time there is and yes is it relevant. Is it going to make a difference to the story for me to know something about the ethnicities of the people involved and is there time to get that in there. And if I can’t describe them all then I can’t describe any. or sometimes I will tell somebody, you need to stretch out that first scene because I have got to get that description in there. I have to!


Movies, television are often a reflection of society. It’s not surprising that the politics of the world impacts the way we think about and create access to content.

There are many who believe the best approach is to ignore race or ethnicity all together. As Cheryl points out, the results don’t lead to equality.


I think when Audio Describers are shy, oh I don’t’ want to say those words, as an Audio Describer your comfort and discomfort are not supposed to be part of this. You’re censoring it for the viewers.

You know I was really moved by your episodes around Black panther. There’s the access piece, but also one of the ways we white wash is to pretend like white people are neutral and just people. And so whatever we think is important is what’s important. And yeh, they had some cool costumes in Black panther, but ok, cool costumes whatever. That’s not fair. It’s so beyond not fair, it really is a show of white supremacy.

[TR in conversation with CG:]
Mm Hmm! (In agreement)


To neutralize overt displays of culture that are not white, you erase them, you ignore them. That is white supremacy. And it’s not ok.

If the film maker did not erase culture then the Audio Describer or Captioner really should not erase culture as well.

[TR in conversation with CG:]


Some people feel like it’s just the detail, no. We’re talking about humanity and we’re talking about dehumanizing people. Willfully dehumanizing people when we leave stuff out


Cheryl says the same occurs in captions.

Not only is she creating films, accessible content through subtitles, captions and audio description, Cheryl produces the podcast Pigeonhole.

As described on Apple Podcast:

Pigeonhole challenges the stereotypes that disabled people are all white, straight, middle class people in search of a cure for their bodies and minds
the way mainstream media would make it seem. Made by from disability community, and centering disabled people as audience, Pigeonhole interrogates the
assumptions and biases we hold about disability and embraces all parts of people’s identities. We uplift disability culture, celebrate identity, and break
out of the narrow pigeonholes people attempt to stuff us in.

She’s a fellow recipient of the New Voice Scholarship warded by Association of Independence in Radio.

Receiving that scholarship puts us both in a very exclusive group of some of the best audio makers currently making radio and podcasts.

Audio: Microphone and other equipment collapsing during my conversation with Cheryl.

[TR in conversation with CG:]

We are having operating difficulties, please stand by


Well, maybe not all of us!

You can find Cheryl online at She tweets under that same name, which again is her latest production.

Her films are available through New Day

Checkout Cheryl’s podcast Pigeonhole – that’s P I G E O N H O L E. I especially like the episode titled “A nap and a bird.” It’s a short well told story that says a lot.

# Close

Audio: “As we proceed”

We’re continuing to advance our ongoing conversation around Audio Description and content access in general.

Considering captions & AD as art? Why shouldn’t it be. It’s the written word that has some pretty strict requirements including the time constraints and a need to quickly convey a message. We’re talking about talented writers and voice actors/narrators.

Let’s spread this way of thinking about accessible content.

Let’s push for content creators like Cheryl whether independent or in the major studios to see it as a tool to improve their storytelling. Then maybe we’ll see it become a part of the pre-production and be more of a reflection of the film’s conceived vision.

Looking at content access through a social justice lens feels like it leads closer to inclusion.

A big shout out to Cheryl Green! I enjoy speaking with her and appreciate her perspective. I guess I’ll go ahead and put this right here… I hope you will hear more from her right here on the podcast in the future.

You know, I still hope to hear more from you the listener. I’m not looking for you to write me long messages about how much you love the show or how funny you think I am or how much you like the production, or how much you think this podcast should be the top podcast on the charts or how it makes your day when a new episode publishes… no who would want to hear any of that!

I just want to know if it made you smile, gave you an idea or maybe encouraged you to do something.

I send myself fake messages about all the other stuff so I have that covered!

Seriously, holla back!

We have the comments section on the blog,
The email;
The Reid My Mind Radio Feedback Line where you can leave a voice mail: 1 570-798-7343

I would really love voice messages that I can share on the podcast. If you don’t want to call, you can grab your smart phone and record a voice memo and email the finished recording to

I’d love to hear and share the voices of those who are listening. If you want to send a message but don’t want it shared just say so and it’s all good.

So make sure you Subscribe!
Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast Sound Cloud
Audio: Bring the audio to a screech!

## TR:

if you mainly listen to the podcast via Sound Cloud I’m hoping you will continue to listen but I am moving away from that platform. I’ve been tolerating their interface in order to avoid the move to another service.

I may decide to keep one or two episodes available, but the best method for staying caught up is to subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, Tune In Radio and wherever you get podcasts.

You can always visit

So there’s no confusion, that’s R to the E I D like my last name!

I appreciate you listening and if you liked what you heard please rate and even review the show via Apple Podcast. And please, tell a friend to listen. Spread the love, man!

Audio: Reid My Mind Radio Outro


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