Posts Tagged ‘Gaming’

FTS Bonus: Andrew Slater Making Sound

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023

This is the last bonus episode which stems from the Flipping the Script on Audio Description: What We See episode where I linked visual hallucinations, trust and the participation of Blind people in audio description.

Andrew Slater and I talk about producing audio description, hallucinations, synesthesia and more.

A couple of standout Quotables that I hope will resonate with those new to blindness:

“There’s no shame in the cane”
“That’s not a chip on my shoulder. That’s just my reaction to ableism”

Check out this article from the Washington Post that features Andrew following his public request on Tick Tock for someone to describe the Alabama Brawl.


Show the transcript

What’s up Reid My Mind Radio family?
Can you believe the summer is almost done?

Usually that would also mean we’d be wrapping up the Flipping the Script season. Not this year.

Today, I’m bringing you the final FTS bonus episode.
As a reminder, each of the bonus conversations were used in the What We See episode where
I linked discussions about visual hallucinations, trust and Blind participation in audio description. Hopefully you checked that out and you dug where I’m coming from.
I decided to share these semi raw conversations because the three gentlemen Carmen Papalia, Collin van Uchelen and Andrew Slater had lots of good information and ideas to offer.
Semi raw because I did just a bit of cooking or editing to make it a bit easier to digest.
But these episodes aren’t representative of what we usually do here at Reid My Mind Radio.
Meaning, there’s no narration or analysis, sound design or music.

Today’s episode features Andrew Slater.

By the way, shout out to Andrew who was recently featured in a Washington Post article following his
public request on Tick Tock for audio description of the Alabama brawl.
The result proves to be some awesome examples of creative description.

I’ll link you to the article over at this episode’s blog post at

Since we’re in the middle of celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop, I’ll drop another little reference for those who know…

Now, Reid My Mind Radio is this podcast’s name
Andrew Slater is his…
I’m T.Reid It’s like that and that’s the way it is!

Reid My Mind Radio Intro

Andrew 00:00
My name is Andy Slater. I am a sound designer, composer and accessibility person professionally. My pronouns are he him, I’m a middle aged white man with dirty blonde hair, a full red beard with some gray. Right now I’m wearing a red t shirt with white lettering that says I am not Daredevil. One of my favorite personal traits is that my left eye turns inward. So I see double a lot and I’ve got big bushy wizard eyebrows.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 00:32
Two things. Number one, love the t shirt. Just letting everybody know. Do they stop you and ask you, “Excuse me?”

Andrew 00:40
Just point to the shirt.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 00:45

So Sandy blonde hair and red beard? I’ve never heard that.

Andrew 00:49
Yeah, yeah, it’s uh, I mean, when I was a kid, I was strawberry blonde, I believe was the term which is kind of a reddish blonde, and then my hair got more brown, but I’m a ginger from like, the ears down. You got the salt and pepper beard. But mine’s like, salt and cayenne.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 01:11

You know, I don’t get too much into this. But briefly, tell me a little bit about your relationship with disability,

Andrew 01:16
oh, gosh, well, my relationship with disability, I like a lot of visually impaired people that maybe their sight has, has gone downhill gradually took a while to not necessarily, I don’t know, admit or accept my disability, but to realize that I was disabled. You know, I realized when I was a kid, I couldn’t see. But I didn’t really know what any of that meant, you know, it was the 80s. Right? It kind of wasn’t until I was a full time cane user, which was about 2009 When I started just never leaving the house without it. And kind of fighting with that stigma, having the white cane and people messing with me telling me that I’m not blind or, you know, faking it and that kind of thing. And realizing that I’m not going to be able to avoid or ignore this. So I started becoming more of an advocate for myself. And still not even necessarily knowing anything about people with other disabilities other than blindness in my own relationship to the lived experience of other people that I’ve met. And I’d say like, about 2014 15, or something. I met some people local to Chicago, that are involved in Bodies of Work, which is like a disability arts culture sort of organization that does a lot of arts events, and, you know, some support, and they work with through the University of Illinois Chicago Disability Center there. And I met somebody named Carrie Sandor and Sandy Yee, who are both disabled scholars, and artists and stuff. And they were like, You got to come and meet some of our folks. And so I met a whole bunch of really cool, sort of rowdy radical disabled people and was like, these are my people, I can swear and drink and be just myself and say, you know, screw this and screw this person and all that other kind of stuff and just learned about ableism and then the, the aesthetics behind being a Crip. And that sort of thing, which, you know, made me realize, you know, what, man, Andy, you are who you are, just keep doing that. Since then, I’ve been a loudmouth for myself and others really big on access for everybody. I collaborate a lot with people with disabilities different than mine. And then, of course, you know, other blind visually impaired folks. So now, I, you know, could have said 20 something years ago, I’m 48. Now, maybe yeah, 20 maybe even earlier, I would have been praying for a cure every day. And now it’s like, I’ll wait. I’m happy with my life. I have a career doing what I do. And it’s a lot of it is based around my lived experience. My own disability knowledge and being cured isn’t as important as it once was.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 04:13
Awesome. That was a great answer. You know, every time I hear someone who has the, what I’m gonna call now the luxury of being around a Disability Cultural Center. Yeah, I’m just like, always fascinated, man, because I’ve never been in that space. Like physically. I’m involved with disability culture online, but it’s like, wow, that just sounds fantastic to be able to just be in that space physically.

Andrew 04:41
Chicago’s got a we have a bunch of different resources in groups. I mean, even like, the Chicago the Mayor’s Office of People with disabilities have some real radical cool people in they’re not just like, people that pity who their clients are and like the mayor’s are office isn’t like that. And there’s also a place called Access Living, which is not at all like that either Bodies of Work and like the Chicago disability art scene here is just, it’s just so dope. Everybody here is so supportive, not one person would have, like a gallery show or a performance or anything, like a reading or something that wasn’t accessible. Nobody does an art show that doesn’t have image description. Nobody does a performance or theater that doesn’t have audio description, or ASL or CART. Often, there’s like sensory chill rooms. You know, we all got each other’s back. And I think it has to do with a lot of people that like, we’re involved in that sort of like, disability rights and advocacy in art and stuff, like in the 70s and 80s. But you got to city, not up in the mountains. Yeah, got a lot more people. Were going to places much more mobile. But yeah, these kinds of spaces, you know, I’ve run across them, like, even internationally. And usually, it’s like, you got the cool people in there. You go into like, a blindness convention. It’s cool. But the biggest problem is that there’s an agenda and there’s no chill time. These spaces are, are wonderful. And even, like, virtually, but like, having that personal local connection is like, this is real important. Yeah. And it’s total, it’s a total privilege. You’re right, total privilege.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 06:23
Tell me a little bit about your work, how you came to work with sound and, and everything that you do.

Andrew 06:28
I was like, 15, or 16, right. And I got a Tascam, four to seven, like multitrack cassette recorder. And I was in this really horrible industrial punk band. I was like singing and my parents wanted to buy me an instrument, for whatever reason. And I was like, I want this tape deck. And I got that and I started messing around with like, doing sound collage stuff and more like what I found out to be like, you know, music con Cret, sort of like, using a bunch of like, found and appropriated sounds I took from like, sound effects records and audio books and TV, I used to draw and paint a lot when I was a kid. And when my, my vision in high school started getting to the point where I could no longer do what I wanted to do, I got discouraged, but then I realized, like, oh, I can just make some weird sound art stuff, you know, without really known what that was. And so I started doing that. Eventually, it was time for me to get up out of Milford, Connecticut and move away and go to college. And so I moved to Chicago to go to the school, the Art Institute, because I had a sound department and learned all about audio, more so on the creative side than the vocational side at the time, you know, like using a lot of like analog synthesizers, and early samplers and learning on reel to reels and going through like a dat all the way up to Pro Tools. And then you know, a whole bunch of other stuff. I realized now that my work was, you know, informed by my visual impairment but not about it. And I dropped out of college and I went back like a decade later to get that degree, and kind of picked up where I left off, but started thinking more about like my disability because my vision had gotten I guess worse. It started also thinking more vocationally than creative, like paying more attention on how to maybe go and record a band in a way that was more organized and more professional than whatever I was doing with my dirty four track and some basement, right. And I started getting more into sound design for like filming videos, collaborating with some other, you know, with some artists, friends of mine and doing stuff, recording a band that I’m in, started experimenting with, like, you know, what, how do you make a psychedelic funk band sound the way that it should? By yourself without really knowing what the hell you’re doing? And I figured that out, right? And that was like, oh, yeah, music is cool. As long as I have like, complete control over it. At that time, I was just doing what I wanted to do. And then having a really hard time navigating Pro Tools, which I use, you know, zooming in a lot magnified, and never even like, tried to use it with the screen reader because I wasn’t even trained in that. And eventually I did. I got training from this program called IC music on how to use Pro Tools with VoiceOver. And my workflow was like super fast, I get all this stuff done. And I started realizing that I no longer have headaches from zooming in all the time. I can just get all this stuff done so quickly and started thinking you know what, I really need to consider this more as a career and not just weird Andy stuff. I started doing a lot of field recordings with my cane, going from one place to the next using these sounds, activate acoustic spaces and just do these kinds of weird collage sort of things composed from these sources and then realizing that I don’t know anybody else that does this. You know, I don’t know any other blind folks that use their cane sort of like as a sound maker or an instrument or even just to kind of end up using like the acoustic space at As an instrument itself, and since I realized that Shure microphones makes an app that’s accessible on iOS, it’s when I started doing field recordings again, you know, all that digital stuff, like all the early zooms, and everything like that, where everything was digital, and I could no longer see that little box and menu dive and stuff. You know, I was kind of like, you know what, I got the Shure MV88 plugged in into the phone, walked all over the world with it and made these recordings and thought I was, you know, I was happy doing that. I’m doing really, you know, crappy jobs, but getting social security at the same time, then I kind of found out about like, Ambisonics, unlike immersive spatial audio, stuff for like VR, and extended reality and all that other stuff, I decided I wanted to go and get a degree at Northwestern. And so I went and did that in the sound arts and industries school with a focus on the sort of like immersive, more media arts sort of stuff that is a medium itself that’s still growing and progressing. And then wanting to work in that finding out all of these like access barriers, finding workarounds and such. But then realizing that it would be really cool if I learned this and then got in the industry. And as all this tech and all these, like, you know, this Metaverse or whatever they want to call it. Now, as that grows, I want you to like want access to kind of grow parallel with it. So in my current job, my job job not like my personal private commissions and stuff, I work for a company called fair worlds. And I do you know, sound design stuff, whether it’s from like, user interface, like UI, like bleep blurb, sort of dunk, dunk kind of things, like you press the button, and it makes that sound kind of thing to compose and music to sound effects to you. VoiceOver and dialogue, editing and all this stuff for our apps and videos and whatever the projects may be. And then also working a lot on like spatial audio and applying these to the apps where if it’s gameplay, and the audio spatialized, it’s kind of easier for a blind or visually impaired person to play these games based on where the sound is, you know, all those kinds of things, being able to work within the industry where we have clients, and we have some of the companies that we work with, using their software, beta testing their software and stuff, having the ear of those people in those companies on how important access is like, you know, you could make your thing accessible. And all you got to do is this, having those conversations and some sometimes they go somewhere, sometimes we just got to show them like No, no, here, you know, it’s really, really kind of easy, you just really need to know what you’re talking about. And trying to get in there as a as a creator. And then also, as a consumer of like, this is accessible tech and these sort of things being both, like you know, trying to play video games, but then also trying to make the video games kind of gives me a this perspective that not a whole lot of other people have. But then some of the other stuff I do is like for my own art commissions, I’ll do stuff for performance and gallery, I exhibit a lot. And then I’m also doing like accessibility audits for some websites and museums and stuff. And then I’ll also work on creating like access content, like image description and audio description for like film and museums and, and that kind of thing. So it’s like, that is also still a big part of like my art practice. My art is now like, becoming access for somebody else’s project, but then also also for other people’s products. Our last project, this app that’s launching next week called Space Time adventure towards like, it’s specific to the Seattle Center. It’s about like the 1962 World’s Fair. My sound designs are all vintage retro sci fi like using the Theremin and then all these robot sounds and all this like really fun sort of stuff, and, you know, cool jazz and surf music and stuff, all the stuff that I used to do in the 90s at school or even as a kid. I’m now getting paid, paid to do this. I was always a kid was like, making these sounds just because, you know, undiagnosed ADHD and such. But now I get paid to do that. It’s really important. And it’s really cool. And it’s like, Man, how did I do this? Oh, a lot of it has to do the fact that I decided to go to grad school against my, well, at the time, I was like, this is going to cost an arm and leg. I don’t know. It’s gonna be really bad. This is going to break me. But I went and you know, the place I work for now is where I had my internship in 2020. So I’ve been there for like three years and the house is wonderful. And I wish that more blind folks have these kinds of opportunities and I think they’re there I think we just need to get that tech right to where it is and then get people that like education and training like like it I see music. I learned Reaper too all the key commands conflict with my Pro Tools. My memory, so I just like, I know how Reaper works. But you know, you know, I chose Pro Tools, but, you know, it’s like the Reaper community is huge. And and these are things that, you know, I think if we you know, we get more and more these sorts of tools into blind people’s hands and, you know, get them to be the creators because you know, I mean, I don’t want to say we’re the experts in sound, but I would trust a blind person with sound more than I would a sighted person. And I’m biased, but I truly believe that. So I’d love to see more people get these kinds of jobs. That way, I don’t have to take everything that’s offered to me, because I’m afraid it’ll never get done. If I don’t

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 15:44
tell me about your your first experience with audio description first, as a consumer.

Andrew 15:49
You know, I was thinking about that the other day, like, what was the first film that I ever saw in the theater, and I don’t remember now, but I do remember my first experience was, like Christmas time, I want to say maybe 20 years ago, maybe even longer than that. The Foundation Fighting Blindness used to show It’s A Wonderful Life with open audio description, on TV, whatever channel and I always thought that was wild, I thought that was great. At the time, I could see well enough where I didn’t think that I needed the audio description, but I paid a lot of attention to it. It was an old movie where the sound was at this big Boombastic. Michael Bay mess, the audio description didn’t really mess with the sound of the film, and it kind of like elevated over but still mixed in kind of thing. And I really took to that. And I think that one of the first films I saw in the theater had to have been, I want to say 14 years ago, whatever it may have been, the movie theater made me give them like my ID or something like that. And I was like, Oh, this is cool. I’m digging this in those early years. And I mean, I guess still to this day, you still got to always double check with the theater, like, does this thing work? Do you have the right one, give me two Behling the listening experience hasn’t really changed much other than I think the quality of the audio descriptions better, I still have to cover an ear sometimes to in order to like hear the description. But I can go and do that stuff with my family. You know, um, it might have been something like, Captain America movie or something like that. That’s why I was loving going into the Marvel and then Disney movies and stuff like that, because it’s like, I know that their audio descriptions on point, like Pixar, they really kind of champion that stuff early on the stuffs on point. And it’s always gonna be there. So okay, brand loyalty to, you know, corporate overlords. There we go. It’s like I love apple and Disney and Marvel and such because I feel invited and I can use it. And then, you know, I kind of got into these opportunities with working with other artists are navigating, like, Hey, Andy, how do I how do I do this? For my own work? But the time I didn’t really know how, what if there was a book of what to do and what not to do. So I just started being like, I don’t know, this is art, let’s be weird. You know, you can be subjective man, like, make it another art piece and play a parallel or whatever, keep experimenting, the ACB audio description project, really great examples there, love that database and stuff. But I’ve also come across people citing that as the end all be all, you know, and it’s like, yeah, it’s to the point, it just totally depends on what the project is. My favorite experiences is watching like, The Video Game Awards, or the Game Awards, or whatever that thing was called, like, two years ago. And they had to describe stream, which was live and the woman reading it or narrating it was just having a blast. Here’s the animation of Mario and like, Mario is on a turtle. Oh, and then laser, you know, like that kind of stuff. But then they had like a category for most accessible game. And I think that’s when the last of us to like pretty much won everything, but the fact that they have that, that was kind of an audio description joy for me. You know, that was like the next level of oh my god, audio descriptions, you know, the movies. And then here’s the game that’s accessible. It’s a little too damn hard. And I got I’m like, you know, read a book on how to play it. But here’s the Game Awards, taking this thing seriously. And, you know, and then trying to get gamer culture involved in it was like, you know, a real cool step.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 19:38
You mentioned that you were soda invited to start thinking about it from the perspective of a creator creating audio description. Can you talk a little bit about the roles that you fill in the process of creating ad?

Andrew 19:52
My roles originally just started kind of as a collaborator or an advisor on projects. I wasn’t comfortable With maybe recording my voice, I’d work with other people to write stuff down. Since my vision is impaired, sometimes it’s a boundary. Sometimes it’s not. There’s a guy locally named Victor Cole, who does a lot of like audio descriptions for local performances and like award ceremonies and all these other cool stuff that the Chicago disabled arts community employ him to do that, started talking to him about his process, and like picking up on that, and then realizing that my role as a blind person to create this is probably going to be different than how Victor approaches it. Which is cool, because that means you have like more voices and more opportunities to give different perspectives of stuff. And so there’s some like, performance artists and dancers and choreographers and stuff locally that were like, you know, we want to do this live. But we also want to, like pre record some stuff, mess with the stereo sound for AD and kind of move the AD around in like an open audio description sort of situation, which I think is cool, because I wish I could control where I wanted to place the ad when I’m listening to it right in the stereo field, and then doing sound design within the AD. So kind of going from that direction of making sure that the people that I work with understand that access from the get go is the way to do it, especially when you’re coming around with like audio description, right? It’s like, think about the amount of space that you can take up and how much you can maybe need to cram in there with the ad, as long as it’s either on your mind or even just part of the script or something like that, then it’ll just be so much easier to complete, as opposed to like, oh, no, we got an audio describe this thing. Now, here, you got three days kind of thing. And I’ve been in those situations. But I’ve also been in situations where I’ve had a very long time to kind of digest and work and stuff. So first started off as me being like an advisor, and then you know, like a collaborator and then helping produce an edit, and mix AD tracks, maybe early as like 2017 or something like that I started, you know, doing this kind of stuff. But at the end of last year, I got the opportunity to write and record the audio description for feature. And that was a film called the Tuba Thieves. By Allison Oh, Daniel, who was a deaf hard hearing director. And that thing debuted at Sundance. And so that was really cool. A great experience, because 95% of the film, the dialogue is ASL. So like my wife, and I, my wife is autistic, and I’m visually impaired. And we wrote the AD and I narrated it, I was able to hire these three disabled voice actors to read basically the subtitles in the captions, and kind of, you know, bring them into this where they had done some some of this work on before. And they’re all actors and performers and stuff. But never for something that was essentially, I don’t know, everybody is disabled on this on this thing. So it’s like, yeah, you know, we brought, you know, we’re, we’re all showing up as we as we should. And so what was cool about this film is that this film is, like, the sound itself was so incredibly descriptive, and all very referential, and all sounds that I think, you know, so many of us would, would get that, you know, the, the actual audio description that I read and recorded, was real minimal. And there’s a lot of silence in the film. So I kind of shut up, you know, it was like, it’s like, oh, I have to make these decisions. Now. This is a weird experimental, sort of almost documentary style film. I have done so much like experimental audio description, sort of stuff with like, I don’t know layered voices and sound and sound design and weird, poetic sort of approaches to stuff. And I could still bring some of that energy, but certainly didn’t want to, you know, make a huge mess out of it. And I’m happy with how how it worked out. It was really cool. Knowing that as it travels around on tour, it’s playing in theaters that offer audio description, and all the promotional stuff that I see for it says, you know, audio description is also available and also has open captions. So it’s really this kind of like, cool thing where it’s like, hey, here it is. We’re all here, right? People asked me if I’ll work on their films, and it’s like, it’s so time consuming, as you may know, especially if you’re asked to do everything, the literacy of this sort of like audio description, these other access points. A lot of the times people come to me not knowing enough, and it’s like, do we want to sit here and have a four hour meeting of me explaining what it is that you need to do? Or do you want me to do at all because you still don’t understand what it is I need to do. And then when it comes to like, compensation, it gets kind of hairy. You know, but I mean, there are a lot of people that really want this filming. Viewers, especially disabled filmmakers, but for whatever reason people are afraid to do it. It’s funny when I see, you know, other disabled artists and filmmakers and stuff, afraid to do this, because they don’t want to mess it up. It’s like, look, I understand that, but we have the same, you know, lived experiences on a lot of situations, right? And just think about it like that. It’s like, experiment with it. It’s it’s common sense. I honestly think just, you just got to watch like, you know, a handful of different, you know, films with audio description to really get what you want to do. I don’t want to have to explain it a million different times. I know I sound crabby, like crabby old man over it. But it’s time consuming. And, you know, you want me as a consultant or an artist, or what, because there’s a different pay rate. Yeah. You know, you know, and it’s very true, absolutely. Sound like capitalist about it. But you know, it is kind of
TR in Conversation with Andrew: 26:08
it’s your time.

It’s my time,

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 26:08
you said that you and your wife wrote the AD for the film. So you were participating in that process? You were you a writer?

Andrew 26:17

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 26:08
Okay. Cool.

Andrew:Yeah, yeah, we watched the movie. And then we kind of went, we didn’t have a script for this. So we kind of, we watched it, we took notes, you know, put it on the timecode. And that sort of thing. Yeah. And I don’t know if this is a process that other people do. But you know, we just got, we sat down here. And you know, we put it on the big monitor. And based on how Tressa would describe what’s on screen, sometimes I could see it because a lot of the movie is slow, we take notes of what’s on screen, we’d go off some of the notes that the producer gave us, I would just kind of reword it, you know, or edit it. So it was more interesting to kind of match the energy, especially the energy of these captions, these captions were out of control, awesome, and weird and abstract at time, I didn’t want to be just normal sort of insights as interpretations as to what was going on on screen. But then also using like, my own artifacts of my vision, also where it’s like, I got tunnel vision. So I can see like, what’s up on the right side of the screen. I could focus on some weird thing here. And then Tressa would point out what else was going on? You know, and it’s a cool film it has people talking about when Prince and the revolution played Gallaudet University to have like a whole hundreds of Deaf folks.
TR in Conversation with Andrew: 26:08
Oh, wow.

Yeah. And there’s like, there’s these photos, because there was no film. You know, nothing but like photos of it, being able to describe these photos. Like this one, I think it’s black and white. I don’t know, you know, it’s from like, it’s from the Purple Reign tour. On the left is the band rocking out. And you can see that Prince has his like white Stratocaster up high and he’s just jamming and you know, he’s wearing purple even though it’s black and white. And then to the right is like, it’s like hundreds of deaf people all signing I love you, you know, with the with the index, the pinky in the thumb up. And like, being able to see that spend time just like even zooming in and like pausing the film and then zooming in. Like that photo and another one of prints where he’s, you know, given I love you sign with this, stand next to this kid, this huge grin on Prince’s face where you just like, Man, I got like, all emotional How do I describe this, because this is just beautiful. And it’s like a still photo on screen for five seconds. And that’s something that I realized, like, this is really, this is got to be really, really tough for people. When you have like this wonderful photo that you want to spend a lot of attention on that you got, like, five seconds. Yeah.
TR in Conversation with Andrew: 28:58
You know what’s crazy? I have a Purple Rain shirt on right now. (Laughs)

Andrew 29:03

That’s not crazy. That makes a lot of sense, you know, it’s like, of course…

I don’t really know the process of people, you know, like down the line where you have, you know, a sighted person, kind of write it and take notes. And then I know blind folks like Robert Kingett, who like takes those notes and kind of writes it. And then somebody else like reads that or edits, like whatever that chain of events is, I just kind of was doing it intuitively thinking like, you know, this works. This works for this application of a weird art movie. And that’s the thing is a weird art movie. And then you have these other elements. It’s like, I have to be serious because this is some serious shit. And I don’t know how people that do that sort of thing more often than I do professionally. Like, I don’t know, I don’t know how that works. You know, I don’t know if the studio is like, Nah, don’t pay attention to that. But you need to pay attention to this or if people are just given you know, blank check to go and create it however they want.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 29:58
No, yeah. I think that first I mean, there’s a combination, right? There’s the the decisions that they’re making, and it’s following the plot. And but it’s somebody’s it’s somebody’s decision. I think what changes is that is the approach, right? So you were mindful of the, the tone of the film, right? And following the aesthetic of the film and all of that. And I don’t think, especially if we talk about mainstream aging, right, it’s just about the film. And I’m not saying anything bad. I mean, there’s, you know, there’s, there’s levels to this, right, the good ones are, they’re putting in some time and figuring out what the plot is. But I think some of them that I’ve spoken to, at least, you know, really do similar to you wanting to describe that Prince pitcher is often those times where they’re like, Man, I wanted to spend a little more time on this, but yeah, you know, it’s sort of a side thing, and we just can’t do it. Yeah.

Andrew 30:48
And, you know, I mean, when you got a broader, you know, mainstream audience, you can’t get super weird, right? I mean, you can, but one of my favorite audio description moments is Deadpool movie, which has a character Blind Al. She’s not played by a blind person. She’s played by Leslie Uggams, who is a wonderful actor. So Deadpool, so he’s a jerk. And it’s a really raunchy film. And so he goes to Blind Als house, she’s talking and while she’s talking and not clearly not seeing him, he lists up a trapdoor on the floor. And there’s three items in there. One is a, like a pill bottle, and other is a bag of coke. And another is a gun, Deadpool opens up the hatch, and there’s a, you know, a bag that says dead pulls cocaine, and then there’s a gun. And then there’s a pill bottle that says “The cure for blindness”, he takes the gun and the coke out shuts the door, and I’m laughing my ass off and the film, and my wife did not know that. That’s what you know that that pill bottle said, the Z sort of things where it’s like, I’m glad for the comedy that that was, you know, that was that was put in there, right? And that’s when I realized like, oh, not everybody gets these details. Yeah, there’s another show. My flag means death, which is a funny movie, or a funny show about, you know, pirates and stuff. There’s a character called Calico Jack. And there’s a seagull named illite that they call Olivia. And he’s like, floating away in the water. And he’s talking to Olivia, and he says something stupid. And then, you know, the audio description, says Olivia. Olivia gives him the side eye as like that seagulls not giving them the side eye. But that was a great use of, you know, nailing down the tone of that thing. And I want I want more of that.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 32:34
When you creating AD and you work with a filmmaker, what role does trust play? In your process? I think of this as with AD, like, as blind people, we’re forced, in a way, you know, we have to trust, we have to trust that this Narrator This, this writer is giving us the information that that we need. As blind people, we trust that our technology is giving us that information that we need, right? Yeah, but I feel like as creators, especially around audio description, we’re not given trust. I don’t feel like it overall, we’re questioned when it comes to blind folks doing AD, we’re very much questioned. We see that right now. There was this whole certification, this whole thing about blind writers like figuring out if we are allowed to do this. I mean, that’s the way I’m gonna interpret it. Yeah.

Andrew 33:25
Let’s say like, in my situation, working on the Tuba Thieves with with my wife, right? We were there was no NDA, right? We actually got complete trust. And I’ll talk about that a little bit. But it’s like, say you gotta sign an NDA. People are like, Why don’t want this, you know, this other person that’s going to help you this like sighted person to help you work on this. We don’t want them to leak these secrets, either. It’s like, well have them sign an NDA. Have somebody within your studio work with the blind writer? It’s just another case of like, they don’t trust us to do something for us. That’s wack, you know. And it’s like, they don’t trust us to the point where you’re going to be underbid to somebody that knows how to type, you know, like somebody that can do like the the text to speech thing. Or somebody who’s a voiceover artists or actor or whatever, and gets all these commercial gigs and stuff and just kind of like, oh, yeah, no, I can do I can totally do right audio description. It’s just what’s on the screen, with no training, you know, it’s like you, you still need to know how to address this. The fact that this medium of the industry isn’t yet, I guess, run by us, the people I know involved are, you know, it’s, it’s probably just, you know, it’s just a different side of things because I know, I know them all from being blind. And they, you know, they’re not just like, here’s a gift. It’s like, Hey, I made this in community and collaboration with blind people. If I’m sighted there were blind people involved in this where A lot of the times he feels like it’s, it’s like, oh, what you don’t like sound quality? Oh, you don’t like how it’s written? Well, you know, you should be even lucky that we’re doing it. You know, like that kind of thing. I don’t like that attitude. I feel like people don’t trust us with anything. When people don’t trust that I can cross the street. People are like, don’t even trust that I can tie my shoes. You know? Like, like, wait a minute, let me ask you sighted people. Do you look at your shoes when you tie them? Do you look at your teeth when you brush them? Because that’s just weird. But that’s, that’s the answer people give me. Um, but you know, it’s like, so what was cool with working with with Alison Oh, Daniel, is that since she’s deaf, she’s a disabled artist and filmmaker, she just trusted that we would do what was best, and that we would do it and it would be cool and creative and not some rope, sort of boring ass thing. And so like we got that trust, because the person who hired us was cool. I don’t think I could say that somebody from Paramount, or whatever would sit down, meet me and be like, yeah, no, you know what you’re doing. I trust that you’ll get it done. Because studio people are used to given notes, right? And they want to have control over everything. And it’s just like, man, just just let us do this. We’ll get it done. We all realize that we don’t want to send out some jalopy sort of audio description out for our community, because it’s just a sellout move. Or just cynical, like, you know, I was under the gun, I had to get this done in a day. And it’s like, yeah, well, you could also say, No, you need more than a day, a job as a job. But it’s also kind of like, we all have our convictions. And all the people I know that work in AD, just like, will keep that in mind. When you’re doing work, like who comes to you who in like the studio chain, or the production chain hires the audio describers,

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 37:06
there’s usually an AD director, usually, that will probably be the title. That’s the person who’s sort of making the decisions. They’re serving as a project manager at that point. And so they’re assigning it to a writer, they’re assigning it to a narrator, etc., etc. For blind narrators, it’s still that level of trust, because not everybody wants to work with blind narrators. And some of them use the excuse that they have specific software that they use, for example, where maybe you have to dial in and whether it be to download the script, or whether it be to use the recording something I think you can record, right there even remotely or something like that. But whatever they say the software isn’t accessible. And so you know, we know that’s not the only way to get something done, right? Because these other places where you don’t use a software, you email me a script, I send you a link to the file that I just produced for you. It’s not a big deal. That’s excuses.

Andrew 38:03
Sighted people are so narrow minded, where it’s like, it’s like, Yo, if this was a disabled person, they’d be like, Yo, you know how to adapt, you know, that workaround? Right? It’s like, I know, you can’t see that street sign up there. But you know, how to get around whatever’s going on here. And maybe it’ll take you next day, maybe you’ll get it done sooner than any other, you know, and those folks in those positions don’t have don’t understand those aesthetics. Right. They don’t understand that way life. Yeah. And that’s just that just kind of hurts.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 38:34
Can you talk about, like, your thoughts about sort of experiencing the world, non visually, but and when I say non visually, I’m not coming from the place where I’m trying not to use the word blind or anything like that.

Right. Right. Right. Right.
TR in Conversation with Andrew: 38:34
Right. I’m coming from that place where specifically, you’re not censoring vision. So for example, like the piece that you did, where you specifically had the image description, and, and there was no image at all. That was like not censoring their vision.
Right. Right.
TR in Conversation with Andrew: 38:34
That was just totally saying, This is how I experienced it. This is how you’re gonna experience it.

Andrew 39:13
Oh, yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. I mean, it’s just kind of like, look, if I tell you that this is what’s going on, this is what’s going on. That piece is like I wrote down a description for a painting that doesn’t exist, it was just something that was in my head, a lot of blind people may not be able to, you know, I talk about color and stuff like that. But you know, some folks may not have reference points to it, and that sort of thing. But it’s like that kind of work is meant for a sighted audience. Talking in their terms, using color is basically like an access move. So that sighted people can be engaged in the image description for you know, the invisible ink, they can see like, yeah, you can you can kind of have fun and do weird stuff when you’re describing things. So it’s totally like visually centered for that. But then when I do this Questions of some of my sound work, it’s never visual. But did this recording what I did texture, smell, touch, vibration, you know, an emotional sort of stuff with a lot of metaphor, because, you know, that’s how you got talked about sound some time, but I still think visually sometimes and describe things with sight in mind and image in mind. But that’s mostly just for communication. We’ve all trained ourselves to, you know, use sound for you know, navigating, and, you know, cooking and you know, whatever our daily life is, I rely on and trust my ears, obviously, more so than I do my vision. I have all these like weird, like artifacts and like flashes and like hallucinations and stuff like that. I don’t care anymore. I used to care that I bump into stuff, I’ll go to the bar that I know where everybody knows me, and I’ll know that they’ll tap me on the shoulder or say my name when it’s time to order, right? And if I go someplace, and I’m ignored, then, you know, I’m ignored. I’ll do what I what I can, but it’s like, I try not to rely on my vision. Even though sometimes I do have my eyes open. And I might be seeing something, but it doesn’t always process right. So it gets kind of like psychedelic and weird or these Oh, there’s lights in that corner of the room. But I kind of see a blob, I kind of see that still doesn’t help me with the perception of where that corner is. Or if that’s a person or a Christmas tree or, you know, can of dog food. I go Mr. Magoo style kind of thing and just like bumble around sometimes and figure it out, knowing that this is normal for me, a sighted person might be, you know, watching me like what is this crazy blind person doing? They’re going to break everything. I better make sure that they don’t knock something over. When in reality, it’s I’m pretty nimble, like I’m a big dude. But I’m pretty nimble. Like the only time I bump into stuff is that my house because I’m overconfident. Like, listen to my phone, I’m cracking open soda, and then also telling the Echo to play, you know, Run DMC, and then I’ll walk into the wall. I hate feeling like I’m on display. Yeah, you know, to the public, but at the same time, it’s like if I hid, if I didn’t do anything, I’d have no joy in life. You know, like, there’s no shame in the cane. No shame in me, you know, doing what I got to if I come off with having a chip on my shoulder. That’s not a chip on my shoulder. That’s just my reaction to ableism

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 42:32
when you were describing, like how this painting didn’t exist, sort of reminds me of talking about these hallucinations, so not necessarily that blob well that could be the Christmas tree or the really big can of dog food by the way. (Laughing)

Andrew 42:46
Real big, like Costco like

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 42:51
you experience hallucinations as well. Talk to me about what you see.

Andrew 42:55
Okay, and I’m gonna preface this with yesterday was 4 20Oh, and I live I live in a state where it’s legal. Carmen visited Chicago a couple of weeks ago and he gave me these THC capsules that he made with a strain called LSD and he was he was like this he’s like this to me inhibits some of the hallucinations I have a times when they may not be happening because you know like we both have RP and sometimes you know our eyes aren’t doing all of this like right now my eyes are doing some things so the scribe that he gave me this weed these edibles because he’s working on he’s working on some stuff where he’s trying to to create a strain that kind of emulates the hallucinations that he gets him and his brother’s brother also has RP and went to band practice and you know had one of these you know, Carmen edibles as little capsules. And it cleared my vision up. issues I was having. Yeah, I was like, Oh, well, okay. It gave me like this. This like kind of awareness of the space of the room and sometimes like feels like my field of vision is widened. And I’m like really confident or like get up like, oh, I don’t have my cane. But I’m outside now what happened right? I don’t necessarily like taking edibles because they will totally obliterate what I am seeing and not in a fun way. stuff. Like when I’m exposed to a lot of light, you know, like it’s my pupils are dilated. So get the sort of a lot of after image you walk into like a camera flash right for me that will stick around forever, like at the strobes, right? These these sort of strobe flash are sort of things and then everything is kind of like a I’ll say like an electric Deep Purple, or some weird kind of green like neon but kinda like the echo from Ghostbusters and stuff and I’ll get these other things that I’ve seen like my whole life. aren’t that they’re, they’re kind of gray, purple, green, whatever this weird thing that’s like the shape of like a Cheeto Puff like a sea kind of thing. And they move from one eye to the next. And when I close my eyes, I still see them. And it’s kind of like, how’s it going through both eyes is this is something where my brain is shooting off, you know, like, I don’t know, weird electric shocks into my eyes, I have no idea. I don’t consider them like interruptive anymore as I did when I was a kid. When I was a kid, I was really, really, really night blind right now it’s kind of flipped, where I’m totally photophobia like light. I hate it. I hate the bright light and like a gremlin or something like, when I was a kid, I think it’s something where your color preceptors or your light preceptors can’t do what they’re doing. So I would get these weird visions that kind of look like fireworks or something like that, right? Like when you rub your eyes real hard. People experience those kind of colors or like flashes or fireworks sort of explosive sort of like weird shapes and stuff. Those just kind of pop up for me, and it’s cool. But if I’m trying to do something, where I am needing to use my vision, this just misses me off. They do kind of become a hindrance. And I know that Carmen invites them. He likes them. But for me, sometimes it’s a reminder of, oh, well, you know, that thing you were gonna do? Now you’re gonna be distracted. And you might as well not do it, because it’s totally distracting. But sometimes they’re cool. I like doing mushrooms. Do those every once in a while and I do a lot of writing. I’ve done a lot of like sound descriptive work, writing about what I hear in my own work. And then some other artists have commissioned me. And with that, it’s like, have these different hallucinations. I don’t know if they’re different. I don’t know if it’s something where I’m having the same kind of effects that I always have. But psychedelics start to make the move and take shape and dance around and all this kind of stuff and, and that’s cool. You’re not a narc, right?

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 38:34

If you’re a narc, you got to tell me like, yeah, I find it really, really cool. And it really kind of like makes it so like, oh, I can I can actually enjoy this. Yeah. So these are just like I said, like artifacts of like my retina probably imploding. But sometimes back to the giant dog food that’s like my brain trying to process what I’m looking at. But sometimes they’ll just be stuff that I think I see that isn’t there. And that’s kind of new, like within the probably the past 10 years. I don’t know if it’s the Charles Bonnett stuff. I don’t know if it’s shadow people. I don’t know if it’s like there’s a tear in that space time, whatever. But sometimes there’s stuff that’s there. And sometimes it’s not. I’m into it, because I don’t know what it is. Yeah,

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 47:56
so you question, do you have to question a lot or you know when, ok, I need to question this. Well, obviously a big ol’ can of dog food, like that you’re gonna (laughing) know. (Laughs….)

Andrew 48:05
Yeah, I’m just gonna put that in my bag to go home with it. Like, this is my Yes. Sometimes. I’m like, if I’m by myself. A lot of times I won’t question it. And then you know, it’s like, like, let’s say it’s a street at night and under a streetlamp. There’s something whether it’s like looks like it might be a box, or person and it’s not moving. But I’ll just assume, well, it’s supposed to be there, whatever. Maybe that’s my neighbor. And then I’ll like walk five, five feet up. And yo, that thing isn’t there anymore? Was my brain trying to say that it was there when there really wasn’t, you know, or am I being hunted? You read all the Oliver Sacks in the world, and he’ll explain it as plain as possible. But I still don’t know if it’s my brain or if it’s my eyes. It’s cool. But it’s also disarming at times. But you know, I’m I’m a strong dude. I guess. I’ve never experienced any paranormal anything. You know, so like, I don’t I don’t know if that’s if that’s real, real or not. But yeah, so know if it’s a lost memory.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 49:19
It sounds like you do sometimes think a little bit more about them as opposed to just okay, this is just something medical happening with my eye. Like when my child has been a for example, and I know it’s not because somebody ruins it for me and gives me the medical explanation but I’m like, wow, I should I be looking at these shapes and these things that I’m saying and really thinking about it. How does this relate to my mood right now? Wait, is this some sort of internal communication and I talking to myself through these images, like am I trying to tell myself you know, it’s I get into it. It’s like, and it’s quite enjoyable. Again, mine is Charles Bonnett , and I never heard anyone who has that. The experience of Charles Bonnett is usually it’s those people usually report little monsters type images.

Andrew 50:06
Yeah, terrible.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 50:09
Yeah. That was like waking up from a bad dream. I could wake up gradually, and then I’ll see a face. And it’s usually like a creepy looking. It’s not a real face, right. But it’s like a creepy looking animation or something like that. And then it might be like you described sort of neon ish electrified. And it’s just, and then I just stare at it. And then it goes away.

Andrew 50:31
You ever had sleep paralysis? Oh, no. Yeah, when I was a kid, it was, it was kind of bad. And I would experience something very similar to that. But I think it was, you know, in a dark space where like, the color receptors or whatever things would swirl around, you know, and then like, maybe there’d be a shadow of a tree. And I would just be like, sleep paralysis, but I’d be seeing this stuff. I mean, that sounds a lot like the situation where if you wake up from a bad dream, and there’s like, this, you know, image that you see that, you know, looks like a face to you. And you were dreaming about maybe falling through the ice. But then there’s like this face, it’s like, Are you being faced with this being that’s controlling your mind? I mean, there’s like, so when you start thinking like that, I mean, cuz, you know, thinking scientifically, on what all that means is, yeah, yeah, whatever. But you think holistically or like how your body’s reaction is, maybe it is your mood, maybe it’s your body communicating to, you know, like, how the hell the science? No,

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 51:35
no, I definitely think there’s a relationship. I know, there’s a relationship between my body and what I see. Because when I’m tired, it’s hazy, it’s very blurry. And when I’m, wake right up, I’m like, if I took a little 20 minute cat nap, it just starts to get just really clear and vivid. It’s like, Okay, I’m ready to go now. I’m good.

Andrew 51:53
Yeah, when I’m tired. I mean, that’s the kind of stuff that you know, my, everything’s hazy. And, you know, it’s, it’s, I started thinking, like, it’s just like a visual migraine. I heard people talk about those. So I started taking, like, prescription strength, aspirin or ibuprofen, or whatever, and it cleared it. So I’m like, wait, maybe this is a migraine? Or maybe I just convinced myself. It’s really psychedelic. It’s also disarming, but then at the same time, sometimes you feel like you have control over it. And you can change it. Yeah. And I can’t explain it. Other than that, you know, it’s like, you know, so many of us have these experiences, and they’re all different. But like, are they based in memory? Are they based in like, the degradation of your, you know, the cells in your eye or your brain? Or, you know, the substance that you may have ingested? Who knows, but, I mean, it’s definitely something that would scare the hell out of somebody who’s never experienced that to wake up and say that someday?

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 53:06
Do you have synesthesia by any chance?

Andrew 53:08
I do. That’s another thing that I never really get to talk about. The only person I ever talked to about synesthesia was this woman I went to school with their reaction was numbers, they would get these hallucinations or visions of different numbers. And with me, it doesn’t happen as often, which I’m bummed about. You just see colors, or you sense movement, and all these things based on sound in music, like when I hear something, there’s a color. In my head, I don’t necessarily see an image all the time. Sometimes I do. But it’s like, I was listening to Underdog by Sly and the Family Stone earlier. And it’s like, every time the horns hit that was like a yellow, like a fire yellow with like an orange bass. And then that drum came in. And it was kind of like, headlight white, pulsing on that beat and that sort of thing. So like these kind of like Sonic qualities, and these tambours to me, sometimes relate to color. And I don’t even know if it’s the right color, because I do have some colorblindness, but I’ve done stuff when I used to work in the studio, especially when I was recording my band, I’d be in this room for hours, and sometimes other people would be in there sometimes not. And I’d listen to stuff like what does this mix need? This guitar needs to look more like a paper bag. I need that Brown, I need paper bag Brown. And like, you know, that’s what’s in my head. And so I’d mess with it like with the EQ, or whatever kind of processing until I felt like that color was attached to that sound. It’s how I started thinking and it was like a wonder if I knew how to blend color and I understood color more if that would affect how I mix or listen. It’s pretty cool. It’s really wild. So

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 54:48
when you were looking for the paper brown bag, you were just sort of changing EQs you were playing with different ones or do you know to go to certain places?

Andrew 54:54
At that point, it was I was just messing with EQ and I was using the EQ on the eye On the board like the parametric EQ, I was trying to do it physically because this place had some outboard stuff. But sometimes you know if I’m like mixing something I’m putting like, like a reverb on it. That’s color coordinated. As far as I’m concerned, like space, whether it’s like real space or it’s like, you know, synthetic space like a reverb, there’s color, I was working on something earlier. And I was like, eating an ice cream sandwich. And I was listening to the reverb chain. And I was like, this seems cold because, you know, sometimes you have these other sort of like, emotions to music, or, you know, sensory reactions. I finished a sandwich it no longer seemed cold. But then it was, it was like, thinking about it as like a strawberry in a pool of lavender is what I heard this reverb chain of just this like Drum and Bass silly thing that I was doing. And I started thinking about maybe I gotta figure out what colors go with strawberry lavender, and then try to mix the rest of it. So it looks in my mind like that. And if that would be at all interesting, you know, it’s like, Pharrell did a record. That was all based on his synesthesia. I don’t know if it was a Neptune‚Äôs record or if it was,

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 56:10
I think Kanye is also supposed to have synesthesia.

Andrew 56:13
Yeah, and you know, weirdos, you know, that happens. A lot of times people don’t even know what it is. Yeah, you know, you can always you can have any kind of like sensory, like experience like referential to anything. But then when it’s like, you start getting deep and thinking about and studying it, it’s like this is actually kind of kind of magic. And really fun. I wish that there was a more natural way to kind of activate my synesthesia, but it seems now it’s really, I mean, maybe I need to eat more of these ice cream sandwiches, but sometimes it seems….

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 38:34
Talk to Carmen. Talk to Carmen to make you a strain. (Laughs)

? Yeah. get some, get some some that LSD hash oil or whatever, in my sandwich. Good lord. Like in 2013. I was doing a lot of sound work and mixing based around that because it was really active at the time. And I don’t know if it’s something where I just not allowing myself to do it. So overworked and stressed about stuff, like maybe that’s the thing, maybe I need to just chill and I can let my body communicate the way it wants to. Yeah. And like Andy has some have some fun here. Just listen, listen to this, as a case record and just listen to the color.

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 57:25
That’s funny that you chose that you said Isaac Hayes, because we were doing I do some classes with Cheryl. And we did this thing where I wanted folks to describe so we you know, we talk about audio description in a creative way. And so I said, Well, I want y’all to describe a song. Right? And so I used Isaac Hayes, because I love it. It always works for me, “Hung Up On My Baby.” And the Ghetto Boys use it or whatever. They’re so different. And that was part of why I chose that song because that same riff, the interpretation when you hear it in the Ghetto Boys, it doesn’t give you that same feeling. As “Hung Up On My Baby”.

Andrew 58:01
Their . Narratives are so much more descriptive than what was going on at Stax. Yeah,

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 58:06
I wish I had those colors because I always try to match it with what I’m seeing. And I don’t, I don’t find any sort of relationship except for the clarity. That’s the only thing that the relationship for me is that clarity.

Andrew 58:18
Clarity is something that I mean, that’s definitely something to strive for. You know, it’s like you got clarity. I mean, damn, I wish

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 58:31
Where can folks, check out what you’re doing and stay in contact with you.
Andrew 58:35
Yeah, my Instagram Tik Tok website, YouTube, everything like that.
TR in Conversation with Andrew: 58:42
You’re on Tick Tock huh, what are you doing on Tick Tock?

Being an asshole!

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 58:42

Andrew 58:45
I had a viral video like last year like million something like maybe three or four

TR in Conversation with Andrew: 58:55
Oh, yeah. See, I don’t do tick tock. What are you doing?

Andrew 58:59
It was it was footage of a guy in the in the street in the middle of the night telling me it wasn’t blind. I shouldn’t be using grabbed it. And yeah, and so it started a huge discourse of people thinking that you know, the whole thing of like, how do you use tick tock if you if you can’t, you know, like all that stuff where they all came out of the woodwork. It’s like you’ll Google is free. My life is not a q&a.

I’ll put up fun videos of like, you know, me messing with like access stuff or just like me walking around and videotaping my cane on different surfaces and making sound.


I love that, “Making sounds on surfaces”.

Salute to Andrew Slater, I appreciate you bro!
Remember, we’ll be back in September and it’s always the second and fourth Tuesday of the month when we’re publishing episodes.

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