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FCC Invites BBB To Be Featured Speaker

A headshot of Stephanae a medium brown skin black woman with short salt & pepper hair. She's wearing a white tee with a teal jacket and black leather leaf earrings. The tee is adorned with black braille beading that says “Diversity Includes Disability.”

FCC Invites BBB To Be Featured Speaker

Content

However, like anything else in life with losses, there are also gains. Once I began accepting my blindness and connected with other blind people, my life began to shift. Being exposed to accessible technology, audio books, and later AD, my world opened up.

~Stephanae

Editor’s Note

It is such a joy to be recognized for the work we do especially when that work is a passion project that gives us life. So when the FCC contacted me to be their featured speaker at the Second Forum on Improving Accessibility of Online Video Programming I saw it as an opportunity for Bold Blind Beauty.

Since creating Bold Blind Beauty, my why has remained the same it’s about changing perceptions of disabilities. Bold Blind Beauty’s mission of “improving humanity by changing the way we perceive one another” is broad but I believe changing perceptions can be done by amplifying our voices to advocate for A.I.R. and living our best lives.

Disabilities are a normal part of life. Just because we may need to do some things differently, this does not lessen our value. We are capable of being active participants in all matters that impact our quality of life and are more deserving than being on the sidelines.

As mentioned in my remarks below about Audio Description (AD), for our qualified talents on the blindness spectrum, we are worthy of being part of the process from top to bottom. What this means is being hired in all aspects of the process including but not limited to production, creation, and distribution of media content for public consumption. We are worthy of equal access to the same high-quality entertainment as our sighted peers. With all the technology at our disposal in 2022 is it unreasonable to ask all streaming services to come up with universal access to AD?

We can do better! The points mentioned in my remarks can be more adequately resolved when we set our biases aside and change the way we view people on the blindness spectrum.

I’d like to once again thank the FCC for the opportunity to share my why and to talk about my views on AD.

Below my YouTube Video is the transcript of my remarks for the FCC’s event.

YouTube Video

Introduction

FCC Invites BBB To Be Featured Speaker: A headshot of Stephanae a medium brown skin black woman with short salt & pepper hair. She's wearing a white tee with a teal jacket and black leather leaf earrings. The tee is adorned with black braille beading that says “Diversity Includes Disability.”

I’d like to thank the FCC for providing me the honor of sharing a few brief remarks for the Second Forum on Improving Accessibility of Online Video Programming.

My name is Stephanae McCoy. I’m a 61 year old medium brown skinned black woman with short salt and pepper hair. I’m wearing a white tee with a teal jacket and black leather leaf earrings. My tee [created by Aille Design] is adorned with black braille beading that says “Diversity Includes Disability.”

I’m an abilities Crusader and the founder of Bold Blind Beauty, where Real Beauty Transcends Barriers. Bold Blind Beauty is all about changing the perceptions of people living with disabilities, which is one of the reasons why we wholeheartedly support A.I.R. (access, inclusion, and representation). Everyone on the planet needs air to survive. People with disabilities need A.I.R. (access, inclusion, and representation) not only to survive, but to thrive.

Losing Eyesight

Losing eyesight is never easy. Losing it after the privilege of a lifetime of seeing is devastating. It was 2009 when I was diagnosed legally blind. I gave up driving the year prior and re-homed my beloved book collection because I could no longer read regular size print. The losses continued to mount and I felt like I was shrinking along with my losses.

However, like anything else in life with losses, there are also gains. Once I began accepting my blindness and connected with other blind people, my life began to shift. Being exposed to accessible technology, audio books, and later AD, my world opened up.

The Enriching Experience Of AD

My first experience with AD was at the movies with a friend of mine. It was a small nonprofit theater who wanted us to try their ad headsets. For the first time since losing my sight I could watch a movie and understand what was happening without pestering the person who was sitting next to me.

Since that first movie with AD I’ve streamed numerous series and movies. I’ve noticed that AD is truly an art form that involves a collaboration with many talented people, some of whom are blind.

Barriers To Quality AD

However, not all AD and access to it are created equal. When it’s done to save money, or the quality isn’t good and interferes with my enjoyment. If I don’t understand what’s happening due to poor quality AD, then it becomes a barrier.

Frustrated was how I felt when I watched Black Panther while listening to a British man perform the AD. After all the hype from my friends about the movie, I was really disappointed.

Not too long ago, I watched a series that added AD after it originally aired and I couldn’t wait to watch it. Five minutes in I couldn’t do it. I tried but I could not get past the robotic voice another barrier. It took me right back to my first books on tape that were done in TTS [text to speech] and I couldn’t do those either.

Adding to these frustrations, with so many streaming options, turning on AD is another stumbling block. No one should have to work to be entertained yet for people on the blindness spectrum this is our reality.

Suggested AD Improvements

Here are some of my thoughts on how we can improve accessibility to online video programming:

  1. Number one, hire more quality people on the blindness spectrum from top to bottom throughout the entire process.
  2. Number two, ensure that people on the blindness spectrum receive the same entertainment experience as our sighted friends.
  3. And number three, come up with a universal method across all streaming services to ease accessing AD.

No one deserves to be diminished. People on the blindness spectrum are worthy of top notch entertainment and we can do better. It is my hope that we can all come together to create better access, inclusion and representation for all people with disabilities Thank you

Connecting With The FCC:

Image Descriptions:

  • The header, YouTube thumbnail, and photo in the introduction are identical. A photo of Stephanae a medium brown skin black woman with short salt & pepper hair. She’s wearing a white tee with a teal jacket and black leather leaf earrings. The tee is adorned with black braille beading that says “Diversity Includes Disability.”
  • YouTube Video – The text on the thumbnail reads: “FCC Invites Bold Blind Beauty To Be Featured Speaker.” In the video, Stephanae is sitting in a chair in front of a brick accent wall in her dining area.
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