Join Abby as she runs in a virtual walk/run/wheel event sponsored by Achilles International to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The event is scheduled to take place July 18-26 and Abby is running with team “Daring Sisters.” The deadline to put in for a team tee shirt (with the header image of Abby on the back) is today, Friday, June 26. If you’d like to join our team you can register here: events.elitefeats.com/achilles20.
The 30thANNIVERSARY of the signing of the ADA is on July 26. In recognition of this important milestone Achilles International is teaming up with TD Bank Corporate Office by launching their 1st Annual Virtual Hope & Possibility 5K/10 Miler from July 18th – July 26th.
If you’d like to participate in virtual running, walking or wheeling … we are inviting you to join team “Daring Sisters.” Please email Sarah McManic at Sarah.McManic@gmail.com by June 26th. We plan to do some fun virtual connecting and then celebrate and run/walk/wheel. If you haven’t run/walked before and would like to get started let us know and we can help connect you with guides in your area, etc. So fun!!
Registration is $10 for people with disabilities, youth 18 and under, veterans, essential workers, and first responders. General registration is $20.
Bold Blind Beauty’s fashion icon, Abby, is running. She is wearing teal running capris, a black tank with her logo on the front, black & teal sneakers, and her signature explosive hairstyle is windblown.
Hey, guys. It’s me, Abby, I hope everyone is continuing to do well as we begin to ease restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today I have a real treat for you. I recently had the honor of interviewing an extraordinary person who is extremely passionate about the work he does. As a top Hollywood voiceover artist, today’s guest is also a tireless advocate for the blind and low vision community and an overall nice guy. I can barely wait to get started. You can listen to our interview, read the transcript, or do both. Enjoy!
Hey everybody this is Abby and I’m hanging out with one of the coolest guys that I know. And you’re thinking who is that? I’m going to tell you who it is: I’m hanging out with Roy Samuelson. And who is that you say? He is an Audio Descriptor Narrator who I’m crazy about. He is just awesome and he’s done so much work and he’s totally, totally fun to watch movies with and talk about things and boy I just had the best time this morning hanging out and chatting. How are you today?
Doing great Abby, thanks so much for having me, this is cool!
You’ve taught me so much about audio description and like what it means to you and what it is so can you please share it with others because I want everybody to know what we’ve talked about.
Yes, audio description is a way for a narration track that you listen to talking about what’s happening on screen so the visual elements of a movie or tv show and it’s a way to bring access to those, to someone who might be blind or low vision or other people who might not be looking at the screen right now.
And let me tell you guys, it’s super exciting for me because you know I’m into everything and I mean everything. So when I got to actually watch this movie and know what’s happening without having to interrupt my friends I’m like oh my gosh what’s happening now because there’s a visual scene gosh what you do is really brings it to life can you talk about how you make that happen?
Sure, so it’s a big process it’s not just me there’s audio description has been around for decades believe it or not and now it’s at the point where companies bring in a special writer who writes a special audio description script based on what’s happening on screen. And I don’t get involved in the writing, it’s a really specialized skill and those people bring the script to life by watching the movie or tv show and they sometimes get a shooting script. So there’s a lot of research that’s done even before it’s in my hands. People look it over and make sure it’s edited right, make sure the timing is right so that when I get the script that I know when to come in between lines of dialogue. There’s all sorts of really specific decisions that are made before it even gets to me. And then when I get it I read a script into a mic and sometimes I’m directed and told what to do as far as making sure I’m matching the emotional tone of the scene and then it’s edited and mixed and sent out to along with a movie or tv show.
That for you is like art to me and you know why? Because I have all these friends that can see and a friend of mine that used to be able to see and she can’t see now and she’s comparing what it was like to watch a movie before like when she could see because there’s so many takes to it. You had mentioned when we talked about this too like a picture is worth a thousand words which has so stuck with me and getting the right narration into that to bring a piece to life when there’s so much going on in those clips, has to be really, is it crazy hard to do?
Well, I bring a lot of my voiceover experience to audio description. So it is called audio description narration, but what I like to do, there’s a bunch of training that I’ve had for voiceover work. Whether it’s commercial work or doing video games or animation or even taking an improv class or an acting class that helps inform what I bring to audio description. So yeah, I’m a narrator but I’m playing the role of your friend that’s sitting next to you and making sure that I’m not getting in the way of the story. And what I try to do is make sure that I bring that emotional nuance to the scene so that I don’t get in the way but you can stay fully immersed in it. So, in that sense yeah, it is an art and a craft, [laughs] arts and crafts that you can go shopping at Michael’s for…
but it’s something that you can bring, that I love to bring to the script. For me it’s a little more than just reading the words.
What I wanted to know is when you are working with doing all of this like, you’ve talked about all of your background you’ve brought to this. When did you get so excited about audio description? What made you think ‘hey this is what I want to do?’
Oh, there’s like three levels to it. There were three phases, like when I first found out about it, I had an audition and I went in and I recorded a scene from a movie with an audio description script. And at the end of it, you know normally when I do an audition I’m like ‘oh I hope I book it.’ In this case, that feeling of ‘oh, I hope I book it’ was there but there was this extra element and it was this excitement of [dramatic voice] ‘I’ve never heard of this before, this is amazing!’ And it combines so many different elements of what I was doing in voiceover in such a beautiful way that, that passion; so like on the technical side was really high. And then maybe a few years ago I started connecting with our audiences on social media and learning what they want and how they would love to have audio description and it became this extra phase where it’s like ‘oh okay I can do this, and finding out how to bring the story to life in a way that the audiences want. And that’s been the most rewarding part. And now it sounds like being part of the overall conversation, there were over 4,100 audio description tracks available as of early May 2020, that’s…
so exciting! And it keeps on growing that these streaming services are opting into it outside of the FCC mandates, so they recognize the value.
You’re talking about people that are blind or vision impaired, are they involved in any of the work you do?
Yeah, especially now that, oh gosh, there’s so many different directions to go here. Our blind and low vision audiences have definitely been speaking up about what they want that the conversation has changed from ‘does it have it or not?’ which is such an important conversation, being able to make sure that audio description is as ubiquitous and everywhere as closed captioning, that is a huge element. The other thing that’s happening is the quality, the excellence of audio description that a lot of companies that provide audio description are going above and beyond to provide the best they can. And with that, it’s making sure that blind and low vision audiences and advisors and guides are involved in at least some part of the creation. There’s a company that is owned by a blind owner and he’s been very clear about making sure that he hires disabled actors to do the narration; blind, low vision or otherwise, and that kind of inclusion is starting to happen. The other companies are also making sure that their scripts have advisors so that, it’s a different experience it’s not a sighted person putting on a blindfold for an hour and a half and saying ‘oh that’s good.’ There’s something else that comes into it and this is something I think is really important is that for our audiences. You know, “nothing about us without us” is more than just checking a box or a token “gift” it’s an actual necessity to bring the quality of this work to the standard that our audiences deserve.
What do you learn from the blind community?
Great question and I’m going to do a little segue but to answer your question about teaching narration for audio description
So when I taught classes it’s mostly voiceover talents who are really excited to learn about it and learn the nuance and what sort of things to technically bring their performance to life for an audience. And that’s the perfect time to bring in a blind or low vision advisor. So they join us usually on like some sort of audio call where they’re listening in to the samples that the talents are giving and it’s such a beautiful two-way street. Beautiful in the sense that the voice talents are getting instant feedback about ‘oh you know that was a little too much, you were too into it’ or ‘that was a little too flat’ or ‘that really didn’t match the scene’ or ‘I was taken out of the…’ so that kind of feedback; the advisor is the director in that sense. So my role outside of giving some very general basics in the technical side is to facilitate the teaching of the talent, the voiceover talent being taught by our guide by our advisor. And it’s, the feedback that I’m getting from all sides has been this is what we want and it checks so many boxes for everyone.
I’ll tell you, my creator, Steph, you know like she’s so awesome right. What I love about her is like not only has she totally brought me to life which is super fun and we get to be this you know, expressive showing so much but she’s vision impaired which everyone knows and she’s so many things and she’s so open. She’s an African American woman, she’s over 55 and she encompasses all this creativity and she built Bold Blind Beauty and she’s bringing women of every type and men cause you know this year we’re doing Men In Motion. And the reason I bring this up is how do you see diversity in more than one way than just blindness in this field?
Sure, so I’m a sighted white narrator; that’s what I bring to the table and with that I’m learning alot more about diversity. There is a great event that happened I think in 2019 at the television academy where it was a panel on performers with disabilities and it was also the casting people making decisions to bring in people with disabilities, not exclusively for storylines about disability but about this is a person with a disability who’s playing a character who happens to have a disability. The story wasn’t about the disability it was framed in this panel one of the best panels on disability that I’ve seen so that is one aspect of diversity. I think another aspect of disability that we can even talk about in the world of audio description is that there are other narrators who are people of color, women of color, and all sorts of things. I think that in that world of representation if you’re a blind or low vision audience member you’re going to be listening to this voice for all the things that are happening and that makes a difference. Being able to hear representation of yourself in that voice of the narrator is super important. I can’t speak to much detail about that but I’m a big proponent of more diversity in this world because it is representation and it’s a representation that is happening. I don’t know specifically the percentage, it’d be fascinating to find that out but what I do know is that the more diversity the better and that nobody loses out on that. One of the things that I’m learning is it’s these little steps that do make a difference it’s not like this big 180-degree turn. It’s like even this conversation right now I’ve changed a little bit it’s like ‘oh yeah, okay that’s another way we can approach this’ or little tiny steps and as more people choose to make those steps it becomes like a really big wave in a way that helps everybody out. It not just helps, it makes it more diverse in such a beautiful way.
If people want to get in touch with you to learn more about what you’re doing, how can they do that?
There’s a few ways; I’m on social media so Twitter is @RoySamuelson. I’m also on Instagram @RoySamuelson and I do Alt text on both of those. On Facebook, I’m pretty active in the Audio Description Discussion Group which is a really lively and engaging kind of positive group of pretty close to 500 people that are both narrators, writers, and consumers, audience members. It’s a really great place to learn more about audio description and see the discussion and how it’s growing. There’s a lot of great things happening there and of course, there’s other places that I like to refer people to The Audio Description Narrators of Americawhich is theadna.org, it’s like an IMBDlist of audio description narrators based on contributions from our audiences when they hear someone. Those are the main places I like to refer people to.
I’m Abby with Bold Blind Beauty, it’s been awesome hanging out with you guys and Roy. And keep in touch and we’re going to keep you guys rocking with some more fun stuff and we’ll post the links that Roy also references so you can keep in touch if you have questions. Have a great one. Hey, make sure you have your stilettos on and your canes tapping.
Roy Samuelson Bio:
Roy Samuelson can be heard on the current season of Westworld as Dolores’ virtual assistant. In the world of Audio Description, he narrates Hulu’s The Great, CBS All-Access’ Star Trek: Picard, Sony’s Bloodshot, Universal’s 1917, and Spider-Man: Far From Home, among 600+ other blockbusters and series titles. He loves connecting TV, film, and streaming decision-makers with audiences who are blind or low vision.
Gratitude is one of the strongest and most transformative states of being. It shifts your perspective from lack to abundance and allows you to focus on the good in your life, which in turn pulls more goodness into your reality.
The Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak has been one of the most challenging events many of us have ever faced in our lifetimes. Like a volcano about to erupt, lava in the form of Fear is threatening to consume us. Thankfully the human spirit is resilient and we have tools at our disposal to navigate these scary times. Following are a few helpful tips:
Maintain Perspective – Having access to global information 24/7, some of it inaccurate can be debilitating. One of the things we can do immediately to stem the flow of information is to set up boundaries to limit our exposure time. These boundaries could extend beyond the news to social media, well-meaning friends and family members who make it their job to “keep us in the know” and any other sources. When we look at the bigger picture sure, the number of Covid-19 cases is increasing and so too are the number of people who are surviving. Here is a link to John’s Hopkins for real-time stats.
Just Breathe – While we have limited control over external circumstances we can control what we do now at this moment. Stay at home orders and quarantine processes have has slowed the busyness of life to allow us time to be more fully present with ourselves and with one another. Social distancing and public restrictions have shifted our priorities and have opened the door for a more meaningful connection right here, right now, at this moment. Here are a few resources that might be helpful to you:
Acknowledge Priorities – Follow guidelines from public health officials and government agencies, including the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). While being safe at home can feel restrictive to some, having a place to call home is something to be grateful for. Learning new ways to engage with our families in real-time are opportunities we wouldn’t ordinarily think about because of so many distractions. Spending time sharing activities together as a family can bring us closer together. Better yet, let’s get back to basics:
Learn a low-tech hobby like knitting, crocheting, calligraphy, scrapbooking, gardening, plant veggies in the yard or a pot, sewing, canning veggies or making jam
Build a jigsaw puzzle, play board games, play cards
Handwrite a letter to each of your kids, relatives or friends
Learn to bake bread from scratch or cook an entire meal on the grill (veggies, meat, etc)
Helping Others – When we face adversity on a massive scale like Covid-19 there are very few people who remain unaffected. While we are in this pandemic together, our individual journeys through it are unique. Now more than ever we need to reach out a helping hand to those in need. Focusing outward in empathy is not only humane it also creates the opportunity for enriching connections.
Spread Hope – Desmond Tutu said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Covid-19 is descending upon us like a blanket of darkness. Becoming a beacon of hope for others by lending an ear, offering an encouraging word, and kindness are essential to get through these turbulent times.
Over the course of this pandemic, I will publish content that I hope will calm, inspire, and at times entertain you. Remember what’s happening now is temporary and it will pass. Take care of yourself, each other and remember to always be kind.
Name at least one new thing you can learn to do during this quarantine?
Header image: Stormy weather with a big wave and dark rock in the stormy sea, blue and white toned.
Bold Blind Beauty’s fashion icon, Abby is looking pretty chic in a teal tank top paired with gray joggers. She is posed kneeling next to her retired guide dog, Alexis, a beautiful Yellow Lab. As in all of her photos, Abby is sporting her signature explosive hairstyle.
The following article, originally published on the Meet Abby Page is a work of fiction and is being republished to reintroduce her to our readers. As Abby’s role expands here on Bold Blind Beauty we felt now is as good a time as any for a reintroduction.
Going forward, Beyond Sight Magazine will our 4 main series (Men In Motion, Women On The Move, Monthly Beauties (formerly Blind Beauty), and Cane EnAbled will be published monthly on Mondays). For example, Men In Motion will be published on the 1st Monday of each month, Women On The Move the 2nd Monday, Monthly Beauties the 3rd Monday, and finally Cane EnAbled will be published on the 4th Monday. The balance of our content will be a mix of reviews, Q&As, and more.
Abby Fashion Icon Extraordinaire
“Blindness is not always obvious. For us to transcend barriers we must change the way we perceive one another. ”
Abby aka Abigale is a bold and stylish fashion icon who always walks in confidence with her white cane. Forever on the move, she reflects the beauty of her blind and visually impaired sisters worldwide.
A fashionista who radiates sophistication, Abby shares tips, answers questions and moderates discussions about beauty and fashion. Her vast experience and life adventures have given Abby the tools to help us change the way we perceive blindness. The goal is to improve humanity, one attitude at a time.
So what’s in the name Abigale?
Abigale’s name is a combination of ‘Abilities’ + ‘Nightingale.’ Reflective of her boundless Abilities and Nightingale–the small ordinary bird, known for its extraordinarily beautiful song. The Nightingale is also a symbol of freedom and joy for literary enthusiasts throughout time.
Abby became the fashion icon she is today after she evolved from imagination to an illustration of a woman of indeterminate age. Diagnosed with a rare eye disease that stole most of her sight, Abby did not let this set her back. Rather she embraced her blindness, accessed tools available for blind and visually impaired people, and moved forward with her life.
After graduating from her Ivy League school in business and law, Abby landed at a prestigious global law firm on Wall Street where she advanced to managing partner. This would be enough for most women, but Abby felt there was more to life than just business. So she took a much-needed hiatus from the high-pressure corporate world and became an avid adventurer. Traveling the four corners of the world, Abby scaled mountains, sailed stormy seas, explored the deepest caverns, and strutted the runways of the major fashion capitals. Along the way, she met a diverse array of people from all walks of life, and even led a jazz trio as a popular singer!
In Her Spare Time
When Abby isn’t working or volunteering, she enjoys painting (yes, blind people can paint!) and spending time with Alexis, her retired guide dog. Abby and Alexis, an adorable Yellow Lab, live in a beautiful home decked out in decor from her world travels.
Putting it all together
With her incredible travel experiences under her belt, Abby was ready to combine her business and legal skills with her passion for fashion. She applied her knowledge to empowering blind women to be all they can be by joining boldblindbeauty.com. At Bold Blind Beauty Abby provides tips, answers questions, and moderates discussions on fashion and style.
You can find Abby exclusively at boldblindbeauty.com the site which empowers blind and visually impaired women. Our commUNITY celebrates beauty, fashion, and style while connecting sighted and blind people. The goal of Bold Blind Beauty is to eradicate misconceptions about people living with blindness or sight loss.
You can join Abby in “Abby’s Corner” where discussions are always about fashion, style and being bold, blind & beautiful!
10% of all profits are donated to organizations who work to improve employment opportunities for people who are blind & visually impaired.
~Bold Blind Beauty
Abby Featured Image Description:
Abby is holding up a teal dress on a hanger in her right hand. She is wearing a stylish black off the shoulder dress, black heels with ankle straps and a white hat with a black band with a loose end waving. In her left hand is her “gold” white cane.
Copyright: The Abigale (Abby) copyright belongs to Bold Blind Beauty and Abigale Style, LLC. The icon does not replace the nationally recognized white cane icon.
Abby and her back story are a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious way. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real events is purely coincidental.