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Seeing The Spectrum | Petr Kucheryavyy

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CANE ENABLED | AUDIO INTERVIEW

Editor’s Note:

“Born Accessible,” the first time I heard this term was during the recording of today’s interview with Petr Kucheryavyy of Spectrum Access. Without giving too much away, the term essentially means that this company is wholeheartedly focused on inclusion. From the corporate culture to the products and services they provide their approach really “Sees” the broad spectrum of their customers. Along with the YouTube interview we’ve also provided the transcript for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Interview Transcript:

Nasreen Bhutta:

Welcome to Bold Blind Beauty, the home of Beyond Sight Magazine, and this month’s August 2020 Cane EnAbled segment. In addition to celebrating all things related to the white cane including safety and usage personalization, this monthly series also shares broad perspectives from those in the field including parents of blind and visually impaired children, advocates, exciting news on the technology front. Cane EnAbled is published on the fourth Monday of each month. Petr Kucheryavyy is a Senior Manager in the Accessibility Division of Charter Communications. He’s here to share more on the Spectrum Access app. This is when Charter launched Spectrum Access app, which it helps to enhance entertainment options for people with vision impairments or hearing impairments. The focus here is placed on the audio description and close captioning. So with a warm welcoming, here is Petr to tell us more. Hello, Petr.

Petr Kucheryavyy:

Hi Nasreen.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Nice to meet you. Welcome.

Petr Kucheryavyy:

Nice to meet you as well. Thank you.

Nasreen Bhutta:

You have an incredible journey, Petr, which started with being born in the Ukraine during the Chernobyl explosion, which is a disastrous nuclear accident, which many of us remember from that time and era. This took place in 1986. Can you share your journey with us about that, you growing up? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Petr Kucheryavyy:

Sure, absolutely. So I was born just two months prior to the April ’86 nuclear power plant explosion in Chernobyl, Ukraine. I wasn’t far from that area at the time as a toddler, and it was a really panicky moment because there was really a disconnection between people and politicians, certainly in Soviet Russia at the time. And so, people were afraid that they weren’t getting the full information, and certainly now, with a retrospective eye looking backward, they were right. There wasn’t all the information that they needed and a lot of people were exposed to radioactive dust that was in the air for quite a while following the accident, inhaling radioactive dust and getting closer to the disaster site. And so naturally, my parents panicked as well.

They had me evaluated and it turned out that I got a clean bill of health. Of course, about nine years down the road, it was becoming more and more difficult for me to hide the fact that something was going on with my eyesight and it was actually an American woman… We had moved to the states shortly before then. It was an American woman that volunteered to take me to a clinic and have my eyes evaluated after noticing some changes. And it was determined that I was then officially legally blind and I had the prospect of potentially losing the entirety of my sight over the course of some unknown period of time. This threw a major wrench in the way that I was educated or not educated. And I quickly, by the age of 10, I’d lost so much sight that I was not able to read printed text or even enlarged text because I was losing that central vision first, which we use to read text with.

And so, it became more and more challenging to even use things like magnification, and between age 10 and 15, I maintained my post in school, but I was effectively illiterate if you will, without access to alternative reading materials like braille and so on. I didn’t know my rights. My parents didn’t speak English, so they weren’t strong advocates within the system either. And unfortunately at age 15, I managed to pull myself out of school, and I went into construction work, which seems like a bizarre alternative to this conundrum I was in, but it’s where a lot of immigrants ended up. And if I hid my vision problems well enough, then I would be okay. And I would do things like stay overnight studying the construction site and showing up extra early to really get a scope of the area so I can navigate it somewhat confidently. Now, the good news is that eventually I discovered my resources and rights and groups that were available to assist with training, and I did get an education and go back to college and began a more sustainable career journey from there.

Nasreen Bhutta:

So why the interest for Charter? Why did they feel like they need to develop an inclusive line of services for users that are hearing impaired or visually impaired?

Petr Kucheryavyy:

Yeah, absolutely. So, my journey after college really took me into the healthcare world, wellness coaching and practice, and I worked in hospice care for a while, but I sort of accidentally stumbled into a role with the Colorado Center for the Blind out here in Colorado, where I am now. And I ended up staying there for several different positions and employment and outreach for seniors who are losing their sight. And during that final role there working with seniors, I found myself teaching a lot of technology, technology access, non-visual access to things like mobile devices and so on. And that got me some visibility in Charter whose product and accessibility offices are here in Denver, and they reached out and asked if I’d be willing to join the team to work on a new rollout of a new product called Spectrum Mobile, which went live in 2018.

And so, we were working on the accessibility of that product line, making sure that it was what we call born accessible. And so, Spectrum Mobile, when it launched, what born accessible means is that the design and features were all built considering accessibility from the start. And so that was a really powerful thing to think about bringing to a company and helping a company do. And so, I was attracted to that opportunity and eventually got into other parts of accessibility as well.

Nasreen Bhutta:

So every product in the quote unquote born accessible line right out of the box, it was very user friendly, would you say?

Petr Kucheryavyy:

That’s correct. So, many companies have not considered accessibility at all for many, many years, and so, Charter was wanting to not only remediate or rebuild some of the products they already had to be accessible, but we wanted to make sure that anything that we launched to our Spectrum customers was completely accessible from the start if it’s a new product, and Spectrum Mobile was an opportunity to look at that, from ideation to production, accessibility would be a part of the journey. And so that meant that when a customer gets the product, on day one, or sign up for Spectrum Mobile service, let’s say in this case, when they launched the account management app, they would be able to navigate the entire application, either using Zoom or voiceover or whatever accessibility features on their devices they were using and have not only an accessible experience, but a truly usable one.

Nasreen Bhutta:

So, when it came to the mobile devices that Spectrum launched in the born accessible line, were these mostly smartphones or did you also have the flip phone? Did you start with a flip phone, then graduate to a smartphone or were they always smartphones?

Petr Kucheryavyy:

We focused on the devices that we would be launching with, which were indeed all smartphones. So we were focusing on the Android and iOS devices that would be launching in our stores and compatible with the service. And so, because all of those were smart devices, that’s what we focused on.

Nasreen Bhutta:

So, how does the Spectrum app help to enhance television experience for folks with disabilities?

Petr Kucheryavyy:

Yeah, absolutely. So, Spectrum Access. I mentioned born accessible being a new concept that we introduced to any new product coming on board, but Spectrum Access really fell into its own category as an innovation product. It was really a way for us to address an industry wide gap in delivery of audio description, especially audio description to customers. The app also includes close captioning, which probably, I would say has less of a gap in terms of delivery as compared to audio description, but it still offers a really convenient way to access both of those features. So Spectrum Access was a partnership really initially with active view, which was an application launched to deliver audio description and closed captioning to the market, on demand if you will. And eventually though, it was determined that the best way to partner was actually to acquire the app, rebrand it and use our leverage with the studios that we have partnerships with to get approval for additional audio description content to be added into the application.

So we’ve been able to add, I think we’re well over 400 now, if not more, and counting by the hundreds in terms of the amount of content that we have in the application. And what it does is, it allows a user to… Let’s say, if you wish to watch a movie, I recently decided to watch Ray, the documentary about Ray Charles, and on iTunes there was no audio description available for the movie. So, I found the movie in the Spectrum Access library. I rented and then launched the movie on iTunes and then hit sync on my device after downloading the audio description track, and what it did is it identified where I was in that movie within several milliseconds of the spot and paired the audio description to that point, and I just threw on an earbud and I was ready to go. So I was listening to audio description in my ear bud and the sound of the movie was still playing in my living room. And so, that’s what it does, is allows you to take audio description and close captioning on the go wherever you are. If it’s in the Spectrum Access library, you can pair it with a movie or show on any platform.

Nasreen Bhutta:

That’s seamless, it’s easy for anybody to do. And like you just said, it’s just pairing it, pressing the sync button and off you go with a pair of headphones. I think that’s innovative and very user friendly. How do you decide what type of content goes into the Spectrum Access library, and do you know the volume of content that’s in there now?

Petr Kucheryavyy:

Yeah, all great questions. So, while the app is available to everyone, regardless of whether or not you’re a customer for free, the way the content is largely determined, not solely, but largely determined is by the content available in our on-demand library, Spectrum’s on-demand library. So for our customers who have on-demand, we really wanted to bring additional access to that on-demand library through Spectrum Access. And so, as we review the movie and show lineup that we have there, that’s really what we aim for. We start to pull for that content first and along with it comes, sometimes handfuls of other movies and shows that maybe aren’t in the on-demand library, but if we can get access to them, we add them in as well. And so, the last time I checked, I think we had a little over 400 movies, but we’ve also started to add some episodic content, so some shows, and additional movies. I think we’re set to add a few hundred more assets into the app, so I think we’ll be getting close to probably a thousand maybe by the end of this year, hopefully.

Our customers get to enjoy the application with their on demand library content, or whatever platform they’re really using, as well as those who are not our customers. So let’s say you live outside the Spectrum area and you are not a customer, you can still download the application and use it just as anyone else would, absolutely free. So this was our gift to the community, really helping to solve a broader access issue in the industry.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Oh, I absolutely love that. I love the fact when you said it’s a gift from us to the community. I think that, that’s even an incredible more initiative and really social impactable initiative that you all set up there at Charter and Spectrum Mobile. I think it’s fantastic. Can this app, just out of curiosity, the Spectrum Access app, people are always trying different things out there and would somebody be able to perhaps use your app over, maybe something they’re watching in Netflix, for example?

Petr Kucheryavyy:

Right. So the platform doesn’t matter in this particular case. So, we’re even looking to expand the application to… Once COVID is over and people are going back to the movie theaters, we’re looking ahead to theatrical support so that the application can also be used at a movie theater, for instance. So, this is a really bold move because we focus so much on all of our other products and making sure that they’re accessible. So for instance, guide narrations, Spectrum Guide with guide narration, allows a user to navigate their set-top box entirely non-visually with the aid of a speech to text software, that’s running on the box. And like I mentioned, some of the applications that we built work with the devices accessibility features and all of this is very conscious effort to make sure that our product lineup is accessible, but this really goes above and beyond any usability and compliance efforts. It’s a way to get creative and solving real problems and focusing on the issues that the blind, visually impaired, and deaf and hearing impaired communities have been facing.

Nasreen Bhutta:

I think that is really excellent and commendable, you guys, to have one of those digital boxes that is just ready, programmable and audible out of the gate, because once you… You’re right, you’re setting up your system, you have no voiceover to help you, no audible cues at all. So it’s very frustrating, especially even if let’s say you press the wrong button later and it just shuts down or it does a restart, you didn’t notice. I’m assuming all of the cues even in a situation like that are still audible.

Petr Kucheryavyy:

Right, so everything that we work on, we want to make sure that it delivers full independence to the customer or the user in the case of Spectrum Access from the start. Independence is very important and we’re constantly solving for these issues as we see them in every aspect of our market or our product lineup. So, we’re exploring new relationships, new partnerships and collaborative efforts when necessary or solving for the problems directly through our development and design teams internally, and our accessibility team. Our team is made up, probably about half of us are people with disabilities, very largely representing the blind and visually impaired communities because that’s where a lot of the gaps were. And so, there was a lot of passion internally to solve for these issues and make sure that there’s independence from end to end.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Yeah, I think that’s a big, big thing. When you have people in a team that represent some of the problems that then can put their heads together and find the solutions to those problems. I think that makes a big difference at the end product result, if people can identify with the problems to begin with.

Petr Kucheryavyy:

Right.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Excellent work by Spectrum. Hats off to you guys and hats off to the Spectrum Access app itself. Do you know if you have a large disability following?

Petr Kucheryavyy:

We’ve got a growing community of people who are getting excited about what we’re doing, both in terms of the Spectrum Access app and all of our products, and the new accessibility feature that they’re discovering sometimes by surprise, and while that’s exciting, I don’t want anything to be a surprise. My role as the outreach lead for our team is to be in the community and communicate with the community about what it is that we’re doing. So, when applications like Spectrum Access are launched, or we’ve got new features, like the rollout of Spectrum Guide with guide narration to our full market. When things like that happen, we want to make sure that people know about it. And so, to your point, whether or not we have a large following, I think that if this summer has proven anything, it’s that the following of enthusiasts, if you will, for what we’re doing is really growing.

The comments have been really generous and there’s a lot of gratitude where people are saying things like, “This really opens up my ability to have the access to entertainment, television that I didn’t have before,” and “Thank you for being a leader in the industry. Thank you for delivering products, not just because you’re making money off of it, but because you care.” And these are the things that are great for us to hear because we think that if we establish a good relationship with the disability community, then it’s not only the right thing to do to build products that are accessible and to make those connections, but it is good for our bottom line, even if it’s not immediately evident. We can’t negate the economic power of joining forces with the disability community because that’s, by some accounts, as many as one out of five people in the United States. So it’s really important that we make those connections and build that following, as you called it.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Absolutely. And I love the fact, you said, “A company that cares,” because I think what the community sometimes lacks is companies that do care, that customer service, geared to their needs and what their wants are and needs are in specifications. So it’s really great when we have an organization out there looking out for the little people, people who need those extra services. So, that’s hats off to you guys at Spectrum and the Spectrum Access app. I think that’s fantastic.

Moving back to yourself, Petr, I can hear the passion in you about what you’re doing and where you’ve come from in this journey with disability, as you’re talking earlier in our interview about your upbringing and then transitioning to the U.S. and then what you went through with sight loss and sight change and lifestyle changes, and so, I need to ask, what do you feel is your sense of purpose today?

Petr Kucheryavyy:

I really am a big fan of the art of storytelling and I feel like my purpose, my contribution is really to allow people, or to create spaces within which people can share their story, and bring their full selves to the table. I think that when that happens, not only do people feel more comfortable, employees, customers feel more comfortable, but also it allows us to understand how to build better products and services to cater to the differences. We’re hearing so much about that today on the news and what’s happening socially in terms of injustice and such. I think that it’s really important for us to see the diversity, the differences in all people and cater to those differences. Meaning, you can’t just build one product fits all. It has to have various facets that represent the people for whom it’s built. And I think storytelling or providing the environment in which people can share those stories really fosters that kind of growth in our community and that kind of growth in our products. So, I think that perhaps my purpose is to build that bridge to where people can open up and be their authentic selves.

Nasreen Bhutta:

I love that, authentic selves. I think that’s what you are. I love that. And describe yourself in one word, what would that be?

Petr Kucheryavyy:

As if the limitations of language weren’t enough, we have to limit it to one word.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Yes.

Petr Kucheryavyy:

It’s a bit audacious to put forth a word myself that would represent me. So, I’ll pull from what I’ve heard other people… the word that other people would use to describe me, and that would be charismatic. I think I bring charisma to the areas that I’m passionate about, so I would go with charismatic.

Nasreen Bhutta:

I totally agree. I can see that. Thank you so much for sharing of yourself and your journey and talking about the Spectrum Access app. How can we reach you?

Petr Kucheryavyy:

Well, for customers wanting to learn more about accessibility features offered for Spectrum’s products today, I would recommend that you call our customer service line that’s dedicated for customers with disabilities. And that phone number is 1-844-762-1301. Now, if you’ve got some feedback on the designs of our products or have suggestions, or maybe some concerns that that team wasn’t able to handle regarding accessibility, you can reach out to us directly at accessibility@charter.com. And if you’ve got Spectrum Access specific related feedback or questions, you can email us at spectrumaccess@charter.com. And I would also let people know that we’ve got accessibility resources online that you can check out, if you go to spectrum.net. I believe the URL would be spectrum.net/page/accessibility. You get more information about our accessibility offerings.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Brilliant. Thanks, Petr.

Petr Kucheryavyy:

Thank you.

Nasreen Bhutta:

To find this feature and many other articles and innovative information, visit the Cane EnAbled page in Beyond Sight Online Community at boldblindbeauty.com. Thanks for listening.

Image Description:

Featured image is the Beyond Sight Magazine cover. A waist-up shot of Petr is on the cover, wearing a yellow v-neck sweater over an olive green shirt. The masthead is teal with “Beyond Sight Magazine” in black text. The dot on the ‘i’ in ‘sight’ is the eye used for our 2020 Year of Vision Campaign (described HERE). There are 3 lines of text that say “Petr Kucheryavyy | The Amazing Spectrum Access App.” In the bottom right corner is a teal circle with an illustration of Abby Bold Blind Beauty’s fashion icon who is walking with her white cane in one hand and handbag in the other. She is wearing heels and a stylish dress made of panels resembling overlapping banana leaves. The dress panels gently curve from her nipped-in waist to just above the knee. She’s also sporting her signature explosive hairstyle and yellow text Cane EnAbled” is under the circle.

CREDITS:

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Melody Goodspeed The Connoisseur Of Audio Description

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ABBY’S CORNER | AUDIO INTERVIEW

“It’s not our eyes that make us see, it’s our minds and our hearts, that’s what we see with.”

~Melody Goodspeed

An Interview With TheADNA.org

Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to share a podcast interview featuring Melody Goodspeed compliments of The Audio Description Narrators Of America (TheADNA). Melody, a.k.a. the voice of Abby is a passionate advocate and a very good friend. Take a listen as Hollywood voiceover artist, Roy Samuelson talks with Melody about how much audio description means to her.

Know Your Narrator Series BONUS: Melody Goodspeed

Connecting With TheADNA:

Image Description:

A photo of a sign that says “Podcast” surround by a succulent plant, cup of coffee, tablet, and headphones.

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Lights! Camera! Audio Description Action!

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ABBY’S CORNER | AUDIO INTERVIEW

Featuring Roy Samuelson

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!

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. 

~Roy Samuelson

Abby:

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?

Roy:

Doing great Abby, thanks so much for having me, this is cool! 

Abby:

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.

Roy:

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.

Abby:

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?

Roy:

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. 

Abby:

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?

Roy:

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…

Abby:

[laughs]

Roy:

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.

Abby:

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?’

Roy:

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… 

Abby:

[gasp}

Roy:

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.

Abby:

You’re talking about people that are blind or vision impaired, are they involved in any of the work you do?

Roy:

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.

Abby:

What do you learn from the blind community?

Roy:

Great question and I’m going to do a little segue but to answer your question about teaching narration for audio description

Abby:

Oh yes

Roy:

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.  

Abby:

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?

Roy:

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.

Abby:

If people want to get in touch with you to learn more about what you’re doing, how can they do that? 

Roy:

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 America which is theadna.org, it’s like an IMBD list 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.

Abby:

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.    

Image Description:

Roy looks into the camera wearing a blue shirt.

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Audio Description Awareness Day Challenge

BEAUTY BUZZ & BLOG BIZ | ADVOCACY

Launches on April 16th, 2020

Social distancing isn’t social isolation! Bold Blind Beauty is thrilled to join CAPTIVATING! in spreading the word about the upcoming launch of the #ADADChallenge (Audio Description Awareness Day Challenge)!

Check out this video created by JC5 Productions about the challenge and don’t forget to share the hashtag #ADADChallenge on social media.

Next week! Audio Description Awareness Day! Follow the hashtag… #ADADChallenge #AudioDescription @WeRCaptivating

Image Description:

A square image with white letters AD followed by a few end parentheses, suggesting a sound wave, are framed by a black television set shape. The text below is “#ADADChallenge.”