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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:

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Seeing Beauty Through A New Spktrm

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ABBY’S CORNER | AUDIO INTERVIEW

Intro:

Hey, everybody. It’s Abby. I hope everyone’s doing great. I don’t know what the weather is like in your all’s area, but boy is it hot in my area today, but it’s even hotter because I get to hang out with Jasmine Glass, the creator and founder of innovative makeup, Spktrm Beauty. Jasmine, it is so fun hanging out with you today.

Seeing Beauty Through a New Spktrm (Abby interviews Jasmine Glass)

Jasmine:

I’m so glad to be here. Thanks for having me, Abby.

Abby:

We were chatting before this. You know my obsession with lipstick and I was talking to Steph, our creator of BBB and me, and she’s telling me all about your lipstick and, oh my gosh, can you please share with everybody?

Jasmine:

Absolutely. We’re about to launch our second product, which is an inclusive range of nude, true nude lipsticks. There’s been a lot of progress made with foundation shade ranges expanding over the past few years, but still very few brands that are offering a true nude match for people with varied skin tones. That’s one aspect of the product and we also have been working with Bold Blind Beauty as consultants because we have decided to incorporate braille into all of our packaging moving forward to be of service to the visually impaired community as well. We’re very excited about this launch for those reasons.

Abby:

I have never myself been able to find a good match for a nude lipstick. It always makes me look kind of pale or it’s not, so I love this. I want to talk about that for one second and then of course we’re going to get into the braille because, oh my gosh, I’m shaking with excitement. I want to talk with a nude lipstick, I just feel like it can really bring out my own natural beauty. Are you all about that?

Jasmine:

I love a good nude and I feel like it’s a good daytime look, a little more subtle and I just think it’s important that we make available all products that all different communities are looking for. That’s really the goal here is to draw attention to the fact that there is still a limited amount of these shades available. I’ve had conversations with our beauty consultant, Julissa, who is a black woman, and she’s talked to me about the fact that black women are still using eyebrow and eyeliner pencils on their lips at this point or having to blend colors together or just using other products that aren’t lipstick to create that look. This is a step in the right direction and we hope other brands will follow suit.

Abby:

You’re a leader, a real leader, and it’s awesome. I like a good day too. It’s awesome and I just feels delicate. I just feel like I’m featuring my own beauty that I have within. Tell us all about the braille. What inspired that?

Jasmine:

Gosh, it’s been such an inspiring journey all around. My whole team has been educating ourselves through several different resources, including working with Bold Blind Beauty along this process. I was not even aware when we started this journey how many people there are in the world that are either totally blind or visually impaired. I believe it’s around 400,000*. We started thinking about the experience of a visually impaired person going into a major beauty department store, having not a single brand that is offering braille on their products and it’s really an area of the many areas of the beauty industry is lacking still at this point, despite a lot of progress that has been made. It’s something that we wanted to address because I think it will make a lot of people think in new ways, put themselves in the shoes of somebody who has a different human experience than they do and really just to continue to expand our mission to be inclusive of people from all walks of life and to be able to provide what they need to have a positive experience with beauty.

Abby:

Can you tell us where you’re going to put the braille on the packaging and what it states?

Jasmine:

Sure. We have our brand name in braille on the lipstick tube itself, and we also have the shade distinctions. We are associating them with skin tones to make it easier for people who have never seen color to understand. Our shades go from deepest to fairest and in each category, there’s a one, two, three, so you can get an idea of the shade range within that category of deep or tan. We’re also going to add some additional information on our website in the coming weeks. We plan to create a YouTube video to explain the functionality further, so we really encourage people to go check that out too. Then on the box we’re going to have a QR code so that you can just scan that and easily get to our website to find that additional information.

Abby:

Can you tell us about your product? I read that it’s animal and cruelty free, which is such a plus for me because I am all about natural and bringing wonderful beauty to life nature. Can you talk to us about that?

Jasmine:

Our products are currently cruelty-free and actually we’re really excited that we are now going to be expanding into being fully clean as well by Credo Beauty and Sephora’s clean standards. I believe there is a list of 50 chemicals that you have to keep out of your product and I recently added somebody to my team, Julia, whose family’s been in beauty manufacturing for 50 years. She’s just a powerhouse of knowledge in this area, so with these additional resources on the Spktrm team now, we’re able to make strides in these areas. We really want to be mindful of every aspect of the brand and to be approaching it from an ethical perspective. This’ll be exciting progress for us as well.

Abby:

I cannot wait to give this a try. I really cannot. I just love what you’re doing and your passion behind it. This is just thrilling to me. If people wanted to find out more about your product and when it’s going to be introduced and where to purchase it and all that fun stuff, where could they go?

Jasmine:

I would encourage people to go to our Instagram first because that is the place that we’ll be announcing our launch. We’re working on some website updates right now related to compliance for visually impaired individuals, so that’s still in process, but if you follow us on Instagram at spktrm.beauty, you’ll be the first to know when our lipstick and rebrand launch happens.

Abby:

I’m already following you, but I’m just going to go spread the word even more. I cannot wait about this. I am jumping for joy. I am so excited about it. It’s going to be so much fun. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Jasmine:

That’s it for now, but we’ll be making a lot of updates on our Instagram, so definitely keep your eyes peeled there.

Abby:

Oh, I totally will, and I cannot wait for this. You guys, this is Jasmine Glass of Spktrm Beauty. I’m [inaudible 00:07:25] keeping it real, keeping it natural, keeping it lovely one cane tap at a time. This is Abby with Bold Blind Beauty and thanks so much for tuning in with me and my friend. Oh, this is so fun. I have a good one guys.

Globally the number of people of all ages visually impaired is estimated to be 285 million, of whom 39 million are blind. ~Word Health Organization

Connecting With Spktrm Beauty:

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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.    

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Rocking Forward An Audio Interview With Steph & Abby

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ABBY’S CORNER | AUDIO INTERVIEW

Editor’s Note

So recently I sat down with my creator, Steph to get a better understanding of how I came into existence. It was so cool talking with Steph, learning a little about her creative process, and eventually becoming the voice of Bold Blind Beauty. During our conversation, I mention two fabulous people Chelsea Nguyen, CN Vision Image Consulting, and Alexa Jovanovic of Aille Designs. You’ll hear more about these remarkable women going forward. So, sit back, relax, and listen to our conversation or if you prefer to follow along by reading I’ve provided the transcript. ~Abby

You’re someone who is persistent, you encourage other people, and you allow others to feel like there’s nothing that they
can’t do because of who you are.

~Steph’s Thoughts on Abby
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Abby: Hey, guys. It’s me, Abby. I’m super excited to be here and it’s awesome! I’m hanging out with my creator, Steph, and she’s amazing, the creator of Bold Blind Beauty and me, the fashion icon Abby. How are you today, Steph?

Steph: I’m doing well, Abby. How are you?

Abby: I’m feeling so alive! I mean, there’s so much that you and I have done together, and as many lives as we’ve changed and people that we’ve met, it’s just super exciting! Don’t you think?

Steph: It’s extremely exciting to know that you came about from the idea of all the blind and visually impaired women around the world who are doing amazing things and focusing on what we can do versus what we can’t do. It’s just amazing to me.

Abby: It is, and I feel like the fact that I was created by taking parts of different women that are everybody… I mean, people that are like super outgoing, people that can rock stilettos and have our canes and we don’t care because we know that we’re awesome!

Steph: It makes me happy knowing that you’ve come to life. You were just an idea, and to know that life was breathed into you from a mere seedling of an idea, a combination of every blind and visually impaired woman around the world is just something I could only dream of. And now to know that you are here totally blows me away!

Abby: It does me, too, and I love the fact that we’re doing this. But let’s talk about those dreams. What were you thinking of when you were dreaming of this personally?

Steph: Personally, what I was thinking was, my own personal experience of losing my sight, and how people looked at me, was how to help them understand that just because I use a white cane or because I can no longer see doesn’t mean that I’m less of a person, that I still have value, and that the white cane is simply a tool that I use to now navigate the world.

Abby: Yeah, and I think we rock ours very well with our stylish clothing and our impeccable makeup that we learn to do from so many people like Chelsea, and we have our fashion designers like Alexa and all of the fun people in our lives. I don’t understand how a cane can be looked at in such a way of negativity. I think it’s almost fear. Don’t you?

Steph: I do and honestly, that’s the way I had to look at it. Before I started using the cane, I, too, looked at it as a negative. I felt that using the cane would make me a victim. I felt like I would have a target on my back. I didn’t look at it as a tool of empowerment until it came down to the point where I had to use it and today, I’m so happy to say that I go nowhere without my cane. As a matter of fact, if I do, perchance, when I’m out somewhere and I lean it up against something to look at something close up, if I walk away, I feel naked without it. So I have to have my cane with me everywhere I go, and I’m so happy.

Abby: I myself was so incredibly nervous at first, but the more and more confident you got, I believe as my creator, the more confident I got to be able to rock my cane, too. I couldn’t have been able to go do the amazing things I’ve done all over the world and met the amazing people had it not been for your strength. So tell us. How did you get over that fear?

Steph: Getting over the fear of using the cane, it took some time, it was a process. I can’t pretend that one day I woke up and I wasn’t using the cane, then I woke up and started using it, it was not like that. It was something I had to go through and it’s different for everybody. Not everyone looks at the cane initially as a negative thing, there are some people who look at it as the tool that it is a tool of empowerment. They know that it is a gift of independence, but for me, it really took some time. After I had my orientation and mobility training, I had to really think about it. I put it away, I put it in a closet and I just needed time to think. But while I was thinking, of course, I was living and in so doing, almost got hit by a car on a route that I traveled regularly. Because I knew the route, I thought it was safe. It was during that time that I realized I needed to rethink some things.

Abby: Yeah, I think you made a really good point, there’s a point in every person’s life men and women alike that we do have a yikes moment and ours (you and I) just happens to be blindness. But it’s still going through that process of living and figuring out who we are and still rocking forward. So tell us how did you get to that point where you were like ‘okay I’m done with the fear of blindness and being able to bond with it, because I feel like we had to get over that first before we could embrace our canes as power? Talk about what that was like.

Steph: That too was a process. What I had to do was accept my new normal. I had to accept the fact that I could no longer do things that I used to do the way I used to do them. I had to learn how to do things a little bit differently. I think one of the major fears of blindness is the fact that people feel they’re out of control, and the way I had to look at it was, number one, I’m not in control of much anyway as far as life is concerned, and I would have to learn how to trust, and I think the cane taught me that. Because the distance between my feet and the farthest the cane can reach, that’s all the further that I can really see. I can’t see beyond that, but that’s OK because as long as I’m within that perimeter with my cane, I’m good to go. So it was sort of a combination of learning to trust, learning to do things differently, learning to trust myself and above all, learning to accept my disability.

Abby: And how much power is in that, finding acceptance?

Steph: There is so much power in finding acceptance! Finding acceptance helps to wipe away the fear, and if not wipe it away, at least it makes the fear more manageable. I was so afraid when I was told I was legally blind and that there was no more the doctors could do for me. All I could think of was what I couldn’t do, how my life was going to be impacted and all the things I wouldn’t be able to achieve. I didn’t think that I could still achieve those things but achieve them in a different way. So once I got to the point where I could accept the fact that I could no longer see, that was when I felt empowered.

Abby: And that’s the day that I was born.

Steph: Yes it was!

Abby: Let’s tell everybody about what all I am.

Steph: Oh my goodness! There are so many things that you are! You’re everything that I wanted to be. You’re my alter ego. You are strong. You’re a go-getter. You just don’t let anything stop you, and yet at the same time, you’re vulnerable.

Abby: Tell everyone what all I encompass, for you, and for other women that you’ve met, sighted or not.

Steph: Abby, you encompass everything I’ve ever wanted to be within myself, and really, when I view other women, you’re strong. You’re outgoing. You’re unafraid to face obstacles. You know that these things exist, but yet, you are the type of person who looks at them as opportunities. You don’t look at obstacles as something that is going to take you down or something that can hold you back. You’re just someone who is persistent, you encourage other people, and you allow others to feel like there’s nothing that they can’t do because of who you are.

Abby: I can’t imagine being anybody else than the person that you’ve created me to be, and what I want to tell everybody is, I’m so glad to be here! I’m so glad to be talking! You guys are going to see so much coming from this amazing woman and my creator and myself! We’re going to take on the world and we’re going to bring it to you, because together, we are strong and we are going to squash fear, one cane tap at a time, in our stilettos with our fashion and our fun and our purpose. That’s who we are. High five to you, Steph.

Steph: High five right back you, Abby.

Abby: For now we’re out, guys, but stay tuned. Can’t wait to correspond with you. Check out my fashion tips, my fun, my adventures, and my vulnerability. Because I share it all.

Be well and be safe everyone. I leave you with a song I’ve claimed as my anthem. Enjoy!

Special Thanks To:

Image Description:

A graphic of two intertwined speech bubbles

  • In one bubble Abby says: I myself was so incredibly nervous at first, but the more and more confident you got, I believe as my creator, the more confident I got to be able to rock my cane, too.
  • In the other bubble Steph says: There is so much power in finding acceptance! Finding acceptance helps to wipe away the fear, and if not wipe it away, at least it makes the fear more manageable.
  • Photo of Abby in Central Park on a sunny afternoon. She’s looking chic in a teal tank top paired with gray joggers while 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.