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Lights! Camera! Audio Description Action!

Roy's image is described in the body of the post.


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


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


Oh yes


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 America which is, 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.


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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Braille + Fashion = Beautiful Inclusive Design

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It’s a great way to be able to advocate and express the importance of accessibility in fashion. And really, in the end, it’s just so clear that if you think about inclusivity at the very beginning of the design process you can truly make a product that can be worn by absolutely anyone. 


Editor’s Note:

Hey, guys. It’s me, Abby. I’m so excited to introduce you to Fashion Designer, Alexa Jovanovic of Aille Design. With inclusivity in mind, Alexa is shaking up the fashion industry with her beautiful braille beaded clothing designs. Recently I had the opportunity to meet Alexa in person at a photoshoot with none other than Bold Blind Beauty’s newest contributor, Catherine Harrison. Enjoy!

Interview Transcript

Image is described in the body of the post

Abby: I’m sitting here with Alexa Jovanovic and I got to witness her amazing, just out of the world clothing and got to watch a photoshoot with lovely Catherine Harrison. And oh my gosh you guys stunning in your clothes Alexa, thank you for being with me!

Alexa: Thank you so much, Abby, you’re so sweet, it’s been an absolute blast today! Catherine’s phenomenal, you’re phenomenal this is great!

Abby: Oh my gosh, yes, I have to say yes, just watching how you guys work and the enthusiasm you have for your clothes and Catherine oh my gosh stunning! It’s been so much fun. What you were talking about earlier I loved it when you were talking about the 10-year-old Alexa. Tell me about her and what she was thinking about?

Alexa: Yeah, so when I was younger I always loved fashion, I loved dress-up and if I could find a way to turn that into my reality in my future that is exactly what I wanted to do. So it started when I went to university for fashion. I studied at Ryerson in Toronto and that’s actually where this entire company sort of started; my braille clothing. So what I do, I have a company called Aille Design, it’s spelled A I L L E and what I do is I add braille beading onto clothing and it’s done in a way that’s really aesthetically pleasing but functionally it allows anyone who can read braille to fully envision what their clothing is. So they can read exactly what the color of the garment is, what the decorations are, how you even launder it, and how it’s supposed to fit. Everything you would want to know so 10-year-old Alexa is ecstatic that the dreams are coming true.

Abby: That’s so awesome! I bet 10-year-old Alexa was never thinking about braille and tell me about what drew you to braille?

Alexa: So braille, I think it’s absolutely phenomenal the fact that you can read through touch is amazing, and then visually I just really love the design behind braille. And so I remember I was shopping and something clicked. I saw all of this beaded clothing and I immediately made the comparison between the similar size of small beads and braille. I loved beaded clothing and I saw there was a market for individuals with low vision or no vision at all who could really benefit from doing something like this. It’s a great way to be able to advocate and express the importance of accessibility in fashion. And really, in the end, it’s just so clear that if you think about inclusivity at the very beginning of the design process you can truly make a product that can be worn by absolutely anyone. 

Image is described in the body of the post

Abby: Anyone is right, and I’ve got to tell you, you know, we were talking earlier and I just love it that you do braille and what really really drew me is who was how who did you work with I mean who helps you?

Alexa: To create all of the pieces, I work directly with the blind and visually impaired community. I’ll create different concepts, I’ll have designs in mind, and then I’ll discuss these with the different individuals I work with. We’ll bring braille samples we’ll confirm that all of the beading on the clothing is legible, that they’re in places that are comfortable to wear that look great and then also on that aesthetic portion of it, we also work directly with individuals who are fully sighted who love fashion so that way we can confirm that this entire process maintains that fashion appeal. Because like I said, this really is a product that can be worn by absolutely anyone.

Abby: Oh my gosh, and it’s so true. I myself everyone knows Abby loves her stilettos and when I felt the leather jacket with the feathers I was in love and the leather was so soft and the braille is so on point. It’s done so, you said elegantly, everybody she’s totally being shy here.

Alexa: [laughs]

Abby: It is amazing! Well, I had to throw my jacket off you saw it. Oh my gosh, my friends are going to die over it, they’re just going to die. I can’t wait, I can’t wait to wear something of yours I cannot wait to do it. 

Alexa: Let’s make it happen.

Abby: It totally will. So where do you see yourself going from here? What do you envision for your company where do you want it to go?

Alexa: So the response has been absolutely incredible, so much positive feedback for the brand. It’s growing even quicker than I could have imagined. Opportunities are coming up that I never in my life would have thought were possible. So right now I’m looking for manufacturers and really wanting to bring this clothing line to life. So we’re in the process of building an online store and we’re going to start selling later this year. 

Abby: Oh my gosh!

Alexa: World domination is next!

[both laugh]

Abby: YES! Can I accompany you with world domination? Because you know me, Abby, I’m going to take my purple and pink cane and my guide dog and we’re on this. 

Alexa: Absolutely! Honestly, anyone within the community who wants to be involved please reach out. That is exactly what I want to do, that’s how this relationship started here. That’s how the photo shoot with Catherine Harrison earlier today started. There’s so much potential with the clothing here and I want to work with everyone who loves it. 

Abby: Oh my gosh, that is so great! So if they want to reach you, how do they get a hold of you and see your work? Because we need to get this out for you because we’ve got world domination going. And we’ve got to be wearing our stilettos to rock it. 

Alexa: Instagram is the best platform to reach me and to see what’s up to date with our brand. Our tag for Instagram is @AilleDesign so if you DM me on there you ‘ll also get all the information for our website, email. Contact me and let’s make this happen! Let’s make braille fashion the future!

Alexa: Awesome!! Give me a high five!

Image Credits:

Special Thanks To:

Image Descriptions:

  • Header: Models Kassandra Hazlehurst (denim jacket) and Catherine Harrison (white button up shirt & black skirt) are posed standing next to Alexa in an all-black outfit with white Braille beading. The ladies are in a gorgeous dining room with navy walls, a gold ceiling, and black and white art.
  • Catherine Harrison standing with Alexa (in all-black outfit) is looking fierce with a gorgeous smile and her white cane in hand. She’s wearing the blue dress design with white Braille beading and it compliments her red lipstick beautifully! The background has stunning black and white artwork and a navy wall.
  • 6-Panel gallery of Catherine. In five of the photos she is wearing the white button up shirt with black Braille beading with a black skirt. Clockwise top left to right first two photos are stunning full body shots of her with black pointed toe heels and her white cane. The third photo is a black and white profile headshot of Catherine in an off the shoulder sweater. In the fourth photo Catherine is showcasing the black Braille beading on the collar of the white button up shirt. Fifth image is a closeup shot from the waist up. The sixth image captures the full outfit, a big smile and a background filled with stunning artwork.
  • Clothing rack with five Aille Design pieces. 1. Denim jacket with pearl white stripes and black beading 2. Black faux leather jacket with black beading and feathers 3. White button up shirt with black Braille beading. 4. White skirt with black Braille beading. 5. Long cobalt blue dress with white beading.
  • 3-Panel gallery. Catherine is wearing the colbalt blue dress with white beading. Two of the images are full body shots with Catherine posing with her white cane in one. The third photo is an above the waist image of Catherine smiling as she looks away from the camera.
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Rocking Forward An Audio Interview With Steph & Abby

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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
Image described in the body of the post

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.