I'm recovering from a very busy but wonderful few days in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the Audio Description Project Conference at the annual American Council of the Blind Convention. Meeting up with dozens of describers of various disciplines (tv/movies like me, live theatre, museums, parks) from all over the world was really educational as we shared our experiences of the challenges and recent growth spurt of our business. We also compared and contrasted various types of description over the form's history, and learned about the remarkable local support that theatre describers in Minneapolis-St. Paul have gotten to make the market a standard-bearer in the world. But the highlights as always were about interacting with the many hundreds of blind/vision-impaired delegates to the ACB Convention. As part of the ACB/ACP Mentorship program, I was honoured to get mentored by no less than the First Vice-President of the ACB, Jeff Thom, a big fan of audio description with a lot of curiosity and a lot of patience. :-) He also has a lot of energy - so it made sense that it took me and another describer just starting out to keep up with him. Major thanks to Jeff, the ACB and the ubiquitous ADP Conference host Joel Snyder for such terrific experiences.
A war criminal is set free to lead an investigator (Edward G. Robinson) to a Nazi mastermind (Orson Welles) living under another name as a professor in a quaint New England town. 1946. Part 1 of 3. First posted June 16, 2008.
This episode provided the basis of my first live speaking presentation about audio description / described video. I was flattered to be asked to present a five-minute "jolt" at the Podcasters Across Borders conference on June 21, 2008. I spoke briefly (of course) about doing an audio podcast about visual media, using a scene from The Stranger as an example. You can read a transcript at the Movies For the Blind site.
I knew to expect the unexpected when live-describing this year's Toronto Pride Parade June 28th, and plenty of the unexpected happened. My partner in crime JJ Hunt had to cancel due to a terrible back condition (he's on the mend now) and the weather over the weekend was more like "March" weather - meaning the month - with rain and wind. There was even a question if I'd be able to describe at all because the tent (needed to keep the audio equipment and the people out of the rain) was getting blown away. But as usually happens at Pride, things worked out, and the experience was amazing.
Despite the rain, more than a million people lined the parade route through downtown, with dozens in and around our tent. There was much to keep track of, with the different banners, floats of dancers, happy groups and fabulous outfits - three hours passed by in a blur before I realized we were done! I was humbled to get great feedback - from the blind/low-vision people who attended, from the sighted but older and otherwise disabled people taking shelter under the tent, and even from sighted people just standing near the tent on the route; giving us a bonus of raising the profile of description with people who hadn't heard of it before.
Huge thanks goes to Darren, Marjorie and everyone on the Accessibility Team, as well as all the workers and volunteers who make Pride a highlight of Toronto every year. It was a privilege to be a small part of it.
A week from today, I'll be making my live-description début at this year's massive Toronto Pride Parade! My colleague JJ Hunt (a Pride live-description veteran) and I will be at the Wood Street viewing area doing our best to describe the biggest (more than a million spectators!), craziest, happiest party of the year heading down Yonge Street starting at 2pm until we possibly collapse from exhaustion! :-) Thanks so much to the Toronto Pride Accessibility Team for making this possible. For more information about accessibility at Pride, check out their website. Then come around next Sunday and say hi!