I have a couple of friends who have visual impairments of one sort or another. I don’t really take much notice of it. I’m not even sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I think, because my relationship to them is as artist or songwriter, I see it as irrelevant – to me. It certainly doesn’t seem to affect the quality of their work as I see or hear it!
The one friend, Marion, has intermittent problems, and our communications are mostly online, so doesn’t impinge in any way on my end of the communications (I’m not looking good here am I?) and apart from the occasional aside in the conversation, she doesn’t mention it. The other friend, Nicki, I see more often, and probably communicate with through whatsapp more often, has a permanent impairment, and I basically ignore it, thinking that if she needs any help she will ask. I am really attentive on occasion though and say useful things like “oh look out for that cable!” whilst pointing. Good eh?
As a society we don’t think though do we? Nicki posted a video on Facebook that showed how her vision is in her “good” eye… It terrified me! But what really got me irate were the things that make the lives of sighted people easier, that are nothing but dangerous hazards to those with restricted vision – for example the posts and ropes things that guide the queue in post offices and such… when you can’t see the big picture, these are totally incomprehensible! Don’t get me started on people that park their cars half on the pavement!
Marion had been asking about text to voice software for her computer, so that she could keep up with things while her sight was bad. Apparently the software she was using was too fast, male, and obviously expressionless. I had the idea that I could record my own blog at least so that she could keep up with that (I’m selfless, me!). It would only take a couple of minutes. I recorded all of the entries for Nine Women, and sent them over. After the first bit of feedback, which was surprisingly good (must be all those years of practice reading to young children) it suddenly occurred to me there was another visually impaired person in my life! (I know, I’m crap). So I sent it to Nicki too… whether she wanted it or not. Feedback was pretty good from her too. She had some really good ideas from her experience of audio books and such.
This recording takes me hardly any time at all. If I have been particularly verbose it might take five minutes, that’s all. Then I started to think that maybe I could do my blog as a podcast too…widening access to it. Purely for my own benefit of course, as you can see from the examples above, I am not particularly altruistic or sensitive. I need to do some research about podcasts and how to best present them, and through which platforms… hmmm…
Anyway… my point… I am looking into making this Nine Women project blog into a regular podcast (I wish I had thought of this before I filled in the funding form!). I may do Threads at a later date, will see how it goes. However, I am happy to record it for anyone who would like it. I’m doing it to widen my audience of course. But also, because, whilst I’m not particularly sensitive or aware in matters such as these, having identified something I can do very easily to make my little bit of the art world more accessible, why the hell wouldn’t I do it?
PS. I promise not to park over the pavement any more too.