Helen Keller and Me

Two years ago today, I launched this blog. Today is also Helen Keller’s birthday, so Helen Keller and I have at least one thing in common. In honor of the anniversary of Helen Keller’s birth and this blog, here is an encore of my second blog entry (posted two years ago tomorrow):

Happy Birthday Helen Keller: June 27, 1880


Photo courtesy of the American Foundation for the Blind Helen Keller Archives

Above is a 1955 black and white photograph of Helen Keller, on her 75th birthday, assisted by Polly Thomson (secretary and companion) serving birthday cake.

In this black and white photograph, two older women stand shoulder to shoulder behind a lace covered table. On the table is a three-tiered cake decorated with icing flowers and swags and a single small slender lit candle. A stack of small plates with dark patterned rims sits to the left of the cake.

The woman on the left, Helen Keller, is a few inches taller than the woman on the right. Her face is cast slightly downwards. Her eyes are open yet her gaze is not fixed upon anything within the picture frame. Her is mouth opened in a smile. Helen’s dark wavy hair is parted on the left and pulled back from her face. Short waves of whiter hair flanking the part frame her face. Her light-colored damask, short-sleeved dress has a V-shaped neckline that is both wide and deep. It covers her shoulders and dips down to just above her breasts. She wears a triple strand of round white pearls around the base of her neck. Her right arm, bent at the elbow, reaches forward slightly as the broad bladed cake knife in her right hand poises between icing flowers atop the cake, its tip just behind the lone birthday candle. The knife obscures the writing on the far side of the candle but two words, one above the other, are visible on the near side: Birthday Helen.

The woman on the right, Polly Thomson, is wearing a darker dress of the same style and similar fabric except for the sleeves on which are fuller and pouf out at the banded cuff just above the elbow. Her hair is darker than Helen’s and is also worn in waves pulled off the face and parted on the left. With her chin tucked in, Polly’s head tips down toward the cake. Her downcast eyes direct our attention to the cake and the four hands of the women.

Both of Polly’s arms are held in towards her body and are bent at the elbows. Her right arm crosses in front of Helen’s left arm, seen just between the two women’s bodies and below Polly’s right elbow. Polly’s right hand reaches across Helen’s waist as she holds, her fingers gently grasping, the top of Helen’s right hand as Helen cuts the cake. Polly’s lower left arm crosses her body as she loosely holds Helen’s left hand in hers.

The touching right hands and forearms of the women create a V shape at Helen’s waistline, above and to the left of the cake. Their touching left hands and forearms create a smaller V shape, echoing the first, at Polly’s waistline. The down-turned heads and points of the V that are created by the hands direct our attention to the cake.

In the background on the left, behind Helen’s right shoulder, is a candle in a wall sconce. To the right of the sconce, we see the top left corner of the narrow black frame of a picture or document, the glare from the flash bulb obscuring its contents. In the lower left, below Helen’s right elbow the upper left of the dark wooden frame of a shield-backed chair is seen. Between the women and behind Polly on the right, are indistinct dark shadowy shapes resulting from the photographer’s flash.

Google Doodle Celebrates Seiichi Miyake

As you probably know, Google highlights all sorts of interesting things with the artwork known as the Google Doodle at the top of their search page. Today’s animation (seen below) celebrates Seiichi Miyake, the Japanese inventor of the Tenji block — those blocks that have raised bars and bumps and create detectable warnings on the sidewalk, train platforms, etc. When you click on the animation, you are taken to a page that has stories from all over about Seiichi Miyake and his bumpy Tenji blocks.

Here is a description of today’s doodle:

A grey curb runs diagonally from the upper left corner to the center of the wide rectangular picture frame. A small area of dark grey, almost black, street with part of a white bar from a striped crosswalk is visible in the lower left corner of the image. On the other side of the curb are two rows of square yellow paving blocks with raised bumps. Beyond these pavers is a dark grey sidewalk. The grid of the sidewalk is interrupted a path of more yellow paving blocks. These yellow blocks have raised bars and are perpendicular to the swath of blocks with the bumps along the curb. The white ball and red tip of a white cane appears in the upper right corner of the image. As the cane sweeps from left to right, it is followed by a pair of feet wearing black sneakers with rounded white capped toes and laces. The feet, at the bottom of jeans-clad legs, approach the intersection of the blocks with the raised bars and the blocks with the raised dots. The cane continues to sweep back and forth as it points to the blue, red, ochre, and green letters that spell “GOOGLE” along the curb-side edge of the dotted blocks. As the feet meet and stop at the intersection of the blocks, the tip of the cane comes rest between their toes.

“All About Descriptive Audio”

Last month, I had the opportunity to join co-hosts Marlene Brisk, Elizabeth Clark on and fellow guests Shirley Roberts and Chuck Adkins on “Morning Exchange” on VOICEcorps radio to discuss audio description. The show, which originally aired on September 28th, is now available to listen to on demand. No subscription is necessary to stream live or on demand audio.

If you are not familiar with VOICEcorps, you should check out their website. It’s a great resource for anyone with low or no vision.

Audio Description on “Morning Exchange”

Tune in tomorrow morning (September 28th) to the Voicecorps show “Morning Exchange” where I and two other guests will be discussing audio description from both provider and consumer points of view.  Whether you are curious about audio description or already a fan, this show is for you!  If you do not have a radio or are not in the central Ohio area, you can listen online at https://online.voicecorps.org/listen.m3u. The show runs from 11 AM until noon.

Description of a Crested Porcupine


A black and white photograph of a crested porcupine against a white background.

The porcupine is seen head-on. Its small, lowered, V-shaped head is framed by its circular torso that is supported by its two stocky, short front legs. The legs are directly below the head and are close together with a small square of light between them.  There are four digits upon each foot. The porcupine’s long black and white quills bristle out and upward from its circular torso, past its forelegs, like the bristles of  a half-round hairbrush.  The quills are as long as the porcupine is tall.  Each quill is banded in stripes of black and white. Long white quills stand up along the top of its head. The rest of its torso is covered by short dark bristles.

The dark figure of the porcupine stands out vividly from the stark white background. The only shadow is a short black line between the bottoms of its two front paws. The long black and white needle-like quills create a staccato halo upon its back.

Follow-up to “A ‘Dog-umentary’”

Important update regarding the date for this film:

I was just on the Gateway Film Center’s site and the date for the film has changed.  The day and time are Tuesday, September 25 at 2:00 PM.  

In my last post about the upcoming film “Pick of the Litter”, I said that details about access for non-iOS users would be available on the Gateway Film Center’s website last week.  When I checked over the weekend, I saw that it had not been added although the film is listed in upcoming events.  Anyway, I called the theatre to double check on what would be available with regard to audio description for non-iOS users or anyone who doesn’t wish to use the Actiview app.  The woman I spoke with told me that anyone desiring audio description should ask for the equipment at the ticket center, where it is available at no additional cost.  The receivers fit in the cup holders on the arm of the theatre seats.  You will be required to leave your ID at the ticket desk until you return the equipment.

So to recap:  “Pick of the Litter”, an award-winning documentary that follows five Labrador puppies born in the Guide Dogs for the Blind breeding program from birth through their training to become guide dogs will be at the Gateway Film Center on Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 2:00 PM. Audio description is available for download for iOS users on the Actiview app.   The theatre also will be providing  in-theatre audio description,  just request the equipment at the ticket center.   At the time I originally wrote this entry, the time was not listed on the website and the date was different so check You might want to check back at the Gateway Film Center’s website for the day and time before heading over there for the movie.


Information about the film itself, including trailers with audio description, is available at the Guide Dogs for the Blind website.

See you at the movies!

A “Dog-umentary”

“Pick of the Litter”, an award-winning documentary that follows five Labrador puppies born in the Guide Dogs for the Blind breeding program from birth through their training to become guide dogs will be at the Gateway Film Center on Friday, September 21, 2018. Audio description is available for download for iOS users on the Actiview app. More details about the length of the movie’s run at Gateway and access for non-iOS users will be available on the Gateway Film Center’s website sometime next week, after the film has been delivered to Gateway.

Information about the film itself, including trailers with audio description, is available at the Guide Dogs for the Blind website.

See you at the movies!

Program Notes for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Saboteur”

Please note that this movie was filmed in black and white so colors will not be mentioned in these notes.  For those of you who are interested when Alfred Hitchcock makes his cameo, I will identify him by name and give his location at the time.

The action in tonight’s film occurs during the days of World War II.  The costumes are typical of what Americans were wearing in the mid-1940s.  Both men’s and women’s clothing styles borrowed from the current military uniforms.  Shoulders were reinforced with pads for a wide and boxy silhouette.  The rest of the contour was a bit narrower thanks to wartime restrictions limiting, among other things, the width of pants legs and the length of  hemlines.  Epaulets, strips of fabric or leather that ran along the tops of the shoulders and fastened with a button, were a common embellishment.  A popular style of jacket, sometimes called an Eisenhower jacket after General Eisenhower, was short and came to the bottom of the waist or top of the hip with a band around the bottom. This type of jacket was very popular with workmen and for casual wear. Variations of the Eisenhower jacket were used widely for both men’s jackets and women’s clothing such as suits or two-piece dresses.  Wide lapels were found on both men’s and women’s suits.  Many men still wore suits and ties for all occasions.  A knee length dress coat similar to what is worn today would be worn over that attire.

Women’s dresses came to just below the knee although floor length gowns were still worn for formal evening attire.  Women’s evening gowns were often ornamented with elaborate designs made of sequins, small shiny disks that were sewn onto the gown, across bodices and along the shoulders and/or bottoms of the sleeves.  Evening wear for men meant white or black tie for civilians (again, similar to what is worn today) and dress uniforms replete with ribbons and medals for the military men.

Hats were commonly worn.  The fedora with its high crown dented at the top and pinched in front and a 2.5” brim was the most popular style for men. Workmen, such as truck drivers, would wear a flat cap with a soft slouchy crown and small visor.

Hairstyles for women were somewhat different from what is worn today. Hair was worn long.  Shoulder length was popular with younger women and was frequently worn with   the front or sides of the hair rolled away from the face and the back worn loose.  Older women also may have worn the hair around the face rolled but the back would have been pinned up as well.  Curly or wavy hair was considered desirable and many men also sported wavy hair. Their hair was worn short on the back and sides and a little longer on the top, generally with a side part before the hair was brushed away from the face and slicked down with Brilliantine or some other hair pomade that held the hair in place and gave it a great amount of shine.

Some the places in which the action occurs are an airplane factory in California, a cabin in the woods, a mansion in New York City and the Statue of Liberty.

The airplane factory has walls of corrugated steel.  The narrow folds of the metal are vertical and it resembles corduroy. The wide space of the factory floor has ceilings high enough not only to house the rows of airplanes being built but also to allow workers to work on the upper portions of the planes and for the necessary lighting to be hung from the ceilings.  The ceilings themselves are obscured by the system of girders and bracing necessary for its support.  The area where the planes are constructed is very light and bright. The mess hall or canteen area is various shades of grey and has rectangular wooden tables and benches for the workers to eat at.  The canteen area is defined by welded wire partitions and a low corrugated steel roof.  In the background, soldiers carrying rifles with bayonets upon their shoulders are seen marching back and forth as they patrol the area.

The cabin sits in a clearing at the edge of a forest of redwood trees.  Its low single-story profile contrasts with the soaring trunks of the surrounding trees.  Mountains are seen in the distance behind the house.  The house is a log cabin with a rough fieldstone foundation that comes up the to the bottom of the multi-paned windows.  The shingled roof has a shallow pitch and the eaves are at the tops of the windows. A wide chimney sits in the center of the roof.  The front door is to the far right. Inside, the main room has a large stone fireplace opposite the door.  Dark gleaming wood and cushioned upholstered furniture contrasts with the roughness of the fieldstone surrounding the fireplace and the rough-hewn split logs and chinking on the far right wall.  The far left wall is paneled in knotty pine.  Log beams span the width of the room below the peaked ceiling.  A baby grand piano sits at one end of the room, to the left of the front door.  A sofa sits below a window, between the door and the piano, opposite the fireplace.  Club chairs with plaid upholstery flank the fireplace.  A low round coffee table sits in the center of the room.  To the right of the door is a rectangular dining table with four chairs around it.  Tall candlesticks stand on either side of the fireplace opening.  A silver candelabrum rests on the dining table. An assortment of bric-a-brac is displayed on a shelf above a sideboard to the right of the fireplace, behind the dining table.  Framed pictures hang on the walls.  A kitchen is seen through a door at the left end of the room.

The mansion in New York City is a large well appointed home and decorated in a very “Old World” style:  antique chairs with gilded exposed wooden frames and needlepoint upholstery, heavy ornate carved and gilded tables and cabinets, tapestries and large elaborately framed oil paintings hanging on the walls. The ballroom is a large open space over seen from the low balustrade of the second floor corridor.  A wide curving double staircase leads down to the ballroom floor. Several large crystal chandeliers hang from the two story high ceiling.  A low bandstand is at the far end of and a parquet dance floor is in the center of the room.  The study is a spacious room with a sitting area around a large fireplace. The fireplace has a carved stone mantle.  Figurines, vases, small dishes, boxes, and lamps cover every flat surface in the room.  The room has wood paneling with large panels that are covered in a flame patterned jacquard silk fabric.  A large intricately carved and gilded desk of dark wood sits in front of wall of bookshelves.  The kitchen is large and utilitarian, like a restaurant kitchen and has several workstations in the middle and around the edges of the room.

The Statue of Liberty is a colossal statue that stands on a tall rectangular pedestal upon a large starburst shaped base on a small island in New York Harbor.  The figure of Liberty is woman, standing, holding a torch above her head in her right hand and cradling a book in her left arm. She is dressed in toga knotted over her left shoulder worn over a loose long-sleeved, floor-length robe. The toga has diagonal folds and the robe has vertical ones.  She wears a seven-pointed crown on her head. The narrow triangular points radiate outward like a halo.  Below the points is a band composed of 25 arched windows.  She stands erect, her right arm raised straight up with a flaming torch in her hand. The wide loose sleeve falls down to her shoulder into deep folds.  Her left arm is at her side. It is bent at the elbow as she cradles a book. The book is inscribed with the date July 4, 1776 written in Roman numerals (the word July followed by IV, MDCCLXXVI).  Her bare foot is seen stepping out beneath the drapery of her robe pooling on the ground. According to the National Park Service website, the Statue of Liberty is 305 feet 1inch from the ground to the tip of the flame or the equivalent height of a 22-story building.  Some other measurements, also from the National Park Service website, to give an idea of scale are:

Heel to top of head:  111’1” or  the equivalent of 19 average height men

Head (from chin to cranium): 17’3”

Width of head:  10’

Width of eye: 2’6” (two and a half feet)

Length of hand:  16’5”

Index finger: 8’

Liberty holds the torch aloft by a shaft that is a little longer than her hand.  Atop the shaft is a circular dish that surrounds the flame. The wall of the dish is open metalwork and looks like interlocking upside-down heart shapes.  The flame flares out of a short cylinder that rises above the edge of the dish.  Today the torch has been replaced and the flame is gilded in 24 karat gold but in the 1940s, the torch still sported the original copper flame that had earlier been pierced with mostly rectangular holes and fitted with glass.

Although made of copper, the Statue of Liberty is a matte green due to natural oxidization.

And now for a few words about the main characters in tonight’s movie:

Barry Kane: A black haired man in his early 30’s, Barry Kane has short, wavy, slicked back hair parted on his left.  He has dark slightly arched eyebrows and dark eyes. Barry’s mouth is full lipped.  We first see him wearing a dark leather bomber style jacket over a dark shirt and striped tie worn with flat front work pants.

Patricia “Pat” Martin:  Pat is a young woman in her mid-to late 20’s. She has wavy long blond hair that is pulled up, back and rolled away from her face in a pompadour before it falls to rest in soft, billowy curls upon her shoulders.  She has light colored eyes beneath gently curving eyebrows. Pat’s lips are full and dark with lipstick; the lower one is a little pouty.  We first see Pat wearing a light colored suit with a knee length skirt and platform shoes.  A wedge of a dark, collarless top can be seen in the open V between the pale broad lapels of her suit jacket.  She wears a sparkly pin on the left lapel.

Frank Fry:  A slight man with blonde hair, Fry has a high forehead, prominent nose and receding chin. He is in his late 20’s/early 30’s.

Charles Tobin:  Tobin is an older gentleman in his late 50’s. His salt and pepper hair is brushed back from his high forehead in flowing waves.  He has a thin mustache that comes straight down from his nose before curving off on either side to follow the line of his upper lip. He is very thin and has narrow shoulders.

Freeman: A man in his mid-30’s, Freeman has a high forehead with a receding hairline.  His hair is a medium tone.  He has a neat mustache over his upper lip that is lighter than the hair on his head.  He wears rimless eyeglasses with round lenses and metal stems.  Freeman wears a suit and tie beneath an overcoat.  He wears a fedora on his head in most scenes.

Live Audio Description of Hitchcock’s “Saboteur”

This movie is part of the 49th CAPA 2018 Summer Movie Series

Saboteur (1942)

Thursday, August 2, 2018 @ 7:30 PM

Military aircraft factory worker Barry Kane goes on the run after being falsely accused of setting a fire that destroyed the plant and killed his best friend. Determined to clear his name, his cross-country search for the truth uncovers a sinister plot that culminates in the unforgettable final scene at the Statue of Liberty. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

6:30 PM Doors open

6:45 PM Program notes

7:00 PM Organ recital (Clark Wilson on the Mighty Morton Organ)

7:30 PM Movie begins

Program notes will be repeated, as time allows, during intermission.

The movie is at the Ohio Theatre, 39 East State Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. Day-of-show tickets to individual films are $5 and go on sale one hour prior to show time at the Ohio Theatre kiosk. Senior citizen tickets are $4. Kiosk sales are cash only.

Patrons wishing to use audio description at this August 2nd performance of “Saboteur” need only show up at the theatre and request the audio description headset at the door. Please test your headset before entering the auditorium to ensure that you are receiving sound.

Black and white photo of Robert Cummings (on left) and Priscilla Lane (on right) in Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Saboteur”.

This black and white photo a man and woman is twice as wide as it is high. It is of a black haired man wearing a dark leather bomber style jacket and a blond woman in a light colored wool coat with notched lapels. They are standing in a room with vertical knotty pine paneling.

The man, on the left, stands facing the woman. His head, turned to his right, faces out at us. The man’s dark, slicked back hair is mussed and a short curling lock falls forward above his right eye. His dark eyes look toward the left. The closed lips of his mouth are set in a straight line. The lower portion of the man’s face is covered with the shadowy stubble of his beard and mustache. His arms, bent at the elbows are held straight out in front of his body. His fists are clenched.

Visible between his wrists are the bracelet of a set of handcuffs on his left wrist and the chain restraining his wrists. The edge of the right bracelet is barely noticeable just below the dark knit cuff of his jacket.

The woman, on the right, faces the man. Her body, angled gently to her left, turns slightly towards us as she leans toward the man. Her face is also turned a little towards her left as she faces out at us. Her light colored, widely opened eyes look straight ahead. Her full dark lips are barely parted. The woman’s wavy long blond hair is pulled up and back and rolled away from her face in a pompadour before it falls to rest in soft, billowy curls upon her shoulders. A wedge of a dark, collarless top can be seen in the open V between the pale lapels of her coat. She wears a sparkly pin on the left lapel.

In the photograph, both figures are seen from the chest up. The man is centered on the left side of the photo. The top of the man’s head is cropped by the top edge of the frame of the picture. The top of the woman’s blond hair comes up to the man’s eye level, two-thirds of the height of the picture. She is positioned just to the right of the center of the frame. Behind the couple, is a narrow shelf running along the wall. The few items on it are blurred and it is difficult to make out exactly what they are. The shelf ends at a corner behind the woman. On the wall behind and to the right of the woman is a large framed drawing of a bird. The bird’s breast, neck and head are visible behind the upper right of the woman’s head. The white background of the picture is framed by a black mat and dark grey frame. To the right of the picture is a narrow sliver of a window with a dark frame is visible. A plaid curtain covers the window.




Live Audio Description for “Gone With The Wind”, July 15th

I will be providing live audio description for “Gone With The Wind”, part of the CAPA Summer Movie Series this coming Sunday, July 15th at the Ohio Theatre.

Gone With The Wind (1939)
Sunday, July 15, 2018 @ 2:00 PM

Fiddle-dee-dee! Winner of eight Oscar Awards including Best Picture, Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War masterpiece set the standard for epic film-making. This Library of Congress treasure featuring the love/hate relationship of Rhett and Scarlett was also ranked as the #6 Greatest Movie of All Time by the American Film Institute.

The program is as follows:
1:00 PM  Doors open
1:15 PM  Program notes (more detailed descriptions of the characters, costumes and sets as well as information from the printed program)
1:30 PM  Clark Wilson’s performance on the “Mighty Morton” organ begins
2:00 PM  Movie begins

Here is a description of Tara, the O’Hara family home:

The O’Hara family home at Tara is a large whitewashed brick house with dark green shutters, framed by two large trees with wide trunks and gnarled branches that support a thick canopy of green leaves. It has a wide front porch with tall white columns. Margaret Mitchell describes it as “a clumsy sprawling building that crowned the rise of ground overlooking the green incline of pasture land running down to the river …”

The house is asymmetrical. The main portion of the house is two stories high. It has three tall windows on the first floor. Inside the house, the windows would reach from the floor to the ceiling. Two of the windows are to the left and one is to right of the front door. The windows are as tall as the arched transom window above the front door. There are four shorter windows on the second floor. These windows are half the height of the windows that open onto the porch.

Off-center and to the left of a single tall window on the porch is the front door. It is paneled and painted white. The front door is flanked by narrow glass sidelights. Slender wooden columns are on either side of the sidelights. Resting atop the four wooden columns is a large transom window. It spans the combined width of the sidelights and the front door. The window is flat on the bottom and curved on top. The glass is divided into V-shaped sections by thin wood bars or muntins that radiate from the center of the bottom of the window. An arched bar echoes the outside top arch midway of the height of the window.

Five red brick steps lead up to the two-story porch that spans the main part of the house. The porch has four white square brick columns. Its roof slopes downward from the shallowly pitched gabled roof of the house.

A smaller two-story wing is set back slightly on the left. It has a single shuttered window on each story that match the ones on the main portion of the house. Another one story wing sits to the left of that, with just its roofline visible to us as Scarlett runs down the drive.

There are two tall white chimneys rise above the roofline of the house, one on either gable end of the main part of the house.  Four small windows are on either side of the chimney visible right side of the house.  Two are on the first floor and two are on the second. The chimney juts out from the side of the house.  Its outline indicates the large fireplace on the first floor and slightly narrower one on the second floor. At the top of the second story windows, the chimney angles inward and continues straight upward, like an upside down Y.