An Art Institution That Talks The Talk And Walks The Walk

I am thrilled to share news of an accessible event at the Wexner Center for the Arts. As this is a blog about audio description, I’d like to point out the audio described version of the event is available for streaming this week. All of the details are below in the email I received from Helyn Marshall. Kudos to Helyn and the staff at the Wexner for their attempts to make art truly available to everyone!

Here are all the details as outlined in Helyn’s email:

Dear Accessibility Professionals, Practitioners, and Friends,

I am writing to share some fast-breaking news on the accessibility front for Film/Video offerings at the Wex!

Starting tonight, we’re showing the new documentary film Her Socialist Smile, which shares Helen Keller’s work as one of the most passionate activists and advocates of her time, including an open captioned, in-person screening at 7pm on Wednesday, September 22.


In an exciting example of the continued expansion of our accessibility efforts, we are also streaming the Audio Descriptive Version of Her Socialist Smile (which the Wex provided seed money for the creation of the AD Track) for one week only, beginning today. 


Here’s a neat blog article Expanding access for Her Socialist Smile written by Chris Stults, Associate Film/Video Curator for the Wex, that shares how he found the film and its director, and helped to line up the support for the creation of an AD version of the film, which we are so happy to be able to share on our site with descriptive transcript available, in a pay-what-you-can model for greater accessibility for all.


This all very literally just came together yesterday; apologies that I couldn’t share with a little more notice, but I would so appreciate it if you could give this film a signal boost via social media or through your networks. Her Socialist Smile is a beautiful documentary and something that I’m really pleased the Wex could help support expanded access to.


With care,



Helyn Marshall

Accessibility Manager

Digital Accessibility Coordinator

wexner center for the arts



Pronouns: she/her/hers | Why Pronouns Matter

Make Your Voice Be Heard!

In honor of the second annual Audio Description Awareness Day (April 16th) — I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you a post from the Audio Description Project (ADP) Listserv that was written by Fred Brack, the ADP Webmaster and Social Media Manager. For those of you who may never have heard of the Audio Description Project, it is an initiative of the American Council of the Blind and repository (and sometimes a catalyst) for all things audio description. Fred does a stellar job and you can check out the website here or use this URL:

Fred’s post is about letting the FCC know what changes you would like to see to the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. So let’s celebrate our awareness of audio description by taking action!

The FCC Wants to Know What Changes You Want to the CVAA
(Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act)

As requested in this FCC Public Notice, the FCC would like to know what changes you feel are required in the 10-year old CVAA.  “Given changes in technology and industry practices, as well as taking into account consumer experiences, we seek comment on whether there is a need to update these rules.”  For example, we at the ADP suggest you consider the following.  Are enough shows described today on TV?  Are enough non-broadcast networks (USA, TBS, etc.) covered?  Are enough regions of the country covered?  Are cable TV providers able to supply the right equipment and answer your questions about AD?  Are you satisfied with the quantity and quality of audio description provided?

How about the streaming services?  The ACB has had to initiate legal action in many cases to get streaming companies to provide description.  Should the FCC mandate it for streamers of a certain size or type of content?  And once an audio description track is created, should there be some requirement that it must be passed along just like closed captioning is to any other service that picks up the show for rebroadcast?  These are just some of the things you should be thinking about.  And don’t simply rely upon someone else to voice these comments.  MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!  Historically, few blind or low vision individuals have replied to these Requests for Comment, which does not reflect well on the needs and desires of individuals with visual impairment.

How do you submit your comments to the FCC?  Here is the simplified process:

  1. Write your comments in a Word document, PDF, or plain text file.
  2. Go to this web address:
  3. Type the Proceeding Number in the first box:  21-140 and press Enter.
  4. The following fields are required on the form as you tab down:  Name(s); Primary Contact Email; Address Of (use “Filer” or “Author”); Address, City, State, Zip.
  5. At that point, the next field says to “Click or drop files here.”  You should be able to click to select your prepared comments, or drag and drop if you prefer.
  6. Click the box to receive an email confirmation of your submission.
  7. Finally you will click the button to “Continue to the Review Screen.”  (We haven’t done this yet, so we hope it is obvious from here on!)

There is an alternative.  If you want to type your comments directly, use this web address:  The form is similar and slightly shorter, and you could cut-and-paste your comments into the Comment block if you wish.  As a last resort, you can send your comments to this address:  In each case, remember that the Proceeding Number is 21-140.  DO IT NOW!

Fred Brack,
ADP Webmaster and Social Media Manager *** ***

The Audio Description Project is an initiative of the American Council of the Blind

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 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.