Broadcasting on the Mac: Jessica’s Experience and Setup

As someone who considers herself a shy person, I never thought I would be interested in broadcasting or that I would host I weekly radio show. I proved myself wrong! If you love music, and you have a reliable internet connection, you can do it too!

In the last post, Ashley shared her experiences with broadcasting and explained her setup on windows. In this post, I’ll share my experiences broadcasting from Mac OS X, and how to get starting using my particular setup.

My journey into broadcasting began in fall of 2013. Ashley and I were sharing an apartment at the time, and she told me she was going to begin broadcasting on an internet radio station. I was clueless about this internet radio thing. I had no idea what a big deal it was, especially in the blind community. I familiarized myself with internet radio by hanging out with Ashley and other people who did shows, and by listening to shows whenever I had time. People begged me to start my own show, but I didn’t think I could do it. Plus, I used a mac, not windows, so no one had a clue how I should get started.

I think the lack of help is what pushed me to figure out how to make it work. I was going to conquer broadcasting the same way I learned to use the mac – on my own. I did lots of research, but there wasn’t anything available that explained everything and made it simple to follow. The only thing I gathered is that I would need a program called Nicecast to connect to the server. So, I downloaded it and began playing around with it. As it turns out, Mac users have so many options for broadcasting, because all Nicecast does is send audio from whatever source you choose to a server. A source can be a single application, or it could be all system audio. All my music was already in iTunes, so my setup simply includes iTunes and Nicecast.

I did my first show on October 2, 2013. I was extremely nervous, and I broke many things. It helped that I had my friends on the show with me, so I wasn’t alone. In the weeks and months to follow, I continued to improve, and the feedback was great. A couple of stations later, my friends and I started our own station called ElectroShock Radio. After working for so many other people and watching their stations fail, ElectroShock Radio was a breath of fresh air. Finally what I said mattered, and I was able to help keep the station running. Unfortunately, ElectroShock Radio shut down in the summer of 2015. Since then, I don’t broadcast as often, but I still do. We held onto our server, and I stream different things regularly. I still love broadcasting, but I have no interest in broadcasting on someone else’s station. I like stability, and I hate drama, so the server works for me.

Now, let’s talk a bit about getting started broadcasting on the Mac.

The hardware options, like broadcasting on windows, can be as expensive or as cheap as you like. You can go all out and get a bunch of expensive equipment like external mixers, or you can simply get a good microphone. I use the $39.99 GoMic, and everyone says it sounds great. If you prefer to wear your microphone, some USB headsets may also work.

If having more hardware appeals to you, or if you wish to mix tracks like a DJ would do at a party, check out our friend Jonathan Candler’s broadcasting setup.

Either way, the decision is up to you! It’s all about your preferences, and what you can afford.

Now, let’s move on to software.

No matter what application you use to play your music, you will need Nicecast to connect to the server. There is a demo available for free, which is great while you’re figuring things out. However, you’ll need to purchase the full version when you’re ready to share your show with the world.

If you have usable vision, this may be the only piece of software you need to purchase. You can set the source as iTunes or whatever media player you wish to use, and then bring in your mic, other apps, or Skype in the effects panel.

If you are totally blind, you may wish to broadcast using an app that allows you to play music and bring in your mic. Most people use one of the two following options.

DJay

Radiologik DJ

Lastly, if you don’t want to do a live show, you could record a show using an app like Audio Hijack and then send the MP3 to the station managers for playback later.

Thank you for reading this, and please check out Ashley’s post on broadcasting from Windows. I hope you have found this information useful, and we look forward to writing more helpful entries for you in the future.

Welcome!

Welcome to the Blinkie Chicks website, where you’ll find blog posts, videos, interviews, and presentations. If you’re interested in working with us or have suggestions, please contact us. We hope you enjoy our site, and we look forward to creating new and interesting content for you!

Traveling: More than a Sensory Experience

Although people who are blind experience life the same way as everyone else, we often have techniques and gadgets that help us do things more efficiently. This blog entry will focus on just one aspect of life, travel, and some tips, techniques, and devices that make it easier for those of us who are blind or visually impaired. Whether it is appreciating the sensory aspects of a city, or using the latest accessible GPS app, the blind find ways to enjoy traveling as much as people who are sighted.

People who are blind can take advantage of their traveling experience by locating activities featuring sensory aspects. Consider a variety of restaurants with foods you like or wish to try; you can even find establishments that specialize in local cuisine to enhance your voyage. Another option would be to visit botanical gardens or any other site which involves the sense of smell. If you are interested in something more tactile, call well in advance of your trip to reserve a tour of local touch collections at museums.

Technology can play an essential role in your trip if you are blind. While this element is not required to travel, using technology has many advantages. Nowadays people who are blind or visually impaired can use technology to navigate which provides a sense of independence and tranquility by knowing exactly where you are at all times.

Here are some handy devices which you might try out for your next trip:

Sendero GPS is software found in many blindness specific products, but they also make applications for some mainstream mobile devices. It is important to remember that, while having a specialized device offers more features specific to the needs of blind and low vision users, the cost of such devices are typically much more than that of mainstream products. Keep this in mind when deciding what product and/or software is best for you.

Although it is very expensive for what it does, especially for people on a fixed income, the Trekker Breeze is a great handheld GPS option for the visually impaired. Not only will you be able to save battery life on your smartphone, it should work in other countries, even if cellular service is unavailable or too expensive.

Already have an iOS or Android based smartphone? There are some great applications to choose from that should save you a great deal of money, even those that are subscription-based.

Although it isn’t as feature-rich as other GPS applications, Blindsquare is a great, inexpensive GPS option for the iPhone. This app uses location information from foursquare to help point you in the right direction, so the data may not be entirely correct. However, it is good enough to get you in the general vicinity of what you’re looking for. A plus to the information being provided by foursquare data is that the chances of what your looking for not being in the database is very low compared to other GPS services.

Ariadne GPS is another inexpensive GPS app for the iPhone. It doesn’t do some of the things a subscription based service would do, but it is great if you need to create your own routes or monitor where and how fast you are going.
Yet another inexpensive GPS app, which also means it is light on features, is Sendero GPS Look Around. The purpose of this app is to simply give you information about nearby points of interest, which makes it a great option if that’s all you need.

Sendero also has a full-featured GPS app that is relatively new. It is a subscription based app, but it is a great option if you need all the features a, more expensive, standalone GPS unit would provide. This app is Sendero’s Seeing-Eye GPS app.

A great, and free, mainstream GPS application for the iPhone is MapQuest. It features everything you’d find in a more expensive application or standalone unit, and it is completely free! You don’t have to pay for the application and there is no subscription fee. This means, however, that things may be a little more difficult to figure out at times, because this app was not developed specifically for blind people. If you pair this app with one of the cheaper alternatives for the iPhone, you’ll have a fantastic GPS solution.

Lastly, let’s not forget about Maps on the iPhone itself. If your device has Siri, you can simply say “Take me to [address], and it will enter all the information for you, as well as provide spoken turn-by-turn navigation. However, MapQuest may be a better alternative if you don’t have Siri, but that’s for you to decide!

If you’re using an Android device, you have far fewer options than iPhone users, but you can check out Google Maps, but honestly, we aren’t sure how accessible, if at all, Google Maps is for blind and low vision users.

However, we have heard a lot of great things about Nearby Explorer, so we definitely think you should check it out!

In addition to a GPS app, we also recommend using a money recognizer. Chances are, you’ll have to use cash while your traveling, and it is extremely important that you be able to manage your money independently. For this purpose, we really like Looktel Money Reader.

Other apps such as 4Square and Yelp are useful to locate restaurants, shops, museums or any venues in a town that you are visiting.

Do your research ahead of time! This includes planning your trip, finding accessible destinations, and calling ahead for reservations at restaurants. Think about investigating interesting libraries, buildings, parks, and museums offering Braille, touch tours, or audio guides. The importance of internet research before traveling can not be underestimated. Whether it is accessibility, finding locations with Braille, or just reading about other’s experiences, the internet can offer a plethora of information.

There is an art to navigating airports and train stations. Remember to always call ahead to register as a passenger who needs extra assistance, and never be afraid to ask questions. Consider leaving extra time when traveling. A recent trip to Penn Station in New York City illuminated the various problems for someone who is blind: complicated layout, many people didn’t stop to answer questions, and the whole system felt like a maze. Overall, if you do your research and ask for services, traveling through airports and train stations might be frustrating, but it will be no different than the experience of someone who is sighted.

Another great option for traveling is Traveleyes. If you have never heard of them, think about the following: Traveleyes is one of the world’s first companies specializing in opening access to independent world travel for blind and partially sighted people. They were founded by a visually impaired person, and most tours are also lead by visually impaired people! Traveleyes offers a broad range of unique multi-sensory holiday vacations to suit all tastes. Their objective is to provide passengers who have a visual impairment with the same freedom of choice and ease of booking that sighted travelers have always enjoyed. Every Traveleyes holiday vacation features equal numbers of blind and sighted participants, some travelling solo, some with a partner, and some as groups of friends. Whichever of these describes you, they offer the ultimate group travel experience where sociability, flexibility and choice.

If you take one thing away from this article, it is that traveling independently can be very empowering and people who are blind can have the same great experience as their sighted peers. Whether you take advantage of sensory aspects, accessibility, technological advances, or a company such as Traveleyes, the sky really is the limit!

Interview on the Low Vision Bureau Podcast

We, the Blinkie Chicks, would like to thank Alvaro Gutierrez for interviewing us for the Low Vision Bureau podcast. We had a blast chatting with, and getting to know Alvaro, and as our projects are similar, we look forward to possible future collaborations.

Alvaro Gutierrez, the founder of Low Vision Bureau, created the site to build a community of blind and visually impaired people and to hopefully improve the status of blind and low vision individuals in societies worldwide. Alvaro lives in Columbia, but hopes to find a job in the United States helping blind and low vision individuals. He is constantly seeking new individuals to interview on his podcast, as well as to collaborate with on the goals of Low Vision Bureau.

Check out the Low Vision Bureau website, and interact with Alvaro on Twitter.

If you haven’t heard our interview yet, please click here to hear our interview on the Low Vision Bureau Podcast. Additionally, you may check out the blog post Alvaro wrote to accompany the interview.

We appreciate all the support; thanks for reading!

The Story of Ashley and Landon

Hello everyone! The following blog post was written by Ashley about her experience training for a guide dog at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and how getting him changed her life. If you have any questions, feel free to comment or chat with Ashley on Twitter. You may contact her via our Twitter account: @BlinkieChicks, or via her personal account: @AshleyColeman51.

Photo of Ashley, and her guide dog Landon

My name is Ashley Coleman, and I’d like to tell you about my experiences applying for, training with, and then working with my guide dog.

I applied to Guiding Eyes in February of 2010, determined that they would have my paperwork as soon as I could possibly get it to them. In the middle of March, I completed all of my paperwork, and the admissions office had it in my file. I was contacted by a field rep, and we scheduled my home interview in early April. We met at my house on a day I did not have classes; I was asked many questions about my lifestyle, and about what I wanted to do in the future. After the field rep had asked me some of these questions, we went to my community college where I was videotaped walking a route through a normal day of classes for me. I was taken on a Juno walk where the field rep found out how fast I walked, what kind of pull I would like to have in a dog, and how I gave corrections.

After the home interview, the field rep gave the admissions committee my information, which included the video of my walks.

In late April/early May, I received a call from someone in admissions; she told me that I had been accepted. I called them several times between my home interview and finding out about being accepted.

When I was asked to attend the June or July classes that summer, I was surprised. I decided to go to the June class, and I gave the person at admissions the information about my nearest airport. A few days later, I received my E-ticket, and started shopping for the things that I would need while at Guiding Eyes; one of the things on my list was a second pair of good walking shoes. (They were difficult for me to find).

On June 7, 2010, I boarded my first plane. It took me to New York where I was met by Guiding Eyes staff. Several students were coming in at the same time I was, so I was able to talk to them on the car ride to Guiding Eyes. Once at Guiding Eyes, I was Oriented to the building and was left to unpack. Later that day, all of the students that were there–which were most of us–had a meeting with many of the Guiding Eyes staff, and we were warmly welcomed.

After supper we had our first lecture with our trainers, and they introduced us to the equipment we would be using to train with our dogs. Harness, collars, and leashes were passed around for all of us to see, and we learned how they were to be used. We were allowed to keep our leashes; this made all of us very happy.

On Tuesday, we went to White Planes to go on Juno walks with our trainers. They talk to us about what we looked for in a dog, and they also looked at how fast we gave corrections. They taught us how to give the dogs commands, verbal and leash corrections, and praise.

Later on Tuesday night, we had a lecture on what was going to happen the next day. This happened every night, along with a lecture about how to care for our dogs. Some nights we would have lectures on how to groom our dogs, brush their teeth, leave them by themselves in case of an emergency, or you needed to go to a place that the dog did not need to go.

After breakfast Wednesday morning, we had a little down time while the staff were in a meeting. When we were finished, we went to practice putting on and taking off the dogs equipment on a couple of stuffed dogs. We also practiced heeling Juno, and bringing Juno in and out of all kinds of doors. Those that hadn’t explored their outside door were shown that area because it is the relieving area,.

After lunch, we were all brought into a meeting; several people spoke , and then our Class supervisor read the list of people matched with dogs. After this we went back to our rooms to wait for our dogs. At about 2:15, my trainer came in with my dog. I handed her my leash, and she clipped it to my dogs collar and left us alone until it was time to feed the dogs. Since it would be our first time feeding our dogs, the trainers came around to help us feed them. Once I received my dog, I felt like I had four extra left feet; however, I felt exhilarated, like I could take on the world.

Later, we would heel our dogs to the cafeteria to have supper with our dogs by our sides for the first time. We also attended our first lecture with the dogs that night.
On Thursday, we loaded up the vans and went to White Planes. We took our dogs for our first walks in harness. On my first walk with my dog in harness, I was intimidated in putting trust in my dog, but I did, and we had several awesome walks together.

During the rest of the training, we went to different places like Malls, grocery stores, and such to experience working with our dogs in all kinds of settings. Near the end of training, the trainers took us to Manhattan for a half day to walk around the area, experience their public transportation, and to have lunch in one of the small restaurants there. Here I experienced riding on a train and a subway for the first time in my life. I was scared I would get lost in the big city, but I learned that my dog and I can handle anything that was thrown at us.

On the last Saturday in class was Graduation. Most of the puppy raisers came, and there was a ceremony where the graduates spoke and sang, and the puppy raisers were given a picture of the new team and the person’s contact information.

After the ceremony, the person, the dog, and the raiser had time to sit down and talk for a while. I was very excited to meet my boys puppy raiser. One of the things that I was afraid of was that she would not think that I handled my dog the way she would have expected or wanted.

Class ended on the 2nd of July, and I took a plane home. Shortly after that, I returned to school for my last year of school. My pup and I walked across the stage at my community college in May, 2011.

During this time, I was learning how to handle my dog without the trainers being around to help me. we both were continuing to learn how to trust and work with each other. I was worried that I would mess up my dog’s training or behavior in general, but we managed to keep it together, and to remain a solid team.

We went on to spend a few months at the North Carolina Rehabilitation Center for the Blind, where I brushed up on some of my daily living skills before I moved to college. I was allowed to work with one of the Orientation and Mobility Instructors to work on some college campuses like the one I would be going to the following year. The instructor also taught me routes on the GMS campus where the Rehabilitation Center is located. We also traveled out in the city of Raleigh, where I finally got to use an audible signal.

I have had a guide dog for three years now. since he’s pranced into my life, my dog has improved it so much.

My dog has made me a more independent and safe traveler; I know that with him by my side, we can conquer anything. My dog is my eyes, and I depend on him to tell me what I can’t see. He leads me around obstacles and things in my path. When he sees traffic coming at us, he has been taught to disobey me. He gets me out of the way.

He has been with me everywhere, from hotels, to restaurants, and to ball games all around my college campuses. He has remembered where my room is, and he has learned the way to all of my classes. He has become the light of my life; I am glad I went to get a guide dog.

The Accessible Netflix Project

Netflix is a service that offers a variety of movies and television shows for subscribers to order for delivery by mail, and watch instantly on a computer, cell phone or tablet, smart TV, gaming device, or media streaming device. Many people enjoy Netflix with no problems, but those with disabilities have struggled to access content and services provided by Netflix since its launch, due to inaccessible web and application interfaces. Having used other streaming services, we know that it is possible for Netflix to make their website and applications accessible. The problem is they don’t want to.

The situation with Netflix isn’t all bad; the iOS app and website have become slightly more usable with some screen readers over time, and thanks to the work of advocates for the deaf community, Netflix has agreed to add closed captions to all content by 2014. Unfortunately, Netflix is still unusable by many individuals with disabilities, and there is no audio described content available for blind and visually impaired customers.

The inaccessibility of the Netflix website and applications prompted the American Council of the Blind (ACB) to pass resolution 2011-17, which requests Netflix make their products accessible for blind and low vision customers and add audio described content. The ACB wishes to work with Netflix on this endeavor, but there has been little change regarding these issues since.

In hopes of making Netflix more accessible and raising awareness for the issues we, as people with disabilities, face when attempting to use Netflix, Robert Kingett has created The Accessible Netflix Project. We, the Blinkie Chicks, are supporting this campaign for a more accessible Netflix, and you can, too! Check out the website for information on ways you can help, including how you can make donations, provide feedback regarding your experiences with Netflix, and much more. This project has already caught the attention of some big names in media, but we still need more exposure and support. So, please share the website and/or this blog post with everyone you know, and provide your feedback on the website.

We appreciate your support; thank you for reading!

Our #AccessChat Interview

Hey everyone, it’s Jessica. I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Fedora Outlier on Tuesday for their weekly #AccessChat on twitter. Those who know me know I am a twitter addict, so this type of interview was perfect for me. I tweeted from the @BlinkieChicks account, and answered questions about what we do, and the technology we use. If you missed Tuesday’s chat, but still want to read the basic questions we were asked, you can read the questions and our answers below. Enjoy!

1. Who are you? Which Twitter client are you chatting with? And, which Apple devices do you own?

I’m Jessica: a student majoring in Sociology. I own an iPhone 5, an iPad 2, and a Macbook Pro. I use YoruFukurou, Twitterrific and TweetList Pro. Ashley is a student majoring in Special Ed. She owns an iPhone 3GS & a 4th generation iPod Touch, and she uses The Qube and TweetList for twitter. Daria is a college grad who majored in English; she owns an iPod Touch 3rd generation, and she mainly uses The Qube for twitter.

2. Tell us: What happened to form the @BlinkieChicks? What brought you three together?

We wanted to make a difference, & be a resource for others, so we began doing presentations, creating media, and tweeting.

3. What were some of the challenges you all faced in college—and how did you overcome them?

Some things we’ve struggled with at times include: making friends with able-bodied students, getting help/dealing with unwanted help, & inaccessible events on campus. We educate those we speak to, advocate for accessibility, and do presentations to raise awareness.

4. What were some resources and tech that helped you make it through college?

Our Disability Support Services is amazing! For awhile, I didn’t have much tech, so I used a computer with a JAWS demo. I saved & bought what I have. That + learning to effectively communicate with professors made college life much easier. A computer with JAWS, understanding professors, and Disability Support Services helped Daria get through college. Ashley uses an iPod Touch, and a laptop with NVDA.

5. What’s the goal behind the content and resources the Blinkie Chicks are creating? Who are they aimed at reaching—and why?

We’re dedicated to bridging the gap between the sighted and blind communities. Our content is targeted at a range of people. Many of our presentations educate sighted people, whereas our blog & a lot of the links we share are useful for the blind.

6. If folks were to follow your social media updates and blog—what can they expect to see?

We share our blog posts & presentations as well as links to news, stories, information, and issues relating to blindness.

7. What’s one word of wisdom (about life, accessibility, etc etc) each of you would share?

I say, “Advocate”. The world isn’t designed for us & society excludes us. We must speak up for better access & inclusion. Daria says “Educate”. We’re treated differently because many don’t know better. We must educate to make life better for all. Ashley says “confidence”. Confident & capable people change the perceptions others have about visually impaired people.

Join Us for Today’s #AccessChat!

Hello everyone! We have some exciting news! We have been asked to be one of this week’s guests for Fedora Outlier’s #AccessChat! We are so honored and excited to be considered for such a thing, so we hope y’all will come join in on the fun!

To participate, do a search for “#AccessChat” with your twitter client of choice. When you wish to contribute, add the “#AccessChat” hashtag to your tweet! Remember not to include the quotes when searching or tweeting using the #AccessChat hashtag.

For more information about the event and the other guest, feel free to check out the official press release from Fedora Outlier!

We hope to see you on twitter tonight at 8:00 PM Eastern! If you need additional assistance prior to the chat, feel free to mention the @BlinkieChicks on twitter, and we’ll help in any way we can.

As always, thanks for reading, and we appreciate your support!

Our Position on the Issue of Goodwill Paying Workers with Disabilities Sub-Minimum Wages, and How You Can Help

Goodwill is a thrift store; People can donate clothes and other items they no longer use to benefit others who may need them. This is a charitable act , and Goodwill is one the most respected charities in this space. What they do is commendable; however, what is not commendable is that workers with disabilities are being paid sub-minimum wages (as low as twenty-two cents an hour), while able-bodied workers get paid minimum wage. This is beyond wrong. No one can live off of twenty-two cents an hour, so it is not a good thing when workers with disabilities are expected to live off of so little money.

Here’s the kicker: paying workers with disabilities sub-minimum wage is totally legal. By law, this can be done by those who pride themselves on helping other people. Ironically, Goodwill employers are failing to help workers with disabilities.

In December’s issue of The Braille Monitor, Marc Maurer wrote an article that explains the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB’s) policy, which is to change the law so that employers cannot pay workers who are blind and other workers with disabilities sub-minimum wage. He is also specific about the type of law that allows this ridiculousness to continue. This is section 14 © of the Fair Labor Standards Act. If you wish to learn more about this issue, feel free to read the article we’re referring to: Minimum Wage, Backlash, Shame, and Determination.

Last Friday at 10:00 P.m, NBC aired a news broadcast about Goodwill paying disabled workers sub-minimum wage.Feel free to listen to NBC’s broadcast on sub-minimum wages
Alternatively, you may read Disabled Workers Paid Just Pennies an Hour, and it’s Legal

Of Course, the employers who allow this to happen justify what they are doing by claiming that they are providing us with the opportunity to have meaningful employment, that we would have no other options without their help. However, this is false. People want to feel as if they are worth something when they have jobs, including us. Employers allowing us to be paid sub-minimum wage is like telling us that we should be grateful they are even paying us at all, but we aren’t. If you feel the same way, sign the petition telling Goodwill to provide fair wages.

What is your opinion on this issue? Share this entry with your friends, family, etc. Help us let Goodwill–and other places of employment—know that paying workers with disabilities sub-minimum wage is not fair, that this does not represent meaningful employment. Thank you so much for your support.

Moving in the Right Direction: Disabilities in Media and the Need for Audio Description

We recently read a blog post, entitled Sex, Blinks and Video Tape, about the way people with disabilities are portrayed in media. The person who wrote the blog post surveyed some people and did some research to see how many disabled characters they could find in films and television shows. Although the number of disabled roles is very limited, it continues to grow in recent years. With that said, the roles of these characters often reinforce negative stereotypes about people with disabilities. Disabled characters are viewed as either perfect angels are as a threat to society. Not only are these roles played by able-bodied actors, but the roles themselves are often inaccurate representations of the lives of disabled people. Additionally, the fictional characters in movies and television shows who have disabilities are usually disabled at a later age, due to some sort of injury. While this is the case for many disabled individuals, this depiction of disabled people leaves out a large chunk of the disabled population. With this said, we’d like to introduce you to three fictional characters, who portray disability in a relatively accurate light. None of the actors who play these roles has the disability they portray, and none of the characters is disabled from birth, but the disabled characters in these shows are portrayed as being human;one continues to pursue his passions, the second works for the CIA, and the last disabled character is able to make mistakes and have a social life. This is a definite step in the right direction, and these shows deserve recognition for their efforts.

Degrassi is a Canadian teen drama that covers a range of issues, including: gang violence, poor self image, peer pressure, drug use, teenage pregnancy, child abuse, self-injury, and even death. This show features a few characters with disabilities, including some with learning disabilities, forms of Autism, and some physical disabilities. Jimmy Brooks was the school’s basketball star, until a school shooting left him in a wheelchair. Although he remains frustrated by his disability, he refuses to let it define him. He is allowed to have a series of relationships, including one that becomes serious, and he continues to pursue his other passions, despite being in a wheelchair. Not only does he continue to play basketball, by coaching the team, but he also pursues his passions and art through music and painting. Eventually, he goes to college to pursue a law degree.

Covert Affairs is a show on the USA network that follows Annie Walker, a young CIA trainee who works in the Domestic Protection Division where she serves as a field agent. Auggie Anderson is a blond tech operative, who is Annie’s guide in her new life. He is a CIA military intelligence/special ops officer who was blinded while on a mission in Iraq. Unlike the depictions of many other disabled people on television, Auggie works at a highly-skilled job, is still very independant and masculine, as he is able to hold his own in the field, and he is allowed to engage in intimacy and even long term relationships. Part of this may be due to the fact that, like many other disabled characters on television, he was wounded later in life, not blind from birth.

Switched at Birth is an ABC Family television series that revolves around two teenage girls who are switched at birth, and who live two very different lives. Daphne grows up in a poor neighborhood with Regina, her single mom. Bay, on the other hand, grows up well-off, with both her parents and a brother. Daphne and Regina move into the Kennish’s family’s guest house to save money, and to be close by; this way both families are able to get to know their long lost child. Daphne becomes deaf at the age of three, due to meningitis, and she attends a local school for the deaf. This is a shock to the Kennish’s, but after coming to terms with Daphne’s hearing impairment, they become supportive of her, often stepping on the toes of the less well off Regina.

This show is great, because it has many deaf and hard of hearing regulars, and many scenes are shot entirely in American Sign Language. (Degrassi and Covert Affairs do not have any actors who are actually disabled). It shows deaf and hearing impaired youth living their lives, just like the other teens on the show. Daphne gets into trouble, has a series of relationships, some of which become intimate, is very independant and capable, and she doesn’t take crap from the people around her.

While we’re glad these characters exist on television, and demonstrate to the viewers that disabled people live normal lives, we are still frustrated with the lack of audio description. This is especially true for Switched at Birth. Covert Affairs can be found described, which is good, considering the amount of action packed scenes in the show. It can be very fast paced, and dialog isn’t always present when something important is happening. Degrassi doesn’t feature too many silent scenes, making it pretty easy for visually impaired viewers to easily follow the show. However, the same cannot be said for Switched at Birth. Not only can it not be found in a described version, but there are numerous scenes that feature dialog that is entirely in ASL. This is great, because it enlightens sighted viewers about sign language and interactions in the deaf community in a very realistic way. However, for those of us who are visually impaired or have difficulty reading subtitles, the show is extremely difficult to follow. Each time something is said in ASL, Yessie, who is visually impaired, must pause the show to read it. Others must wait until a sighted person is present to watch the show, so that the subtitles can be read to them. Even still, some viewers watch the show without the ability to read the subtitles or have them read at all. This means that these viewers have to piece together what is happening on the show, based on clues in spoken dialog. This is extremely difficult, and the people who have to do this are missing out on a large chunk of what happens on the show. If you don’t believe us, try watching an episode of Switched at Birth with your eyes closed. We deserve to enjoy what happens with as much ease as those who don’t have to struggle to watch this show. This is why we, the blinkie chicks, would like Switched at Birth to be made available with audio description.

This is where you, our readers, come into play. Our hope is that this entry will educate people who are unaware of the portrayal of disabled people in the media, as well as the need for audio description. Maybe, just maybe, someone who can actually do something about the lack of audio description will see this. So, please pass this along. Share it on social media sites, email, or even just tell people about it. Thank you for reading.