About this Exhibition

Audio Description (AD) is usually defined as a way to make TV, films, theater, and other art and media content accessible to blind and low vision audiences. In this standardized approach, AD is often reduced to an add-on that gets created only after artworks are finished. AD and the artwork, in other words, remain distinct.

Hosted by the AIM Lab, artistic mentors to the exhibition, Cheryl Green and Thomas Reid, led a 3-part online workshop (September 2021) that challenged this separation. Instead of keeping AD apart from the artwork, they asked: why not consider AD as an art form in and of itself? Beginning from a place that centres the experiences of those who are Blind and recognizes the art in audio description, the workshop invited participants to reflect critically both on visual information and to view it as more than mere access. It encouraged creativity not only through describing an image or object but recognizing how description can generate new art. Participants began with a catalyst piece of art of media piece – audio described it, and then generated a whole new work using the audio description as the foundation. Instead of producing neutral or objective descriptions, participants were invited to experiment with approaches that highlighted the physical body, its situatedness, rich sensory experiences, and storytelling.

The resulting series of works engage with AD in innovative and creative ways, exploring sound, text, movement, and their mixtures to build entire worlds. From an audio-logo to a binder that comes to life to sci-fi mediation to a lusty afternoon brewing mead to a video game adventure to artistic critiques of colonial pasts to glittering light that turn windowpanes into jellyfish, the collection of pieces in this online exhibit engages with the creative potentials of access.

In this recording from the workshop, Thomas and Cheryl introduce Audio Description. They give examples of what AD can sound, read and feel like, and give a few tips on how to make engaging, lively and conscious audio descriptions.
You can watch the video below. Click here to download the transcript.

Thomas Reid
Thomas Reid is the host and producer of Reid My Mind Radio. A podcast featuring compelling people impacted by all degrees of blindness and disability. Occasionally, he shares stories from his own experience as a man adjusting to becoming Blind as an adult. Through his Flipping the Script on Audio Description series, Reid continues to explore the art by going beyond surface level topics and examining its implications on the community. Whether in his role as an Audio producer, Voice Over Artist, Audio Description Narrator & Advocate Thomas continues to use his voice to change perspectives around blindness and disability.
ID: A brown skin Black man with a clean-shaven bald head smiles into the camera. He has a goatee and is wearing dark shades and a gray button up shirt.

Cheryl Green

Cheryl Green, Cheryl Green, MFA, MS is a multi-media digital artist, captioner, audio describer, a 2017 AIR New Voices Scholar, 2020 DOC NYC Documentary New Leader, and Digital Operations Lead and a Member-Owner at New Day Films. She brings her lived experience with multiple invisible disabilities to creating media that explores politically- and culturally-engaged stories from cross-disability communities. Cheryl captions and audio describes films for Kinetic Light, Superfest International Disability Film Festival, and Cinema Touching Disability, and leads workshops for artists and museums on arts accessibility. Her audio and written blog, transcribed podcast, Pigeonhole, and documentary films are at WhoAmIToStopIt.com. She lives in the ancestral homeland and current homeland of the Multnomah, Clackamas, Kathlamet, and many other tribes and bands in Portland, Oregon.
ID: A mural of a line of enormous running horses in black and white on a red wall, manes blowing in the wind. Cheryl, a white woman with olive skin and long, curly brown hair, stands with arms folded in front of her, forearms chiseled from too many years typing, staring off in the direction the horses are headed. She has a solemn crow tattooed on one arm and wears a black t-shirt with white text, “No More Spoons” and a row of knives and daggers.

This exhibition is generously supported by the Canada Research Chair in Critical Disability Studies and Media Technologies,
and in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.