January’s Awesome Ottawa award goes to Christine Malec and J.J. Hunt to support Talk Description to Me, a podcast in which the visuals of current events and the world around us are discussed in description-rich conversations.
“The podcast is a forum that works toward accessible journalism,” explains Christine. “I’m a perpetually inquisitive member of the blind and partially sighted community who’s always wondering about something, and J.J. is an audio describer and a natural-born storyteller. Our discussions plunge into current events and topical issues to explore the content of important images, and help place vivid descriptions in their cultural context.”
Episodes to date – of which there are already 32 – have described the visuals of Black Lives Matter, Justin Trudeau’s hair, Minecraft, Halloween, the climate crisis, Four Seasons Toal Landscaping, and more. They’ve also answered pressing questions like “sports teams with offensive names don’t have images associated with those monickers, do they?” as well as “what does a Zoom call look like?” and “there isn’t actually a TV in every dentist’s office, is there?”
“In December,” Christine continues, “we hosted a live ‘year in review’ event, at which listeners were invited to ask description questions about the year past and the world around us. They shared with us how valuable our work has become to them. So many of the visual aspects of current events go unexplained for blind and low-vision people. Many listeners described the experience of not having fully realized the extent of this gap until our podcast began to fill it in. As we continue to describe the often frightening and surreal images accompanying journalism,” says Christine, “listener feedback on social media constantly reassures us that our work is including people in the public conversation in ways that have never been available before.”
“As creators of a podcast that discusses and describes the visuals of daily life, social media, and breaking news to those who don’t interpret the world visually,” adds J.J., “I confess that we’ve been feeling the weight, doom, and gloom of recent events rather acutely. Receiving this grant from Ottawa’s chapter of the Awesome Foundation, which doles out positivity and good vibes along with much-needed funds, will keep us buoyed for weeks and weeks to come.”
Christine is a cultural consultant within the blind community, and J.J. is a freelance audio describer of film, television, art, and live events. Both live in Toronto.
Funded by Ottawa, ON (January 2021)