Most random/surprising job? Handing out free NME magazines at Glasgow Central Train Station.

Favourite show? I love lots of TV shows, and I discovered two shows through working at Able that I subsequently became obsessed with: the brilliant reality show The Casketeers, and the adorable children’s show, Kiri & Lou.

Marmite or vegemite? Marmite, always.

Songs that make you dance, or songs that make you cry? Can I say both?

Summer or winter? Autumn.

Favourite word(s)? Scottish word: Shoogle – it kind of means shuffle or wiggle.

What’s your ‘why’ – why do you do what you do? I’m a big believer in the power of stories, and Audio Describing is a way for more people to access stories, so I’m into it!

Tell us about your work as an audio describer. What’s it all about, and how did it begin for you? I saw the job advertised back in 2018 and hadn’t really heard about AD before, but I had all the suitable attributes for it (which is quite a rare experience when looking at job descriptions), so I jumped at the chance to apply. I think it’s a great job for folks who’ve done some creative writing, or who have experience in storytelling, be that on stage, screen, podcasts etc. So the AD team at Able is quite a creative bunch.

Has anything you’ve worked on been particularly challenging? I’ve worked on a few miniseries which were challenging, but also really rewarding. The Les Miserables BBC miniseries had a lot of visuals to describe, and The Luminaries miniseries was a challenge but in all the best ways. I’d read the book and knew how important it would be to differentiate all the different characters, and I even got some positive feedback from a viewer for my work! It was really rewarding.

How does AD affect your life outside work, and vice versa? I’m much more aware of issues around accessibility in other contexts, particularly theatre, which I attend a fair amount of.

What’s your vision for each piece of content you describe? That the audio description element is adding to the existing content, rather than distracting or disrupting it.

Greatest creative achievement so far? Really anytime I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone, be it taking on the job of scripting my first movie (Smurfs: The Lost Village), committing to audio describe a whole series, or working on commercial content (such as accessible transcripts for the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 video announcements).

What are some things you love about AD? As an audio describer at Able, I’ve been across a lot more New Zealand made TV content than I was used to, and have loved discovering how many awesome things are made right here in Aotearoa, including Country Calendar, and the brilliant New Zealand series Attitude. I love that we don’t operate on a bias towards any particular style of broadcast content because we’re about access. We’ll work on a kids show, an episode of Shortland Street, a reality show, a movie and a cooking show, sometimes within a single shift! The variety of the work is what keeps it engaging, and keeps me stimulated and challenged.

Audio describing also means you often spend a lot more time on a piece of media, be that a film, TV episode or documentary, than you would otherwise. Sometimes this can be gruelling if the media is not a style you enjoy, but other times it’s fascinating because you’re slowing down the content so you spot a lot more detail. I suspect I have a better sense of why people edit things in particular ways. It’s made me appreciate the huge amount of work that goes into making a show.

Next in the journal:

The Earcatch logo, a yellow 'E' on a dark blue background.

On-demand audio description app Earcatch winds up, but will continue to be available in Aotearoa

Able launched Earcatch in Aotearoa a year ago – a New Zealand-based library of audio description (AD) made…

A graphic image of an old-school TV with a scene of Pulp Fiction on it.

Blind people watch TV too

Audio description comes as standard on shows streaming on Netflix and other international services. So, Able Chief Executive…

Dan Buckingham, Jai Waite and Rachale Davis are on a stage together. Dan has brown hair, a white button-up shirt and is using a wheelchair, turned away from the camera. Jai is wearing a blue button-up top, using a wheelchair, and is in the middle of speaking. Rachale has blonde shoulder-length hair and a yellow top, looking over at Jai.

Navigating authentic representation of disability

During the annual SPADA conference this year, our CEO Dan Buckingham facilitated a panel with Jai Waite from…

Picture of Virginia Philp (who was part of AD's inception) smiling. She has shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes.

Decade of Able: Virginia Philp, team leader, audio describers

Virginia Philp leads our small crew of audio describers. She overseas everything audio description: recruiting, training and managing…

David wears glasses and a hearing aid, and smiles.

Decade of Able: David Kent, trustee

David Kent is a trustee on the Able board. Since 2005, David has chaired the Southern Hearing Charitable…

A photo of Clive Lansink, who has short grey hair and a grey moustache. He is wearing a blue, yellow and red checkered flannel button-up T shirt.

Decade of Able: Clive Lansink, Chair, Blind Low Vision NZ

Kia ora, Clive. I’ve heard that you were instrumental in audio description advocacy, prior to its introduction to…