Karen holds a cup of tea as she sits in her garden. She smiles, wearing a gilet with a badge on it that reads 'I have low vision'.

Karen is part of Blind Citizens NZ Nelson committee, as well as being a client and volunteer for Blind Low Vision NZ in Nelson. She’s been using audio description for three years.

In 2012, I was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration/Dystrophy (dry version). My grandmother also had the same condition and I looked after her. I feel I am able to accept these changes to my eyes as I have seen the results in my Grandmother. There have been major changes in my life since 2018 when, at the age of 55, I agreed to stop driving and then found there was no safe way for me to get to work by public transport.

My philosophy is life is a marathon, not a sprint and while my vision is getting less as time goes by, as long as I find joy in each day, life is good. 

It was at my first Blind Citizens NZ National AGM in 2019 that I heard about Able and audio description. I was absolutely flabbergasted. When I got home, I looked at my remote control with my magnifier, and found a tiny little button with ‘AD’ on it. I pressed it, and it was as simple as that. It never, ever gets turned off.

It’s a bit like people who get hearing aids, who say: “listen to the birds!” It feels similar for me when listening with audio description. I don’t know what I don’t see: I’m not seeing what I’m not seeing. So, the audio description in the movies and TV programmes just makes the experience so much richer. I’ve seen the Star Wars movies so many times, but now I’m watching them with audio description, and as my sight grows worse I’m loving them more and more. With AD, it feels like you get all the details in high definition. 

I’m a big advocate for audio description, and I’m trying to get my sighted friends to turn it on. My friend’s toddler turned the AD button on her remote, and they don’t turn it off either. It means you can stay connected and not lose the story – she loves it as she’s cooking and looking after her toddler. 

It’s like reading a story, and getting every word, instead of every second word.

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…