My Other Job

When i worked in Derry in an arts centre, my job involved a great variety of things. One of those things was listening to interviews or recordings and transcribing them. Topics ranged from politics, to opinions of young people, to a project about street drinkers, which was one of the more difficult tasks.
A few weeks into our disability studies course, the lecture happened to ask a visually impaired student if he knew of any technology that would transcribe recordings. He didn’t, and i told him that’s what i used to do, and i ended up getting a job for myself. That’s what i get for opening my mouth!!
I transcribed interviews for a research paper, and it was very interesting, because the topic related to what i would do in work anyway. I learned lots without having to do the research or write the research paper, so it was great for me. I didn the bulk of the work during the last two weeks on my days off and in the evenings, and probably wrote around 40,000 words in that time.

Remember how i said i began doing this work as part of my job in Derry? Well at the beginning of March, someone i worked with back then rang me to ask if i’d be interested in putting in a quote for a big project. A local woman’s group are recording interviews in Derry, and these have to be transcribed as part of the project. He remembered i’d done it before, recommended me and the group organiser got in touch. I found out on Tuesday, the day before i completed the research transcriptions, that i got the work. During the month of September i’ll be transcribing thirty interviews, so over sixty hours of work, during any free time i have.

Its funny how things work out. My jobs have always come from the people i know, or someone who knows someone. That’s how i hear about them, but obviously i get work if i’m suitable for it, not just because people know me. Its nice when people can recommend you or ask you to do something. Its also nice to have an opportunity every so often to get a bit of extra evening work or whatever, because as a blind person, it can be hard enough to find work at all, never mind something extra. Most of my friends have things they can do to earn extra money along with their own jobs, whether its teaching music, giving grinds to students, babysitting or whatever. Its great to have that opportunity too.

The Lion King (audiodescribed)

Last Thursday, Nicky, Darragh, Emma and myself went to the
Bord Gais Energy Theatre
to see an audio described performance of
The Lion Kingmusical. I’d seen it in London on my birthday two years ago, but we couldn’t go to an audiodescribed version. I was nine when the film came out, and being crazy about animals, i loved it, and had almost every type of Lion King merchandise you could think of.

The highlight of the evening for me was the touch tour before the performance. People who were blind or visually impaired had the opportunity to touch some of the amazing costumes that would be on stage, and these are partly what makes the musical so brilliant. They are so colourful and elaborately designed, its impossible to imagine what they are like without touching them, so this was a great bonus. I particularly like Rafiki’s costume! The staff were great at describing them, and answering all my questions about the cast and the performance. I was very curious!!

After dinner we returned to the theatre where we were seated in the circle and given headsets. There were two audio describers who described half of the show each, so this provided an interesting mix. They read through the show notes beforehand, and did a fantastic job throughout the performance. It added so much extra to the story that I was already so familiar with. The fact that it was live was very effective, and the describers were down to earth and sometimes funny, without meaning to be. Everything made so much more sense when we had seen some of the costumes.

The musical is so much different to the film, yet never straying from the original story. One of the most amazing things about The Lion King is the music. The african music and singing gives me goosebumps, particularly in the opening five minutes during ‘the circle of life’. If you’ve seen the musical, you’ll know what I mean. The animals come into the audience and the atmosphere is brilliant from start to finish. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you have children who love animals.

The staff in the theatre couldn’t have been more helpful, from the minute i booked the tickets, to ensuring that our seats were okay, to checking during the interval that we were happy with the headsets and the description. The dogs were welcomed, with no fuss being made of them at all, the way it should be. O.J lay down before the performance started and never moved until it finished three hours later.

There were a few other blind and visually impaired people at the touch tour and the performance, though I’m not exactly sure how many. Its a pity there weren’t more, since opportunities like this rarely happen in Ireland. I’d advise anybody to go and experience at least one audio described performance of a show if you get the opportunity.

Disability Studies

Today I handed in my final assignment, completing the disability studies course I started in October. It was something I’d considered doing for a while, but the course was always only run in Dublin, so this was the first time it was taught locally. It is a higher certificate run through NUI Maynooth, taught by a tutur who I have known for a while and have great respect for. It was a very enjoyable course, completely different to anything I’ve studied before.

You might think an 8 month course would be easy, but there was a lot of work involved in this one. We did a group project in which we did an access review of a building, wrote a theory essay, wrote a 4000 word research essay and submitted a learning journal. Just encase anyone wonders why I haven’t been blogging, you could say after working on assignments, I’m never really in the mood to write anything else. We had the freedom to choose our own essay topics, so I chose autism for my theory essay, and I looked at the experiences of professional blind musicians in Ireland for my research. I might write about this in more detail if anyone’s actually interested. I put as much work into these essays as I would have in my college course, so its just a matter of waiting for results now.

The course was taught in such a relaxed informal style, that I felt that I was learning so much without even realising it. The eleven other students were great fun, and I enjoyed talking to them. We all learned from each other, and there was no higherarchy between students and lecturer, unlike a lot of other courses, especially in university.

I’m really glad I’ve had the opportunity to do this course, and to learn from so many interesting people. While the course content was useful, it was other people sharing their experiences that taught me the most. I learned so much on a personal level, and I wasn’t expecting that to happen at all when I signed up for this. I’ve also been asked to assist a trainer to deliver philosophy of independent living training to colleagues during the summer when the school awareness program finishes. This sounds terrifying, because I’ve only ever taught children, but I’m ready for a change. If I hadn’t done this course, I wouldn’t even consider doing this.
I know that whatever I do in the future, whether it involves working with people with disabilities or not, things that I learned on the course will always stay with me.