Hello again, I hope you’re continuing to keep safe and well. It was a strange Bank Holiday weekend for me. It started with the loss of my uncle, although fortunately he didn’t have the virus, and my mother and I are hoping to go to the funeral to support my aunt if the rules allow. And then of course we’ve had the Dominic Cummings scandal, which I’m not going to rant about, suffice to say there’s been a major misjudgement of the public mood by him and the government, they’ve lost a lot of trust and goodwill.
But apart from that, my week’s been fine and I’ve been quite productive, and I’ve also found many more pleasant distractions as always. So I’ll get straight on with this week’s post and video about what I’ve been enjoying over the past week. As ever, there’s nothing sponsored or gifted here, these are all my own opinions. So I hope you find it interesting!
Disability & Visual Impairment
Thursday 21 May was Global Accessibility Awareness Day, so I wanted to highlight some articles and videos about accessibility that have been posted during the week. Please do check them out, especially if you’re not very familiar with accessibility topics and how disabled people are able to use assistive technology.
The BBC have made a couple of relevant posts recently:
- A segment on their Click technology show about accessibility on video calls, and they often mention other accessibility subjects too.
- An article in their Future section explaining why coronavirus may make the world more accessible.
Among my blogging friends:
- Abby at Bold Blind Beauty shared an interesting interview with audio describer Roy Samuelson.
- Emily from Fashioneyesta posted a video explaining how a visually impaired person can use technology.
- Juan Alcazar from JC5 Productions has given his thoughts on Apple Voiceover, as well as taking part in an extensive interview on the Sunu channel discussing his secrets and inspirations.
Twitter have announced that you can now use up to 1000 characters in image descriptions (up from 420), and short image descriptions are automatically provided for most animated GIFs.
And today, just as I’m about to publish this post, they’ve posted another update to say that a setting is no longer required, so it should be available automatically. But if you want to check, go to Settings & Privacy in the Twitter app or website, enter the Accessibility section, and turn on Compose Image Descriptions.
The next time you upload an image to a tweet, you should see an option to add a description. Please use it. It’s extremely helpful, and will enable you to attract many disabled followers and their supporters, and additional customers if you run a business.
Audio Described Theatre
Although only a limited few are doing this, it’s fantastic that the following venues are putting on audio described productions:
- The Royal Opera House are posting 2 audio described productions to see how popular they are. You can currently watch the audio described version of Cendrillon (Cinderella) until 4 June, and The Cellist will be available from 29 May. Weirdly though, Cendrillon is unlisted as I write this, so it isn’t public on their channel, and is thus completely inaccessible if you don’t have the link handy or know that it exists. But they’ll be keeping an eye on the audience figures to see if it’s worth doing any more, so please tune in and give your feedback if you want them to continue. Thank you to my friend Claire for making me aware of this.
- Theatre Royal Stratford East will be streaming the Ian Dury play Reasons To Be Cheerful with captions and audio description, from 3 June to 3 August. I saw this in 2017 and loved it, so I can recommend it, and I’ll probably watch it again.
- The Old Vic have promised to post audio described versions of the shows they will be streaming as part of the Your Old Vic season, as I mentioned last week. So keep an eye on their Youtube channel for that.
- If you’ve never been to an audio described theatre show before, or you’re just curious to know what it’s like, then do check out this week’s excellent article by my friend Juliette Parfitt on her first experience of audio-described theatre, when she went to see Fiddler On The Roof.
Visual Impairment Videos
Here are a few other videos I’ve watched or become aware of, that are well worth checking out regardless of whether you have sight problems or not.
- Climbing Blind is a really interesting BBC Four documentary about blind climber Jesse Dufton, and his aim to be the first blind person to lead a climb of the Old Man of Hoy in Scotland. He’s a great guy, and it’s a really impressive feat when you see the challenges that are involved in navigating up the structure!
- To remind you of another adrenaline junkie I’ve mentioned before, my good mate Deano from Extreme Dreams has posted what he thinks will be the last of his Lockdown Getaway series, sharing stories and footage of his many adventures. He’s achieved so many incredible things, so it’s well worth watching them.
- On a much calmer note, Bird Nerd Sophie is a friendly and positive blind lady with a love of parrots, and has a nice variety of videos on her channel about living with visual impairment, looking after birds, and other topics. So do check her out and subscribe to her channel, and her Instagram too. She was kind enough to leave a few comments on my channel, so I’m happy to give her a shoutout in return.
- There’s also a young blind lady called Demi, who goes by the name Delagrande in her Youtube videos and blog posts, where she talks about her vision loss, beauty and fashion, daily life and more. She’s all over social media as well.
- And finally, the very talented filmmaker James Rath has launched a new project called Blind Abroad, where he explores travel, accessibility and personal stories from a disabled perspective. His Istanbul film is a really well edited and beautiful insight into his trip there. It was particularly interesting to see the part about an audio description app for the cinema that was similar to one I’ve tried before. It’s good to see that kind of technology still being worked on.
Of course, all of that represents a very small example of the type of content that’s out there by disabled people. Check out my Sight Loss & Disability playlists for many more videos by myself and others, and also my long lists of visually impaired and disabled bloggers and Youtubers.
This week I watched some museum-based content for the first time during lockdown, all of which was quite interesting:
- Pompeii Live – This is a very entertaining and comprehensive look at the British Museum’s 2013 exhibition about Pompeii and Herculaneum, presented by engaging and knowledgeable curators and experts. There’s also a brief video by QI about Pompeii too. The next British Museum film is all about Vikings and has just premiered on their channel, so that looks interesting as well.
- Kimono: Kyoto To Catwalk – This is a 5-part curator tour of the V&A’s Kimono exhibition, so if you didn’t get to see it before the museum recently shut its doors, this is a great opportunity. The designs of the garments are stunning, and it’s good to learn a bit about the history too.
- Museums In Quarantine – This is a 4-part series of half hour episodes, with each one showing you around a different museum while they’re in lockdown. So you get to see the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Tate Modern, the Young Rembrandt exhibition at the Ashmolean, and highlights from the extensive collections of Tate Britain and the British Museum, the latter being my favourite of the four shows. And they’re all available with audio description too, which is brilliant.
Last week I mentioned that it was 20 years since I last visited America and had the privilege of seeing the view from the World Trade Center. So thanks to a recommendation from Tina, one of my friendly followers, I decided to rent The Walk on Amazon, which is based on the true story of Philippe Petit, a young French man who did a high wire walk between the twin towers in 1974.
It’s a fascinating story, and the stunt itself is beautifully visualised. If you’re squeamish about heights, then it might not be for you. The film is effectively divided into 4 parts, lasting about half an hour each – growing up and performing in france, planning the stunt, sneaking into the building and setting up the equipment with his accomplices, and finally the stunt itself. It’s very well put together.
There’s also a documentary called Man On Wire all about the feat. It was too difficult for me to keep up with trying to read the subtitles for the French speakers though, so I had to give up on it, but if that’s not an issue for you then you’ll find it of great interest. There have also been other documentaries about it as well.
This week’s online comedy highlights for me include:
- Who Said That? – Episode 7 – This panel show has got into its stride very nicely, and it’s great to see lesser-known comedians being included as well as the famous ones. The big name this week was James Acaster, who was very good as always, while the other contestants were Jen Brister, Fin Taylor and Esyllt Sears.
- Nick Heath – Well You Join Me Live 2 – A very funny canine special of his new life commentary series.
- Jim Dailakis – An Australian comedian whose funny videos on Facebook include Breaking News on Conspiracy Theories. Thank you to Tina for pointing him out.
- Bec Hill – What is Water? – Bec is always a delight to watch, and this mock educational film about a substance we encounter every day is no exception. Check out her website to find out more about her.
- Officer Crabtree – Lockdown Instructions Clarified – This might not make much sense to people outside of the UK who haven’t seen the classic sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo! But if you are familiar with the programme, then this very accurate impression of the policeman who struggles to speak French will make you chuckle.
In terms of music, I’ve enjoyed these parodies and cover versions this week:
- Close To You – A parody of the Carpenters song by Shirley Șerban.
- Knight Rider, Imperial March & Inspector Gadget – Great cello versions by Samara Ginsberg.
- Silver Machine – A very surprising Hawkwind cover by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain!
- Love Will Tear Us Apart – A Joy Division cover by The Untold Orchestra & The Northern Session Choir.
- You Are The Champions – A brilliant all-star collaboration by LSwFF (Live Streams with Famous Friends), featuring a host of notable artists including Paul Rodgers.
Theatre stars are also continuing to entertain us in many ways:
- You Can’t Stop The Beat – Performed by Hairspray alumni from numerous productions, along with other performers from theatre, film and TV. It’s in support of The Actors Fund COVID-19 Emergency Financial Assistance program, which people in the American entertainment and performing arts can approach for help. And if you’re fan of the show, Hairspray is this week’s free musical on The Shows Must Go On, for 48 hours from Friday.
- When I Grow Up – A lovely rendition by the stars of Matilda The Musical, which I absolutely loved when I saw it in November 2017.
- Over The Rainbow – Andrew Lloyd Webber and numerous Dorothys reunite to perform this song for what is nearly the musical’s 10th anniversary,
- You Raise Me Up – Performed by West End stars for Alpha Auction, which is raising money for the Carers Trust, supporting unpaid carers. People donating more than £20 can enter a prize draw to win a family holiday for 4 to the USA.
- We’re Unstoppable – A new song raising funds for mental health charities Mind and Pieta, featuring West End stars and a choir of 28 recent graduates, whose studies and projects have been cut short or cancelled.
And finally, it’s worth mentioning Don’t Give Up, which is a great new song by the legendary Alice Cooper especially for lockdown. The video’s quite cool, with screens forming a globe, and many more scrolling across the background, showing people holding up the words. He also took part in a very interesting At Home And Social interview with AXS TV this week. He’s such a nice guy in real life, completely different to his stage persona, so even if you’re not a fan of all his music it’s still worth a watch.
Captain Sir Thomas Moore
He hasn’t stopped fundraising either. He’s now set up The Captain Tom Foundation to help combat loneliness, support hospices and helping those facing bereavement. As if he couldn’t get any more awesome!
And that’s it, another nice long list there. I hope there were bits and pieces in there that interested you. And remember there are also my lists of Covid Resources and lockdown playlists if you need any more ideas.
So until next time, I hope you enjoy the rest of this week. Take care, stay safe and be well!