Using the Mic

Thu, Sep. 21st, 2017 02:12 am
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[personal profile] sasha_feather
What you're Saying when You Say "I Don't Need the Mic"
By Erika A. Hewitt
August 31, 2017

This is directed at a Unitarian Universalist audience, but can apply to any group or event.

“When a mic is being used at a meeting and someone looks at it and says, ‘Do we really need this?’ I feel outright anger. That person just asked if people like me really exist and demanded that we defend ourselves.”
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[personal profile] sasha_feather
This first link is from about 1 year ago.

Alaina Leary writing for The Establishment: "How Media Prevents us from Truly Empathizing with Disabled Characters".

Content note: childhood bullying based on disability. Spoilers for Orange is the New Black (from 1 year ago).

Amy Rowe at iNews (UK): "I can’t watch Game of Thrones because I’m deaf – it shouldn’t be this hard, and I’m angry"
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[personal profile] jesse_the_k
My goal in reprinting these links is to encourage all cons to provide best access to all members.

Stephanie Saulter has an informative old-timer post
with these notes on access:

2. ACCESSIBILITY. Whether it’s for fans or professionals, or fans and professionals, WFC needs to be much more committed to providing full, uncomplicated accessibility. It’s not good enough to simply say, ‘oh, it’s an old hotel’ and throw your hands up. It is not acceptable for people who have paid their membership like everyone else, who have just as much to contribute and just as much to learn as anyone else, to be unable to access large parts of the con, to have poor to no directions on how to get to the parts they technically could reach, or for the hotel staff to whom they were referred to appear baffled by the question. And I also want to point out that disabilities and constraints are not only around mobility. If there were provisions for sight- or hearing-impaired members, for example, I saw no sign of them. (Maybe that’s because the con knew no one with those constraints would be coming. Fair enough. But is that because people with those constraints know there’s no point trying to come? That would not be fair. I don’t know which it is, but it troubles me.)

Joely Black comments on a mundane but crucial missing access feature: chairs.

Other than panels, the events at the convention were remarkable for their lack of chairs. You’d think this was a minor issue, especially as you could sit down during panels. Most of the big events were in the evening, and were chairless.
[... snip ...]
It made networking hard. Standing in a group of people, we’d agree that we needed a sit down. Just as we set off to find chairs, somebody would join the group and we’d all be pressed into fresh conversation. After hours of standing, walking, standing, we’d all grimace at them as they brought new party flotsam into the group as fresh opportunities to sit down slipped away.

From my con-running experience, there's a constant tension between enough chairs for folks to take a load off their feet versus fewer chairs for smoother traffic in functionally wider hallways. Joely points out their importance for everyone. Universal design, our friend!
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[personal profile] sasha_feather
Donna Williams: The BBC are Treating me Like a Second Class Doctor Who Fan

And then eventually, a few days later, a pathetic email apologising for the inconvenience. The inconvenience? Did they have any idea of what they’d done? That they had effectively withheld a stonking episode from me for days, whilst the hearing population could watch it at any time? Discrimination. I had to watch the special another few times before I calmed down. Ah, the power of the fix…
[personal profile] mariness
The Disability in Science Fiction panel at Worldcon/Lone Star Con did not have ramps to the stage. Because they knew I would be there (I use a wheelchair), they set up tables in front of the stage, so at least I could sit at the same level as the rest of the panelists. (At the Prose by Day, Poet by Night panel, which to be fair I was only added to about two hours before the panel started, I was on the floor and the other three panelists were on the stage.) The disability panel also did not have an ASL interpreter.
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[personal profile] jesse_the_k
Body of Work is an 11-day festival in Chicago this May 15-25, 2013, with scores of events across many venues. Films, spoken word, 2D art, theater, dance etc, check details at

The festival's access resources points to the best cultural access manuals I've ever seen:

This looks like the TL;DR summary:
which explicitly includes the 2010 ADA standards.

This manual provides backing (to wave in the face of US decision-makers: it's the law!) and also implementation details (how wide should the aisle be? minimum size type on signs?).

Awesome tool!
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
My friend Dave Ocho O'Connell and his friends came up with some microphone tips and gave me permission to reprint the text from Facebook. I've made some edits to the text base on comments.

Public Service Announcement: Microphones and you!

1. Hold the microphone by the base, not around the head. Likewise, don't cup your hands around it.

2. Try to stay about 3 inches from the mic in general. When you sing louder, INCREASE the distance between yourself and the mic to maintain a consistent volume. When you get quieter or use very little breath, get closer.

3. DON'T swing it around by the cord or drop it on the floor! Likewise, don't wrap the cord around your hand as this stresses the wires. When you unplug the cable (when you unplug ANYthing), keep your hand as close as possible to the source of connection. XLR cables are handy like that, because you usually need to push the release (right next to the source of the connection) in order to unplug it. If there's a length of cord between your hand and the connection (or outlet or whatever), you are putting stress on the wires, pulling apart solder joints, etc.

4. If you point the mic at the speaker where your sound is coming out, it will make a loud shrieking sound known as feedback. It's the audio equivalent of being kicked in the shins. This will likely happen even if you just hold it in your hand and drop your arm to your side, because that will likely effectively point the mic at your monitor speaker.

5. It can help to project your sound OVER the surface of the mic rather than INTO it, particularly when you are making aspirated sounds, like P, B, and T. Because you are basically shooting air out of your mouth when you make those sounds. Also you can get a pop filter. And turn the bass down to a minimal level. The human voice doesn't really occupy those low frequencies (not like a bass or a kick drum), so if you have bass on your vocal mic, you're really just getting unwanted noise. I'd maybe leave a bit of bass to a broadcaster or a spoken word performer, but I wouldn't turn it up.

6. Vocalizing too close to the mic (like putting your mouth on it and keeping it there) will give your voice an unnatural, muddy sound. You will lose articulation and have too much bass. Also that thing is crawling with germs! Don't kiss the mic or cough on it. It's gross; also it makes an unpleasant sound. If you want to mic the sound of a cough with a regular ol' dynamic mic, you'd want to keep a good distance (because coughing is LOUD), and project across the mic, not into it (because coughing is also an aspirated sound).

7. When you are really checking to see if it's on, it's best to talk into the mic, rather than tapping on it. The tapping may stress your speakers in the same way that unplugging a non-muted connection might. If you tell a joke that no one laughs at it, DO NOT tap on the mic and say "Is this thing on?"

8. If you have a drink, hold it in the opposite hand away from the mic. No mic eating. No smoking around condensor mics. Also, chewing gum and/or food is kind of ridiculous.

9. With all of this, getting along with the sound person is all you need...

With thanks to Dave, DeAnn Emett, Hanna Krezza, Jesse Brannan, Logos Ironpaw, Chance Dale, and Al Fack.

(no subject)

Wed, Dec. 7th, 2011 06:08 pm
sasha_feather: dolphin and zebra gazing at each other across glass (dolphin and zebra)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
"The microphone is one of the single-most powerful social tools for its potential to amplify a movement." --Marlon Lima, Capital City Hues (Madison WI)
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[personal profile] boundbooks
The 21 October 2011 post at [site community profile] dw_news has a section about a change in Dreamwidth's code that I thought would be very relevant for this community:
As of the last code push, some of you may have already noticed a major accessibility improvement: explicit comment hierarchy indicators...You can now go to the Display tab of Account Settings and check "Display Explicit Comment Hierarchy Indicators (site scheme only)".

If you turn on this option, when viewing comment pages in any site skin, comments will then display an outline-style explicit numbering of comment threads, allowing people who access the site via screenreader and non-graphical browser to see the relationships of comments inside a comment thread. (It will look sort of like a content outline: 0, 1, 1a, 1b, 1b1, 1b2, 1c, 1c1, etc.)

This is a major accessibility win -- one of my screenreader-using friends didn't realize until after using LJ and then DW for about five years how sighted people were figuring out which comments were replies to which...

The news post also mentioned general accessibility needs on DW:
If you have an accessibility need that isn't being met, we want to hear about it. Because accessibility needs are different for everybody, and sometimes mutually-exclusive, we might not be able to fix the issue perfectly, but we will do our best to figure out a solution that will work for you. To notify us, you can post an entry to [site community profile] dw_accessibility, or contact the accessibility team project coordinator, [personal profile] rb.
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[personal profile] sasha_feather
We're happy to announce that at this year's WisCon, there will be CART (captioning) services at the Guest of Honor speech.

Longer term, we are also looking to get ASL interpreters at our event.

WisCon is a 1000-member feminist SF convention that meets annually in Madison, WI. If you are interested in providing interpretation at this event or know of someone who is, or if you have any other questions, please contact

Music descriptions

Mon, Apr. 4th, 2011 05:46 pm
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[personal profile] aron_kristina

I'm new here, just found the community, and I read through some of the older post. Reading about image descriptions made me think about the medium I work in, music.

Now, I post music sometimes on my LJ, mostly music written to accompany a piece of fanfiction, sort of like fanart, but fanmusic instead. I've never provided any descriptions of the music, but reading here has made me think that maybe I should.

Any advise on this would be greatly appreciated.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
At My Local Convention, the Access team made a big push toward improving microphone usage this year. This is separate from things we normally do such as marking off chairs for lip readers. Below are revised documents that I wrote to the concom, arguing for an investment in this cause.

Making the case for better microphone usage )
known barriers and proposals to lower barriers )
At the con itself: results )
jesse_the_k: Sprinter with right AK prosthetic leg, shot from neck down (prosthetic sprint)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k help us spread the word about speaking up.

One of the goals of this year's WisCon access endeavor is to improve the con's experience for members with hearing impairments. We're supplying more mics for the panels. We reserve spaces front and center (marked with blue tape) which are handy for people who are speech reading.

But the crucial element is cooperation from all the members. I've come up with a wordy and sober statement. I'd love it if the collective wisdom could make this more succinct, more powerful, more impressive, more funny ... it just needs a whole lot of "more":

 begin quote 
It's important for all panelists to use the mics when provided, without hesitation, shyness, or complaint. What we say is interesting enough for the people without hearing impairments. If we don't use the mics, we're effectively preventing members with hearing impairments from participating. Since members in the audience don't have mics, we ask panelists to wait until the moderator has repeated the question before responding.
 quote ends 

Ideas? Thoughts?
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[personal profile] jesse_the_k
[personal profile] jenett is narrating the process of access planning for an upcoming con over in the [community profile] accessibility_fail community.

One element she's working on is real-time captioning, abbreviated as CART or RTC. SF/F cons provide a peculiarly challenging environment for real-time captioning: we tend to all talk at once; we talk over each other; we use plenty of made-up words, names, and acronyms; and our discussions swoop unpredictably between grade-school humor and post-doc details (sometimes in one sentence).

CART is created by a highly trained steno-captionist (court reporter) who uses a chording keyboard to transcribe what speakers say, sound for sound. Computer software translates this into text, which is projected on a screen behind the speaker. This phonic-based system means that CART transcribers do best when they can program in names, neologisms, and acronyms in advance. Without that advance prep, ER SUE LA LUG WIN and I SACK AS HIM OFF might be showing up in a panel discussion. On the plus side, the CART transcript is verbatim, which creates a good record of the event.

There's another approach to text-based transcription: "meaning for meaning" or "m4m" systems. At present there are two in the U.S.: TypeWell and C-PRINT. Both provide online training which prepares a transcriber in 60 hours or less. The transcriber uses a standard laptop with extensive abbreviation-expansion software, and basically liveblogs the event. The same concerns arise with personal names; the finished transcript is briefer and hopefully meatier. RTC stenocaptionists earn a minimum of $120/hour; TypeWell transcribers start at around $50/hour.

You can read a spirited discussion of the pros and cons of CART and TypeWell in the college classroom at Deafness section at Jamie Berke has been editing this section for decades, and she totally knows her stuff.

Finally, here's a good elevator overview of the assistive technologies most helpful for people who have hearing impairments.

Sign language interpreters is a whole 'nother post.

Link about Podfic

Tue, Dec. 8th, 2009 03:31 pm
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[personal profile] sasha_feather
[personal profile] cofax7: An Open Letter to Podfic Recorders/Readers

And finally, some listeners have hearing problems. By recording the text with the music you are making it nearly impossible for many listeners to follow what's going on.

September 2017

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