This week on Yes But Why Podcast, listen in as I talk to Audio Describer, Bridget Melton.
Bridget Melton is an Audio Describer who has recently relocated to North Texas from the Chicago area. Active in the cultural accessibility community for many years, Bridget works to create a welcoming environment for all. Around the United States, and virtually, she can be found at various theatres promoting inclusion as an audio describer, advisor, or volunteer.
Audio Description is a service that makes the visual verbal. In theaters, in museums, and accompanying television, film, and video presentations, Audio Describers provide commentary and narration to guide the listener through the presentation with concise, objective descriptions of new scenes, settings, costumes, body language, and "sight gags," all slipped in between portions of dialogue or songs. Audio Description provides accessibility of the visual images of theater, television, movies, and other art forms for people who are blind, have low vision, or who are otherwise visually impaired.
As the main describer for Hamilton: An American Musical during its three year residency in Chicago, Bridget Melton live described over 25 performances. She also most recently live extemporaneously audio described the 2021 Presidential Inauguration for which she and her team won the 2021 Vernon Henley Media Award from the American Council of the Blind. Bridget can also be heard as a featured guest on “Know Your Narrator,” the weekly podcast made by the Audio Description Narrators of America.
In our conversation, we talk about how the pandemic has changed views on accessibility and inclusivity in the theater world. Bridget shares what it was like to do the Audio Description for the Inauguration and how amazing she felt to be part of that experience.
Bridget speaks about working with the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium, and all that she learned from them about making theater more accessible to all. She says that since the move to Texas, she has been working from home; this has enabled her to connect with the larger community of audio describers and opened doors in her career that she never imagined.
Bridget tells me of her work in theater admin and box office roles before finding her niche in Audio Description. With Audio Description, she is happy to have found a job that combines a lot of the different creative work that she loves about theater. Bridget gets to do dramaturgical research about the play she is working on; she gets to perform the show alongside the actors, and sometimes even improvise when the play or live event evolves. She also talks about how much she loves the chance to interact with the audience before the show during the “touch tour” and during the show as she “describes” the performance for them. Bridget expresses her excitement to be able to do theater full time and in such a rewarding role.
Support Bridget Melton by hiring her to Audio Describe your event: https://www.bridgetmelton.com/
(Seriously, she’s won AWARDS for doing this work!) But really, hire ANY Audio Describer and you are supporting Bridget’s community and their efforts to make the arts accessible to all. (And if you’ve never heard of this but you work at a theater, bring it up to the boss! I mean, how cool is Audio Description?) Learn more about Audio Description, including resources and how to experience it at BridgetMelton.com/intro
You can also support accessibility in the arts in general by donating to the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium, an organization that was a formative part of Bridget’s own access journey: https://chicagoculturalaccess.org/support/
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(production notes: recorded zoom meeting via Rodecaster on 8/12/2021…posted on 8/23/2021)