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Demystifying audio description



Title: Demystifying audio description

Release date: 1/31/2022

Co-creation: Deise Medina e Felipe Monteiro

City/State: Lauro de Freitas/BA e Resende/RJ

[intro music]


Olga Aureliano: Demystifying Audio Descriptions. This episode tells the trajectory of professionals Deise Medina and Felipe Monteiro, until they get to the universe of accessibility, but more specifically audio-description. They provide a panoramic view from the elaboration of the audio-descriptive script, through the production team, the audience, the user, to the form in which audio description is made available. Have a great episode!


[intro music]



[soundtrack in the background, throughout the episode]


Deise: Hi Felipe, how are you?


Felipe: Hi Deise, all’s well. How about you?


Deise: All good, thank God (laughs).


Felipe: That's great!


Deise: Let's start our podcast for Portraits of Disability in Brazil by introducing our fantastic project of accessible cartoons.


Felipe: There's a lot to talk about, eh Deise?


Deise: A lot! After all, our journey is long.


Felipe: That’s true!


Deise: We have come a long way to get here.


Felipe: Until we got to this project, right?


Deise: That's right, so. So, let's talk a little bit about us first?


Felipe: I think it's a good idea. Even just for people to know where we came from, why we are here today (laughs), right? Talking about this subject.


Deise: Perfect. Well, first we will start with… providing our audio description, right?


Felipe: That's something good to do.


Deise: I am Deise Medina, I have light skin, short curly brown hair, already kind of grey, right? (laughs), starting to become grey. I wear round glasses, round frames, brown, prescription glasses, and I am 1.55m, short, a little chubby, full of freckles (laughs) that's me, and you Felipe?


Felipe: Alright, I am Felipe Monteiro, I am visually impaired, I am 43 years old, I am 1,70m. I am a white man with light brown skin. I have dark brown hair, eyebrows and eyes, and today here just for the sake of curiosity, I am wearing a blue shirt, white details, I have a headset here, black too, I am in my living room and across me is a beige and white curtain.


Deise: How nice, marvelous. Felipe, tell me a little bit about your background, your bionote. Do a quick bionote for us.


Felipe: So, I have to talk about my childhood, because that is where it all started, in truth.


Deise: Uh-huh.

Felipe: Because my initial education, Deise, you know, with with music, I started in music, in the universe of music, so with 8 years of age I started to study music. I started with the recorder flute, then afterwards I went on to play the keyboard, and in the end, the piano. I did that whole technical course of music, right? Which for those who don't know, the music course follows more or less the same amount of years of regular school. So, I did 13 years, which is more or less elementary school, and the technical music course, the high school music course.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: And then I studied the 13 years, and I already knew very well that I wanted to major in music. I already knew I wanted to pursue this career. I started teaching music at the age of 14.


Deise: Wow!


Felipe: So, I was already very certain of what I wanted to do, you know? I had no doubts. But when I got to the time to enter university, to take the vestibular (entrance) exams, my parents kind of (laughs among themselves), advised me not to do music. Even though I was sure that that was what I wanted.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: That's when I finished my first degree, which was in data processing technology. A course that doesn't even exist anymore, Deise.


Deise: (laughs).


Felipe: It was in the last century, this first degree.


Deise: (laughs).


Felipe: But I did a degree in data processing and then, after that, I started a bachelor's degree in piano. Then I did a bachelor's degree in piano, and afterwards a bachelor's degree in art education, but with a major in music, which had more to do with the area I was working in, given that I had been teaching for a few years.


Deise: Yes.


Felipe: Then after some time I became the director of a music school in my city. I am from the city of Resende, right.


Deise: Yes.


Felipe: In State Rio de Janeiro and then I felt the need to take a course in pedagogy. So, I also studied pedagogy.


Deise: Wow!


Felipe: So, there were 4 undergraduate degrees, that weren’t planned but ended up happening in the course of life.


Deise: Yes.


Felipe: You know? in this professional part. And the years went by, while I continued to private lessons, teaching in common core schools, specific music schools, playing in many events: weddings, masses, and so on. Life continued on.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: Then at the age of 36, I needed to make some changes, because that’s when I became a visually impaired person right? I had meningitis. I started to feel very strong headaches, thinking it was just a flu.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: And then I started to self-medicate. That thing, that rush of being a teacher. Teaching in the morning, afternoon, night. At this time I taught in four different schools. So, I worked too much, not to mention other things, and then the pains wouldn't go away, they were very strong. Until I got an appointment with a neurologist, and as soon as I entered the neurologist's office, I fainted in the room, you know, in the office.


Deise: Wow!


Felipe: Yes, and this office was in a hospital, you know, inside a hospital, and when I woke up, I was already on a hospital stretcher. And the first question the neurologist asked was: had I been in contact with someone who had had meningitis? Then I said, oh, last week a teacher at the school where I work died of meningitis.


Deise: JEEZ, Felipe!


Felipe: Yea, and then they immediately took me to isolation at the time, to investigate, to find out if I really had meningitis. I spent the weekend at the hospital, until the diagnosis came, that I really had meningitis.


Deise: Oh my God.


Felipe: But the meningitis that I had was… it wasn't meningococcal, because with meningococcal the person usually dies quickly.


Deise: Uh-huh, it was viral.


Felipe: Yeah, it was viral. Then my hospitalization process started, I thought I was only going to spend a weekend in the hospital.


Deise: (laughs)


Felipe: I stayed a year, Deise.


Deise: My God!


Felipe: So, you can imagine what I went through while in the hospital for a year.


Deise: Wow!


Felipe: I even released  a book that I wrote about regarding this moment that I lived in the hospital. This period of transition was very striking in my life, I went through various situations, from being in a wheelchair, becoming deaf, I lost my sense of smell, lost my sight, began using a diaper, all that stuff.


Deise: I know, I know.


Felipe: But the period passed, I left the hospital, already without sight and smell. I had to face life from here. Then I started to enter into more contact with assistive technologies right?


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: To learn braille, use a walking stick [white cane], and so on. I even joined Whatsapp groups of people with visual impairments that gave me a lot of support and quickly I, I started to have contact with the environments that offered accessibility resources.


Deise: I know.


Felipe: But I always mention one moment that was very important, which was my first interaction with audio description, which occurred during a theater play in the city of Goiânia.


Deise: Yes.


Felipe: The Little Prince. A friend of mine invited me to watch this play, and it had audio description. I didn't even know what audio description was at this time, so I said, I'll see, I'll see how it is, I got the headphones, I watched the play, I liked it a lot. I have to admit that I was a little confused. I didn’t know whether to pay attention to what the characters were saying, or whether to pay attention to the audio description, but I left there enchanted! Because I realized that the audio description would open up many possibilities for me. I left the hospital, Deise, thinking that I would never again go to the movies, I would never again go to the theater, that I would never again attend a concert, right? And this was part of my life, because I have always worked with music, I have always been of the arts, so culture has always been part of my day to day life.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: So, when I left the hospital, I imagined that all of that had ended.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: And when I learned about audio description, I realized that my world was going to be completely different. My city here in Resende is located between two capital cities, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.


Deise: Yes.


Felipe: So, I have a certain ease of being in these two capitals.


Deise: Yes.


Felipe: So I started to look for places that had audio description, to find out more about audio description, until someone in one of these groups said: "Felipe, do you work with audio description ?”, because I always spoke about it, the events I went to, the experiences I had. Then I said: no, I’m not a consultant. I didn’t even know what it meant to be an audiovisual consultant, to tell you the truth.


Deise: (laughs).


Felipe: And then people said: "you should study it, since you note important things about it", so I started to study. I took free courses, extension courses, I participated in workshops, congresses, seminars. Until I enrolled in my first specialization degree.


Deise: Yes.


Felipe: Through the State University of Ceará.


Deise: Right.


Felipe: Then I did audio description there, and before I finished this specialization, I started a course in cultural accessibility at UFRJ.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: That was very important too, that in addition to audio description, which is part of the subject in the course, I had more contact with other disabilities. Especially intellectual disabilities.


Deise: Yes.


Felipe: For me it was very important, it broadened my horizons a lot.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: But then I also took a course in audio description at school, at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora. And I also took a course in digital technologies applied to education at the Federal Institute of Espírito Santo.


Deise: Yes.


Felipe: And those were the specializations I took. And now, Deise, you know, I am in a master's program, and my master's research is precisely combining these areas of work. Audio description as a pedagogical resource in the development of music education, in this inclusive perspective, both in formal and informal environments. Currently work as a consultant, not only in music.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: Like, with accessibility, web accessibility, cultural accessibility and, of course, also as an audio description consultant.


Deise: A thousand and one uses! (laughs).


Felipe: Exactly, but I am very happy, Deise


Deise: (laughs).


Felipe: to have been able to unite the areas, right?


Deise: Gee!


Felipe: Because when I left the hospital, I was thinking, what am I going to do? Will I work? Will I teach? You know, all those issues, which I think is natural for a person who has an acquired disability, right? Which is different from a person who is born with a disability.


Deise: Right.


Felipe: So, I was thinking, will I continue working with music, what will my life be like, will I have to retire, then I won't be able to do anything else?


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: In reality, I had an upgrade in my life.


Deise: Exactly, you broadened your horizons.


Felipe: Exactly!


Deise: What a fantastic thing!


Felipe: Besides music, nowadays I also work with accessibility.


Deise: Yes, yes.


Felipe: And I am very grateful. But I have already talked a lot Deise, now tell us about you!


Deise: (laughs).


Felipe: Tell us a little bit about your history.


Deise: Now I laughed (laughs).


Felipe: A lot of things I don't know about your history, right.


Deise: No, many things you don’t know.


Felipe: I know about some of it, but back there, I think I don't know.


Deise: So, there is one thing that is very similar between us, which is the issue of involvement with technology.


Felipe: Yea, uh-huh.


Deise: I taught computer classes for a long time, at Senac, right? Which is this huge institution here, for many years and I taught all the software you can imagine, and at the end of the line, I was already working with computer graphics software, right?


Felipe: Ok, but it was a class for like.. Windows? Something like that?

Deise: Exactly, I started teaching MS-DOS.


Felipe: look at that, I’m from DOS as well (laughs).


Deise: Exactly (laughs) then Windows, and then I got to computer graphics, where I spent a good part of my time at the end; at the end why?  Because then I finally decided to go to college.


Felipe: Right.


Deise: I entered college already... well, I was over 30 years old when I entered college.


Felipe: Ahh


Deise: Because I lost my father very early, I was 13 years old.


Felipe: So, you had to focus on work, right?


Deise: Exactly, being the oldest daughter, I had two sisters to raise, to help my mother raise. So, I took on the responsibilities of the house very early on. I had to seriously work, to pay the bills at home, right? And because of that I didn't have time to study, to continue my studies, to go to college, for example, right?


Felipe: Right.


Deise: So, I finally entered college at 35 I guess, today I'm 53.


Felipe: Oh, that's something I didn't know.


Deise: Really? (laughs) that's right, so I majored in Modern Languages.


Felipe: That's because usually when we stop studying, we have this gap, right? We end up losing drive, right? …


Deise: Losing drive.


Felipe: It's more difficult.


Deise: That's right, the opposite happened to me. In fact, I always wanted to go to college, but because of these factors I never could.


Felipe: Uh-huh.


Deise: In fact, I had to dedicate myself to other issues and I always worked a lot, many, many hours every day to make money. So, then I started teaching English. Actually, I started teaching computer classes, for a company that no longer exists, Real & Dados. I taught computer classes for a long time, but when I was 18, I went to work for a multinational company; I didn't speak English, I was going to be a secretary, right?


Felipe: Right.


Deise: And it was a multinational, a branch of a company from Texas. And all the employees that were in Brazil at that time, who came to establish the company here, the factory, they were Texans, and they didn't speak Portuguese. So, the only ones who spoke Portuguese were me, the doorman, the cook and the driver.


Felipe: Oh my God!


Deise: (laughs), Who bridged the gap between us and them, was a Brazilian secretary who came from the United States with them.


Felipe: Oh, I see.


Deise: So, she was our bridge. But  since  I was her secretary, and she was theirs, they needed to go out and have meetings, with Petrobras for instance, so one of them called me, and said "look, look for an English course, you need to learn English". So, I went and looked for one, and they started paying for my English course. At the time I couldn't afford to pay for an English course, because I had to support my family, but the company paid for me. For one year, which was the time they stayed in Brazil. Then they gave up, and returned, but I didn't want to stop. I was already in the English school. In order to finish the course, I proposed a barter. I made a proposition to exchange my information technology work, so I worked there at night working in their data processing center to keep the course going.


Felipe: Ah, so it was a large course, right?


Deise: Yes, it was a long course, but besides being a course...


Felipe: No, I mean, a course with a structure...


Deise: Yes, the school had a very good structure, very good. And I did all the rest of my course there. I did several semesters of Graduate courses in pronunciation, listening, morphology, in short, a series of specializations. And then I became a teacher at this school. I participated in the selection process and started teaching English. I started teaching English when I was 20, 21 years old, something like that.


Felipe: Look.


Deise: And parallel to that, I was also teaching computer classes, so I worked for a long time doing both.


Felipe: Right.


Deise: When I finally said, "Look, I need to go to college, I want to go to college, I am not going to stay here," then I went to college for a degree in Modern Languages majoring in English language, at the university, at the Faculdade Jorge Amado, here in Salvador.


Felipe: Ah.


Deise: I did the whole program in languages, and it was interesting, because in the end my undergraduate thesis was about translations. An analysis of the translation of the book Quincas Berro d'Água into English.


Felipe: Hm, right...


Deise: And the defense was very well received. They even suggested I should publish it, etc. And my English professor at the time said: "Deise, why don't you look up Eliana Franco at UFBA [Federal University of the Sate of Bahia]? In the Federal University, right? I said, "I don't even know how to reach this person! Eliana was theoretically unreachable for me at that time.


Felipe: Yes! (laughs).


Deise: Exactly, but then I went.


Felipe: But explain a bit, who is Eliana Franco?


Deise: Well, Eliana Franco is no more and no less than a reference in audiovisual translation in Brazil and beyond Brazil. She defended the first thesis on audiovisual translation in Brazil, the first piece on audiovisual translation in Brazil is hers, where she worked with voice over.


Felipe: That's right.


Deise: So, she is a big reference.


Felipe: She even has a book published, right?


Deise: Yes, yes, she is a reference inside and outside the country. Today she lives in Portugal and is still a very respected name.


Felipe: Yes.


Deise: Today we are personal friends, thank God, aren't we Felipe?


Felipe: Yes, we are (laughs).


Deise: We are personal friends of hers, but at the time she was unattainable for me.


Felipe: Yeah, but had you heard of Eliana Franco?


Deise: Yes, Sonia, my English teacher at college at the time, told me: "Look her up".


Felipe: Look at that!


Deise: So, when I finished my undergraduate degree, I submitted an application for a master's degree at UFBA, and I decided to submit a project for this master's degree.


Felipe: ah, so you did your undergraduate studies, and then immediately afterwards you went for your master's.


Deise: Exactly, exactly, because then I tried to get a master's degree, but everyone discouraged me, they said: "look, you are going to waste your time, at UFBA there are only students who were students of the professor there. 


Felipe: Former students, right? Who did their undergraduate studies there.


Deise: That's right, I said, "look, I already have the no, I'll go after the yes".


Felipe: Yes.


Deise: And then I submitted it.  Eliana was one of the people to whom I submitted the project. You have to submit the project to three professors. She was one of them, and she accepted my project.


Felipe: Ah, you had already listed her as an option for a supervisor?


Deise: I put her as my first choice, without ever knowing anything about it, just having heard about it.


Felipe: You read her CV (resume) right?


Deise: Exactly, then she accepted me, accepted my project. I went through all the stages of selection, and I started my master's degree in the year 2000s…. I passed in 2009, and the second semester, classes started in the first semester of 2010. And there, at UFBA, being Eliana's student, she had a research group called TRAMAD - Translation, Media and Audio description. And that was where I began my encounter with accessibility. Because my project... okay, everybody who works with translation works with accessibility, and this is the great role of translation.


Felipe:Ttranslation is already....


Deise: It enables access, right? So, my project was to work with the subtitles of a movie, I think it was City of God that I proposed. To work with the translation of the subtitles of City of God.


Felipe: Why subtitles? Where did the subtitles come from?


Deise: Right, so, I am kind of fond of movies, right?


Felipe: Yes.


Deise: And then, since I had worked on the translation of Quincas Berro d'Água for my undergraduate thesis, when I thought of going to UFBA, I became very interested when, I found out that there was a research area in Audiovisual Translation. So, I decided to go from literary translation to audiovisual translation, and then I started working with subtitles. And that is where the subtitles proposal came from.


Felipe: Okay, but at that time you had no knowledge about subtitling techniques, right? Of subtitling.


Deise: Nothing, I just thought.


Felipe: It was really just a desire?


Deise: Yes, yes, I wanted to know, I wanted to go deeper into this area. But I had absolutely no experience.


Felipe: And at that time you were what? Around 42 years old, more or less.


Deise: Yes, yes, exactly, exactly. Then Eliana, as I said, so, I automatically joined Eliana's research group, which was TRAMAD.  The next semester, the vice-coordinator Renata Mascarenhas, Renata .... I forgot her name… from the US.


Felipe: Yup, it’s Mascarenhas.


Deise: Mascarenhas, right? She left the vice-coordinator position and Eliana asked me if I would like to be the vice-coordinator of the group. And so I did. I became TRAMAD's vice coordinator, for more than 10 years. 11 and 12 years I was TRAMAD's vice coordinator. And at TRAMAD, I had all, all the introduction to the area of translation, audiovisual translation. So, we worked with subtitles, we worked with dubbing, with voice-over, and with audio description.


Felipe: Ah, so that’s when you got into audio description?


Deise: That was when I got into audio description. So that was when I started my studies in the field, in the field of translation, of studies (...)


Felipe: You had never heard about it before?


Deise: Never, never. It was through TRAMAD and Eliana Franco that I started studying. I started to be part of translation studies, or rather, I began studying this, and the field of audiovisual translation, more specifically.


Felipe: Right.


Deise: So, it was when I got to know the techniques, all the rules for subtitling, etc. I taught audiovisual translation at UFBA in various moments, and audio description itself. We became part of various projects that emerged. Dance groups at the dance school at UFBA. Whenever there was a performance, they invited us from TRAMAD to do the audio description of the play. So that was when my involvement and lived experience with this process came.


Felipe: Right. Uh-huh.


Deise: That is, I drank directly from the source, from the great, the great reference in audiovisual translation, right?


Felipe: Yes.


Deise: I am very happy in this sense, and I owe a lot to this. To this period, to this opportunity that Eliana gave me. To be here today.


Felipe: How awesome, gee (laughs).


Deise: Fantastic, fantastic, I think it’s an incredible thing. She is really a fantastic person, humble. Willing to open doors.


Felipe: True, true, me too, I learn a lot. I always learn a lot.


Deise: People who have lived alongside her know how much she is always willing to teach.


Felipe: I always say she is my godmother.


Deise: (laughs)


Felipe: In audio description. Because, the first contacts that I had... they were even in Rio de Janeiro, at a time when she lived in Rio de Janeiro.


Deise: Yes, yes.


Felipe: And then I thought: Eliana yes, and she, gee, she helped me a lot in the beginning, when I didn't even know where to turn. In the beginning we don’t know which direction to head in.


Deise: Perfect, exactly.


Felipe: Really, I am very grateful, I am very grateful.


Deise: She is very generous, very generous.


Felipe: Uh-huh


Deise: Then, when and how did we finally meet?  So, you met Eliana from one side, I met Eliana from the other side.


Felipe: Yeah.


Deise: But we hadn't met at any time.


Felipe: Yes, we had heard about each other, right, because of Eliana.


Deise: Exactly.


Felipe: I remember that Eliana, at least for me, said: "you have to meet Deise, you will like Deise a lot.”


Deise: (laughs)


Felipe: “She is an incredible person, you have to meet her.” Then came the opportunity for us to meet for the first time.


Deise: Uh-huh, and when was it, Felipe? Do you remember exactly?


Felipe: Yes, it was at the third international meeting on audio description. This meeting took place in Recife in April 2017.


Deise: Wow, what a memory.


Felipe: Yea. I held on to this memory. It was a very important meeting. There were many people, many great people. How we learned in this meeting!


Deise: Wow!


 Felipe: And there was also the VerOuvindo Festival.


Deise: Mhm.


Felipe: Within the International Meeting, which is also a reference festival. It is already in our calendar.  There is a competitive exhibition of scripts for audio description. So, it is a very important festival that takes place in Recife, and this event was very big.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: And besides all that, we also had the founding of the ABAD, which is the Brazilian Association of Audio-description.


Deise: True!


Felipe: Which was on the 27th of April 2017. It is a very important date, a very notable date. So, there is no way to forget it.


Deise: No, there isn't. That's true.


Felipe: And then we bumped into each other at this event right Deise?


Deise: (laughs) That's right, that's where we met. That was in 2017 right?


Felipe: That was 2017. It's been 5 years. No, 4 years.


Deise: Exactly. So, I had already completed my master's degree. I completed my master's degree in 2011.


Felipe: Right.


Deise: In 2012, I took a public servant selection exam [concurso]. In 2013, I was hired at the Federal Institute of Bahia (IFBA) [Federal Institutes are publicly funded University Colleges], thank God. So, I entered there with my Master’s. And in 2015, I entered a doctorate in the School of Education at the Federal University of Bahia [UFBA].


Felipe: Ah, you continued at the Federal of Bahia.


Deise: Yes, I got it at the Federal.


Felipe: Did you continue with the same supervision?


Deise: So, initially it was supposed to. It was supposed to be the same supervision as Eliana was still a professor at UFBA. I submitted my first doctoral project to her. But in this, in this period, even before I participated in the selection process, she resigned.


Felipe: Ahhhh…


Deise: So, then I went to the School of Education. Because in the Department of Modern Languages there was no one else who worked with audiovisual translation, she was the only one.


Felipe: I see.


Deise: So, then, I tried education, why? Because at that time my interest was to work with images in textbooks.


Felipe: Hmm.


Deise: Because we had already worked with it for years. As vice coordinator of TRAMAD, we always worked with dynamic images. So, it was videos, it was opera, it was plays, and fashion shows. So, they were always dynamic events.


Felipe: Interesting.    



Deise: Exactly. And us at TRAMAD... we received a thesis... there were two students from UEFS, from the State University of Feira de Santana.


Felipe: Oh, yes.


Deise: Who wanted to do audio description for a magazine cover, for a magazine editorial.


Felipe: Right.


Deise: And then, we did this audio description, it was my first contact with still images.


Felipe: Usually the process is reversed, right?


Deise: Exactly.


Felipe: Usually, the process in reversed, people start with a static image and then move on to a dynamic image.


Deise: In my case it was the opposite, and then when I did this work for this magazine, I found the audio description of still images super interesting.


Felipe: Right.


Deise: And when I joined IFBA, what happened is, I started to realize that our courses, both undergraduate and graduate, have many students; undergraduate and high school, I work with high school there, mainly.  So in high school, undergraduate and post-graduate courses, we have students with visual impairment, circulating around the school.


Felipe: Look at that.


Deise: And I would think, how is it that these people have access to the school material that reaches them? And then I started to get interested in this. Then I had a meeting with Patrícia Braille, who, at the time, worked for the Secretary of Education here in Salvador. She told me about the whole Mecdaisy process and how the government implemented Mecdaisy, which delivered the digital, accessible version of textbooks to students in public schools in Brazil. She participated in this process together with Lívia Motta. And all that was a world that began opening up in my head, of possibilities, and possibilities. I need to work with this, right? And then, that was when I submitted my thesis to Professor Alessandra Barros, from the Education Department, who knew nothing about audio description, but she was, she is very dedicated to the issue of textbooks.


Felipe: Ah, I understand.


Deise: Textbook description, through Braille, through tactile means, she works a lot with this. And she was curious to know about audio description, and said: "Deise, we will swap, you bring me audio description and I will bring you the textbook experience, and the issue of accessibility-izing them". And then it was a fantastic exchange. It was a new world, a new world that opened-up for me during my doctorate.


Felipe: Of course.


Deise: Through education, you know? And I had the joy of being accepted by Professor Vera Santiago for my sandwich doctorate, there in Fortaleza.


Felipe: Ah, yes.


Deise: Vera... Vera, is another, is on the same level as Eliana Franco.


Felipe: Hmm.


Deise: In terms of audiovisual translation. Both here and outside of Brazil. She has a very strong, very important research group, which is LEAD. They work very hard on the issue of subtitling and audio description.


Felipe: Exactly.


Deise: So, Vera kindly accepted me to be my co-supervisor.


Felipe: But did you already know Vera, or was it your advisor's suggestion?


Deise: I met Vera through Eliana at the conferences we attended. Actually it was that Conference where we both met, Vera was also present.


Felipe: Oh, yes, that's right.


Deise: We already had a certain closeness, and when I proposed that she be my co-supervisor, she immediately accepted.


Felipe: Ah yes.


Deise: It was amazing. In fact, she was, she was part of my defense panel for my...


Felipe: Master's degree.


Deise: No, the doctorate, that thing we do before defending the thesis?


Felipe: Ah, qualification.


Deise: Qualification, that's right. She was on my qualification committee, and then she got to know about my project. When I invited her to be my co-supervisor, she immediately accepted.


Felipe: Wow, but you invited her to be your co-supervisor after the qualification?


Deise: After the qualification.


Felipe: Ah, look at that.


Deise: I actually left... I remember I left already in the third.... a year and a half before defending. I had already passed qualifications.


Felipe: Oh, I see.


Deise: Yeah, and it was fantastic, fantastic. A reference from Vera. Vera, as well as Eliana is incredible.  She gave me the support I needed to develop, the methodology. Then we got into the methodology, because my doctorate research, as I said, was about still images. And as a master's or doctorate researcher you can’t take on the world because the area of still images is immense. If you think about a textbook, you have all the genres in there.


Felipe: Uh huh, yes.


Deise: But we can't work with everything, so I had to decide. So I decided upon charges and cartums [most easily translated to/understood as editorial cartoons which are often political in nature]


Felipe: You made a choice, right?


Deise: Exactly because the pages of the books are full of charges and cartums. They are an amazing social genre, with an incredible social role, and they address all kinds of issues. They bring, with the tone of irony, of humor, making people think. So, since I always loved comics, I decided to focus on charges and cartums.


Felipe: Charges have a really big importance within this educational context, right Deise?


Deise: Exactly.


Felipe: They are utilized a lot. Charges, cartums.


Deise: They talk to the students very well. It is a genre that dialogues very well with young people, with teenagers. It has this power to attract the attention of these people.


Felipe: It's because the content of the charges is always very fresh, there's that too.


Deise: Yes, exactly.


Felipe: So, it's something that is always there.  What's on the crest of the wave is portrayed in the charges.


Deise: Perfect, perfect.


Felipe: It's a great resource to work with in the classroom, isn't it?


Deise: Very much so. It’s incredible. And then my research revolved around this. I took, I made a choice of a series of clippings obviously of charges and cartums and selected a series, which was "Novas Palavras" that was delivered in 2013, sorry 2015, by the PNLD, by the Federal Government, by the Ministry of Education. Distributed in 2015, so I chose, I got the Portuguese books. Why Portuguese if I’m an English teacher? Because the Portuguese textbook is divided into three sections. It has the part of literature, grammar and writing. So, the wealth of images that it brings in these sections is incredible! And one more thing, it also proposes many subjective questions, where the student will have to answer those questions based on his understanding and interpretation of the images. It’s not only about marking an answer, it’s about interpretation.


Felipe: Ah, to provide a reading of the images....


Deise: Perfect.


Felipe: This reading of the images is very important, because it dialogues with the text.


Deise: Perfectly.


Felipe: The image is there, sometimes it is even there as an illustration, merely illustrative, but most of the time it dialogues with this text, and it is important then that this student makes this reading, right Deise?


Deise: Exactly! and the questions I selected, because this was one of the criteria of the thesis, the questions I selected to evalu... the charges I selected to analyze were key to resolve the questions. They were not in dialogue with the text outside of them.


Felipe: I see.


Deise: Unless engaging with the student's prior knowledge on the subject, but it was only it. So, they had to analyze the charge, and from there, develop texts, develop answers. So, this was one of the criteria, they were charges linked to discursive issues.


Felipe: I see.


Deise: So, I selected 10 charges, and submitted them. What did I do? These charges already have audio-descriptions. They come with audio description that the MEC [Ministry of Education] delivers, through the Mecdaisy program it reaches the students, right? And then I analyzed these audio descriptions, and I noticed some gaps in the way of delivering this audio description to students. Then I studied at the time, and I continue to study, Kress and van Leeuwen's grammar of visual design, which is a theory, a methodology of image analysis. It was not created for audio description, not at all. It is a methodology that is widely used, for example in advertising.


Felipe: Right.


Deise: You know? To analyze the way that elements should be distributed for example, in a poster, in an advertisement to reach this public. To better reach the public.


Felipe: I see, uh-huh. 



Deise: And then, from this knowledge, I went on and started reading, looking at articles, reading theses, dissertations, material, the very book Reading Images, which gives the methodology itself, and I thought, "why not apply this methodology to audio description”?


Felipe: Yes.


Deise: That was when Vera helped me a lot, and we came to the conclusion that... this theory is basically.... this methodology is based on three meta functions: Representational, Compositional and Interactional. And then I thought alright, given the experience I’ve already had for years at TRAMAD, dealing with audio description, my contact with people with low vision, with visual impairment, I knew... I realized that the spatial notion was something very important to them. To understand, to know where things are to then know what is that.


Felipe: Exactly.


Deise: Right? Then I utilized it. I took the methodology and turned it upside down and started utilizing it use it, starting from the compositional metafunction.


Felipe: Oh, right.


Deise: Justly orienting where things are.


Felipe: I understand… Not just describing the elements, but also positioning them within the images.


Deise: Exactly, exactly.


Felipe: Uh huh. I understand.


Deise: Then, through you, Felipe, who helped me a lot at the time. You are responsible for a huge group of audio descriptors in Brazil, right?


Felipe: Yes, we have a collective of audio description consultants, and this collective currently has a little more than 33, I think it is around 33 participants. It is very little compared to the size of our country, which is gigantic, but we are very proud of this collective, because we have representatives in this collective from all regions of the country.


Deise: That's right.


Felipe: And that's very important for us because it gives us an update on what's happening all over the country.


Deise: Exactly.


Felipe: In relation to building audio description. So, it is something very specific, right?


Deise: Exactly, and that's where you came in at the time, because I needed to submit the audio descriptions that came from the MEC ready-made, and the elaborated audio descriptions prepared based on the parameters I was studying, for blind consultants. I wanted people who were the target audience to analyze and compare, to see if what I was proposing was better than what there was, or if I wasn't contributing anything.


Felipe: I see. Right, because it doesn't make much sense, Deise, to prepare an audio description without doing this test with the target audience.


Deise: Perfect, perfect.


Felipe: I don't see much sense in that.


Deise: Exactly, so it was a reception study that we did. So, Felipe was one of them, he participated as my research subject and suggested... and he e-mailed people and I got 4 others, so there were 5 consultants in all.


Felipe: That's right.


Deise: So that I... each one analyzed two audio descriptions, two charges.


Felipe: That's right.


Deise: For each cartoon, two ADs [Audio Descriptions]. One from MEC, and one from MAIE, which is the methodology I developed in my thesis.


Felipe: What is MAIE again, Deise?


Deise: MAIE, is the Methodology for the Audio Description of Still Images.


Felipe: Uh-huh.


Deise: And MAIE has its parameters, based on the metafunctions of visual design grammar. And at the end of the thesis, overall, 90% of the reviews said that the scripts made through MAIE parameters, facilitated the construction of the mental image. They accepted them more, than the ones that came from the MEC, right.


Felipe: Uh-huh.


Deise: And then that was it. Finished. Great. I defended. Marvelous. And now what to do with MAIE?


Felipe: True.


Deise: Store it in a drawer?


Felipe: No! Never!


Deise: Never, right? After all, it had been a methodology, approved by the target audience.


Felipe: Yes.


Deise: So, I decided to put it towards servicing this public.


Felipe: Of course.


Deise: Right? And then the idea occurred for me to create a project through social networks making available audio description for charges and cartums so that this audience could also flourish and enjoy this imagetic genre.


Felipe: Yes, and it was very interesting that you had this idea, because social networks are a way for you to popularize this work. Because people with disabilities also access social networks a lot.


Deise: Exactly.


Felipe: Different from what many people might think, but people, especially people with visual impairment, use social networks a lot.


Deise: That's right.


Felipe: So that was a great idea, to reach a lot more people, right Deise.


Deise: Exactly, that was the idea. Because, this “drawer-research” thing... we are tired of it. The government invests a lot of money, we researchers invest a huge amount of time.


Felipe: Exactly.


Deise: Then we archive it! It’s over. It died.


Felipe: Yeah, it doesn't make sense.


Deise: Exactly, and then I had the light to invite you my dear (laughs), to join me in this project and I was happy that you accepted, right? (laughs) And since then, we have, since July 2020 we have been publishing a daily charge on Instagram and Facebook, right?


Felipe: Right.


Deise: I wanted you to tell us a little bit about how this experience was for you.


Felipe: Right, well... but from the beginning it was on both platforms, Deise? I was under the impression that in the beginning it was only on Instagram.


Deise: It was right in the beginning that it was only on Instagram, but soon after it went to Face.


Felipe: Right, because the platform, unfortunately until today, the Facebook platform is more accessible than the Instagram platform. Instagram still has a somewhat hostile environment. Although we use it a lot... ah but.... for people... Especially those who use screen readers... which is that software that reads the textual part with synthesized voice... For us it’s much more comfortable [to use] Facebook than Instagram. Instagram has improved a lot, but there are still some issues that need to be resolved. And when Deise proposed this project to me, I got super excited, because... it was a possibility to get to know.... to delve deeper into charges, about consulting. Because for each type of work that we do in audio description consulting, it's a challenge, it's a universe that we will learn, that we will study. And besides us researching, and practicing theory, it's also very important to do it too. To be there with your hands in the dirt. And when Deise said it would be a daily project, I said: this is going to be really cool, because I'm going to learn a lot, just like I have ended up learning a lot this year.


Deise: We both learned (laughs).


Felipe: Wow, it is very interesting, isn't it?


Deise: That's true.


Felipe: Audio description is magic because of this. Because we always learn something new, we expand our vocabulary, our experiences, this is very captivating. And with charges, this happens a lot, a lot.


Deise: A lot.


Felipe: And then addition to consulting in audio description, in the beginning we had to study how the user was going to receive this audio description. Are we going to put audio description in the subtitles? But then we began thinking, the project is bilingual, right Deise?


Deise: That's right.


Felipe: And we want to make available both the script in Portuguese and in English, but would we put both scripts in the subtitles? It would be a gigantic block, right? And depending on the charge, the audio description is more extensive, right? Because there are so many details.


Deise: uh-huh.


Felipe: And then we thought about the possibility of putting it as alternative text. The alternative text is a possibility for you to insert the text behind the image. As if it were embedded in that image. So, with the naked eye, you can't read that text, it is hidden behind the image. But for those who have a screen reader, who are screen reader users, when they scan the image, when they pass by, right, when they focus their screen reader on that image, it automatically reads the text that is inserted and embedded there. So, this was an idea we had. So, we added as an alternative text, the script in Portuguese, for example. And in the subtitles we put the same script in English.


Deise: Perfect.


Felipe: Yes, but then we got to thinking, but then, what about those who don’t have a screen reader?


Deise: (laughs).


Felipe: Because, different from what many people think, it’s not the majority of visually impaired people who use screen readers.


Deise: uh-huh.


Felipe: 80% of this community is disabled, low vision and visual impairment. And in this community, the majority of them don't use screen readers, because they have residual visual, they end up reading with their eyes, and from the moment you put the text, as an alternative text, you are kind of hiding the text right?


Deise: True.


Felipe: To have access, the person needs a screen reader. That's when we had the idea of making a second post of the same script, only in an inverted form. So, the first post we put alternative text in Portuguese, subtitles in English, we invert it, we put alternative text in English and subtitles in Portuguese. So, everyone can have access, screen reader users and non-screen reader users, right Deise?


Deise: Yes, yes, exactly, exactly. So, today we have... we publish daily a charge. On Tuesdays and Thursdays this charge is published with English subtitles and the alternative text in Portuguese, and on the other five days of the week it is published with Portuguese subtitles and the alternative text in English. And then, if you visit, I hope you visit and get to know our project... entering our feed you will see that the charges have a little speech bubble in the upper left corner, with the Brazilian flag, or the flag of the United Kingdom.


Felipe: That's right.


Deise: The ones that have the Brazilian flag, the subtitles are in Portuguese and consequently the alternative text is in English. The ones that have the little balloon with the flag of the United Kingdom is the opposite. The text of the subtitles are in English and the alternative text is in Portuguese. And today we already have more than 600 charges made accessible.


Felipe: Exactly, a lot of material.


Deise: Almost 1k followers already, so we have a year... in less than a year and a half, I would say that this is a success for our account, with this project of ours, right? It's going around the world. It has already been part of a graduate course, right? That you have taken part, right Felipe?


Felipe: Yes, exactly.


Deise: You have already been part of it, it has already been used as school material, right?


Felipe: Yes.


Deise: In a graduate program at the Federal University of?


Felipe: of Juiz de Fora.


Deise: Juiz de Fora. It has already generated three articles for us, one of them has just been accepted by the Federal of Paraíba.


Felipe: Yes.


Deise: And the other one we presented last year was also accepted as an article for ENAC. Which is festival......, update me on that.


Felipe: National Encounter of Cultural Accessibility.


Deise: Yes, National Encounter on Cultural Accessibility.


Felipe: That's right.


Deise: And what was the third one?


Felipe: Journeys, Cyberjourneys.


Deise: That’s it! USP [University of São Paulo] Cyberjourneys, yeah.


Felipe: We also presented a paper there.


Deise: Yes, exactly. So, our project is going around a lot. It's growing wings.


Felipe: Exactly.


Deise: Invading different spaces.


Felipe: And whenever I can, Deise, I talk about this project, because I am very involved in this professional context like you, and I always talk about this project to professors. I participate like, a course consultant, introducing audio descriptions. Normally here in Rio de Janeiro.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: And I always tell professors, you can use and abuse this project.


Deise: Exactly.


Felipe: There’s a lot of material there, that can be worked on, and it doesn't have to be only the most current charges. Even the charges that have been posted a while ago, you can make a cut through time. Then I say, you can work on history, you can work on politics, you can work on Portuguese, on text interpretation, you can work on accessibility issues, you can work on English. Look how many possibilities you can work on within the classroom? Besides, it is also fun!


Deise: Exactly.


Felipe: And the students love to see charges.


Deise: That's right, and something that needs to be pointed out and made very clear here, is how essential it is that any project that involves accessibility involves a consultant, the subject, the target audience of that accessibility.


Felipe: Exactly.


Deise: We cannot assume that a sighted person, as is my case, can create and elaborate an audio description script and simply divulge it without submitting it to the target audience. This doesn’t [shouldn’t] exist, right? I wouldn't be able to put this project on the air if I didn't have a visually impaired consultant to endorse the script I produce.


Felipe: Exactly. If we think about it Deise, any product that is on the market goes through a test. The supplier will not sell a product without having tested it with the consumer.


Deise: Exactly.


Felipe: He wants to see what the consumer thinks about the product.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: if that product serves [its purpose] if it needs to be improved... These tests are always done. So, in accessibility, it is the same thing. It is important that the person with a disability, the primary user of that resource, participate in this process. So, people who are starting their career to work with accessibility must already have this awareness. If you are going to work with accessibility, you have to be close to your public... Who is going to consume your resource.


Deise: Exactly.


Felipe: So, you have proximity, understand the dynamics of that audience. What are their necessities? What are the specificities? Deise, we are currently trying to break this thought that, for example: Braille is only for the blind.


Deise: Uh-huh.


Felipe: Ah, my audio description is only for the visually impaired. No. There are people who have thought of assistive technology, of the accessibility resources as something more ample. The resource is there, whoever wants to use it, be my guest, use it without moderation. If you feel comfortable, and need to use Braille, use Braille, it is there to be used, right? So that we can break a bit this thing, oh, Braille is only for the visually impaired person, sign language is only for the deaf person.


Deise: Yes, yes.


Felipe: There's no such thing. It's there for everyone! Of course, each resource has its own target audience.


Deise: Perfect.


Felipe: And the focus public. But not only for this audience, right Deise.


Deise: Exactly, and there are already studies, we know, right Felipe? There are studies that show that audio description is good for people with intellectual disabilities, dyslexia, people of older ages who benefit from audio description, precisely because it brings more details, it helps them process the information that is coming. My sighted students love it when I use audio description in the classroom.


Felipe: That's always the case! Because audio description ends up directing the person's gaze.


Deise: Exactly!


Felipe: We hear a lot of people saying “wow, if it wasn't for the audio description, I wouldn't have even paid attention to that”.


Deise: Exactly.


Felipe: You must have heard this a lot.


Deise: A lot.


Felipe: And that's exactly it, because the audio description points out those key elements, because the scriptwriter, when he writes the script, he studies that image beforehand, he reads that image, and he lists the most relevant elements.


Deise: Most relevant.


Felipe: Because we can't translate all the visual information into verbal.


Deise: Yes.


Felipe: That possibility doesn’t exist. Regardless of the good intentions that a scriptwriter may have, the text would be too long, very tiring. We have to think about this as well. The user has contact with many images, so we can't extend the text too much. So, when the person who does not have a disability comes into contact with audio description, they are often surprised. They say “wow, I heard details there, that I don’t think I would have noticed” right?


Deise: Exactly.


Felipe: If it didn't have audio description, right, Deise.


Deise: That is very common, very common, very common. So, I think we presented a lot about our project and about us too, you know.


Felipe: Exactly.


Deise: I invite everyone to visit us at @chargesacessiveis.


Felipe: it is super easy to find, right, Deise.


Deise: Right.


Felipe: Just put it in Google, it is easy to find.


Deise: Exactly.  On Facebook, it is Galeria Virtual de Charges Acessíveis, all the charges are published at the same time on both platforms.


Felipe: Exactly.


Deise: So, visit, get to know, explore. Look us up.


Felipe: Share!


Deise: Share! That’s it!


Felipe: And how do I get in touch with you Deise, if someone wants to?


Deise: So, my e-mail is


Felipe: Oh yeah. I prefer to give my website because I think it's easier to memorize.


Deise: That's right.


Felipe: And the people there can even access the chargesacessíveis through my website.


Deise: That's great (laughs).


Felipe: I think it makes it much easier.


Deise: Of course, of course.


Deise: And what's the name?


Felipe: it is


Deise: ok.


Felipe: Very simple, And there you will find our publications, the ones Deise mentioned, the accessible charges project, other works. You can enjoy them without moderation (laughs).


Deise: Exactly! Feel comfortable! (laughs).


Felipe: Ay Ay..


Deise: Thanks.


Felipe: It was great our chat right Deise? I loved it.


Deise: I liked it too, I think we talked a lot. It was nice (laughs).


Felipe: Yes, it was.


Deise: Ok, honey.


Felipe: Okay, take care and a kiss for you, Deise.


Deise: A kiss, dear.


Felipe: Bye!


Deise: Bye!




[intro music]


Olga Aureliano: That's it, folks. Thanks for following our channel updates. The script and recording is by Deise Medina and Felipe Monteiro, co-creators of this episode. The finalization and intro music is by Rodrigo Policarpo, and the transcription is mine, with proofreading by Bruna Teixeira. This channel is only possible due to the efforts of a great team that, together with me, makes the Portraits of Brazil with Disability Project happen: Vanessa Malta, Bruna Teixeira, Nádia Meinerz, and Pamela Block. We look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

[intro music]




Card cinza claro, quadrado, do podcast Retratos do Brasil com Deficiência. No centro de um triângulo em diferentes tons de lilás, a cabeça branca da medusa, de perfil esquerdo. O triângulo tem pontas arredondadas e está na horizontal, voltado para a direita. A medusa é uma figura feminina, da mitologia grega, com serpentes no lugar do cabelo. O rosto dela é branco e as serpentes são vazadas, com contorno branco, fino e parecem se mover em todas as direções. Na parte inferior, o nome do podcast. A frase Com deficiência está em negrito e Podcast, em negrito, maiúsculo.
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