In the world of storytelling, we often hear the advice, “Don’t tell, show.” But have you ever considered this phrase from a different perspective, specifically from the viewpoint of those who are blind or partially sighted? 

When I learned that my friend with vision loss would be attending my solo show last year, I began to contemplate how accessible my performance would be for him. Although I express myself through movement and actions on the stage, my show doesn’t necessarily rely on visual elements. I reasoned that as long as he could hear me, everything should be fine. But then, a realization struck me – he wouldn’t be able to read my playbill!

How To Be Japanese playbill

I pondered what I could do to make the experience more inclusive for him. Perhaps I should attempt to write a thank-you note in braille? Unfortunately, time constraints made that option impractical. I even reached out to braille companies for quotes, but the costs were beyond my budget. (Here’s an interesting tidbit: I later discovered that only 2% of the blind community can read braille.)

Faced with this challenge, I turned to my creative partner, Anthony Phills, for advice. That’s how the first AI Playbill was born. I was genuinely pleased with the result.

However, a new challenge emerged. When my friends attended my show once more earlier this year and began discussing what had improved and what was different from the previous performance, my friend with vision loss made a poignant observation: “If the screen has changed, I can’t discern it because I can’t see.” While the projection wasn’t the central focus of my show, it did contribute an entertaining element to my storytelling. This left me pondering: How could he experience it?

Slideteller screenshot while Miyo performing on the stage

Once again, Anthony and I started exploring options. After numerous discussions and many late nights, we fast-forwarded two months to witness the birth of Slideteller which was tested by members of VocalEye at the Vancouver Fringe.

Currently, it’s in its beta version, exclusively available for iPhone users, but this marks an exciting inception. Having received feedback from the VIP (Visually Impaired People) community and witnessed their reactions, we are firmly convinced that we are on the right path, envisioning a multitude of possibilities for what this app can offer them.

Miyo with Shawn and Kristy from VocalEye

Shawn and Kristy from VocalEye on the left

If you’re eager to learn more about Slideteller, please take a moment to explore it further. And if you happen to know someone who is blind or partially sighted, kindly share this valuable resource with them.

Special heartfelt appreciation to:

  • Anthony Phills (Creator/Visionary): None of these achievements would have been possible without his remarkable ingenuity. Plus, working with him is an absolute delight!
  • Navid Lancaster (Sound Designer): A gifted musician, composer, and sound designer hailing from Trinidad and Tobago. Navid played a pivotal role in creating the music and sound effects not only for Slideteller but also for my show.
  • LA Williams (Advisor): With 38+ years of experience living with blindness, LA Williams navigates the world through sound and tone. His impressive track record includes producing for renowned artists such as Dr. Dre, Lil Wayne, Katy Perry, Karina Bradley, and many others.
  • VocalEyes (Testers at the Vancouver Fringe): The members of VocalEyes displayed boundless enthusiasm and generosity in educating us about the VIP (Visually Impaired People) community. Their insights were invaluable, and we are deeply grateful for their contributions.
Anthony explaining about Slideteller to the VIP community

Anthony explaining about Slideteller to the members of VocalEye before Miyo’s solo show in Vancouver

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