Stasha and Marsha met while trying to solve specific accessibility problems in our community:
In 2021, Stasha was approached by a local arts organization that wanted to offer audio description for its upcoming festival. Working with Fringe staff, she trained a number of volunteers, and AD was provided for a limited number of performances that year. It was what we call "a heavy lift." Staff turnover, technology challenges, and consumer awareness ultimately limited the program's reach. Even if it were fully successful, it would be one organization out of dozens, bearing the full financial and logistical weight of development and implementation.
During this same time period, Marsha--who was new to the Central Florida area--was attempting to find a live performance audio describer for a play she wished to see in Jacksonville. After an arduous search, the theater secured a describer, and Marsha and several blind friends were able to enjoy the play (Come From Away) over Christmas but it took months of effort.
Over the years, through her work in audio description in museums, Stasha has developed personal friendships and relationships with local members of the blind community. From this wonderful group of people, Stasha heard stories about the lack of audio description for local arts, as well as the frustrations of what seemed like nearly constant yet fruitless advocacy.
From those personal conversations as well as lessons learned from the Orlando Fringe experience, it became clear that if a long-term solution were going to be found, we would have to create it.
Bringing together Stasha's extensive experience in audio description program design and development, and her long history in the theater and the arts, with Marsha's experience not only as an audio description consumer but also as a blind advocate, they set out to create a new path forward:
Create a centralized hub to bring together committed arts organizations with public/private sponsors and knowledgeable audio description program designers, describers, and technology providers.