August 6 I’ll train a few people to give audio tours to blind folks so they’ll be ready when a Smithsonian exhibit on bias comes to town in February. Most of the “training” will be practicing on exhibits at the Chippewa Valley Museum.

I looked around on the Internet for a quick and dirty handout but couldn’t find anything.

                Here’s what I wrote:

                                                                                Audio Description

                Individual audio description of a museum exhibit for a blind person can be a wonderful learning experience both for the describer and the listener. If you have the luxury of working with just one customer, you can ask them at the beginning if they like to stand near the case so they can see the exhibit, or if it doesn’t matter because they’re totally blind. Asking “How much can you see”? to a total stranger may be intrusive. Also ask how long they have to spend on the exhibit and if they have a particular interest in part of it or just want a general tour. 

                Describe in concrete words and short sentences. Give information like size, shape, color, what it’s made of, etc. Better to say “It’s as big as a bread box” rather than “it’s big.”  If you’re describing an unusual object, try to relate it to a common object. 

                Don’t spend time apologizing for not being good at this. The person will be likely to be happy that they’re getting any description.

                Point out things that are interactive, touchable, etc. and guide their hand to interesting parts of the object if it’s big. If something stands out or interests you, point it out.

                You can practice by adding descriptions to your Facebook or other social media posts of pictures. Blind friends will appreciate it anyway!

                If there’s lots of text, read a headline or first paragraph and then ask “Want more”?

                Guidelines will probably be enhanced after we do the training. A friend suggested I give an example and then show them the object so here goes:

                Get a picture in your mind’s eye of this object:

“It’s a model of an animal, made out of a silver metal. It’s about as long as a hand. Near the head it’s about an inch wide but narrows to a long thin curling tail. It has two front and two rear feet. There are scales aligned along its back. The mouth is open and teeth are suggested. It looks alert and ready to challenge you.”

It’s an alligator!

Did you guess it?