Kat Germain

Actor, Audio Describer & Advocate, Writer/ Producer, Teacher

Professional Affiliations

Canadian Association of Theatre Research (CATR)

Audio Description Association (ADA, UK)

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA)

Ontario College of Teachers (OCT)

She recently started with the Described Video Best Practices (DVBP) Committee chaired by AMI.

What Is Audio Description?

Audio Description (AD) makes live and recorded (often refered to as “Described Video” or “DV”) content more accessible to persons who have difficulty accessing cultural events via sight, understanding and/ or attention. AD is most often used to provide access for the Blind and partially sighted community, but the applications include people with a fixed or narrow visual field due to range of motion of the head, neck and/ or spine. It has recently extended to assist people with neurodevelopmental and sensory sensitivities such as Autism and Tourette.

Audio Description is the Art of Talking Pictorially. The creativity in what we do presents itself solely through the art of balancing long-established Standards, Codes of Conduct and the requirements of our listeners -- with the need for sensitivity regarding our diverse cultural landscape and language surrounding identity. Describers act as reporters and talk about the essential, visual aspects of the event in order to help listeners share in the full and unique experience of being at a conference, live performance, in a gallery, or attending any other kind of cultural or business event. Audio Describers do not base their comments on their own biases or impressions. Instead, they pass on visual information and allow the listeners to develop their own opinions and conclusions.

Patrons are issued a single earphone and small receivers through which they can hear a trained describer depict all visual information live, via transmitter. The technology used is similar to that used for guided tours or assistive listening devices. From an appropriate vantage point in the room or theatre booth, the describer also imparts information prior to the event in order to orient listeners and discuss aspects they might not otherwise have time to mention during the event.

I work closely with Rebecca Singh. Together we started www.LiveDescribe.ca which is growing into an Audio Description Coalition.

 

 

Credits: Audio Description

All credits in Toronto unless otherwise noted. Present and previous engagers include:

Theatre (Including Dance, Aerial Arts and Improv)

Paper Canoe Projects, Native Earth Performing Arts, Cahoots Theatre, Stratford Festival, Luminato, foldA Festival (Kingston, ON), Soul Pepper, RARE Theatre, Theatre Direct, Femmes de Feu, Full Radius Dance (Atlanta, GA), National Arts Centre (Ottawa), Young People’s Theatre, Power Productions (St. John’s NL), Tangled Art + Disability (Toronto & Peterborough), Propeller Dance (Ottawa), Tarragon Theatre, Red Dress Productions, Lemon Tree Producions, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Aluna Theatre
 
Recorded Content (Art Instillations, Film and Web Content)

15 films for Project Re•Vision: The Centre for Art and Social Justice (U of Guelph), York University, Sound Cinema, ACTRA Toronto, Amazing Ain’t It Entertainment Inc., 6 filmed workshops for Picasso Pro’s Resource Hub, Jenelle Rouse & Shelly Nafshi Productions, Mark Brose & Wanda Fitzgerald Films, Zombie Tree Productions, Troublefish Films
 
Conferences, Symposiums & Workshops

Public Talk #4 & #3 (Sidewalk Labs, Toronto), Co-Design Sessions (Inclusive Design Research Centre - OCAD), International Association of Venue Managers, WeeFestival of Theatre and Culture for Early Years), Canadian Association of Theatre Researcher Conference (CATR, Kingston, ON), Inclusive Design Research Centre Co-Design (U of Guelph & Ryerson, Toronto), Festival of Original Theatre Conference (U of T, Toronto, ON), American Society of Theatre Researcers Conference (Atlanta, GA), Summit on Indigeneity and Disability (York U, Toronto, ON), Hemispheric Institute Convergence (York U, Toronto, ON), “The Study” (National Arts Centre, Ottawa, ON), “Talking Movement” (Picasso Pro, Toronto, ON).

Miscellaneous (Sports, Workshop Leadership and Consultation)

Teaching: Welcoming your Blind and Partially Sighted Patrons (Young People’s Theatre), Consultation: Audio Description for Game of Thrones (Closed Captioning Services Inc.), Wheelchair Basketball (ParaPan Am games)

Pilots, Research and Experiments

While Audio Description (AD) has traditionally aimed to support people who are Blind and partially sighted, Kat has started several pilot projects researching additional applications and incarnations of AD as there is increasing evidence that AD is helpful for other communities with lived experience of disability including people with neurodevelopmental/ sensory sensitivities such as Autism and Tourette, and people with limited movement of the neck/ spine. In the UK, Audio Description, or “Relaxed Audio Description” is increasingly used during Relaxed Performances:

Flying Hearts (Relaxed AD), TWEET TWEET! (AD for babies and toddlers), foldA Festival, Kingston, ON (off-site, on-line AD for remote communities)
 
Kat is an advocate for increased inclusivity, autonomy and multiversal opportunities on stage and screen for people from historically marginalized communities with a foucs on artists with lived experience of disability. This includes intermittent work with ACTRA Toronto’s Diversity Committee and creative endeavours with disability-identified artists.

Education

Bachelor of Arts, Theatre, Acadia University

Bachelor of Education, York University

Audio Description, Arts Access Now (Deborah B. Lewis)

Recorded Audio Description  for Theatres, Museums & Galleries, Audio Description Association, UK

Making Accessible Media: Accessible Design in Digital Media, Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning