The Blind Youth Audio Project, initiated in 1997, is an annual project presented by Jack Straw Cultural Center and Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences (AVIA) in conjunction with The Washington State Department of Services for the Blind (DSB)'s Youth Employment Solutions (YES) program. In previous years, blind and visually impaired students from across Washington state have been housed at the University of Washington while participating in job placement programs all around Seattle. As an extracurricular component to the program, students are invited to attend a series of 8 workshops (twice weekly for four weeks) at Jack Straw's studios.
For this year's project we hosted students from Washington State Department of Services for the Blind for our audio workshops themed "Telling Our Stories." Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all our classes were conducted online, and we adjusted our schedule and programming to accommodate this unprecedented situation. The workshops took place over five weeks, two hours per week, culminating in a final event on Zoom.
We offered three workshops: Music and Song, Radio Drama, and Rap Lyrics and Vocals. In the Music and Song workshop, musicians Bill Horist and Jessica Lurie, with engineer Joel Maddox, collaborated with one group of students to write and produce an original song, “We Are All Human.”
The Blind Youth Audio Project 2020 was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center, in partnership with Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences, the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind, and the Washington State School for the Blind. Our production team included Jack Straw audio engineers Daniel Guenther, Joel Maddox, and Ayesha Ubayatilaka; writer and drama coach Jesse Minkert; vocal coaches Alyssa Keene and Meg McLynn; musicians Bill Horist, Jessica Lurie, and Salome MC; web designer Levi Fuller; and Project Director Joan Rabinowitz.
Special thanks to Janet George and Steffi Coleman with the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind, Marcie Ebarb with the Washington State School for the Blind, and Jesse Minkert with Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences.
Our programs for youth with disabilities are made possible with support from Seattle Information Technology, the Rodrigues Fund, Jubilation Foundation Fund of the Tides Foundation, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, 4Culture King County Lodging Tax Fund, Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, and individual contributors.
This program was provided in part under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
More on Jack Straw's programs for the visually impaired: