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Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript.

Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript. On the left, the sound is depicted by a pair of headphones with an audio wave going between the two ears pads. A simple black arrow goes from left to right. On the right, the transcript is represented by a stylized typed document.

 

In order to make these transcripts as accessible as possible, each one is produced in four formats: as an online post for access convenience, in a word document with a low vision friendly font (Veranda), in a pdf with a dyslexia friendly font (OpenDyslexic), and a low contrast blue on black pdf as an access option for people with migraines (Veranda).

 

Writing Alchemy Announcement – “Making RPG Podcasts Accessible” at PodCon2

[*Happy, bouncy, electronic music plays and then fades out.]

Fay Onyx: Hello everyone! I’m here because there is an announcement that I’m really excited to share with all of you! I will be leading a workshop entitled “Making RPG Podcasts Accessible” on January twentieth at PodCon2 in Seattle. If you will be attending PodCon2 in-person, I’d love to meet you at my workshop.

Here is the workshop description: In the US one in four adults has a disability. This means that there are a lot of disabled people in the RPG podcast community, however physical, social, and game play barriers often prevent the full inclusion of disabled participants and audience members. This workshop is about identifying common barriers and addressing them. We will discuss areas to be aware of, accessibility tools, strategies for handling pitfalls, and ways to improve representation of disabled people.

For those who can’t attend in-person, my workshop will also be in the remote attendance feed. Remote attendance costs forty dollars. PodCon2 does offer scholarships, but they seem to be focused around physical attendance and I’m not sure how many are left at this point. I will, however, put a link to the scholarship application page in the show notes, because that is definitely worth checking out. Continue Reading »

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Zombies are coming toward our three heroes. Join them in the eighteenth game episode of Unfamiliar Heroes as they struggle to get to the shelter of the Inn on the Bridge!

Willa the gecko lizardperson rogue, Tarragon the orc bard, and D’Zân the weredragon druid are participating in The Owlbear Reintroduction Program, a program that is reestablishing owlbears in areas where the owlbear populations have been previously wiped out. Of course, this is not as simple as it sounds, because owlbears are large, ferocious, magical predators. Throw in a group of skilled poachers determined to steal owlbear eggs and things are bound to get interesting. This improvised, tabletop adventure was created with the Magic Goes Awry role-playing system!

I so excited to get Episode 37 up just in time for the new year. This episode has been a long time in the making. One benefit of that longer process is the many sound effects which have been used to enhance the storytelling. I hope you enjoy it!

Listen now!

This illustration depicts three characters, each from a different genre of story, and each with a disability. On the left is a black gnome archer riding in a chariot pulled by a large brown dog. The chariot has a chair in it so that they can sit instead of stand. In the middle is a Latina woman manipulating a tech device on her wrist as she begins to go invisible. She is wearing an air filtering mask of the type that people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity sometimes wear. On the right is a white muscular superhero wearing a very gay, blue superhero outfit. He has lightning crackling between his two hands, which are shaped atypically. This beautiful work of art was created the amazing Rose Adare!

This illustration depicts three characters, each from a different genre of story, and each with a disability. On the left is a black gnome archer riding in a chariot pulled by a large brown dog. The chariot has a chair in it so that they can sit instead of stand. In the middle is a Latina woman manipulating a tech device on her wrist as she begins to go invisible. She is wearing an air filtering mask of the type that people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity sometimes wear. On the right is a white muscular superhero wearing a very gay, blue superhero outfit. He has lightning crackling between his two hands, which are shaped atypically. This beautiful work of art was created the amazing Rose Adare!

Unfamiliar Heroes is a podcast series where people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or divergent minds use tabletop role-playing games to together create stories that center disabled, sick, and mentally divergent characters. In its core values this project centers the experiences of people living at the intersections of oppression. Unfamiliar Heroes is part of the Writing Alchemy Podcast.

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Photograph of a microphone being held up in a stand with a pop filter in front of it. In the background is the top of a computer screen displaying an audio editing program.

Photograph of a microphone being held up in a stand with a pop filter in front of it. In the background is the top of a computer screen displaying an audio editing program.

 

Why Content Warnings Are Important

The purpose of a content warning is to warn audience members about types content in the episode that are unusual for the show which they may find harmful or disturbing.

Delving suddenly into things like body horror, gore, disturbing violence, bereavement, intense depictions of oppression, abuse, sexual assault, sexualized violence, suicide, drug use, and explicit sexuality can bring up painful personal struggles and trauma from people’s lives.

Content warnings help build trust with audience members by giving them the tools they need to make effective choices about when and how they expose themselves to content which personally impacts them.

Keep in mind that content warnings don’t necessary mean that people aren’t going to listen. It might just mean that a listener with insomnia chooses to listen to an episode with intense content on their way to work rather than when they are trying to calm down for bed.

Note that different communities favor the term “content warning” and others favor “trigger warning.” Both are equally valid. I personally prefer the term “content warning” because I feel that it is inclusive of a wider range of experiences, so that is what I’ve used here.

 

How to Do Content Warnings

For podcasts, content warnings are usually given in the introductory portion of the podcast, before the main content starts. In addition, it is often good to place them in the episode description text.

Typically content warnings give an overview for the type of content without going into much detail. A content warning for disturbing violence might go something like, “Please note that this episode contains depictions of violence that some people may find disturbing.” It can also be helpful to let people know what portion of the episode to skip if needed. For example, “If you want to avoid this content, skip the second half of the episode.”

Content warnings need to be specific enough that audience members can figure out whether the content of this episode is likely to impact them and make effective decisions about how they want to engage with that content. At the same time, the content warning needs to be broad enough that it doesn’t strongly evoke the disturbing content itself. This also helps prevent the content warning from becoming a significant spoiler for the show. The ideal level of specificity depends on what is normal for a particular podcast series. For example, a content warning of “Violence” would be specific enough for a humorous high school drama, but wouldn’t be specific enough for a Dungeons and Dragons podcast that has violence in most of its episodes.

Here are three examples of well done content warnings: Episode 2.6 of The Far Meridian, Episode 44 of Rusty Quill Gaming, and Episode 5 of Middle: Below. These examples show how content warnings can be adjusted to fit the aesthetic of a particular show while still taking the content warning itself seriously and treating the people who benefit from it respectfully.

For those with audience members that are particularly sensitive to spoilers or those situations where the content warnings are significant spoilers, there are several options. You can simply start the content warning with a spoiler warning (another type of content warning). For example, “I’m about to give a content warning for this episode which contains mild spoilers. If you would like to avoid this, you can skip forward one minute.” However, if this is an ongoing concern for your podcast, you could choose to put the content warning at the bottom of the show notes with a statement like, “Content warnings for this episode are listed at the end of this show notes page,” written somewhere near the top of the show notes. The Penumbra Podcast does this very effectively (I believe that their full show notes can only be viewed on podcast apps), though I would recommend stating somewhere in the show audio that content warnings can be found in the show notes.

 

Conclusion

I’m going to end on the reminder that content warnings are about empowering audience members with the knowledge they need to make healthy decisions about how they engage with podcast content. This helps ensure that each time someone listens to a podcast episode it is a positive experience. And isn’t this what we all want our podcasts to be, a consistently positive experience for all of our listeners?

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Bonus Cast #5

This Bonus Cast is about the new podcast transcripts and ways I’m trying to make them accessible.

I am working on the next podcast episode, but in the meantime I wanted to share this announcement. It is so exciting to have some transcripts up online!

Photograph of a silver and black desktop microphone sitting on a white surface with its black cord trailing off to the left.

Photograph of a silver and black desktop microphone sitting on a white surface with its black cord trailing off to the left.

Bonus casts are something that I want to be doing from time to time. This will be a great way for me to share some interesting thoughts, behind the scenes tidbits, and fun pieces of world building. If you have any questions or topic ideas, please send them my way. I’d love to hear from you!

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I’m super excited to announce that Writing Alchemy now has a TeePublic Store! In it you can find owlbear merchandise featuring the adorable illustration that Meghan Dornbrock created for The Owlbear Reintroduction Program. There are shirts, hoodies, stickers, mugs, notebooks, cellphone cases, laptop cases, wall art, pillows, and tote bags.

For the first 3 days that these items are in my store they will be 30% off. If you want them, now is a great time to get them.

I selected TeePublic because the have a wider ranges of sizes (up to 5XL), don’t create separate items for men’s and women’s clothing (the clothing is still gendered, but they are all in one section together), have affordable pricing, share more of their profits with the artists, and have an affiliate program which allows me to get paid for promoting the art of other amazing artists.

My store is filled with awesome merchandise from many awesome artists, including a “The Future Is Accessible” shirt, a spoon hoarding dragon, mermaids in wheelchairs, and a bunch of other art that is affirming and intersectional. Check it out!

Cute and comical illustration of a brown owlbear sitting in the back of a wagon.

Illustration of a brown owlbear sitting in the back of a wagon. They have a feathered owl head and a furry bear body. A band of feathers encircles their waist. The owlbear has an intense, focused look on their face as they sit awkwardly on their tush with their hind legs splayed out. This adorable work of art was created by the amazing Meghan Dornbrock.

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Bonus Cast #4

This Bonus Cast has all the updates, including the unveiling of Writing Alchemy owlbear merchandise, updates on Magic Goes Awry, when The Owlbear Reintroduction Program is going to return, and some news about big events in Fay’s family.

There are a lot of exciting announcements and updates in this one. I hope you enjoy it!
Photograph of a silver and black desktop microphone sitting on a white surface with its black cord trailing off to the left.

Photograph of a silver and black desktop microphone sitting on a white surface with its black cord trailing off to the left.

Bonus casts are something that I want to be doing from time to time. This will be a great way for me to share some interesting thoughts, behind the scenes tidbits, and fun pieces of world building. If you have any questions or topic ideas, please send them my way. I’d love to hear from you!

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My article, “Why I Podcast,” is on the International Podcast Month 2018 blog!

“It is time for stories that are about more than just disability, stories full of fun, creativity, humor, and adventure, stories about complex people who grow and change.”

 

Photograph of a microphone being held up in a stand with a pop filter in front of it. In the background is the top of a computer screen displaying an audio editing program.

Photograph of a microphone being held up in a stand with a pop filter in front of it. In the background is the top of a computer screen displaying an audio editing program.

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Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript.

Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript. On the left, the sound is depicted by a pair of headphones with an audio wave going between the two ears pads. A simple black arrow goes from left to right. On the right, the transcript is represented by a stylized typed document.

 

I am excited to publishing my fourth transcript! A huge thank you to Larcie for all of the hard work that she is putting into this project. <3

In order to make these transcripts as accessible as possible, each one is produced in four formats: as an online post for access convenience, in a word document with a low vision friendly font (Veranda), in a pdf with a dyslexia friendly font (OpenDyslexic), and a low contrast blue on black pdf as an access option for people with migraines (Veranda).

 

Unfamiliar Heroes 12 – Tarragon Songsteel and the Underwater Maze

(Previous Title: Writing Alchemy Episode 31 – Tarragon Songsteel and the Underwater Maze)

[*Intro music that is an energetic, electronic song begins playing.]

TOBI: You are listening to Writing Alchemy, stories that step outside the oppressive grind of the everyday world with your host, writer and artist Fay Onyx.

[*Music swells and then fades to a background volume.]

FAY: Meet Tarragon Songsteel the orc bard in this character introduction episode. Tarragon is a student at the celebrated Adventurers Academy, and right now they are studying creative problem-solving. Join them for a surreal training exercise where they attempt to retrieve an orb from a mysterious underwater maze.

[*Music swells and then fades out entirely.]

FAY: Hello and welcome to the 31st episode of Writing Alchemy. I am Fay Onyx and today is the twelfth game episode of Unfamiliar Heroes, my new podcast series where I work with players and storytellers to create new representations of disabled, sick, and neurodiverse people using tabletop role-playing games. Today’s game is the character introduction episode that I’m calling “Tarragon Songsteel and the Underwater Maze.” Continue Reading »

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Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript.

Black and white clip art depiction of audio being turned into a transcript. On the left, the sound is depicted by a pair of headphones with an audio wave going between the two ears pads. A simple black arrow goes from left to right. On the right, the transcript is represented by a stylized typed document.

 

I am excited to publishing my third transcript! A huge thank you to Larcie for all of the hard work that she is putting into this project. <3

In order to make these transcripts as accessible as possible, each one is produced in four formats: as an online post for access convenience, in a word document with a low vision friendly font (Veranda), in a pdf with a dyslexia friendly font (OpenDyslexic), and a low contrast blue on black pdf as an access option for people with migraines (Veranda).

 

Unfamiliar Heroes 11 – Willa and the Rubble Robots

(Previous Title: Writing Alchemy Episode 30 – Willa and the Rubble Robots)

[*Intro music that is an energetic, electronic song begins playing.]

TOBI: You are listening to Writing Alchemy, stories that step outside the oppressive grind of the everyday world with your host, writer and artist Fay Onyx.

[*Music swells and then fades to a background volume.]

FAY: Meet Willa the gecko lizardperson rogue in this character introduction episode. Willa is a student at the celebrated Adventurers Academy, and right now she is studying creative problem-solving. Join her for a surreal training exercise involving four hostile robots guarding an orb surrounded by a massive pile of rubble.

[*Music swells and then fades out entirely.]

Hello and welcome to the 30th episode of Writing Alchemy. I am Fay Onyx and today is the eleventh game episode of Unfamiliar Heroes, my new podcast series where I work with players and storytellers to create new representations of disabled, sick, and neurodiverse people using tabletop role-playing games. Today’s game is the character introduction episode that I’m calling ‘Willa and the Rubble Robots.’ Continue Reading »

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This is one of the projects I’ve been working on in the background and I’m excited to finally share it with all of you!

“Five Common Harmful Representations of Disability” which has been published on the Mythcreants blog is a polished and expanded version of my short articles on Villainous Disability, Cosmetic Disability, Helpless Disability, Inspirational Disability, and One-Dimensional Disability that are in the Trope of the Week Series. Its main focus is on how to avoid these negative patterns and do better.

The editors at Mythcreants did a great job of helping me improve these articles and I hope that you enjoy the result of all of our hard work!

This picture illustrates two common tropes in the depiction of disability. On the left a toy Darth Vader points at the audience. On the right a silhouetted person stands, raising two crutches over their head in a triumph pose.

This picture illustrates two common tropes in the depiction of disability. On the left a toy Darth Vader points at the audience. On the right a silhouetted person stands, raising two crutches over their head in a triumph pose.

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