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Spanish and Latino Studies

Spanish Majors in Audiodescription Course Receive Performing Arts Achievement Award

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The groundbreaking live audiodescription project produced by nine SLTS Translation Program students — Valentina Becerra, Karen Cruz, Joseph Díaz, Vanessa Dutan, Beatriz Gamarra, Jennifer Gutiérrez, Colleen O’Rourke-Heredia and Ivonne Reyes, along with graduate student Vanessa Carrillo — was recently recognized at the American Council of the Blind’s annual conference and convention.

Under the guidance of Dr. María José García Vizcaíno, Associate Professor, the students produced a specially adapted script of the play El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (No One Writes to the Colonel) by Nobel-Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Vanessa Carrillo served as the voiceover. In May it was performed to a sold-out audience which included visually impaired members of the Hispanic community in New Jersey and New York at the Repertorio Español, in New York City.

Through audiodescription, the audience members are able to listen through an earphone and special receiver to a narration that describes the performance’s relevant visual elements without intruding on the performers’ dialogue.

One of the unique moments of the event was the pre-show experience or tactile experience that took place before the play. In this pre-show experience, those with visual impairments were able to touch a miniature stage and key objects of the performance to give them a holistic experience of the artistic and literary component of the play.

Dr. Maria José García Vizcaíno, Associate Professor, Spanish and Latino Studies, accepted the award on behalf of her students, noting “It was a very exciting project. . . . My students and my class were amazing. They did everything. They did the script and the voiceover. They did the community outreach. . . . The reviews and feedback were very, very positive from the audience. We would like to hopefully repeat the experience.”

The organization’s Achievement Awards salute “outstanding contributions to the establishment and/or continued development of significant audiodescription programs in each of three areas: media, performing arts and museums,” according to their guidelines.

Dr. Joel Snyder, Director, Audio Description Project, American Council of the Blind, noted that the award’s guidelines “describe your [Dr. García Vizcaíno’s] work with the students of Montclair State University quite well. . . . congratulations on this richly deserved honor.”

Story by Caroline Howell

Below on left and above- Dr. Maria José García Vizcaíno receives award from Chris Gray, Audiodescription Project Chair, American Council of the Blind; on right, Dr. García Vizcaíno pictured with the other recipients.