Young visually impaired writer Lucy Hayward reflects on taking part in the unique Radio Play project, and the impact it has made.

In Transit

Lucy smiles as she throws a mock punch at the camera

Radio is a form of communication and education which has been accessible to us since the early 20th century. As a VI person I have become more reliant on it as my sight has decreased and when offered an opportunity to work on a radio project with Extant and Aculco radio I could not resist.

Over this project a group of us aged between 18-30 were able to work alongside professional production managers, writers, actors, directors and radio broadcasters. It has not only been a brilliant way to learn from these inspirational people, but has increased the confidence of everyone involved and proved that we are able to create, develop and record a piece of radio drama.

Over the first two months we met weekly to do workshops together where we created our own characters and situations. Some of the group were new to this and some experienced but doing it together helped us develop our characters and create a situation for the story to unfold which suited all the characters. We decided to base our story on the difficulties faced when travelling by train. All of us having visual impairments, we rely on assistance at train stations and National Rail does not provide the most reliable of services. This was a topic all of us could work with and feel confident writing about or thinking of how characters would behave and respond to people within a busy train station.

The last month became very busy and hectic: we had two weeks in which to complete the script and get it printed out in readable formats. In fact at this point we worked so well together supporting and encouraging each other. Emailing documents and forwarding them on, checking that everyone was happy with the final result. It was proof of how well we worked together and the importance it had to each of us that everyone was happy being a part of it. The story highlights this too, each of our characters are struggling to find resolution.

I really enjoyed being in the studio, it was a little nerve-wracking at first and very stuffy, but I always had my bottle of water and Extant found the best ways for each individual to read their lines whether it was braille, large print or being fed them as we ran the scenes. Alculco Radio were constantly on hand to calm us down and encourage us to carry on with the scene, they explained how everything would work and were always happy to run through things again.

Overall this was a brilliant project to be involved in, Aculco and Extant were always on hand encouraging us to develop and fine tune our own ideas rather than taking control.

We were able to explore what each of us were capable of, helping others, developing ideas or taking other people’s opinions into account. It has stretched people’s capabilities and proved that the disabilities each of us have are not a reason to hide away.

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