What's Happening with Rick Boggs
October 1, 2009

Advocacy Progress

Rick Boggs negotiated with major utility providers in Los Angeles County to make accessible utility bills available to visually impaired residence. The goal is to enable visually impaired consumers to understand their utility bills in an accessible format, thus allowing privacy and the ability to make payments in a timely fashion. Rick Boggs is also negotiating with major public transportation providers to ensure that bus service is truly usable by visually impaired passengers through accessible schedule information and audible calling of stops.

Advocacy for Equality in Hollywood
Rick boggs, in his role as a 15 year member of the Tri-Union National Committee on Employment of Performers with Disabilities, has participated in the development of a multi-year PR campaign at the Screen Actors Guild. The IAMPWD campaign aims to raise awareness about issues facing performers with disabilities and the lack of representation of people with disabilities in the media. More details can be found at www.iampwd.org

Public Speaking:
Rick Boggs served as the Master of Ceremonies at the American Foundation for the Blind Helen Keller Achievement Awards at the Mariott Marquis Hotel in New York City, on October 1st! The prestigious black tie affair honors organizations and individuals who contribute to the positive social change toward equality in access and opportunity for people with vision loss. On October 16th, Rick delivered a keynote speech in Milwaukee, WI for the Badger Association for the Blind.

The DVD release of the comedy sequel "Still Waiting" is available as of February 17, 2009. Rick Boggs and Timber appeared in a scene in which they were denied access to a restaurant, but in a moment of comedic irony, the offending individual steps into a surprise. The year 2007 was a good year for blind actors with more roles than have been seen in a decade. Rick Boggs filmed an episode of an NBC sitcom, (My Name is Earl) but the scene was cut for time. He also appeared in the film entitled "Still Waiting." Finally, Rick Boggs and his guide dog, Timber, appeared in an episode of the FX 60-minute drama "Nip Tuck." Rick played opposite the extremely talented Bradley Cooper. Describing the experience, Rick said "Bradley is more than superbly talented. He's a gentleman and a professional with a collegial attitude. The crew was great too." The original air dates were in January 2008, but you can catch the reruns or the DVD. The episode title is: "Magda & Jeff"

Advocacy for Accessible Audio Recording Software
Rick Boggs and professional colleagues continue to persistantly pursue accessibility for professional digital audio workstations for blind producers. Thanks to cooperation from Digidesign in 1994, the world's leading audio recording system, Pro Tools, became accessible for blind audio professionals. However, with the advent of Apple Macintosh Operating System OSX and the disolution of the company which provided essential screen reader software, blind audio engineers lost that accessibility. Since Apple Computers included a built-in screen reader (known as Voice Over) in their Tiger operating system in 2005, the hope for accessibility for Pro Tools emerged once again. Since that time, Rick Boggs and colleagues have been working with Digidesign to achieve compatibility with the Pro Tools software and the Apple Voice Over screen reader that is part of the Mac OS. A complete advocacy plan is in place and is very likely to succeed. The first step required thousands of signatures on an online petition at: www.protoolspetition.org where all current news is now posted. The first possible software improvements may occur by January 2010.

Video Description:
Rick Boggs and colleagues continue to pursue new ways to increase the amount of video description in the media, in light of the continuing resistance by media giants and members of the MPAA and AMPTP. Despite the promises of former MPAA leader, Jack Valente, voluntary participation in delivering accessible media for the visually impaired is not part of the business practices of entertainment conglomerates. Neither federal mandate nor potential profit has sufficiently motivated movie and television show distributors to expand their audience and deliver additional formats of their content which could easily and affordably include video description tracks. Entertainment conglomerates that control nearly all of the film and television industries refuse to take interest in audio described media, even for mainstream audiences listening in automobiles and watching on small screens like cell phones, etc. This field offers great opportunities to create new jobs for people with disabilities, but equal opportunities for people with disabilities is not a priority of the leadership in the entertainment industry. New developments will be posted here as they occur.

Music Performance Rick Boggs performs live on keyboards every Sunday at the Los Angeles University Cathedral in down town Los Angeles. Rick and the other members of the "UNBAND" play Gospel and contemporary music as part of the Bible-Teaching service of Pastor Melissa Scott and can be experienced on line 24-7. Programs air nationally on the Pax and Ion networks as well as shortwave broadcasts. Call the Voice of Faith lines for schedules: 800-338-3030. Enjoy a special tribute at: A TRIBUTE: Pastor Melissa Scott and the University Network

Public Speaking
Some past audiences include:
  • San Gabriel Unified Schools--Annual Summit.
  • Topics included: "Embracing diversity as a means to achieve excellence in performance and productivity."
  • California Association of Rehabilitation and Reemployment Professionals--executives and staff annual meeting in San Diego
  • Key topics included team building, problem solving, and creating a productive culture through attitude.
  • Selano County Mayor's Committee on Employment of Disabled Persons--city leaders and service providers
  • Topics included "detecting unintended condescending attitudes when providing assistance," "promoting employment of people with disabilities," and "diversity as strength."
  • Southern California Network--parents and educators of blind children
  • Topics included ""essential approaches to parenting blind children," "equal opportunities for blind adults."

  • Live Theater!
    Rick Boggs performed in an original one-act play by the award-winning playwright, Lynn Manning which was produced by the Firehouse Theater Company of Los Angeles. The play, "Shoot", was performed at the Vidra Theater in Zagreb Croatia as part of the third biannual festival of Theater by the Blind. the New Life Theater Company in Zagreb hosted the event. The festival is the first of its kind.

    Guide Dog News
    Rick Boggs retired Timber in late 2008. Timber returned to the home where he grew up in Connecticut.

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