September Blog Post - Working as an Audio Engineer when You Are Blind

From the Editor - Angie Castro is a resident of Wisconsin; and an active member of the Wisconsin affiliate. Angie’s passion for music, sound, and audio editing proves true through her eagerness to get her foot in the door, regardless of what it takes. If you know Angie, you immediately think of her kind heart, loving personality, and loyal soul, but many don’t know about her hidden talent. Please join us in reading more about Angie’s unique skill set; and how she is making it happen through her successes.

I have been in the Audio Production Field for about a year now. But, first let me introduce myself. My name is Angie Castro and I am currently living in Madison, Wisconsin. I am an aspiring Audio Engineer who happens to be Blind. I say aspiring because, I don’t have a whole lot of experience in the field yet, to really call myself an audio engineer. Well at least, those are my thoughts. I will be sharing some of my experiences I’ve had while getting my feet wet in the field.

I have been told that I have a great advantage to work in this field because my hearing must be great. While yes, I do have an advantage with working in this field because I use my hearing more than my vision, there are challenges that also come with it. Whether you are producing audio or mixing audio, you rely on your ears. But, for some things it can be a challenge because sometimes vision is needed, in the practical sense. Fortunately, I learned to adapt and adjust as needed. I have worked in the live sound aspect of audio engineering. While it is a great and ideal place for people to get their feet wet and get started in this field, it can be hectic and stressful at times.

One of my professional experiences was when I worked as a stage hand at the theatre at a university in Madison. Prior to my start date, I spoke to my boss about my blindness, what I was able to do, and what I maybe was less likely to be successful doing. One adjustment I made was memorizing the faders and knobs on the board. I would also have a session set up a certain way so it was easiest for me to access the channels where the microphones were set up. I helped my coworkers with setting up and striking down afterwards. Some of my roles included: setting up microphones and cables, putting microphones away, and wrapping cables when we were done with shows. Powering off the board and the amps were really intriguing to me, letting me get more hands-on exposure to audio engineering. There were times where I would have to have someone help me when I had difficulty with something. My coworkers were always mindful of telling me if there was something on the ground such as a cable or chair or what have you.

Audio engineering is not just about producing or making music. It’s more than that. it’s making sure a song or a performance sounds great. It’s about ensuring the levels are not clipping or distorting and it all sounds clean. Another thing that you need to have is patience and communication skills to talk and work with an artist or performer. Ask them what they need and if they need help in any way. That is a big thing about this field. Whether you are working at a studio or a venue, you must be able to work with several different types of personalities. While I still have a lot to learn and more to experience, I can truly say, I love this field! It may have its challenges at times, but I don’t let blindness stop me from doing what I love.