Didier

He walks through the Gothic Quarter’s narrow streets in Barcelona with confidence of the path to pursue. It is the fifth year in a row that Didier leaves his hometown in Belgium to attend a music festival during the spring in this Mediterranean city. Didier studied linguistics and literature at Ghent University, speaks French, English, Dutch, and a bit of German. He is passionate about music, plays the accordion and sometimes performs as a DJ, a career he is willing to follow. Below the photos we will share with you the excerpts of the conversation we had with him on the way to one of the concerts.

Kasia&Fabricio: When you travel, what is important for you about a place?

Didier: it is a very complete experience. When I’m traveling the most important thing for me is the general atmosphere. I’m not really too interested in visiting a particular building or touristic sight, but I do find it significant to be in an area where I feel comfortable. Either being with locals or other travelers, as long as everyone is having a good time and is respectful to each other, I’m a happy person.

K&F: Since you have travelled to different countries for music festivals, what’s the importance of music in your life?

D: It is just something that speaks to me at a very basic level. Some people put a very high importance on lyrics, for me music is a very powerful way to communicate. I’m always looking for that experience where an artist or a band really transmits their creative force through their music in a way that connects with me. That is what keeps me coming to music festivals, to have these very singular experiences which I cannot copy back home, sitting in my living room. You are there in the moment, and it either hits you or it doesn’t, and that is exciting for me.

K&F: How did you start as a DJ?

When I was still an undergraduate student I would DJ at these alternative nights student organizations would put together; I had a great time doing that. In 2014 I contacted this guy I knew at a bar, which is also a music venue where I had been a few times. I like their philosophy, they are very open to all kinds of different genres and artists, people basically get to do their thing there. I sent them an example of what I like to do as a DJ and we set up a try out session. It is a non-profit organization, it does not pay very well at all, but it is fun to do. DJ’ing is something I would like to find more work in, because I do feel like I can bring something a bit different in the selection of music.

K&F: Could you explain to us how do you use digital media and communicate through it?

D:My compute has a screen reader, a software that allows me to read the text displayed on the screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display. In the first case, the software outputs that information as audio. Another possibility is to transform the text into braille. Then, I can read through a braille display connected to the computer.

K&F: And then, how do you input information into the computer, for example, writing an e-mail? Does the software synthetizes your voice into text?

D: I generally don’t talk to my computer, I type just like most other people. The computer does the talking, if any talking is involved. The process goes something like this: I navigate using the screen reader software, which analyzes what is being shown on screen and restructures it for my ease of use. By this point, I know the lay-out of certain websites like the back of my hand. I type out the e-mail, and if I’m feeling formal and/or considerate, I will read through the text using my braille display to pick out the many typos I tend to make. And then, I press ‘send!’

K&F: In your opinion, which advances do you perceive in city’s infrastructures for the blind? Also, which measures would you suggest to facilitate the life of blind people?

D: I think what we need most of all is a general awareness of what makes the life of a blind person harder, basically crosswalks that run crooked, and sidewalks that are cluttered. That’s a general idea that can make minute-by-minute navigation a lot easier. European cities still have a ways to go when it comes to things like traffic lights, too. One exciting idea I got to experience in Eugone, Oregon was a talking traffic light, which told you which street you were on, and would tell you when it was safe to cross, as well as giving you an indication on how much time you had left to do so. These are pretty exciting times for the blind, as personal-level technology is opening a lot of doors in the navigational sphere. I don’t have a smartphone yet, which is increasingly becoming sillier and sillier, as its GPS functionality would allow me to move around with much more confidence. So I should get on that soon.

 

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