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Podcast Episode 023: Listen like a dialect coach – Sammi Grant helps you understand the impact of breathing has on how you listen to yourself and others

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Sammi Grant is a professional dialect/vocal coach and voiceover artist. She has coached over 400 theatrical productions, worked on major television shows, and provided private coaching to countless actors. Sammi brings a unique perspective on listening and focusing on the human voice. Sammi is legally blind and her hearing is more attuned, because it has to be.

Today, we explore how to listen like a dialect coach. We also explore the impact of breathing on how we listen to ourselves and others. Sammi listens deeply to accents from around the world and translates how those accents are spoken to teach her clients the use of those accents. She also provides accent modification to anyone wishing to sound more general American.

Tune in to Learn

  • Sammi is legally blind. She still has impaired vision in one eye, but she has degenerative glaucoma.
  • She shares a story of Mr. Thompson a great teacher who would really listen to students.
  • The last couple of years of high school, Sammi started noticing how people use their voices to tell stories.
  • She is hyper aware and even tones who voice down to sound more general American.
  • She is aware of what she is doing in a curious non-judgemental way.
  • Consciously using breath and avoiding vocal fry which can be limiting and not as pleasing to listen to.
  • A lot of people don’t breath before they start talking because of fear of public speaking.
  • Sammi helps actors learn how to portray a certain role. She strives for authenticity, comprehension, and acting.
  • The accent needs to be tied to the character and the choices that character makes.
  • Placement, oral posture, sound changes, rhythm and intonation are all things she looks at.
  • She also has clients who want to tone down their accents.
  • Sammi shares how to create an accent from London and Pakistan.
  • Noticing the feeling and emotion behind the words without using vision.
  • Using pitch and volume to either express or hide your emotions.
  • Time periods and the characters circumstances play a role in how their accents sound.
  • Be open minded and listen beyond the surface.

Transcript

Episode 23: Deep Listening with Sammi Grant

Oscar Trimboli:

Deep listening, impact beyond words.

Let’s go with deep listening from Scotland all the way down to Wales.

Sammi Grant:

Scotland would be deep listening and then, say, a Northern English would be more deep listening. London would be deep listening. And then a more refined would be deep listening. When I teach the accent, I go through a breakdown and I talk about the placement, meaning where the accent lives in the mouth, the oral posture, how the different articulators, the lips, tongue, teeth, how the jaw works in this accent to shape sound. The specific sound changes, so like I was talking about before, how I say, “So,” and how Oscar says “So,” those differences, and then the rhythm and intonation and stress pattern of the accent, and then as we go through the show or I work with the actor in their session, I pay attention and give notes on those elements and how they’re contributing to or hindering the comprehension and the acting.

Oscar Trimboli:

Sammi, just educate me.

Sammi Grant:

Sure.

Oscar Trimboli:

Talk me through what’s happened to your sight?

Sammi Grant:

Yeah, so my main issue is glaucoma, which is degenerative, so I’ve always been visually impaired. That’s always been part of my identity for as long as I can remember, but I have had much more sight than I do now, and right now I’m not completely blind, but it is very possible that I will become completely blind at some point in my life.

Oscar Trimboli:

In this episode of Deep Listening, Impact Beyond Words, we travel to Chicago to meet Sammi, a voice coach. She takes us through her high school days where her teacher in theatre Mr. Thompson taught her her most powerful lesson about how to listen beyond the words and how to listen for meaning. Mr. Thompson, the cool teacher, the one everybody paid attention to, but not because he was good looking. Just because he listened beyond the obvious.

Listen out in this interview as we hear about the role of breathing. We hear about the role of comprehension, and we hear about the role of authenticity in helping you to listen better. Sammi provides a great insight into how to have fun with accents, and you’ll listen out as she just drops into a Pakistani accent, an Indian accent, Glaswegian accent, a North London accent. She’s amazing. It’s a fun interview, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Let’s listen to Sammi.

 

Oscar Trimboli:

Sammi, starting off, the dinner table, what’s your memories of the dinner table and what was your kind of favourite meal there and in your family, who is the best listener?

Sammi Grant:

That’s a very interesting for me because we didn’t really have traditional family dinners. Neither of my parents cooked with… like almost ever. My mom would occasionally maybe once a month, every two months cook a nice meal for the family and then we would sit down, but for the most part it was sporadic. We would often have multiple, different takeout restaurants at the house that people were eating. So we would rarely eat together and especially as we grew older, I had a brother who’s two years older than me, he and I had very different schedules in terms of our extracurricular, so we wouldn’t often eat together. Then when I was 13, my mom had another baby so that really shifted everything as well because all the sudden, everything was focused on her. So, family dinners still weren’t really a huge affair because it was the baby at a certain time and then my mom kind of ate whenever she could and all that. Yeah, so if and when we would sit down together, all five of us, so this is now when my sister’s in the picture, I would have to say and this is going to sound really obnoxious but the best listener would be me, because I think that’s just a natural inclination of mine to listen and take in information. I have a really excellent memory.

Oscar Trimboli:

As you moved into your schooling days, was there a teacher or another student that was a really great example of listening for you?

Sammi Grant:

Yes. My sophomore English teacher also taught a speech class and he also ran the speech and drama team, which sometimes is also called forensics teams, which has nothing to do like forensics, you know police work. I don’t know why it’s called that, but it’s where we like to prepare different types of speeches. So sometimes it’s an actual written speech, sometimes it’s an original speech written by us. I would do more dramatic events, because I was an actor. So, I would do like a play cut into six minutes where I plat multiple characters, and that teacher ran that programme as well. He was the first person who I think I took note was an excellent listener, because he had this really confident, calm air. And had control over the classroom without working at it. So many teachers feel they have to get control through yelling or through being intimidating, and he was just very confident and cool. He was a cool teacher without being like a super young hippie teacher. He was kind of an older guy. He would listen to teenagers and whatever babble we had to say, and I think part of that was because he ran an extracurricular activity, so he was with us outside of a classroom setting where we were getting a grade.

I remember that he would really relate to teenagers and would really listen to what they had to say, as opposed to just be there to talk at them. His name was Mr. Thompson. When I was in school, mostly in high school not as much in college, I would record classes and then take notes later because at that time I wasn’t really using a computer on my own. It was sort of in that transitional period where some people had computers some people didn’t. So, I would record classes and then take the notes at home. So, I would listen to my classes twice. Many many years after high school, this is probably, I want to say four years ago so when I would’ve been 23, I was going through my bedroom at home at my parents house and found a tape from an old class that I had of his. Me listening to myself as a teenager is extremely painful because I feel I was a very kind of obnoxious teenager. While being a good listener I was also a very loud talker. And kind of in people’s face about it because I was sort of overcompensating for severe lack of confidence.

I remember listening to that tape and I don’t even remember specifically what I said, but talking about some girl who was coming to visit the school who had been in our class but transferred and was jus like prattling on about this girl. And Mr. Thompson was listening to every word I was saying and saying, “Oh yeah I heard she was coming,” and “Oh that’s so nice I hope I get to see her.” As opposed to being like, just brushing me off and saying, “Yeah yeah yeah I heard,” where I think some other teachers might not have been as receptive to my teenage prattle.

Oscar Trimboli:

When did you start to notice differences in voices?

Sammi Grant:

I think I… it’s something I did unconsciously as a child, was to other voices and take in different sounds in the world, but I didn’t really consciously start noticing it and focusing on it until my last couple years of high school. When I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to be an actor. I was told that my voice was my best quality as an actor, so I started noticing other people’s voices and their vocal storytelling because I couldn’t take in physical storytelling, excuse me, as much obviously. So, I started noticing, watching older actors in my school or just on TV or film or in plays and how they used their voices to tell stories, and how I could emulate that.

Oscar Trimboli:

To what extent do you notice your own breathing and the breathing of the other person when you’re listening?

Sammi Grant:

Oh, tonnes. I am so hyper aware of how I talk, because beyond being a dialect coach I also do voiceover work. So, I’m really accustomed to analysing my voice down to tine little breaths, pauses and the way I say things. So, for example, I naturally have a Midwestern American accent, but when I work with clients or I do something like this, an interview I try to tone down the Midwestern elements of my accent. I sound a little more general American. So, when something Midwestern pops out, it’s really jarring to me because I’m so used to hearing it. So normally when I would say the phrase pops out, I would say it as, “Pops out,” but to sound more general American I would say, “Pops out.” So, I’m really hyper aware, not in a negative way where I’m judging myself or thinking oh that was stupid, why would you say it like that? It just is in my awareness and a lot of people say they really hate the sound of their own voice, and I don’t. I have to obviously have a little bit of hubris about my voice to go onto voiceover and think that I have a worthy voice to be heard by millions.

So, I really like my voice, I’m just very aware of what I’m doing, but in more of a curious than judgemental way. That’s the same thing with other people, when I’m analysing voices whether it’s voluntarily or not, I’m just trying to take in everything I can, not to say, “Oh why does that person sound weird?” Or, “That’s so like wrong or incorrect.” If that person says something that way, or use this inflexion it might be we’re all human and imperfect and that’s what’s make all of our accents and individual voices so beautiful. I’d rather listen to people with really different accents than listen to the same accent all day.

Oscar Trimboli:

What is it about other people’s breathing that you notice and pay attention to that would help our audience understand a bit more about the role of breathing and listening?

Sammi Grant:

I think how much a person consciously uses breath. Most people don’t pay attention to how they breathe, or how they’re using breath. So that’s why I find especially among young people today, that they go to vocal fry, that’s that tone down here where you talk like this and you talk on that sort of grading quality of your voice. Usually if you’re going down there, it’s because you’re not using enough breath to support … excuse me, it’s a misconception that that tone of voice is unhealthy. It’s not unhealthy unless you’re squeezing your throat and like talking like this like I have like a problem or something with the rest of my body because I’m like tightening my whole body to talk like this. That’s really bad because I’m tightening my larynx, my vocal tract. But if I just talk down here and do it a really open and free way, it’s not unhealthy. It’s not going to damage my vocal chords, it’s just not as pleasing to listen to and it’s also limiting in terms of how much expression of your voice you can use and how vocally committed you sound to what you’re saying. Which is why I think it’s so popular amongst young people, because I can kind of talk down here and if something I say is wrong, it doesn’t sound as like, I’m not as like committed to what I’m saying, you know what I mean?

So being really aware of how much breath you need and how much breath you’re using and taking a full breath before you start to say something, is really important. It’s human nature to maybe on your last word or two, to go into that vocal fry because we don’t always know how much we’re going to say or how much breath we’re going to need, but you obviously need some amount of breath. A lot of people just don’t even breathe before they start talking because, a lot of people have a fear of speaking, they don’t like their voice or they don’t like talking in large groups if that’s the situation. There’s actually studies done that say more people are afraid of public speaking than dying. So, I think when people have to speak in certain situations, they stop breathing because of fear and nerves.

Oscar Trimboli:

In your professional work as a voice coach, what are you listening for or what are you noticing to help your clients become more effective in what they come to you for?

Sammi Grant:

So, the majority of people who come to me are actors, who need to learn an accent or a specific role, whether it be an audition or a call back or an actual role in a full-length show that they’re going to be performing in. And if they’re coming to me privately then for some reason the show dialect coach, or I’m the dialect coach on the show, and I’m working with them as the actors in my show. For that, there’s a few things I really strive for, one is authenticity in the accent and that’s on me. So that’s me doing research and doing as much work as I can to provide the actors as much information as possible about how to do the accent in its most authentic form. There’s also comprehension, because we have to understand that they’re actors on stage and have to be understood. So, certain accents like a deep Cockney accent, or a really strong accent from Glasgow, is hard for an American audience to understand. So, then we have to find the places where we soften the accent for comprehension.

Then there’s also the acting. A lot of times when I watch movies or TV shows or plays, the accent often seems like a layer on top of the rest of the acting and isn’t integrated. So, I really make sure from the first moment I start working with an actor, the accent is tied to the character and the choices that they’re making for that character and how the accent influences those choices. So, for example, on some accents have a really staccato rhythm to them when they’re speaking that the accent doesn’t sort of flow words together. They sort of separate out their words more. So, for example, I just taught a Pakistani accent and that accent has a lot of staccato rhythm to their speech. So, when I’m working with the actors I have to say, “Now for you in this moment you as the actor in your natural voice might kind of slur your words together or kind of mumble the line to get your point across, or make it a throwaway line. But in this accent, you don’t have that option, they wouldn’t talk like that.” So, it’s combining all of those elements, authenticity, comprehension, and the acting choices that are available to them and how the acting and accent can work together.

So, when I teach the accent I go through a breakdown and I talk about the placement, meaning where the accent lives in the mouth. The oral posture how the different articulators, lips, tongue, teeth how the jaw works in this accent to shape sound. The specific sound changes so like I was talking before, how I say, “So,” and how Oscar says, “So,” those differences. Then the rhythm and intonation and stress pattern of the accent. Then as we go through the show, or I work with the actor in their session, I pay attention and give notes on those elements and how they’re contributing to or hindering the comprehension and the acting. The other type of client that comes to me are not actors, who are coming to me to gain a more general American sound, for whatever reason. Maybe they are from a foreign country and have a really strong foreign accent and find in their lives that people have a hard time understanding them. Or perhaps they work in business and they find the accent is a barrier to relating to clients. Or perhaps they’re a lawyer and find that the accent is a barrier to appealing to a jury. Things like that, they come to me for all different reasons.

Then I go through and teach them how to do the general American accent. I never teach it as a fixed or a correction, because every accent is perfect. I teach it as an option, this is an optional way to talk that you can turn off and on when you want. That is a much longer process that takes six to twelve weeks depending on the client, where we go through all of the different elements of the accent and do a lot of practise both with text that I provide and spontaneous speech, because for most of these people they want to be able to do this accent without planning what they’re going to say. So that’s truly mastering the accent.

Oscar Trimboli:

Is there a story that would bring that to life? Kind of the before and after with a particular actor you worked with in a particular part, in a particular play that they had to play a particular role?

Sammi Grant:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Sure, so in the play I’m talking about where there are Pakistani accents, there’s also one character doing a west London accent. This is one of the most common accents I teach is a London accent, no matter what part of London because there’s so many plays. I usually work on plays, or stories that take place in that city that Americans want to put on. So, when I’m teaching a London accent, the first thing I talk about is the fact that the placement is really forward and there’s lots of lip rounding. Like in an American accent, I just say, “Ah,” and they say, “Oh.” Toll, talk, coffee. Things like that. Then in terms of sound changes there’s something like that, the oh. Then there’s also the fact that they drop their what are called, post-vocalic R’s after a vowel. So, they don’t say car, they say ca. So, I talk through all that. All those different changes and then the fact that the rhythm, they elongate their words more than an American would, and the actor I’m working with is American, has an American accent. They have a bit more of a pitch range than Americans do.

Americans generally use like three pitches, three or four pitches, not very vocally expresses, expressive, excuse me. But in a London, accent you have a bit more of a range. So, the thing with London is they also drop a lot of T sounds, like I just stood there, lot of T. A lot R, instead of a lot of, or a lot of as I would say in my American accent with a D, a lot of. A lot of. This actor had an issue with those T sounds where instead of doing that kind of, a lot of sound, that little uh-uh-uh sound, which is called a glottal stop. That little uh-uh sound, he would just drop the T altogether. Instead of a lot of, he’d say a lot of, a lot of, and it’d be really hard to understand what he was saying and he would do that all the time. So, I had to work with him on finding a way to drop the T’s but put in that [inaudible 00:22:01] sound so that he could be understood. Then some places just actually putting in the T, because perhaps it was information that was really important to the plot that we had to make sure the audience understood, or it was just a difficult sentence.

Like he has the phrase, private analyst reports, and he would say it like, “Private analyst report.” Which is like what are you saying? So, I got him to say it like, private analyst reports, and he put the T on private, just to make it a bit more clear. So yeah, so the show opens tomorrow and he’s a lot better now than he was at the beginning, but that was a big thing I had to work with him on was, finding that authenticity of dropping lots of T’s and it is having kind of a looser casual feeling to the accent, but also having the comprehension. Then also finding the ways in places when perhaps the actor would want to use a T for emphasis like, if he was saying, what in a really angry manner he wouldn’t just say what, he would go, “What,” like what are you talking about, you know? If it really fit the moment.

Oscar Trimboli:

For those of you not able to watch Sammi on the podcast, the facial expressions and her intensity changed dramatically when she moved from her Midwest accent into her London accent. The concentration on her face and her range in her lip movement and the energy in her jaw was very noticeably different. I just wanted to share that with you because you wouldn’t have the opportunity to see that. If we change gears though Sammi, you talked about the staccato and the Pakistani, how would you take us quickly through that as a contrast as an example on this one.

Sammi Grant:

For the Pakistani accent, so part of doing the Pakistani accent, for me is understanding and being aware that I am white, and so the accent’s never going to sound quite the same because of the racial difference between me and a native Pakistani person. The actors I was working with were of that, they weren’t actually Pakistani they were Indian or something of a similar ethnic background, so there’s that level of authenticity that you have to be aware of. But within that, obviously I can teach the accent but I would never personally get on stage and perform it. But if I were teaching it, a big thing we have to focus on is the tongue position. So, in my accent, the tip of my tongue, to make a lot of my consonants sits on my gum ridge. So that’s the place right above the top teeth that kind of gummy place, and that’s where I make Tuh-Tuh-nuh-luh sounds. But in a Pakistani accent, you want to roll the tongue back and the tongue tip lives further back. So instead of being on the gum ridge it’s in that place kind of in between the gum ridge and where you get into the hard palette that hard dome of your mouth.

So, you literally have to roll back your tongue, and there’s a bit more tightness in the jaw, and this is what I was talking about with the staccato rhythm. So, I would maybe say, “What do you think?” And they would say, “What do you think? What do you think?” Where they really hit every continent. And what you want to watch is the pitch range, because this is a very placement to an Indian accent. And when you start to do the Indian, that’s when they get really, they get more pitchy and they get a bit more nasal sometimes. That’s a huge generalisation, but that’s a really big difference between an Indian and a Pakistani accent. The Pakistani accent is less of a pitch range, and a little more restrained in that way. So, when we were talking about the characters, there’s two characters who do a Pakistani accent. One is not comfortable with English, and speaks with a lot of grammar mistakes because he’s not terribly fluent. So, his accent’s really really thick. So, he did kind of what I was doing there, maybe even a little thicker.

Then another character it says in his description, that’s he’s very articulate with pronounced Pakistani accent. So, for him, we wanted to have a slightly lighter accent so what I did was I allowed him to have a little more jaw movement, but still have the tongue placement. Because allowing the jaw movement allowed the accent to be a little more open and a little more expressive, and allowed him to play with his language more, but he still had to have that rolled back tongue position, which affected the T, D, and L, R, lots of consonant sounds.

Oscar Trimboli:

What are the things that you think make a really big different to listening beyond the words to help people understand the meaning of what someone’s trying to communicate?

Sammi Grant:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think trying to notice beyond content, but trying to notice … feeling and emotion behind what they are saying. So how they’re saying it not in terms necessarily their accent, but the emotion behind the words. I think a lot of people especially sighted people depend on seeing a face, to read emotion or body language. In my life, I don’t have that option so I pick up a lot of someone’s emotions from how they’re using their voice. That doesn’t mean, oh is the person crying? Obviously, they’re sad. Is the person yelling? Obviously, they’re mad. Those are obvious to anyone because they’re extremes, but for example if I tend to always kind of drop down in tone when I’m talking like this, so I start high and then kind of go low all the time in a conversation, and maybe that’s not what I normally do, it probably means I’m maybe sad or depressed or just down for some reason. Or if I’m doing the opposite and I’m lifting a lot, even if I’m not smiling I’m just like, you know lifting a lot in what I’m saying, maybe I’m really happy or maybe I’m even really nervous if I’m doing incessantly and I’m doing it really fast.

Noticing things like that, so trying to go beyond extremes of emotional representation in the voice. And really reading into how people use their pitch and their volume, in trying to either express or even hide their emotions. A lot of people try to use their voice to hide their emotions. They go, “No I’m, I’m totally fine. I’m really fine.” Right? But you can hear even though I’m saying I’m fine, my voice is kind of like wavering a little, right? That means I’m absolutely not fine. There’s definitely something wrong.

Oscar Trimboli:

Do you have an example where somebody has listened completely to your meaning or completely misunderstood your meaning when they’ve been listening to you?

Sammi Grant:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I mean I deal with a lot of different people of different age groups because in theatre, you can be any age and work as an actor. So especially in the early part of my career, which I’m still technically in because I’m only 27, but in the very early part of my career when I was say 22 or 23, anytime I would have to work with a middle-aged man, usually white, I could tell that they were not taking in what I had to say, and just listening to sort of make me feel better, and make me feel like I mattered when you know they didn’t really think so. So, they would come in and think that they already knew how to do the accent I was teaching them and would just kind of sit there to appease me and all that. I could just, I could feel in the room if they weren’t listening because they would sort of cut off what I had to say. Not let me finish my full sentence. Or every time I would say something they’d be like, “Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative) I know.” Something dismissive like that. Then oftentimes they were the worst one in the show.

Oscar Trimboli:

Have you got an example of a real situation without giving away names there, of actually how that played out?

Sammi Grant:

Yeah, so a show I worked on, I had to teach an older male actor a Yorkshire accent. I’m going to say he was 50 or 60, and at that time I was 24, and he came in and I said, “Oh have you done a Yorkshire accent before?” He said, “No but I mean I know how to do it.” And I said, “Okay great.” Because I like to know an actor’s background, have they done it before, if I need to spell it out a little more for them, you know just where the actor’s at with the accent. I still taught him the accent, and I sort of had to pull tooth and nail to get him to do my exercises. So, part of when we’re going over the sound changes I’ll say, “Okay I’m going to say this sound first and then you repeat it after me.” So, I say, “Go,” and I’d say, “Okay now you say it.” And he’d say, “Oh okay, cool.” Then every time we would have to do that anytime I wanted him to say a word. Then he was in the show and he was not great. He kept keeping his post-vocalic R sounds, which in a Yorkshire accent you don’t, you drop your ending R sounds as it were. He would not listen to my notes.

So pretty much what he did on day one was the way he sounded when the show opened. The show extended a number of times, and he could only do the regular one of the show, so they brought in a new actor. I worked with this new actor for one day, who was great, very open to listening, and he did the accent perfectly the next day.

Oscar Trimboli:

What do you think the second actor was doing differently in their listening compared to the first?

Sammi Grant:

And they were of similar ages. I would say he came in with an open mind to what I had to teach, because even if I have an actor who’s done an accent a bunch of times and I need to teach it to them, I’ll say, “Okay great,” but maybe we’re doing it slightly differently for this show. Maybe we’re focusing on different elements or maybe it’s a different time period, time period plays a huge role in how an accent sounds. Or just the circumstances of the character, you know is the character maybe less educated than a previous character they played who did that accent. So I think this new actor was more open to hearing the specifics I had to offer, and how it could help shape this specific character for him.

Oscar Trimboli:

If you were to leave our audience with a final tip on how to listen better, what would that be?

Sammi Grant:

Be open minded and open hearted. Hearing what someone’s saying doesn’t always mean you’re taking it in past your ears. You know that you’re taking it into your heart and mind and consciousness, but that so you’re listening beyond the surface of what they’re saying, but listening to how they’re saying it and why they’re saying it. And what it means to you and how maybe what they’re saying can change you or affect you. Because I think every interaction we have changes us in some way, whether it’s big or almost in detectable. We’re always growing and changing.

 

Oscar Trimboli:

What a powerful gift Sammi has to share with the world. Despite the fact she’s unable to see out of one of her eyes and got very narrow vision in the other, her gift of powerful listening is transforming the way actors and others are bringing their presence to the world. She’s changing the way lawyers engage with jury’s. She’s changing the way business people engage with their customers. Sammi’s ability to teach me today to focus very carefully on listening to what’s meant rather than just what’s said was really powerful. And the other lesson I took away was, listening across the generations. Going back into that dinner table conversation with passionate and active debate between Sammi, her family, particularly her dad who held very different views to her, but Sammi having the presence to be able to listen completely and without judgement to him was really powerful. So, the question I’ve got for you today, as you listen to others is, when somebody creates a different perspective while you’re listening to them, are you immediately jumping into judgement in thinking why they’re wrong? Or will you bring the full power and gift that Sammi brings and completely listen to what they say without judgement and understand not just what they’re saying, understand how they’re saying it.

And finally, why they’re saying it, which is the meaning behind what they’re saying. Are you listening completely to the meaning? Or are you just staying in judgement because the opinion is different to yours? If you want to become a great listener, listen for meaning. Thanks for listening.

Oscar Trimboli:

Deep listening, impact beyond words. Sammi just educate me, talk me through what’s happened to your sight.

Sammi Grant:

Yes, so my main issue is glaucoma, which is degenerative. So, I’ve always been visually impaired, that’s always been part of my identity for as long as I can remember, but I have had much more sight than I do now. Right now, I’m not completely blind, but it is very possible that I will become completely blind at some point in my life. An amazing ophthalmologist who works hard to stabilise the vision I have, but there’s so much current medicine can do. I have other minor issues in addition to the glaucoma that make it so my eye treatment is not sort of an easy, one stop shop pill fix, but sort of combinations of medications and different procedures and surgeries to try to maintain the vision that I have. But that’s been the main issue is glaucoma. So, when I was younger, I could read regular sized print and I didn’t use a cane, but I had issues seeing far away and issues seeing some level of detail. Now, at 27, I have to use a cane to get around. I don’t use it in my apartment or in my parents house or other places I’m very familiar with, but to get around in my everyday life I use it.

I can’t read print at all no matter what size, unless I use a piece of machinery called a CCTV, which I put papers under a camera and in the largest type on a screen and that’s how I can read, but I read three times slower than the average person. So, reading with my eyes is really limited to reading my mail, writing out a check, you know sort of just basic life necessities. But if I were to read a book, I would use an audiobook. In terms of what I actually can see, it’s just way less detail than I could even see as a kid. That is what continues to decrease, and I have no peripheral vision, only centre vision. The centre vision I have is very limited, and that’s only in the left eye, the right eye is completely blind, because my retina detached when I was five in that eye. So that eye’s been completely blind almost my whole life. So that’s kind of the long version of it.

Scotland would be, deep listening. Then say a northern English would be more, deep listening. London would be, deep listening. Then a more refined London would be, more refined excuse me, would be deep listening.

Oscar Trimboli:

Deep listening, Impact beyond words.

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