Nas Campanella is a popular, honey-voiced host on Australian national network Triple J, who also happens to be blind and without a sense of touch. The Sydney-based website Broadsheet has a fascinating piece about the ways she goes about doing her job: it involves listening to two separate audio streams at the same time while delivering the news live, which... I could not do.
Her first job is to scour the digital news wire for appropriate stories and breaking news, which is constantly uploaded from the ABC's state, national and international correspondents. She relies on a speech program called Jaws, an electronic voice that reads what she's typing.
Her studio is equipped with strategically placed Velcro patches – she operates her own panel – so she can recognise which buttons to push to air news grabs and mute or activate her mic. While she's reading on air, that same electronic voice reads her copy down her headphones which she repeats a nanosecond later. In another ear the talking clock lets her know how much time she has left. The sound of her own voice is audible over the top of it all.
Campanella says one of the hardest parts of her job is dealing with the incorrect translation the electronic voice often delivers. "You can opt for a male or female voice, faster or slower but it's hard because the pronunciation is often dodgy," she says. "He often says stuff wrong – such as 'Wag-a Wag-a' for Wagga Wagga or 'Coe-barney' for Cobain. I often stumble on cricketers' and sportspeople's names."
Campanella lost her sense of sight at the age of six months, and she also has a disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth which hampers the sense of touch in her hands, rendering her unable to read braille. She therefore relies almost entirely on her sense of hearing to do her job, and that's what sparked her interest in journalism, having grown up on the radio. She got a Bachelor's degree in Communications at Sydney's University of Technology, but at first she had troubles finding employment.
"I guess not a lot of people have met people with disabilities," she said, "and not a lot of people are open-minded about what they're capable of. So I think they were quite taken aback when someone with no sight walked into their office and said, 'I want a job, this is what I can do.'" She's now been at Triple J for three years, and recently went on a hiking vacation in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. You can read more about this awesome woman at Broadsheet, and watch a video about how she got the job at Triple J.