The editor’s note and cover description are printed on an info card, which is the first thing you encounter when you open the box.
In this box you’ll find books and booklets, posters and pamphlets, a lantern, a scroll, and a keychain with a phone number on it that we highly suggest you call. Each of these pieces establishes its own relationship between print and audio—the contributor’s unique experiment in weaving the mediums together. Some move back and forth between sound and printed matter; for others, you experience both simultaneously. We recommend you keep the audio site open on your phone or computer as you explore the issue, and encourage (beseech!) you to listen with headphones.
The one exception to this crossmodal structure is John Lee Clark’s cornerstone essay “Against Access,” on the limitations of accessibility. Knowing that many deaf and DeafBlind readers could experience only a secondary version of any audio component in his piece—the very kind of replica his essay admonishes—he abstained from including one.
In fact, it quickly became clear while making this issue that you can’t think about crossmodal stories without thinking broadly about access—the ways stories shift when experienced through various sensory organs (the eyes, the ears, the hands). For that reason, we felt it was important to make this issue as accessible as possible. So, on our website, in addition to the audio, you’ll find something we’re calling a Descriptive Transcript, which offers each component of this issue in multiple formats. You can find a thoughtful introduction to this transcript by Audio Issue producer Andrew Leland in the main book.
We’ve been working on this one a long time, thinking about it even longer. It could, would, and should not exist without the crucial guidance and editorial input of our coproducer, Radiotopia. Hats particularly off to Julie Shapiro and Audrey Mardavich. To hear a quick word from them, check out the Message from Radiotopia. Okay, there’re probably a million more things, but we figure you should just get in there and get started.
An abstract collection of white dots and curved dashes against a sky-colored background suggests the ripples that follow a stone dropped in still water. The background is afternoon-sky—not transparent, but not dusk: dense. Around the edges, radiating out onto the box’s sides, the white marks get smaller and continue, as though toward infinity.
Shruti Swamy is the author of A House Is a Body, which was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Short Story Collection, and the forthcoming novel The Archer. She lives in San Francisco.