Dog finds his voice: First Dog On The Moon goes aural

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Thursday, 9 May 2013 15:27pm

Crikey cartoonist First Dog On The Moon has started releasing versions of his political cartoons in audio format specifically for the enjoyment of blind and vision impaired readers.

First Dog On The Moon (as the cartoonist likes to be known) takes a cast of animal characters and has them play out the political stories making headlines. In this universe, Prime Minister Julia Gillard becomes Power Fox and Senator Barnaby Joyce a talking pumpkin scone. The cartoons, while visually simple, involve many frames and long exchanges of dialogue.

When First Dog On The Moon published a cartoon about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (below), ABC Ramp Up editor Stella Young pointed out that blind readers were unable to enjoy the cartoon or participate fully in the discussion it generated.

Listen to the audio version of this cartoon on the Crikey website.


The standard way of making images accessible is to provide alternative text – a short sentence to convey the meaning of an image which people can’t see but screen readers can read out. However, First Dog On The Moon knew that recording him describing the scenes and reading out dialogue would provide a much richer experience for the listener.

Rather than painstakingly describing each character and conveying the aesthetics of the cartoons, First Dog On The Moon has opted for enthusiasm, making use of the new medium to create a different type of charm.

“This has opened my eyes to the different kinds of approaches that I need to take to my work when developing it and distributing it to people,” said First Dog On The Moon. “I suppose the key thing is keeping accessibility at the forefront whenever I am thinking about audiences and the kind of work I do.”

Given that the Federal election is just four months away, this serves as a reminder that political news, including satire, needs to be published in a way that provides for needs of people with a disability.

Listen to all of First Dog On The Moon’s spoken cartoons on the Crikey website.

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