Aug 4, 2022

Connecting Communities and Sharing Stories with AMI’s Ramya Amuthan.

Ramya Amuthan is a producer and co-host of Accessible Media Inc.’s (AMI) daily lifestyle and entertainment audio program, Kelly and Company. In it, Kelly MacDonald and Ramya speak with fascinating community members and share their stories.

Along with the successful AMI-audio show, Ramya has also worked with Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC) as a Young Leaders Co-chair and Cycle for Sight volunteer. Having been born with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), Ramya used her experiences to help others navigate personal and professional interests while also helping foster connections.

FBC had the opportunity to speak with Ramya to learn more about her work with AMI, past achievements, and her advice for aspiring professionals.

Tell us about your AMI-audio program! How does it feel to not only co-host but produce Kelly and Company as well?

I’m blessed to have the opportunity to listen to so many people, hear their incredible stories and experiences, and respond to these conversations through this platform. AMI has worked hard to create and deliver content for and by the disability community, and I’m grateful to play a part in it.

What first interested you in working with AMI?

To be honest, I was not so interested in being on air initially. Though voice work was a strength of mine, I was curious about pursuing other aspects of radio – chasing stories, audio editing, connecting with guests, and generally coordinating behind the scenes. Most of this fit into my role on Kelly and Company gradually, along with being on air.

My mother has vast experience working in radio and television, along with performance and public speaking, so this field has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Do you recall a key moment where you felt the impact of your work on the vision loss and disability community?

As a person with a disability, being honest and present is a definite priority for me. Speaking directly with the community on Kelly and Company is a tremendous part of this because we bring on voices of people with disabilities, hear their challenges and successes, and share our own.

The first time I shared my own experiences of using the white cane, I realized how empowering it is to speak my truth on the show.

I had avoided using my white cane for a long time and came to terms with the tool through different stages of my life. Now it’s one of the most empowering tools I use to identify with my disability.

Through reflection, I started to understand the value of how my story may impact someone listening, and going through a similar experience.

What are some of your favourite episodes or Kelly and Company on-air moments?

Hands down, my favourite Kelly and Company experiences are ones where we’ve been face to face with the blind and low vision community, meeting people and sharing space.

Whether that was live in St. John’s, Newfoundland, checking in on a CNIB Hub opening, hanging out at W. Ross MacDonald School in Brantford, Ontario, or trying out adaptive sports.

Meeting people with disabilities, and doing so all over the country, is my absolute favourite part of my work at AMI.

I understand that you were also part of a clinical trial for LCA. How would you describe that experience?

I was 15 when I took part in a clinical trial. It was, at the time, challenging, out of my comfort zone, and quite surreal.

As a teen going into this, I learned a lot, and I appreciate the team of doctors and professionals who supported me through the years-long journey, answered all my million questions, allowed me to make the choice of participating, and helped me really discover the value of the incredible bigger picture of this research.

As treatment options like Luxturna become available and talked about, I feel my own experience is stamped in the progress and momentum of this science.

What advice would you offer someone inspired by your career and looking to achieve similar goals?

Passion and purpose really does drive my work; I find meaning in what I do every day, and even on the difficult days, it’s important for me to show up, listen, and advocate.

The voices of people with disabilities are vital, in so many contexts, and there is more than one way to have your voice be heard in media, in front of and behind the microphone and camera.

I encourage you to explore your skills, reach out to programs and initiatives that interest you, and leave room for curiosity and learning.

How would you describe your experience with FBC’s Young Leaders Program or your experience as an FBC volunteer to someone interested in participating?

I’ve been participating in the Young Leaders program for over five years; it’s a blast.

My years being a Co-chair for the Young Leaders program were vibrant, and full of learning. Every event we put together – virtual or in-person – was impactful and encouraging in so many wonderful ways.

We’ve had incredible mentorship opportunities, educational discussions, thoughtful roundtable conversations, wellness workshops, lively socials, all taken on by leaders and allies of our community.

I strongly believe these programs are what nourish the community to keep growing and flourishing, and we definitely have fun doing it, so why not sign up?

Check out AMI’s Kelly and Company featuring co-host, Ramya Amuthan online.

Since the publishing of this article, AMI’s audio program, Kelly and Company, was rebranded to Kelly and Ramya.

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