Nas Campanella: Incredible story of how blind news presenter landed her first job at the ABC


Inspirational BLIND newsreader is celebrated for making history on the ABC – after revealing the cruel comment from a total stranger that made her feel ‘really sad’

  • Nas Campanella was hired by the ABC as a cadet journalist back in 2011
  • Journalist has presented the news on Triple J radio for over seven years 
  • She has become a fierce advocate for Australians living with a disability 

An inspirational blind newsreader has been celebrated for making history during the ABC’s 90th birthday celebrations on Thursday night.

The national broadcaster, marked its 90th birthday this year, with a special live event broadcast on Thursday.

In it, they celebrated Nas Campanella, who was the ABC’s first blind cadet journalist to be hired at the network and the first to use speech software to present the news.

Campanella has worked as a newsreader on Triple J radio for over seven years and has been at the ABC for over a decade after landing her first gig in 2011.

Many of her loyal listeners are still shocked to discover the silky-toned presenter is blind after she lost he eyesight at just six months old.

Nas Campanella (pictured) was the ABC's first blind cadet journalist to be hired at the network as well as the first to use speech software to present the news

Nas Campanella (pictured) was the ABC’s first blind cadet journalist to be hired at the network as well as the first to use speech software to present the news

When she was a baby, blood vessels burst in the back of her eyes, causing them to detach from the retina, meaning she can only see some shadows and light.

To add to her difficulties, it was later discovered she has Charcot Marie Tooth disorder – a delayed sensitivity in the hands and feet due to the nerve endings.

It meant the keen learner had a hard time reading braille and struggled in school – until she started using computer software that turned words into sounds.

The reporter hears four streams of audio through her headphones while presenting the news and uses a laptop with speech software which reads out whatever she types and anything her mouse scans over.

The four streams include a voice telling her what to say during the bulletin, her voice throughout the microphone reading the news, the grabs that have been packaged before going to air, and a clock telling her when to start and finish.

Campanella previously told Daily Mail Australia it had taken her four years to get the technology down pat and that it still wasn’t perfect.

Campanella has worked as a newsreader on Triple J radio for over seven years and has been at the ABC for over a decade after landing her first gig in 2011

Campanella has worked as a newsreader on Triple J radio for over seven years and has been at the ABC for over a decade after landing her first gig in 2011

The journalist hears four streams of audio through her headphones while presenting the news and uses a laptop with speech software which reads out whatever she types and anything her mouse scans over (pictured, Campanella at work)

The journalist hears four streams of audio through her headphones while presenting the news and uses a laptop with speech software which reads out whatever she types and anything her mouse scans over (pictured, Campanella at work)

‘I’ve got to be careful not to lag too far behind,’ she said in 2015. 

‘It’s got to be a split second after I hear it that I say it – so it’s not a perfect system but it works quite well for the most part.’

Campanella has become a fierce advocate for Australians living with disabilities and has spoken candidly about how she can be treated differently than others. 

She spoke to presenter Fran Kelly on the ABC’s RN Breakfast program in 2020 about a specific experience with a curious stranger that had stuck with her. 

The journalist had been waiting for a train when she felt a tap on her shoulder. 

‘I am no stranger to having people – complete strangers – ask me about my vision, quite personal questions,’ she said. 

‘In this particular instance the person ended up telling me that if he was me, he’d kill himself. It made me feel really sad and really shaken. 

‘Me and many other people across the disability community have worked so hard to change negative perceptions of the way people see us and value our lives.’

Campanella has become a fierce advocate for Australians living with disabilities and has spoken candidly about how she can be treated differently than others

Campanella has become a fierce advocate for Australians living with disabilities and has spoken candidly about how she can be treated differently than others

The talented journalist earlier this year welcomed her first son Lachie - who she shares with her partner Tom Oriti - also a presenter at the ABC (pictured, the family-of-three)

The talented journalist earlier this year welcomed her first son Lachie – who she shares with her partner Tom Oriti – also a presenter at the ABC (pictured, the family-of-three)

Campanella went on to explain that it hadn’t affected how she perceived her own life as she had a loving partner, great friends and a ‘fantastic’ job.

She said the stranger’s comment had made her realise how other people perceived the lives of Australians living with disabilities.

The presenter said not a week goes by that a stranger didn’t ask her personal questions about her eyes, and that she has sometimes been made to feel bad when she declined to giving them that personal information. 

She told Broadsheet ‘there were tears’ when she landed her first gig at the ABC who she said were ‘willing to take a chance when no one else was’. 

The talented journalist earlier this year welcomed her first son Lachie – who she shares with her partner Tom Oriti – also a presenter at the ABC.  

The new mother recently told her Instagram followers that ‘story time’ with her baby was done in a similar way to how she used to read the news. 

Campanella said 'there were tears' when she landed her first gig at the ABC who she said were 'willing to take a chance when no one else was'

Campanella said ‘there were tears’ when she landed her first gig at the ABC who she said were ‘willing to take a chance when no one else was’

The new mother recently told her Instagram followers that 'story time' with her baby was done in a similar way to how she used to read the news

The new mother recently told her Instagram followers that ‘story time’ with her baby was done in a similar way to how she used to read the news

‘Some friends have been kind enough to record stories for me, including telling me when to turn the page,’ she wrote.

‘I have the audio on my phone and repeat what I hear to Lachie.’

The keen jet-setter previously told Daily Mail Australia that her dream job would be to work as a travel writer after trips to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

‘Using vision as a form of travel is narrow way of looking at things,’ she said.

‘You can describe the food you ate, the kindness of the people, the smells around you and the feeling of the sand on your feet.’

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