[Art_beyond_sight_theory_and_research] VDRDC News: Video Description Professional Development Workshop Highlights

Jennifer Justice jenjusti11 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 10 22:36:34 UTC 2012

Video Description Professional Development Workshop
 posted Jun 13, 2012 4:19 PM by Jennifer Justice

I was thrilled to participate in the Video Description Professional
Development Workshop held in May at Baltimore's National Federation of the
Blind Jernigan Institute. <http://www.nfb.org/jernigan-institute> I am also
looking forward to communicating all the latest news of the VDRDC via this
blog and our new video description Twitter <https://twitter.com/> presence

On May 13th nine applicants from across the country including myself
embarked on the five day training, the first of its kind for blind
professionals in the video description quality control post- production
process. Designed and taught by a true leader and expert in the field of
video description, Rick Boggs <http://www.rickboggs.com/>, along with
seasoned description professionals Terri Grossman and Micca Grossman.

Our Description Quality Control cohort bought many valuable skills to the
table, hailing from diverse fields including audio engineering, publishing,
court reporting, access technology, and academia.

*Video Description Professional Development Workshop Highlights*

For me, the group Quality Control exercises demonstrated the crucial need
for trained blind professionals in the Video Description field, as we
evaluated films and television episodes for redundant or overly- obvious
descriptive content. Other problems we identified included ambiguous
continuity details, particularly during chaotic action sequences. Imagine,
if you will, a scenario in which all the action takes place in a series of
identical rooms, and all the characters dress alike- I give you the
descriptive conundrum that is every hospital drama ever produced.

Describing the elastic gestures of animated cartoon characters poses unique
challenges for description professionals. How might children's descriptive
content be tailored differently from that of adult consumers, if at all? Is
there such a thing as age- specific descriptive content? Why does Snoopy
sleep perched on the peaked roof of his doghouse and is such description
relevant to the consumer? Who knew that participating in a Quality Control
assessment of that melancholic classic *A Charlie Brown Christmas* would
reveal such complexities?

I have to admit that I tend to view video description as more of an art
than a science. I particularly enjoyed our class discussions of the
aesthetic conventions  surrounding video description. Some people prefer
minimal descriptions for key plot points, while others prefer details that
speak to a piece's overall tone, artistry, genre, and time.

Our DQC cohort viewed and assessed instructive examples of educational
videos, instructional media, animation, comedy, suspense, action, and
thrillers- some were excellent, some were, IMHO, of very poor quality.

One of the first things learned in an intro to creative writing course is
to write in a way that  shows or reveals something rather than tells your
reader what or how to think. The same rule should be applied to quality
video description. A particularly egregious  (and inadvertently humorous)
mistakes describers make is to put thoughts or emotions into a character's
head. The Descriptive Quality Control professional scowls disapprovingly at
such distracting commentary.

As an educator, I can imagine many exciting opportunities for video
described works geared to specialized fields of study and training at all
levels of education, and blind/ visually impaired consumers must be key
stakeholders in developing and evaluating these tools to ensure quality,
accuracy, and clarity.

My colleague Chuy Vaca (Burbank, CA) adds, "I like what the VDRDC is doing.
It is good that they are educating teachers and the public at large about
what is possible through Video Description. The possibilities for
innovation through emerging technology that are ahead for Video Description
are exciting. I am also glad that we get to work together to move forward
and make a positive difference."

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