[blindkid] DV in Theaters and on DVD specifically the Hobbit..Help!

Richard Holloway rholloway at gopbc.org
Mon Apr 1 17:08:22 UTC 2013

I know what you mean-- there seems to be no correlation between what has DVS in theaters and on DVD's. Lincoln may have been described in some theaters though-- I'm not certain-- I never checked. As I think I mentioned before, a couple of our local Regal theaters run every film they screen (the manager told me) with available DVS as well as closed captioning. The captions are apparently decoded with a receiver just like the audio description just like the DVS.

What has happened in the last year or two is that theaters have gone from using a data disc (CD or DVD) that links to a projector running an actual film, then transmitting the data to supply audio description & captioning as needed to a fully digital system. Films, often are NOT films. They are data files, sent electronically (or presumably on some type of drive) with all the parts-- video, sounds, and DVS in one bundle. There is no separate disc to load (or forget to load, loose, etc.) and there is less gear to fail or maintain.

A short video posted on line by Blind Film Critic Tommy Edison points out that DVD players generally aren't very accessible right out of the box. http://blindfilmcritic.com/contact-us

One thing to try (which I have not yet explored) would be if you have iDevices (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad), try and learn which WiFi remote apps are accessible and perhaps you could buy a player which is controllable by that sort of solution. While some new players have completely smooth touch controls on the face, obviously most conventional remotes (with buttons) can be memorized by touch, so blind users can certainly learn to operate DVD players with the supplied remotes, but here is the real problem:

The function of remotes varies, not only by DVD player, but disc to disc / movie to movie. If you learn to navigate the menus on one title, it may be no help on the next movie at all. You may have to move up / down / left / right to find the right menu to select, and the menus may be in different orders and have different numbers of options as well. You would pretty much need a "cheat sheet" to know the map for each--  go right, right, right, down, down and select to start the movie, etc., and turning on DVS can be several menus deep, though some films now have DVS available on the main screen now. I love that feature, but it is nearly always a silent feature-- ironic to put an option for the blind on a page which they can neither see (obviously) or hear.

Another possible hitch is that ejected, partially played discs often try to restart where they were to begin with, and that is also noted silently on screen, so even an eject and reload may not get you where you want to be.

The only real "fix" I have found so far is what they did (fairly well, though it really slows down menu access) on the very first DVD I know of which has DVS on it-- The Jim Carey Grinch film from 2001. That DVD has accessible menus which (once selected) talk to the user. I guess it didn't catch on though because as far as I'm aware, that is the only DVD with that feature from the nearly 300 films which I have seen listed and the 70 or so which we have purchased. I can't believe nobody has (apparently) tried again in what, 12 years?

Maybe some others here have discovered particular machines that are easier to access? The problem with that is going to be if the machines are more than about a year old, they will probably no longer be available. I rarely see a machine marketed that remains unchanged for anywhere close to a year.

Not a lot of help there I guess-- best bet may be to take your son to the store and see which remotes make the most tactile sense to him.


More information about the BlindKid mailing list