[blindkid] Audio Described Holiday Programs On TV

Richard Holloway rholloway at gopbc.org
Mon Dec 9 04:02:27 UTC 2013


The DVS option means a lot to my daughter as well. She can go to the movies with friends or family and actually feel included in the audience. DVS is just one more equalizer that helps our kids have an opportunity to feel less left out, and to be able to participate more fully in life. I suspect many blind adults may also like having this option available. 

From what I can find, there are close to 30 more mainstream DVD releases scheduled for the rest of December. The number of those with DVS is anybody's guess, but I suspect we may indeed fall a bit short compared to last year. Still, there were a good many this year. As far as I know, the only kid-friendly DVD releases that are happening right now are Smurfs 2, which came out his past week, and Despicable Me which 2 comes out December 10th, but there have been more than usual over the past several weeks.

One thing that isn't probably the best news for DVS on DVD releases is the fact that DVD releases are doing less well over time. Streaming options are far more convenient for consumers than getting a physical DVD to stick into a player. Blu-rays were assumed to be the solution to bolster DVD sales, but from what I read, there is a decline in the market for everything from the sales of both DVD formats to rentals of the same. (Scratched DVD's, especially rented copies cause particular frustration while streamed media is like new every time it is watched.)

It seems people would rather stream videos, and not just of hollywood releases. Simple youtube videos and even plain old surfing or looking at facebook posts seems to be having an impact on the market. Once VHS was all the rage and the only way to access DVS as well. Now video tape is generally obsolete. DVD's came out here in the US about 16 years ago, and they overtook the virtually nonexistent VHS format about 10 years ago. Sadly, DVD days are numbered. This is coming from someone who still owns many VHS tapes and a good stack of laserdisc recordings as well. And before someone makes a wisecrack about vinyl audio recordings, yes, I have plenty of those and a nice turntable still. Reel to reel tape decks? Yes, I have those too, and several now obscure audio and video cassette decks as well. I don't want to give up access to my old recordings, so I just try and maintain ways to play everything, but it gets more and more complicated. One day, most of us will give up on removable recording media and access a great deal of our media exclusively on local computer and/or via the web.

We may have already peaked on DVD releases with DVS, and we may see an increasingly sharp decline in the format, but hopefully we are going to see so much more DVS offered via broadcast TV soon, as we have already seen in theater options that fewer new DVD's won't matter. And there are other formats on the horizon. There is an app for iDevice (iPhone, iPad, iPod) called MovieReading so far only one movie has been prepared to use the app but it does a really cool thing-- the app accesses a description (only) file and listens to the mic on the iDevice for the background sound. If the movie tied to the description is playing, it auto-syncs the description to the movie and you have your own personal audio description system in hand. The movie it works with is "Philomena" (now in theaters). They hope to work out additional offerings in the future. This same system could, in theory, sync with movies you watch at home and it wouldn't matter if the movies were on DVD or downloaded, or perhaps even broadcast with commercials, so long as the app was listening to keep the description in sync. I don't think DVD's are going to vanish anytime soon, but I do suspect we may see audio description evolving more and more, such that DVD becomes perhaps a bit less popular with DVS, while many other formats move in to fill the growing void and then some. At the national NFB convention a year or two ago, there was discussion of a more universal way to do audio description where many descriptions could be linked externally to all manor of videos, even personal postings of home videos. I am interested to see these options develop, and honestly, I am considering ways to produce descriptions to even our own home movies for my daughter to (hopefully!) enjoy as the years go by. It is really fairly simple. Something like iMovie on a Mac will let you have multiple soundtracks-- you can record a voice-over, then produce one output file with the description active and another with that feature muted.

I did check the Grinch cartoon which ran on TBS Sunday afternoon, and it did indeed run with DVS. On my TiVo system for this program, TBS showed English, Spanish, and Portuguese language choices. The Grinch Audio Description ran (In English!) under Portuguese. "Spanish" was running the same english track as the "English" selection, though many stations still tend to run DVS on the same "Spanish" selection where the also often simulcast Spanish dubs of programs.

I hope DVS becomes the norm as well. I'm typically sighted and yet I find it quite useful to follow a program from the next room while I cannot see the TV, and even to share in a program while I drive the family on a cross-contrty trip when watching a video monitor is clearly put of the question, so DVS  helps more than just blind people... It isn't that dissimilar from closed captioning, originally intended to just help the deaf and hearing impaired, but now it lets all sighted people have the option to follow a program with the volume turned down, or to listen in a place too loud to make let the sound be audiable. Many businesses run TV sets with Closed Captioning all the time. I watch it that way from a treadmill at the gym fairly often, for example, and many restaurants have sets, especially in the bar area with captions available most of the time.

Glad you found the info. helpful!


On Dec 8, 2013, at 10:47 AM, hpscheffer at aol.com wrote:

> This is great information, thank you so much!!!! 
> I've noticed the list of DVS titles went down for 2013 compared to 2012, I know there are releases still happening, but we need for the list to go up significantly from one year to another. My daughter loves having this service, a whole other world opened up to her. It would be nice to see DVS as much as Captions. 
> Thanks for sharing!!
> Heidi
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Richard Holloway <rholloway at gopbc.org>
> To: (for parents of blind children) Blind Kid Mailing List <blindkid at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Sun, Dec 8, 2013 1:47 am
> Subject: [blindkid] Audio Described Holiday Programs On TV
> The following is a lot to read, but if you want to find some holiday shows with 
> DVS, this will probably help make that possible. It is that time of year again-- 
> when I can't help but suggest to any who of you who haven't yet, to consider 
> exploring DVS Television programming for your blind kids. New laws, and perhaps 
> a better attitude in the TV industry towards accessibility are making DVS more 
> and more available on many people's home TV systems.
> The following are some programs to watch for this December which are believed to 
> be running with DVS:
> "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966 Cartoon Version) shows to be running with 
> DVS on TBS Sunday, December 7, 3:00
> The Grinch also re-runs December 13 at 8:00 pm
> note that the December 12 Grinch broadcast on TOON (Cartoon Network) is much 
> less likely to run with DVS.
> "Four Christmases" (rated TV-14, so not for little kids) is on TBS, December 8, 
> at 6:00 pm. It is listed to have DVS.
> Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is on CBS December 14, at 8:00 pm  It is NOT 
> listed with DVS but I was told it ran on CBS last year with DVS. I will be 
> recording this, "just in case."
> Frosty the Snowman runs on CBS, December 14, at 9:00 pm. It is also NOT listed 
> with DVS, not even on their separate DVS schedule, but I checked in on an 
> earlier broadcast last week on CBS and it WAS running with DVS. This is very 
> likely ti run with DVS.
> "Frosty Returns" December 14, at 9:30 pm may also be worth a check, since CBS 
> may well have just run two other Christmas shows with DVS right before it.
> "A Christmas Carol" on TNT December 20, at 9:00 pm shows to have DVS on TNT's 
> listings. It re-shows at midnight as well (three hours later).
> The blurb on the TNT schedule does not make clear which version this is (no 
> actors listed, etc.)
> "A Christmas Story" (marathon) Christmas Eve / Christmas Day-- usually starts at 
> 8:00 Christmas Eve on TBS. It runs for 24 hours. I can't find it listed on their 
> schedule yet (my schedules only lists programs 2 weeks in advance), and the last 
> two years, it did NOT seem to be listed with DVS, but it ran with DVS anyhow (I 
> confirmed this both years). I fully expect it will have DVS again this year.
> The CBS Cartoon "Yes, Virginia"  (as in Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus) 
> ran with DVS a few days ago on CBS. It didn't seem to be publicized as having 
> DVS, but it was described nonetheless. Watch for it next year, I don't see any 
> repeats listed yet...
> More on How/Where to find the "DVS," "descriptive video service," "audio 
> description," "video description," etc.-- the name may vary...
> Most DVS programming seems to appear as if it were being broadcast in Spanish in 
> your program controls. Generally the "SAP" or separate audio program setting has 
> no effect on finding DVS, as crazy as that may sound. Many programs on published 
> DVS guides list some programs as having "SAP". That seems to mean they run with 
> Spanish available-- look for "DVS" instead in these guides, especially for 
> Turner Networks Programming instead.
> If you receive your TV by way of an antenna, look for audio controls in your TV 
> set's settings. If you select your channels on a cable box, the settings or 
> audio controls on the cable tuner are the best place to start. Most likely, your 
> actual TV controls will not effect the audio selected if you don't change 
> channels on your actual TV set. If you use TiVo or Dish TV, etc., check in the 
> setup for that system. Older systems often required you to record with the 
> correct audio selected, some newer systems let you record all the languages so 
> you can still check multiple sound tracks even when you're playing back
> TNT, TBS, and perhaps other Turner Network stations seem to have three language 
> options running most of the time. On these networks, Spanish (when offered) 
> seems to generally run as "Spanish". When there is no Spanish, they seem to run 
> (non-described) English on the Spanish setting. The next language that comes up 
> on my TiVo is Portuguese and that's where I seem to generally find DVS (when 
> available) on TNT and TBS. Both are Turner stations. Strangely, my Comcast 
> converter shows the third language from these stations as French. 
> On any given network (not just Turner), at times, you will find English running 
> on all available audio streams, and none may be described. Other times, some 
> streams may be blank or running entirely unrelated audio. If you're watching an 
> HD network, one trick to try if you expect to find DVS and you don't is to 
> change to the SD (lower video resolution) version of the station. For some 
> reason sometimes the HD and SD channels with the same program don't both carry 
> DVS, and almost every time, it is the HD channel which has the DVS missing when 
> that happens. (Your mileage may vary.)
> You may also find an actual SAP setting, or even an "audio description" listing 
> in your controls. Generally this is NOT where you will find audio description. 
> Don't be discouraged if you check those and a program listed with DVS appears 
> not to have it. Check the alternate language options. This is almost always 
> where you will locate any available DVS.
> The above is just the tip of the iceberg for DVS. I'm sure there are upcoming 
> holiday shows I have missed and some of my listings may be wrong as all we can 
> do in some cases is guess. Also, some local broadcasters may not be relaying the 
> DVS even though it is provided.
> Right now, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, USA, the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, TNT, and 
> TBS are required to provide 50 hours a week of DVS programming in the top 25 TV 
> markets of the country.  New York is number one. Atlanta is 8th, for my local 
> friends, and Raleigh-Durham / Fayetteville, NC is 25th. If your market is as big 
> or bigger than Raleigh-Durham, you're on the list.
> In practice the network affiliates seem to be providing DVS most everywhere, but 
> it isn't always required. PBS and TCM provide some DVS programs too, but are not 
> required to do so. Satellite networks must pass along DVS provided by Nick, 
> Disney, TBS, TNT, and USA. Cable providers with 50,000 or more subscribers are 
> also required to do so. Local affiliates are required to pass along DVS from 
> networks even if they are NOT in the top 25 markets IF they have the technical 
> capability to do so, and most local affiliates do have this capability.
> What this all boils down to is that more and more TV viewers have and/or are 
> gaining more access to audio descriptions, and while it may be a hassle to 
> figure out where to turn it on, once you know how, it gets a lot easier. A note 
> for blind people who want better access to manage their own program option 
> controls-- audio accessible access to actual controls is a requirement for many 
> future systems to access DVS, so this will get easier in the future. Over time, 
> more and more programs will be offered, and there is a good chance that DVS will 
> one day become as ubiquitous as closed captioning for the hearing impaired, 
> probably not too far down the road.
> Those of you who may have stuck it out to read this whole post, be aware that 
> many, many more movies are also available described in theaters these days than 
> in recent years. Check first for a Regal theater in your area as they have added 
> systems in a great many of their theaters which offer DVS on every screening of 
> nearly every movie they show. A notable exception was a recent Thanksgiving 
> release "Free Birds" which was not available described, but that is the only new 
> release I have personally checked on in the past year or more which Regal was 
> not running with DVS (so long as they were screening the title I checked on). It 
> is not unusual to see every movie being screened at a nearby 24 screen Regal 
> offering DVS at the same time. Quite a change from a few years ago!
> There are also more and more described movies released on DVD these days. Here 
> is a list of how many known videos (for kids and adults combined) have been 
> released with DVS over the past several years:
> 2013:      61 titles (as of December 8, 2013)
> 2012:      86
> 2011:      81
> 2010:      49
> 2009:      13
> 2008:        7
> 2007:        4
> 2006:        4
> 2005:        3
> 2004:        3
> 2003:        4
> 2002:        0
> 2001:        1
> I'd call that progress! 
> If you want to find a DVD with the DVS option and a Christmas theme, the live 
> action (Jim Carey) version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is an option, as 
> are both Arthur Christmas, and the DISNEY version of A Christmas Carol (also 
> with Jim Carey). Check the languages shown on the back before you buy to be 
> certain you have the right version of the right movie in hand!
> For more information on DVS in general, her is an outstanding link:
> http://www.acb.org/adp/
> The above is for "The Audio Description Project", a substantial undertaking 
> offering a wealth of information on Audio Description. Much of the information I 
> have in this post  is available in much greater detail on their site. Thanks to 
> them for offering so much reference material on this topic.
> Finally, if you want to check and see where a movie is playing in a theater with 
> DVS, below is another excellent link (for a site called Captionfish), though if 
> you check with a local Regal theater, you may also learn that they run most 
> EVERY film with available DVS. If you use Captionfish, be CERTAIN to use the 
> filter and set it to "Descriptive Video". If you don't, results will intermix 
> DVS and captioned options.
> http://www.captionfish.com/
> Happy Holidays to you all!
> Richard
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