This page contains selected news items
previously featured on our main page from 2015-2018. 2018201720162015
For previous AD news articles, see our listing from
2010 to 2014.
Survey of Worldwide Audio Description Activity
A year ago, the ACB's Audio Description Project joined forces with the
World Blind Union
to survey organizations around the world on the availability of audio
description in their country. The survey consisted of just eleven
carefully chosen questions, and users from 69 countries responded. Their
final report is now available. [Link no longer available]. (Posted Dec 20)
Podcast Interview With Roy Samuelson
If his name is familiar to you, it's because Roy Samuelson is the voice
behind the audio description of many TV shows (like NCIS, Blue Bloods, and
Lethal Weapon) and movies (like First Man and Venom).
Listen to this interview by Blind Abilities. (Posted Dec 18)
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Rory Hoffman, with
this special holiday audio/video presentation from the American Council of the
Blind with description provided by Joel Snyder of the Audio Description
Project. Rory Hoffman, who is blind, started playing instruments at age
three and now plays over a dozen (which is fortunate, since he plays a
different one for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas)! Having
performed at the Grand Ole Opry, with many groups touring the US and
worldwide, we are fortunate to be able to enjoy his skills on this Christmas
and watch The
Twelve Days of Christmas. (Posted Dec 13)
Considerations for Movie Description
In a recent podcast, blind consumer Thomas Reid questions some decisions
made in describing a recent blockbuster movie, from word choice to failing to
read credits to deciding who should voice the description. He then goes
on to consider something many of us have talked about before: the
concept of a preshow script to set the stage for the movie, just like many of
us do today in live theatre. Listen to:
Reid My Mind Radio - On Black Panther Audio Description - Race, Selection &
Time. You can follow Thomas on Twitter as
(Posted Dec 11)
Smithsonian American Art Museum Offers Tours for Those
with Visual Impairment
Once again we are encouraging young people with visual impairment from ages
7 through 21 to write reviews of audio described movies. It's
time for the 2019 Benefits of Audio Description
Education (BADIE) contest!
Read all about the BADIE contest and share the information with students
who are visually impaired and their teachers, as both can win prizes.
Deadline is December 3.
(Updated Nov 27)
Movie Description Tracks
Actiview, which offers a
free app (rated 5-stars) supplying audio description tracks
for movies playing in a theater or on any other device at home, now
offers the following movies. [NOTE: This list is now being
maintained on our About AD in Movies page.]
In Theaters:Mid90s, The
Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Wildlife.
At Home:Antman and the Wasp, Breathe,
Christopher Robin, Coco, Danny Collins, Dealt, Denial, Eye in the Sky, Far From the Tree,
Hereditary, Incredibles 2, It Comes At Night, Lady Bird, Logan Lucky, Megan Levy,
Paterson, Peppermint, Pick of the Litter, Room, Solo: A Star
Wars Story, The Florida Project, The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, The Man Who Invented Christmas, Wonderstruck.
"HBO ... Discriminates Against Blind People" Opinion
from the Huffington Post
Elyse Wanshel, a reporter for the Huffington Post, has written an
Opinion column titled,
HBO’s ‘My Brilliant Friend’ Discriminates Against Blind People. As a
legally blind person, she is unable to read the subtitles in this series
spoken in Italian, nor is she able to perceive either the nuances or key
aspects of the video that any sighted person would perceive. She bemoans
the fact that HBO acknowledges "it does not offer video description services
for any of its programming... Yet HBO won’t budge, nor did it offer me
any explanation as to why it does not offer audio description."
Having worked in the past with Netflix and more recently Hulu on the
subject of offering audio description, the ACB and the Audio Description
Project are looking into how best to persuade other studios and video
services like HBO to commit to providing Audio Description. (Posted Nov
Audio Describer Certification Deadline Extended!
The Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education
Professionals (ACVREP) is developing a certification process for audio
description professionals. The group is recruiting individuals who might
wish to serve on its Subject Matter Expert Committee. The committee will
be charged with crafting all material related to the certification process
including application materials. If you are interested in
applying to be a member of the Subject Matter Expert Committee,
the ACVREP website. The new deadline is December 15. (Updated
Live Xbox Show To Be Audio Described Nov 10
Microsoft has informed us that the November 10th episode of
Inside Xbox will include Audio Description. The live show, direct from
X018 in Mexico
City, will feature nearly two hours of breaking news, announcements and
exclusive interviews on games including Minecraft, Forza Horizon 4, State of
Decay 2, Sea of Thieves, PUBG, Xbox Game Pass and much, much more. The show
occurs from 4-6PM EST on Saturday November 10 on the official
Xbox channel at
Mixer.com/Xbox and will be available on Video-on-Demand following the
broadcast. (Posted Nov 6)
Some of you have enjoyed the free described programming on blindy.tv.
Be advised that they closed up shop at the beginning of October due to
increasing technical challenges in keeping the streams operational.
(Posted Oct 23)
Hulu Commits to Audio Description
with over 20
million streaming subscribers, and advocates from the American Council of the
Blind and Bay State Council of the Blind have reached a settlement
agreement to increase the accessibility
of Hulu's streaming service to individuals who are blind or have low vision.
As a result, Hulu will undertake efforts to make its website and software
applications accessible via screen readers and will provide audio
description tracks for streaming content where possible.
Content and accessibility will begin to rollout sometime in 2019.
Press Release. (Posted Oct 17)
Multimedia is currently providing accessibility for winners of 17
Cynopsis Kids Imagination Awards, celebrating innovation and excellence in
kids, tween, and teen media and appearing on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. Shows
include Cyberchase on PBS, Lucky Dog on CBS, Rock the Park on ABC, and
Naturally Danny Seo on NBC. (Posted Oct 9)
Audio Description Podcasts
Eyes on Success
offers podcasts discussing products, services, and daily living tips for
people with vision loss. Three recent podcasts discussed audio
Podcast 1834 interviews Rachel Melton of MindsEye Radio who
discusses audio description. MindsEye Radio received a 2018 ADP
Podcast 1835 discusses what's involved in creating AD for live
theatre for another ADP Achievement award winner, Geva Theatre Center in
Access Tech Watch-360 is offering a free podcast reviewing audio described
movies. The current one runs about 30 minutes and has two visually
impaired reviewers reviewing three movies. Give a listen:
It's Movie Night! Accessible Audio Movie Review. (Updated Oct 2)
Indiana State Museum App For Visually Impaired
The Indiana State
Museum has just launched an App which will help guide patrons who are
visually impaired around the museum. "As visitors walk through areas of
the museum, an audio tour guides them to different artifacts or interactives,
providing descriptive information about each stop on the tour. Specific audio
instructions, tactile maps and floor guides create guideposts which make it
easier for visitors to navigate the museum." Use your own iPhone or
Android device or borrow one in the museum.
Read the App Announcement. Let's hope this sets an excellent
precedent for other museums! (Posted Sep 25)
At the July 2018 ACB Conference, the membership voted on 23 proposed
Resolutions, one of which was entitled
The resolution urged the FCC to "to exercise all appropriate authority to
require the broadcast and non-broadcast networks to establish and/or join an
automated digital listing of all available audio-described programming;
and ... monitor such listings on an ongoing basis for quality assurance ..."
(Posted Aug 14)
Tactile Comic Strips
The Charles M. Schulz
Museum in Santa Rosa, CA, recently contracted the
LightHouse MAD Lab to create a tactile version of one of the original
Peanuts comic strips. While the work can be viewed on request at any
time, there will be a special Accessible Tour Day on September 23 at 11:30am
which emphasizes tactile objects. For
[email protected]lzmuseum.org. If you are a museum looking for tactile
displays, please contact the MAD Lab. (Posted Aug 14)
Gaming Video Audio Described
Many people who are visually impaired also like to participate in video
games. While we have no experience with or knowledge of accessible
games, we found this video of "Fortnite" very interesting because the owner
audio describes what he is doing in the portions of the game he shows.
Very interesting and worth a look!
Video. (Posted Aug 14)
Mandated TV AD Changes July 1
May 2018 FCC Order and Public Notice changed the FCC mandate
for which TV networks are required to provide audio description
effective July 1. The Order drops the Disney Channel and TNT
and replaces them with HGTV and Discovery.
In addition, networks will now be required to provide a larger
number of hours of described TV (87.5 per quarter), with limited
"credit" for repeats. Both
Discovery have now published a schedule of described programming,
and their shows have also been added to our
Master AD List. (Updated
Nine Additional Described DVDs Located
ADP friend William Gary has uncovered NINE additional described DVDs
from 2013 to 2017 as follows:
Achievement in Audio Description - Performing Arts:
MindsEye Radio/Marjorie Moore - St. Louis, MO.
Achievement in Audio Description - Media: Rooted in
Rights - Seattle, WA.
Achievement in Audio Description - Museums/Visual Art/Visitor Centers:
Tennessee School for the Blind and Julia Cawthon
- Nashville, TN. Achievement in Audio Description - International:
Amos Be'er, CEO, The Central Library for
the Blind and Visually Impaired People, Israel. Achievement in
Audio Description - International: Special Recognition Achievement
in Audio Description: Antonio Vazquez Martin,
Aristia Producciones SLU-Madrid, Spain. Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl
Memorial Achievement Award in Audio Description - Research and Development:
Dr. Francisco Lima-Recife, Brazil. Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio
Description: The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National
Center for Accessible Media at WGBH (NCAM).
What a wonderful ADP Conference we had in St. Louis! We
had great panels and individual speakers, highlighted by our luncheon
speaker, actress Marilee Talkington, who fascinated
us with her story of the difficulty of becoming a recognized actress
with a disability. (She is one of only four visually impaired
actors/actresses.) Her performance in the 350th episode of
NCIS was played one evening, along with the movie "Dealt," the story
of Richard Turner, a master "card manipulator" (magician) who hated
being introduced as blind.
The June 19-24 national tour of “School of Rock” at ASU Gammage
offered a chance to try out a new app that provides accessibility
services — closed captioning and audio description
— as well as translations into foreign languages. The app
was also used during the recent Tony Awards broadcast.
Read more about GalaPro. (Updated Jun 26)
Guerilla Opera Outreach
Opera, a Boston-based experimental opera company now in its
11th season, is launching a new outreach program to support a deeper,
richer, and interactive experience for patrons with visual disabilities.
One performance from each production will include guided pre-concert
tactile tours of the set as well as the company's usual talk-backs
with the composers and creators; Large Print program books; and
Audio Guides and program book narration available for download and
to stream from any mobile devices.
Read the Guerilla Opera Article and/or
Listen to a Sample Program Book Narration. (Posted Jun
NC Museum of Art AD Podcasts for the "You
Are Here" Exhibit Available
The NC Museum
of Art's exhibit "You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences"
(now through July 22) features immersive art installations by 15
contemporary artists, including large-scale light works, sound installations,
video works, mixed-media room-size environments, and site-specific
projects. To make the experience accessible to visitors with
visual impairment, they hired two audio describers from Raleigh's
to describe the exhibits. Podcasts of these descriptions,
averaging two minutes apiece, are available for all to enjoy.
You Are Here Podcasts or
read the press release (PDF). We hope other museums
will follow the NCMA lead and hire local describers to create audio
descriptions of their own exhibits! (Updated June 5)
Dance Without Sight
A recent NY Times article featured Mana Hashimoto, a blind
professional dancer and choreographer, who supplements audio description of
dance with a hands-on experience in her "Dance Without Sight" workshop.
As she says, "touch adds another layer to verbal descriptions." Read
How to Convey Dance to Those Without Sight? All Hands On! (Posted May 22)
AD for the Royal Wedding
audio description of the Royal Wedding on May 19. Note, however,
that the recording begins with 23 seconds of silence, so please be patient!
You may advance forwards or backwards through the description in 15-second
increments by using the left or right arrow keys. (Posted May 22)
If you received an email from a company named Visualping
about migrating your account, you should respond. The service we have
been using to notify you about changes to this page has merged with
Visualping, and responding to their note simply assures that you continue to
be notified. If you deleted their note or wish to monitor this or any
other web page, visit the
Visualping website, or reestablish notification using the box on the upper
right of this page.
The service is free for up to 62 notifications per month, though we try to
limit our updates of this page to once or twice a week. (Posted May
Audio Description App Studied by Field-Research Team
at Muir Woods National Monument
Last December, we reported on a focus group
evaluating a UniDescription App at Yosemite National Park. Another
group has just
tested the App at Muir Woods. Sixteen ACB members from California
chapters evaluated and gave overall positive reviews to the App. The
project "aims to create digital audio spaces and more accessible places."
The UniD app is available for both iOS and Android smart phones and contains
audio description of more than 50 National Park Service brochures so far.
(Posted May 15)
Movies For the Blind
Movies For the Blind (MFTB) is a weekly audio
podcast of public-domain movies and TV shows with
audio description added so anyone can listen to a movie like it's
an audiobook or an audio drama. It was started by Valerie
Hunter of Canada in 2007. You can subscribe via your favorite
podcast app (like iTunes) or access via the
Read Valerie's article about the
MFTB service and how it was started. (Posted May 1)
Your webmaster recently returned from
vacation in Europe and found
two more airlines offering audio described movies: United and Lufthansa.
Both airlines had lots of described movies including current ones.
The United feature was just announced publicly on April 12;
United Press Release. Other airlines offering AD include ANA
(Japan), Emirates, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia.
You probably won't
find this on all the airlines' video systems, as AD may be phasing in on
newer systems, and don't expect a talking interface! Ask a cabin
attendant for assistance if necessary; but for now, you may find they don't
know what you are talking about! A search of the United and Lufthansa websites
for "audio description" produced no matches. It is nice to know we are
making progress, though. (Updated Apr 19)
The ACB is interested in developing a certification process for audio
describers. To that end, they have reached out to the Academy for
Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) to
develop a certification process for audio description professionals. In
addition, the ACB is hosting an open conference call on April
2 to discuss the proposal. Interested parties should review the
following two documents. (Posted Mar 6)
A couple of recent articles have promoted the idea of sighted folks
listening to Netflix in their car (or elsewhere) with the Audio Description
track turned on, effectively turning a video into an audiobook!
"... unexpected audiences for AD are emerging
because of user engagement. For example, the elderly, people with
intellectual disabilities, and people whose first language is not English
find benefits from the availability of AD. AD can also aid in the creation
of image transcripts and databases, and in early childhood and university
level education, including video-based medical education... Netflix currently offers the only consistent AD service
in Australia." (Updated Mar 6)
Winter PARALYMPICS Audio Description
description is available for PARALYMPICS primetime coverage on NBC from
March 9-16. Description
is once again provided by
Descriptive Video Works of Canada, winners of the 2017 ADP Barry Levine
Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description. They also
provide description for Netflix and other media. (Updated Mar 1)
Winter Olympics Audio Description
description is available for all primetime coverage on NBC, starting with
the day prior to the Opening Ceremony right through the Closing Ceremony on
February 25. Description
is provided by
Descriptive Video Works of Canada, winners of the 2017 ADP Barry Levine
Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description. They also
provide description for Netflix and other media.
Read the AD Olympics announcement. (Updated Feb 23)
Survey: Visually Impaired Adults Watch a Lot of TV!
A survey conducted by Comcast and the American Foundation for the Blind
(AFB) concluded that adults with visual impairment watch almost as much
television as their sighted counterparts -- four or more hours per day.
While responders reported the helpfulness of audio description and voice
control, awareness (less than half) was disappointingly low.
Read the survey results. (Posted Feb 20)
List Now Complete With First-Run Movies and TV Series
We recently completed our
Master AD List by adding audio described first-run movies
(Cinema) to the recently added
TV series (the nine FCC-mandated
networks). Example: (Updated
NCIS [Series] ... CBS USA NETFLIX
Star Wars, The Last Jedi ... CINEMA
Audio Description on Cruise Ships
One of our ADP committees has been discussing the requirements for and
availability of audio description on cruise ships. While this is an
ongoing project, our Project Director Joel Snyder, who has actually provided
audio description on cruise ships, has prepared a "white paper" on the
subject. Interested? Read
Cruising to a More
Inclusive Experience on Cruise Ships. (Posted Feb 13)
NY Times Tech Tip on AD ... About Us!
With pointer after pointer to the ADP website, a
NY Times Personal Tech article provides a very detailed answer to
a reader's question of how to find out if selected programming is audio
described. There is an image of our Master AD List (the
perfect choice!) and a link to description of Disney's The Lion King. (Posted Feb 8)
2017 ADP Annual Report
Our Project Director, Joel Snyder, has compiled the
2017 Annual ADP Report of the activities and accomplishments of the Audio
Description Project. Most of these accomplishments can be attributed to
the volunteer work of the members of the seven
ADP Committees, many of which meet monthly throughout the year. Take
a look and see what we've been working on! (Posted Jan 30)
BADIE Award Winners Announced
The premise of the BADIE* program is simple: kids love movies.
If a young person can't see or can't see well, audio description provides
access to all the visual images of the movies that their sighted peers enjoy.
Description benefits children who are blind and others who have learning
disabilities, and it has been shown to boost literacy for all children.
(* Benefits of Audio Description
The BADIE program asked young people who are blind or have low vision to
submit short reviews of any described movie. They did, and we awarded the
best ones, like Townsend Stemple of the West Virginia
School for the Blind in Romney, WV!
Read the BADIE Award Winners Press Release. (Posted
Telemundo: Children's Programs with Spanish AD
Telemundo, a division of NBCUniversal Hispanic Enterprises and Content, has
begun airing its first audio described programming -- and it's for children,
in Spanish, of course! The Mi Telemundo Kids and Family
Programming Block (as it's called) began this month and starts at 8am Saturday
Mornings. It consists of El Viajero Con Josh Garcia, Salvando
Animales, Aventuras Con Dylan Dreyer, Vivir Al Natural, Danny Seo, Una Mano
Amiga, and El Campeón En Ti. Produced by
Litton Entertainment with dubbing, description, and
captioning by Bridge Multimedia, this series is the fifth set of audio
described Saturday morning shows for kids (the others being on ABC, CBS, NBC,
and The CW).
Read more about Mi Telemundo. (Posted Jan 23)
KLM and Virgin Atlantic Airlines Offer Audio Description
January 2, 2018, KLM is offering films with audio description
via its inflight entertainment system aboard intercontinental flights.
This reflects KLM’s ambition to offer passengers memorable experiences when
travelling, according to KLM. The first films with audio description
are: Home Again, Kingsman, The Golden Circle, and Lego Ninjago Movie.
More films will be added in the coming months.
Virgin Atlantic improved the experience of
flying for its blind passengers by offering audio description on its
entertainment system in November 2017. Passengers can request a handheld tablet from the
cabin crew prior to takeoff. The touchscreen device comes loaded with a list
of current film and TV titles, all of which have been adapted to offer audio
description. Virgin Atlantic says it has tested the new feature with
Guide Dogs for the Blind, reporting positive feedback from visually-impaired
Read the full article.
Here are the conclusions we reached by analyzing the results of our
weekly auditing of all DVDs released in 2017:
Disney and Paramount describe
around 85% of their major films on DVD.
Warner Bros, the last major studio to start
describing DVDs, now provides description on over 75% of their
Fox describes nearly 65% of their DVDs.
the 2nd largest number of DVDs each year, but describes less than 45% of them.
the 3rd largest number of DVDs each year, but only describes about
35% of them.
Lionsgate, which released the largest number of
DVDs last year by far (116), described a paltry 10% of them.
The studios not offering any description, yet having 6
or more DVDs during 2017 are: Shout Factory
(18), Well Go (11), Magnolia (10), MPI (9), Image (6),
and Broad Green (6).
In our analysis of all 466 DVDs from 50 studios identified by the
Release Dates site and/or located in stores in 2017, only 30%
description tracks. With one exception, these statistics do not include
videos of TV series, none of which were described on DVD. (Posted
Thank You, Contributors by Fred Brack, Webmaster
would like to thank some of the contributors to the content of this
website during the past year, beyond those folks on Audio Description Project
Committees. In no particular order:
Timothy Wynn (winner of a 2017 ADP Achievement
Award), for his detailed knowledge of what's on when, who describes it,
and is there anything technically wrong with it!
William Gary, who has located numerous old DVDs that
have description tracks, so they could be added to our master list of
DVDs with description.
Matthew Elliff, who keeps me on my toes with
questions and answers about listing data on the ADP website.
Michele Spitz, a professional voice-over artist
with a special interest in audio description, who has both sponsored and
identified to me for listing a number of described DVDs she did featuring persons
Brian, Erica, and Stefan from Netflix, who have
been extremely responsive to suggestions and questions which make
your AD experience on Netflix much better and my ability
to report on Netflix AD titles easier.
Unidescription App at Yosemite
Recently, 26 members and guests of the (ACB's) CCB Fresno chapter visited
Yosemite National Park to beta test the new iOS and Android app
"Unidescription" (UniD) developed by the University of Hawaii. A focus
group at the end provided valuable feedback to developers. You can
read about the Yosemite beta test, and you can also download
the app now, as several national parks are participating. (Posted Dec 5)
On November 20, the ACB and others filed a nationwide class action against
Hulu for failing to provide accommodations for people who are blind or
visually impaired, in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Specifically, Hulu does not provide any audio description tracks for its
videos, and its website and app are not considered accessible. The ACB,
ADP, and individuals have contacted Hulu numerous times in the past about this
matter without resolution, and thus the Class Action.
Read the Hulu
Class Action Press Release and/or view the Hulu Class Action Document.
(Posted Nov 21)
Actiview App Supports
FIVE New Films
The Actiview app supports audio description for twofive new movies: Wonderstruck,Breathe,
The Man Who
Invented Christmas, and Dealt. The audio description is
delivered via the free app, not the cinema. Just download the AD track
at home using the App, then bring your smartphone
and earphones to the movie theater. In addition to audio description,
the app supports amplified audio (as an Assisted Listening Device), captioning, foreign languages, and
sign language for some movies. At the present time, the app is only
available to iPhone users, but an Android version is in development, as are
tracks for other movies.
Visit the Actiview website and join their email list. (Updated Nov
"Dealt" - A Movie About a Blind Magician
"Dealt" is a movie about totally blind 62-year-old Richard Turner, one of
the greatest card magicians. Having won numerous awards at film
festivals, the audio described film is now starting
the rounds of theaters.
Visit the film's website
for the trailer and city dates, or
read this article from Variety about the film. "Dealt" is also
available on iTunes with description and has
just been added to Actiview! (Updated Nov 21)
UK State-of-Theatre-Access Report
Once again, VocalEyes
has published an annual
State of Theatre Access in the UK report. They visited 659
professional theatre websites auditing access information. The report
details results across disabilities, such as 25% of the websites mention audio
description and/or touch tours. The link above is the summary, and
here is the report itself. (Posted Oct 31)
Free Audio Described Shows in the UK
The Into Film Festival
takes place from November 8-24. It's the world's
largest free film and education event for 5-19 year olds,
presenting 3,000 free cinema screenings, and showcasing over 140
films at more than 600 venues across the UK. Around 30% of
shows are audio described.
Search for Festival events near
you and book tickets. (Posted Oct 31)
More Than Doubles Described Content
Amazon has been working behind the scenes to ready new described content
for visually impaired consumers. The list of described shows recently
jumped from 127 to 280! Some of the content is free for members of
Amazon Prime. See all Amazon described titles.
You can always find the list of current described shows in our "Described
Titles" links at the top of each website page. (Updated Oct 17)
Switzerland to Increase Accessible Public Media
Content for Persons with Disabilities
The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), which includes public radio,
television and on-line services aims to subtitle 80 percent of its programs by
2022 -- an increase of 30 percent compared with today's visual output.
It plans to provide 900 hours of audio described content and
1000 hours of sign language - more than doubling today's accessible content.
Read more on the
SBC's move to increase accessible public media content. (Posted Oct
Always-On AD Coming to London's National Theatre
Theatre in London has announced the coming of new technology called
Open Access Smart Capture to provide "always on closed
captioning and audio-description service" at every performance.
Testing will start in the Dorfman Theatre, expanding later to the Lyttelton
and Olivier. The target date for full captioning is October 2018, and
for full description by April 2019, provided by their partner VocalEyes.
You can read more starting at the bottom of page 6 in this
National Theatre news bulletin or in this
The Stage article or in this
VocalEyes article. (Posted Oct 4)
As the only repository of all audio described titles on DVD and the three
video streaming services (Amazon, iTunes, and Netflix), we decided to create a
new index of all the titles. This new "Master" index will allow you to
look up any movie or TV series to see if it is available anywhere for purchase
or with a subscription. (Current first-run movies and TV shows are not
included but are still available in separate listings.) At the moment,
there are 1479 described videos available, 585 of which are
duplicated in more than one service. We've also added
a new navigation link to the full list of over 800 DVDs with AD tracks.
(Counts Updated Sep 26)
Painting Exhibition With AD in Turkey
An event organized as part of Türk Telekom’s social responsibility project
“Telefon Kütüphanesi” (Telephone Library) features 20 famous paintings from
Turkey and around the world. The paintings are verbally described for
visually impaired art lovers by well-known people from around the region.
Türk Telekom is planning to take the exhibition across Turkey, and the works
of art can also be accessed through land phones and the official mobile app of
Read more about the exhibit in Turkey. (Posted Sep 19, with thanks
CoolBlindTech for the link)
Alice Austin by Joel Snyder
It is with great sadness that I share news of the passing of Alice Austin.
Alice was a long-time and thoroughly proficient audio describer in the Boston
area. She worked for quite some time for WGBH and also throughout the
Boston area making live performances accessible to people who are blind or
have low vision. She developed audio description scripts for me and her
work was always vivid, imaginative and succinct. She is greatly missed.
Alice's Obituary. (Posted Sep 19)
Non-Disabled Customers Use Netflix AD
recent Netflix blog article highlighted the fact that some non-visually
impaired customers of Netflix benefit from using description. (Posted
A 2016 lawsuit against AMC Theaters has been resolved. AMC agrees to
staff training, regular testing of equipment, and a video with audio
description prior to the main feature so customers can verify that equipment is
working. Read about the AMC Agreement.
(Posted Aug 1)
Netflix Introduces Interactive Video (with
Netflix, which currently offers over 425 audio described videos,
has introduced a new type of video called an interactive video.
By making selections presented on the screen during the show, the
flow of the video is altered, with different content. They
are audio described, as are all Netflix
Original presentations. The following two programs were
introduced in June and July: Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale,
and Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile. Learn more on the
We would love to hear from viewers with young visually impaired
children if this experience works well for them with description.
(Updated Jul 25)
FCC Orders 75% Increase in "Video Description"
The top four broadcast and top five nonbroadcast networks must increase
the amount of described programming from 50 hours/quarter to
87.5 hours/quarter (the maximum authority that Congress gave
the FCC) by July 2018. This works out to about one hour per day.
Read the FCC Order. See our chart on
how much description networks are providing
today. (Posted Jul 18)
Audio Description Achievement Awards
The 2017 winners of the Audio Description Achievement
Awards were announced at the ACB Conference in Reno, NV, last week.
Read the Press Release. (Posted Jul 11)
- Achievement in Audio Description - Performing Arts: Lori
Ward, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Nashville TN (for a
comprehensive program of audio description for all productions throughout
the year, with 100 attendees on average for performances)
- Achievement in Audio Description - Media: ABC Digital
(for their app which allows for program viewing with audio description;
no other network currently provides such an app that includes description)
- Achievement in Audio Description - International: ABLE - New
Zealand (for the not-for-profit organization's program providing
captioning and audio description for television, now totaling more than
40 hours per week)
- Achievement in Audio Description - International: Dr. Anna
Jankowska, Poland (for her work as the President of the 7th
Sense Foundation where she develops audio description and organizes
screenings at the Krakow Film Music Festival, gathers volunteers and
trains them in creating audio description)
- Special Recognition Achievement in Audio Description: Timothy
Wynn, Florida (for his work as a consistent contributor on
many aspects of audio description via the ADP List Serve discussion
list, the ADP Website, and to TV networks and Netflix regarding audio
description tracks or delivery systems)
- Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio Description
- Research and Development: Actiview, California (for
the Actiview app which offers audio description (as well as closed captions,
amplified audio, sign language interpretation, and multiple languages)
in movie theaters)
- Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description:
Diane Johnson, Descriptive Video Works-Canada (for
her founding of Descriptive Video Works, breaking new ground and removing
old barriers by using audio description to make television, film and
other visual media accessible to people who are blind or have low vision)
On June 9th the ACB and Amazon were pleased to announce the initial
Amazon Video offering of 117 audio described movies and 10 TV series.
All of the TV series and some of the movies are available free to Amazon
Prime members. Once you make a selection of description from the
Audio menu on a given device, your choice will be remembered for future
titles that have description tracks. We will continue to update
our list of described Amazon titles and
announce them via social media as they become available. You can
use the new link at the top of each ADP website page
to find complete information, or go directly to
Amazon's Described Videos page. (Updated Jun 27)
Philips Television Announces Enhanced Accessibility
From a Philips Television Press Release
"The full line of 2017 Philips brand televisions and video players
now offers Enhanced Accessibility to allow blind and visually impaired
users to control the devices' functions. Adding Enhanced Accessibility
to products entails the addition of voice guide descriptive menus, easy
to read user interface, guide dots on remote controls, easy access to
closed captioning/subtitles and secondary audio, easy access to support,
and an easy way to identify these products both at retail and on the
Philips website with the help of an Enhanced Accessibility logo."
The Trump Administration Is Behind On White House Tours For Blind Visitors
is the title of an article on Buzzfeed. The original tour, released
at the start of Obama's second term, was written by ADP Project Director
Joel Snyder and voiced by the late Ed Walker, a radio personality who
was blind. A new room was added after Mr Walker died, so Joel
Snyder revoiced the entire tour. When Donald Trump took office,
the tour was rescinded, and no one knows why. Read the article
for more details. (Posted Jun 20)
Australia Forms Audio Description Working Group
"The Turnbull Government has announced the formation of an Audio
Description Working Group to examine options for increasing the availability
of audio description services in Australia." This follows a 15-month
trial which ended last year.
Read about the AU Working Group. (Posted Jun 20)
FCC Honors Innovators in Accessible Communications
Winner: Facebook - Automatic Alt Text (AAT) Description:
Alt text is hidden text that screen readers speak aloud to describe
an image that cannot be "read" by those devices. This technology enables
people who are blind, visually impaired or print-disabled to understand
the content of photos, drawings, charts and diagrams. AAT is a new,
free feature on Facebook that uses artificial intelligence and object
recognition to automatically generate alt text for such images.
Winner: The Integrated Described Video Best Practices Guide
Description: The Integrated Described Video Best Practices Guide is
an Accessible Media Inc.-led initiative created in
collaboration with the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, broadcast
service providers, described video practitioners and members of the
public. The guide was created to encourage producers to naturally include
more descriptive text in scripts, reducing the need to add video description
to program content after it is created. The
free guide highlights the benefits of IDV and includes best practices
and techniques that can be used to create inclusive programming that
is more easily understood by blind and low-vision individuals.
(Posted Jun 15)
How Do You Watch Peak TV If You're Blind?
That's the title of a new
article in Vanity Fair. It features description on the Netflix
show "House of Cards" and goes on to discuss how long it takes to write
description, aspects of description such as choice of words, and how
important it is to one blind viewer. ADP director Joel Snyder
contributed to the article. [The article's statement that Amazon
does not provide description is incorrect. It was written just
before Amazon announced description - see separate article on this page!]
(Posted June 15)
Audible Emergency Information on TV
On June 8, 2017, the FCC released a
Public Notice to remind multichannel video programming distributors
(MVPDs) of the July 10, 2017 deadline to pass through audible emergency
information via the secondary audio stream on second screens devices,
such as tablets, smartphones, and laptops. The purpose of this rule
is to make sure that people who are blind or visually impaired have
audible access to televised information about emergencies (for example,
tornados, hurricanes, or wildfires) when such information is displayed
visually, such as an on-screen text crawl. (Posted Jun 13)
Amazon has initiated audio described content, and today ACB with
Amazon is pleased to announce the initial Amazon Video offering of 117
movies and 10 TV series. All of the TV series and some of the
movies are available free to Amazon Prime members. Once you make
a selection of description from the Audio menu on a given device, your
choice will be remembered for future titles that have description tracks.
We will continue to update our list of described
Amazon titles and announce them via social media as they become
available. You can use the link at the top of each ADP
website page to find complete information, or go directly to
Amazon's Described Videos page. (Posted Jun 9)
Audio Described TV Programs in the USA
New: Love Connection on
What TV programs offer audio description? Is my favorite described
show returning next season? We've got all the answers on our
Audio Described Shows on TV page.
We've been tracking renewals and cancelations, and you'll find that
in our listing. (Sorry folks, but 22 of them have been canceled
so far, including Bones, The Real O'Neals, Grimm, and Chicago Justice;
however, no described CBS shows have been canceled.)
Advocates is investigating complaints from blind individuals
who report that the Hulu website and mobile applications
are not accessible, and from blind individuals who
want audio description tracks to be made available on
Hulu. They would greatly appreciate speaking
with you if you are blind and you have chosen not to subscribe to
Hulu because you have heard about access barriers or the lack of
audio description. They would also like to speak with you
if you have confronted access barriers yourself while using Hulu.
To share your experiences, please contact Kyle Ruiz, by phone at
(510) 665-8644 or by email at
[email protected]. (Posted May 23)
The DADA Project
April 25th, a "preview unveiling" was held at the site of Major the
Bull, a bronze statue in a small plaza in Durham, NC. The occasion was
the introduction of recorded audio descriptions of Major and
eight other pieces of public art. What is interesting is that
the descriptions were written and recorded by students in Dan Ellison's
Service Learning class at Duke University, in consultation with Arts
Access of Raleigh, plus reviews by several blind patrons.
Read the full story about the DADA project.
(Posted May 23)
Virgin Australia Introduces Audible User Interface
for In-Flight Entertainment
"Virgin Australia has become the first airline in the Asia Pacific
and the second airline in the world to introduce an in-flight entertainment
(IFE) user interface for passengers who are blind or have low vision.
Designed to make the customer experience more accessible for vision
impaired passengers, the new interface increases accessibility to IFE
content through simplified screen layouts, larger icons and voice prompts."
The interface does not appear to include audio description tracks of
Read the Virgin Australia article. (Posted May 18)
Netflix Releases 57 Described Titles Over 3 Weeks
From April 27 to May 17,Netflix released 57 new audio described titles,
many by Disney, and including movies from the 60's through the 90's,
in addition to Netflix Originals. Check our
Netflix listing for the details of their
more than 385 described titles. (Updated May 18)
AMC Movie Theaters Settles Class Action Suit
"Lead plaintiff Scott Blanks sued AMC in February 2016, saying that
though the theatre chain supposedly offered audio-description devices,
it often gave blind patrons the wrong gadgets, such as devices intended
for deaf people, or malfunctioning equipment." That's a common
complaint among blind movie-goers, regardless of the theater chain.
This settlement is a model for others. "Under the two-year settlement
deal, AMC will train employees how to use and set up the devices, create
a step-by-step guide for them, and test the equipment weekly."
Read the story about the settlement. (Posted May 2)
FCC's Webinar on Consumer Help Center
On Monday, April 24, the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs
Bureau hosted a webinar about the FCC's Consumer Help Center,
the online portal for filing complaints and consumer information.
The webinar covered in part how to file an informal complaint
related to access for people with disabilities.
A copy of the webinar video and presentation is posted at
April 24th Event. (Updated Apr 25)
BADIE Award Winners Announced; Recordings Added
The BADIE contest (which we
announced last October)
asked young people who are blind or have low vision to submit short
reviews of any described movie. Here we
announce the winners. We have
now added audio of the winners reading their submissions. (Updated
Hamilton (Lack of AD) Lawsuit Revisited
An interesting new article appeared on NPR recently discussing the
lawsuit regarding the lack of audio description for the immensely popular
Broadway show Hamilton. "I think what this suit
brings to light is that you have a hidden population out there that
is not gaining the full access to Broadway," says attorney Scott Dinin
who filed the class-action suit. On the other hand, there are
good things to report. "Last year, a new website called
NYC launched" whose goal is " to provide one stop where people with
disabilities can find accessible performances."
Read the NPR article. (Posted Mar 21)
UC-Berkeley To Delete Online Content
Per a recent
Campus Announcement, the University of California, Berkeley, will
cut off public access to tens of thousands of video lectures and podcasts
in response to a U.S. Justice Department order that it make the educational
content accessible to people with disabilities. Starting March 15, the
university will begin removing more than 20,000 video and audio lectures
from public view as a result of a Justice Department accessibility order.
Additional Article on File Deletion. This has been a popular
item on our discussion list also. (Posted Mar 14)
We've Gone Mobile!
The ADP Website has now been adapted to present better on your smartphone:
minimal heading, separate navigation, and larger print filling existing
screen space. Any webmaster interested in knowing how this was
done may visit the ADP webmaster's
Making a Website Mobile Friendly page. (Posted Mar 7)
Describe Visual Elements to Enhance eLearning Usability
The Visual Made Verbal Now Available as
an Audio Book
Dr. Joel Snyder's ACB-published The Visual Made Verbal: A Comprehensive
Training Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description
is now available to audio description consumers as an audio book voiced
by the author. Patrons of the Library of Congress' National Library
Service can simply ask their local library to request a loan of the
book. The local NLS library can ask the D.C. Talking Book Library
for the book, number DC70147. The DC Talking Book Library phone
number is 202-727-2142. The book can also be ordered in
hardcopy from the ACB. (Posted Mar 7)
Broadway Show "Hamilton" Sued Over Lack of AD
According to a recent Reuters article, "The producer of 'Hamilton'
has been sued by a blind theatergoer [Mark Lasser from Denver] who claimed
that the blockbuster Broadway musical violates federal law by failing
to offer services to help blind and visually impaired people enjoy the
show." Lasser is asking for one described show per week with at
least 25 headsets.
Read the full article on Hamilton. (Posted Jan 31)
Netflix and iTunes
We've been working with Netflix to get some missing
back episode problems resolved, and we are now at a point where they
are about as up-to-date as they can get. That means there are
no intermediate seasons missing, and the only gaps (that we know about)
are season 1 through some number, where either no description was ever
done, or the tracks aren't available from the studios. These are
noted in our listing. A recent count showed 135 Features
(movies, documentaries) and 182 Series with a total
of 332 episodes, for a grand total of 467 individual described
Netflix now has an exclusive streaming content contract with Disney
and its subsidiaries like Marvel, and the fruits of that arrangement
are already being realized. See
Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars Titles Coming to Netflix in 2017.
They have also recently released the ability to download some shows
to mobile devices, and you can now view the list of shows with description
on Apple TVs.
now has over 500 described films. Most, but not all, movies
released with description on DVD are available with description on iTunes,
and we list that information on our DVDs page. Usually they hit
iTunes first, but occasionally they are delayed. iTunes now allows
users to get to the list of described movies from the iTunes app on
PCs and Macs, as well as select mobile devices (like iPads).
We invite you to view our own alphabetized lists of all described
titles on Netflix and
iTunes. (Direct links to these
are now at the top of every web page.) We post updates on
Twitter and Facebook. (Updated Feb 21)
New Versions of "The Visual Made Verbal"
"THE VISUAL MADE VERBAL: A Comprehensive Training Manual and Guide
to the History and Applications of Audio Description" (published by
the American Council of the Blind) is now available in Russian!
A pamphlet/digest of the book has also been published in Polish
with a full translation on its way. In mid-2017, Portuguese
and Spanish translations will be published, and the
audio book (in English, voiced by the author) will be available
via the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
Available in print (in English) on
Amazon, via the
and in print and in text format from the
American Council of the Blind Mini-Mall. (Updated Jan 4)
Tricia McCauley: February 25, 1970-December
25, 2016 by Joel Snyder
description is woefully under-known as an assistive technology.
Some description producers and describers become known in our small
field -- but the many talented individuals who voice the descriptions
(particularly for television and film) are compensated for their work
but rarely have a presence in the audio description field.
Indeed, many of you may know Tricia McCauley though you've never
met her. Based in Washington, DC, she was the pitch-perfect voice
of dozens of audio described films, videos and museum tours. Tragically,
Tricia was murdered on Christmas Day in a car-jacking. The news
media have celebrated her loving kindness and her talent as an actress,
yoga teacher and herbalist. But with respect to audio description,
Tricia had a clever, quick intellect -- those qualities combined with
her skill as a voice artist to make her work as the voice of descriptions
ideal. She was a "star" to thousands of people who listened to
her, primarily people who are blind or have low vision. Those
recordings live on -- like her soul and her bright light -- and will,
I pray, allow us all to see more clearly. (Posted Dec 29)
Audio Description Coming to Airlines ... Eventually
The US DOT (Department of Transportation) has a rulemaking committee
called the ACCESS Advisory Committee whose mission
is to develop rules concerning accommodations for air travelers with
disabilities. U.S. Transportation Secretary
Anthony Foxx said in part: "It is unfair ... for passengers
who are deaf or blind not to be able to enjoy the same entertainment
that is available to other passengers. I’m pleased that all involved
parties are working together towards our common goal of universal access
to the air transportation system." This means, in particular,
that in-flight entertainment systems would offer audio described content.
The "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" will not be issued until July 2017,
and airlines would have nine months to comply after a FINAL notice is
posted ... so don't hold your breath on this! However, Japan's
ANA Airline and Emirates Airline currently offer audio described movies,
so hopefully other airlines will offer AD sooner than later. (Posted
Switched at Birth
A group of blind TV watchers lead by Robert Kingett have been petitioning
to get the TV show Switched at Birth audio described.
The ABC Family network show, which won a Peabody Award, features several
deaf and hard-of-hearing cast members with some scenes shot entirely
in American Sign Language. The group was notified recently that
"audio description tracks for this series are currently in production"
with 29 episodes complete. The show is also carried on Netflix
which plans to carry the description in early 2017 when all description
tracks have been delivered and checked for quality. See the
Switched at Birth Update. (Updated Dec 15)
National Parks Service Audio Tours by Denise Decker,
Committee Liaison to the NPS
For almost a year, the Museums and Performing ArtsSubcommittee of the ACB's Audio Description
Project has been working with representatives of the US Park Service
to enhance access and audio description in our national parks.
Because the National Park Service (NPS) is decentralized, we are first
reaching out to the most frequently visited parks and to those parks
in which ACB members have expressed interest.
To that end, NPS specialists are currently adapting our Assessment
Guide for Museums and Exhibits (still in development) so it can
be used in the national park system. ACB members will then be
asked to use this guide when visiting their favorite national parks.
The feedback they provide will be used to improve park access and audio
The ADP committee is grateful to our Park Service colleagues for their
sincere commitment to audio description, and we look forward to ongoing
work with them on this mutually beneficial project. To read a
"success story" on this cooperation, read
Blake Lindsay's article on his experiences participating with Tucson
Arizona's Saguaro National Park and the Carlsbad Cavern State Park in
New Mexico. (Posted Dec 13)
Movie Theaters To Be Required To Provide AD
This Justice Department signed a "Final
Rule" affecting the ADA Title III. "The Final Rule requires
movie theaters [which have digital equipment] to: (1) have and maintain
the equipment necessary to provide closed movie captioning and audio
description at a movie patron's seat whenever showing a digital movie
produced, distributed, or otherwise made available with these features;
(2) provide notice to the public about the availability of these features;
and (3) ensure that theater staff is available to assist patrons with
the equipment before, during, and after the showing of a movie with
these features." However, theaters will have 18 months to comply,
and the minimum number of devices required for AD is less than 1 per
screen. (Updated Dec 3)
FCC's Vote on Expanding Video Description Postponed
Republican lawmakers apparently forced the FCC to pull four agenda
items "in the wake of the election" from their previously announced
November 17 meeting schedule including the following, according to Senator
Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.). (See
FCC Article. Updated Nov 26)
Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010: The
Commission will consider a Report and Order which addresses
the amount of video described programming required to be made
available to consumers. (MB Docket No. 11-43).
Netflix Now on Comcast X1 Platform
Users of Comcast's XFINITY X1 cable box should now be able to access
Netflix directly, including with voice access! Try it
out and let us know how well it works for finding and accessing the
250 described shows on Netflix.
Netflix/Comcast article. (Updated Nov 15)
ACB's Audio Description Survey Results
We alluded to preliminary findings of the recent ACB survey earlier,
survey results have been published. Not surprisingly, 3/4
of survey participants want more audio description, and half have difficulty
finding described programs. Check the link for more details.
(Posted Nov 1)
Japan's ANA Airline Offers Accessible Entertainment
ANA will be the first airline in Japan to deliver universally accessible
entertainment on international flights. The service starting in
November 2016 includes subtitles to help hard-of-hearing passengers
understand dialogue and musical lyrics, as well as audio "explanations"
[the word they use] to communicate on-screen movements and scenes to
visually impaired customers. Both subtitles and audio "explanations"
will be available in English and/or Japanese.
Read the ANA Press Release. (Posted Oct 25)
The Who's Tommy is running through
November 20, 2016 at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre in
Maryland. All performances will be accessible
(audio description, ASL integrated into the show, and captioning available).
Theatre is "Washington DC’s first professional theatre dedicated
to producing professional productions that integrate the considerable
talents of artists with disabilities." (Posted Oct 18)
Benefits of Audio Description in Education Contest
The Young Described Film Critic contest is back ... with a new name
and hundreds of dollars of gift cards as prizes. Sponsored by
the ADP and the DCMP (Described and Captioned Media Program), it is
open to students ages 7-21. Each contestant must submit a written
review of a described movie or video. Read all about it at our
Badie Page! The deadline is November
30, but don't wait. (Posted Oct 18)
The History of Audio Description
Seminal Document Now Available
Into Words Project was created on the premise that "A deeper understanding
of how images are transferred into words is still needed." Accordingly,
they created a free 15 minute film (translated to several languages)
that anyone can use to study "how audio description is approached by
different describers in diverging cultural environments and also how
end users receive the audio described content." Even a present
describer may find it useful with which to practice their own description
techniques. Take a look! (Posted Sep 27)
FCC Public Notice Re Accessibility
of Cable/Satellite Receivers
On August 2, the FCC released a Public Notice to remind covered manufacturers
and multichannel video programming distributors (cable, satellite, and
more) about the approaching December 20, 2016 compliance
deadline for two new requirements:
Appropriate built-in functions on digital apparatus
(such as play back or display of video programming) must be accessible
to and usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired,
if achievable. Such equipment with built-in closed captioning or
video description capability must include a method that is reasonably
comparable to a button, key, or icon for activating closed captioning
and video description.
The on-screen text menu and guides provided
by set-top boxes and other navigation devices must be audibly
accessible in real-time upon request by individuals who
are blind or visually impaired. Also, such navigation devices must
include a method that is reasonably comparable to a button, key,
or icon for activating the closed captioning.
Survey says ... only 2% of people with visual impairment feel they
are getting enough audio description. That's part of the preliminary
results of the recently concluded ACB survey. And when compared
to the accommodation for the deaf community, it is an "injustice when
captioning can exceed such a wide breadth of coverage across broadcast
channels, while the blindness community is relegated to a handful of
hours each week during prime time."
Read more about the ACB Survey. (Posted Aug 2)
The (Audio Described) Beatles Are Coming!
There will be a special showing of
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years (which includes
30 minutes of rare footage from the Beatles’ historic 1965 Shea Stadium
concert) on Wednesday, September 15, in 80 movie theaters
prior to its release to 50 theaters the next day. The film's audio
description track was
sponsored by Woman of Her Word, written and produced by
and voiced by professional voiceover artist
Michele Spitz. While the film will be available on Hulu starting
September 17, Hulu does not offer audio description, and neither the
Hulu release nor the subsequent DVD will include the Shea Stadium concert.
(Posted Sep 13)
Achievement in Audio Description - Performing Arts:
Arts Access, Raleigh, NC
Achievement in Audio Description - Media: Fred Brack,
ADP Webmaster, Raleigh, NC
Achievement in Audio Description - Museums: Dole Institute
of Politics / Audio-Reader Network, Lawrence, KS
Achievement in Audio Description - International: Bos
Soluções e Serviços Ltda. - Sao Paulo, Brazil
Special Recognition Achievement in Audio Description:
Alice Austin, Eliot, ME
Special Recognition Achievement in Audio Description:
Mark Messersmith, The Visual Voice - Mountain View,
Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio
Description - Research and Development: Disney / Pixar "Disney
Movies Anywhere App" - Los Angeles, CA
Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio
Description: Dr. Francisco Lima - Recife, Brazil
Earcatch - in The Netherlands
Audio description for select movies, right from your own SmartPhone
... as long as you speak Dutch! You can read about what's going
on in The Netherlands with their product called Earcatch in English,
though, and watch their demo.
Earcatch in English;
Earcatch in Dutch.
(Posted Aug 2)
Actiview for Movie Theaters
A new company called Actiview promises to eliminate the problems
that patrons have with movie theater-issued accessibility equipment.
"When you step into the theater, all of the movie’s accessibility content
will be available at no extra cost in our mobile app that requires no
in-theater setting, fussing or maintenance." They aim to eliminate
the frustration currently occuring with faulty receivers, dead batteries,
etc. As one early reviewer put it, "Phone in pocket, enjoy the
movie. That’s it." The smartphone product is still under development.
Learn more about Actiview.
(Posted July 21)
The FCC Needs YOUR Input re Description on TV COMMENT PERIOD ENDS JULY 26!!!
On May 27th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published
in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on expanding
audio description. This NPRM would significantly increase access
to audio described programming on broadcast and cable networks.
You will find a link to the FCC's NPRM below. It proposes the
following key rule changes:
Increase the amount of described programming
on each included network carried by a covered broadcast station
or multichannel video programming distributor, from 50 hours per
calendar quarter to 87.5 (a 75% increase)
Increase the number of networks required to provide
video description from four broadcast and five non-broadcast
networks to five broadcast and ten non-broadcast networks
Create a "no-backsliding" rule, so a network
would remain subject to the rules even if it is no longer one of
the top five or top ten ranking networks; and
Require video programming distributors to provide proper
customer support contacts in order to improve consumer
access to video description.
ACB has long been the leading advocate for audio described television
content. We welcome the FCC's proposed rule and look forward to submitting
comments on the benefits such expansion will have for Americans who
are blind or visually impaired. While the first round of comments were
due June 27th, reply comments are not due until July 26th. This gives
individuals an opportunity to respond to industry concerns. ACB will
be holding a national conference call the week following our 2016 ACB
National Convention in Minneapolis, and in the meantime we encourage
you to submit your own personal story on how audio described
programming has positively impacted your life.
USE THESE LINKS to view the proposal, see other
people's comments, and submit your own comments: (Updated July
Two New Described Video Streaming Options Available
Zagga [NOW DEFUNCT - links to their site removed] is a new start-up service
offering exclusively described movies and series across
a variety of genres, mostly older videos initially. There are
future plans actively in the works for new content. There is a
30-day free trial with a $7/month membership; but if you
listen to an interview with founder Kevin Shaw by CoolBlindTech,
you might get a longer trial! (The
TEDx Talk by Kevin Shaw is also worth listening to.)
We haven't got audio description from Amazon or Hulu yet, but a website
called Pornhub (we assume the name is sufficient to
indicate its content) is now offering a subset of its content in a category
named "Described Video." They have started with 50 videos with a wide
variety of content. A company representative says, "It's our goal to
service all of our users' needs, which begins with making content accessible
to every individual." More in an
article in the SFO Guardian. (Updated July 19)
iTunes Now Offering Over 300
is offering OVER 300 movies with audio description
tracks. You can tell an individual movie offers description because
iTunes shows an
icon right after the
icon under the title. You can also search in iTunes for "audio
description," but don't expect the listing to be complete.
See our list of the described movies on iTunes.
Learn about all streaming service options
via our new Streaming page. (Updated
Netflix Further Committed to Accessibility
During the past year, Netflix has introduced
150 shows with audio description tracks.
Now, after engaging in a "structured negotiation settlement" with the
ACB and others, they are even further committed to accessibility.
For example, by the end of 2016, all Netflix platforms (like iPads)
should be fully accessible, including features such as searching for
described shows. Read about
the Netflix settlement. Of particular interest: This
settlement paves the way for similar negotiations with Amazon, Hulu,
etc.! (Posted Apr 19)
Facebook Introduces "Automatic Alternative Text"
Facebook has just introduced a feature called AAT,
or Automatic Alternative Text,
which will attempt to describe posted images to people with visual impairment
who use VoiceOver on iPhones or iPads (initially).
Read about Facebook's AAT feature. (Posted Apr 5)
Interviews of Potential
or Actual Screen Reader Users of Hulu or Amazon Video
Advocates is investigating complaints from blind individuals who
report that the Amazon Video and Hulu
websites and mobile applications are not accessible, and
from blind individuals who want audio description tracks to be made
available on Amazon Video and Hulu. They would greatly
appreciate speaking with you if you are blind and you have either confronted
access barriers yourself while using Amazon Video or Hulu, or you have
chosen not to subscribe to Amazon Video or Hulu because you have heard
about access barriers. To share your experiences, please contact
Julia Marks by phone at (510) 665-8644 or by email at
[email protected]. (Posted Apr 5)
Disney Movies Anywhere App Offers
Audio Description on 16 Pixar Movies
Disney has announced that their
Disney Movies Anywhere iOS app supports external synchronization
of audio description on 16 Pixar movies like The Good Dinosaur,
the Toy Stories series, Inside Out, Brave,
and more, which are purchased and viewed outside the app. Read
about this streaming audio app and other streaming video apps on
our new Streaming page.
Read a review of the app which also explains exactly how to use
it (courtesy of WonderBaby.org). (Updated Apr 5)
AMC Theaters Lawsuit
A class action lawsuit has been filed against AMC movie theaters
for not keeping their audio description headsets in working condition.
The suit was filed only after complaints by patrons and an attorney
Read about the lawsuit. (Posted Feb 17)
Streaming and Accessibility Options
We have two new features to take note of: a new "Streaming"
category of audio description information (the last of the 12 tabs at
the top of each page), and accessibility options for larger
font and reverse colors have been moved to the top of each
page, rather than using a separate web page. (Posted Feb 16)
Audio Description Project
Summary of Accomplishments
On December 28, 2015, Accessible Media, Inc. (AMI) in Toronto announced
the passing of Robert Pearson, Accessibility Officer. Robert was
a leader in the audio description field, a principle force behind AMI's
accessible channel which provides description for all programs broadcast.
He was Chair of the FCC's Disability Advisory Committee Video Programming
sub-committee. He also attended ADP's conferences and was a special
guest speaker at the most recent ADP gathering. ADP's director,
Joel Snyder, commented: "Robert was a good friend and an important
advocate for audio description in Canada and beyond. He will be
missed by all." (Posted Dec 30)
The FCC has issued Public Notice DA
15-1366 with a reminder of the requirement now in effect that broadcasters
have visual scrolling emergency notices "conveyed aurally through the
use of a secondary audio stream," preceded by a tone. For program
distributors (such as for tablets), the requirement is in effect mid-2017.
(Posted Dec 8)
Wars Steelbooks Released
Attention Star Wars fans! The six sagas have been rereleased
(with description) as Steelbooks - collectable metal covers with a large
Star Wars figure on each cover. The complete series of six has
also been rereleased in a single package, but not as a Steelbook.
All of them are Blu-ray only. Read more about the
Star Wars Steelbooks. (Posted
have recently discovered that certain Blu-ray discs released in the
UK with description tracks are available on Amazon in the USA Region-Free,
which means they will play on USA Blu-ray players. The description
is most likely British English. We are only adding those listed
as "fulfilled by Amazon" starting with the following:
There are many others listed, but you need to order from individual
sellers, such as MovieMars. To learn how to locate and purchase
any of these videos, read our new web page, Ordering
UK-Produced Described Videos in the USA. (Posted Oct 27)
Audio Description Update
As of September, Netflix is offering over 110 movies or
series with audio description.
See a list of described Netflix
titles (new ones recently added, along with the type of each
video; e.g., TV Series). For the series, some of them are
fully described, while others are still in the process of updating back
episodes. (For example, all three seasons of House of Cards
are available with description NOW, and the quality of the description
is very good.) Netflix has contacted numerous audio description
companies to arrange for future description. Read our page on
Accessing Audio Description on Netflix.
You'll learn good things such as setting your description option once
will be remembered for all future videos. (Updated Oct 6).
TV Description on Saturday Mornings
A company called Litton Entertainment produces 17 education-oriented
television shows for three television networks on Saturday mornings.
All the shows are different, and all are audio described by
Bridge Multimedia. We are now listing all the shows on our TV
page, along with links to the show descriptions. The networks
and the links to the show descriptions are:
Note that this is our first listing for described shows on the cable
network known as The CW (the C is
for CBS and the W is for Warner Bros, the co-owners).
Since description is not required on The CW broadcast network, not all
affiliates are able to broadcast description and/or pass it to the local
cable company. (Updated Aug 25)
Description Expanded to 60 Markets July 1
If you do not have video description passed through from your local
TV stations yet, you may wish to check to see if you are in one of the
top 60 markets. The FCC's standing order is for the number of
markets served to expand from 25 to 60 by July 1, 2015. For more
information, check out our new page on Changes
Coming to Video Description Rules.
Also effective July 1: The History Channel replaces
Nickelodeon as a required non-broadcast channel for audio description,
and ESPN continues to be exempt.
Read the FCC Order. (Updated Aug 25)
Audio Description and Education Symposium
23-24 September, 2015
Audio Description and the Future - Children ARE the Future!
The importance of blind children and their proper education can never
be underestimated. The main aim of the symposium is to support our children
by creating a bridge and a dialogue between researchers in such disciplines
as linguistics, typhlopedagogy and developmental psychology, and practitioners
of Audio Description, exploring findings in work with blind and visually
impaired children. We shall discuss the present state of affairs of
audio description in Poland, Europe and the US, in order to work out
a framework for cooperation between:
- institutions protecting the rights of the blind and the visually
- government, and
All of these entities have significant influence on children's everyday
lives and future. The symposium will be preceded by a two-day
workshop on audio description (Monday and Tuesday, September 21-22)
led by Dr. Joel Snyder, an amazing trainer, one of the world's first
audio describers, the President of Audio Description Associates, LLC
and the Director of the American Council of the Blind's Audio Description
our official webpage and
page. (Submitted by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences,
SWPS University, Warsaw; Posted Aug 4)
In March of this year, Susan Glass, an audio description consumer
and advocate who is active in Audio Description Project committees,
wrote an article for the ACB Braille Forum entitled,
"Best Audio Holiday
Season Ever." The piece, which describes her experiences with
audio description last December, won this year's Ned E. Freeman Writing
Award, which is awarded to the author of a Braille Forum article that
demonstrates a mastery of the craft of writing, interesting subject
matter, originality in recounting an experience, and novelty of approach.
(Posted July 28)
Museum Art Tours For People Who Are Blind
More and more museums are adapting their tours and collections to
people who are blind. From the Smithonian to museums in
Dallas, special tours
are being developed, docents are being trained, and rubber gloves are
being donned to let people with visual impairment appreciate the collection
At Some Museums, Blind Visitors Can Touch the Art. (Posted
The History Channel Begins Audio Description
Based on measured viewer interest, the FCC updated the list of non-broadcast
stations required to supply "video description" on July 1.
The History Channel
replaced Nickelodeon. Since this is new to them, they are starting
cautiously, describing select earlier episodes of programs which are
repeated, rather than committing yet to delivering description for first-run
episodes. The programs which are currently on the list for description
are Counting Cars and Pawn Stars,
with a few episodes of American Picker. As they
work their way through this, they are providing a listing of all the
shows, dates, and show descriptions at a
special History Channel link. This information is also available
on our TV page. Welcome to the world of
audio description, History Channel! (Posted July 28)
Comcast Takes Home FCC Chairman's Accessibility
Award for Voice Guidance
"On June 1 Tom Wlodkowski, Comcast's VP of Accessibility, proudly
FCC's Advancement in Accessibility Award. [Note: The ACB nominated
Comcast for this award!] The award is part of the FCC's
Accessibility and Innovation Initiative, an effort that encourages
dialogue between companies, developers, government and consumers about
accessible solutions. The talking guide received similar recognition
from the Associated Services for the Blind, the American Association
of People with Disabilities the American Foundation for the Blind and
the Blindness Awareness Expo, an event hosted by The PA Office of Vocational
Rehabilitation, PA Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, and the
Advisory Committee for the Blind of Pennsylvania." See also
Comcast's Blog Posts on Accessibility. (Posted June 26; from
Comcast's "Community Update: Accessibility")
ACB 2015 Audio Description Project Awards
The following Audio Description Project awards were presented at
the annual July ACB Conference in Dallas, TX. You may also view
Press Release. (Posted July 7)
Achievement in Audio Description – Performing Arts:
Jesse Minkert, Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences - Seattle,
Achievement in Audio Description – Media: Netflix
– Los Gatos, CA
Achievement in Audio Description – Museums: Meadows
Museum of Art / Southern Methodist University – Dallas,
Achievement in Audio Description – International: Anne
Hornsby, Mind’s Eye – Bolton, United Kingdom
Special Recognition Achievement in Audio Description:
Sebastian Andrade-Miles - Glendale, CO
Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio
Description – Research and Development: Accessible Media,
Inc. “AMI Player” – Toronto, Canada
Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio
Description: Dr. Pilar Orero – Barcelona,
American Council of the Blind Book on Description
After lots of social media pressure (spearheaded by
Kingett, behind the scenes work by the ACB, and supported by a recent
ADP Twitter post, among others), Netflix has finally agreed to offer
audio description on some present, future, and past videos plus Netflix
series. The turning point was MARVEL'S DAREDEVIL. In addition,
HOUSE OF CARDS, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, and more are already described.
This includes preexisting episodes. (For instance, all three
seasons of House of Cards are available with description NOW.)
70 shows have description so far! Read
our page on Accessing Audio Description on Netflix.
You'll learn good things such as setting your description option once
will be remembered for all future videos. (Updated June 9).
New AD Tour at FDR Presidential Library
A brand new bilingual (English/Spanish)
audio description tour is now available at the Franklin
D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park,
NY, a place honoring the nation's only president with a disability.
You can even download the tour for listening on your own -- all 14 hours
worth -- in individual sections. (Posted May 8)
Hawaii to Mandate Description for Movies
On May 6, Hawaii governor David Ige signed
House Bill 1272 requiring audio description and captioning to be
available in movie theaters when provided by the film distributor beginning
January 1, 2016. "Every motion picture theater that has more than
two facilities in the State to which the general public is invited shall
provide closed movie captioning and descriptive narration, upon request,
during at least two showings per week of each motion picture that is
offered for viewing at the motion picture theater; provided that this
subsection shall not apply when a motion picture is offered for viewing
at the motion picture theater for less than one week." (Posted
Comcast Expands Accessibility
Last fall, Comcast announced an enhancement called Talking
Guide to its XFINITY X-1 remote controller to improve accessibility
for its customers with vision impairment. The X1 remote now also
supports voice control, and Comcast now has a web page dedicated to
March 3: Listen
to a podcast by Cullen Gallagher on
how to use the XFINITY
X-1 Accessibility features (excerpt courtesy of ACB Radio's Main
Menu podcast, David Tanner host). Note, the introductory music
covering the voice goes away after 20 seconds.
At the recent Academy Awards presentations, Comcast sponsored an
ad called Emily's Oz, which showed how a little girl
who is blind envisions the characters in the Wizard of Oz movie.
The ad ends with a reference to the capabilities of the Talking Guide.
Below you will find a 6-minute video (with audio description) of how
the ad was made. Click it to play. For more information,
Oz. (Updated Apr 25)
Dr Joel Snyder's Audio Description Institute in
Washington, DC, attracted a record number of enrollees; so here's another
opportunity to be trained or "refreshed" as an audio describer!
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is sponsoring Joel for the
second time in conjunction with their Leadership Conference in Phoenix.
The Institute will be held on April 8-10. ENROLL
NOW! For full information, see the
AD Institute brochure.
(Updated Mar 3)
'Seeing Movies': Technology Makes Film Accessible
To The Blind
The president of the ACB, Kim Charlson, was recently interviewed
for a segment on Boston's WGBH television, the local PBS outlet.
She emphasized how valuable audio description has been for her in the
enjoyment and complete appreciation of movies. The recent Department
of Justice proposal requiring movie theaters to install description
and captioning equipment was addressed, too. You can view the
4 minute segment below by clicking it,
read the article in print, or
click here for an audio version.
The AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) has honored our ADP Director,
Joel Snyder, PhD, with a 2015 Access Award (one of eight given) as "an
ardent advocate for audio description, [who] has led training
sessions throughout the world in the art and technique of describing
television shows, movies, theater productions, as well as museum tours
and other cultural activities for people with vision loss. He
is the author of The Visual Made Verbal: A Comprehensive Training
Manual and Guide to the History and Applications of Audio Description."
Other Access Award winners were: Comcast, Microsoft, MIPsoft,
Odin Mobile, Texas Instruments Education Technology, Orbit Research,
and American Printing House for the Blind (APH). Given annually,
"the Access Awards honor individuals, corporations and organizations
that eliminate or substantially reduce inequities faced by people with
Read more about the Access Awards. (Posted Feb 4)
Helen Harris, 1936-2014
Audio description lost one of its earlier visionaries and advocates
on Christmas Eve. Founder of RP International, TheatreVision,
and sponsor of the annual Vision Awards Dinner in Los Angeles for 40
years, Helen Harris even got George HW Bush to voice a film description.
Read an interesting article about her life in the LA Times.
(Posted Jan 6)
Audio Description at EVERY Performance!
Arena Stage in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the ACB and the
Audio Description Project audio described every performance of Fiddler
on the Roof from November 6 to January 4. Coming soon:
Every performance of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
will also be described from April 10 to May 3.
Read the press release about the audio description
at Arena Stage. (Updated Jan 6)