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Past News Articles About Audio Description

This page contains selected news items previously featured on our main page, starting in 2019.

For previous AD news articles, see our listing from 2010 to 2014 and 2015 to 2018.

2019

Audio Description for All

Audio narrator Roy Samuelson (NCIS, Bosch, movies) has written an article entitled Did You Know Of This Way To Enjoy Movies and TV Shows?.  While he "explains" audio description, he also notes:  "While supporting the blind and low vision community is an integral part of this work, sighted audiences can also enjoy the benefits of Audio Description, particularly when commuting, cooking, giving their eyes a break from staring at a screen, or helping keep track of multiple characters."  Those of us (like your webmaster) who are spouses or partners of AD users already reap these benefits!  Enjoy the article and share it with those who could benefit. 

Update July 30:  Roy has been interviewed in yet another podcast:  Blind Abilities Super Duper Extra: Spider-Man: Far From Home is Here, And Audio Describer Roy Samuelson Spins His Own Web on Audio Description.  You'll hear excerpts of shows he's done, some not released yet, and his discussion with a fan of his work.  You may also choose to read a transcript of the Blind Abilities podcast.  You'll find other podcasts with Roy referenced in this article from our archives

Update July 30:  And here's another interesting podcast, though not with Roy:  How Do You Watch Movies If You Can’t See?.  This one is on Spotify, for which you can get a free subscription.  The producer is "The Be My Eyes Podcast."  (Updated Jul 30)

Describe and Draw: Life-drawing workshop

Our friends in the UK have an interesting opportunity coming up on August 10th:  an audio described drawing class specifically designed for blind and low vision visitors.  No experience necessary, and free!  How about some places in the USA doing this?  (Posted July 30, via VocalEyes)

2019 ADP Achievement Award Winners

The following award winners were announced at the ACB Convention in Rochester, NY, on July 9:

Achievement in Audio Description - Performing Arts:  Hunter Gullickson, The Guthrie Theater - Minneapolis, MN.
Special Recognition Achievement in Audio Description - Montclair State University - Montclair, NJ.
Achievement in Audio Description - Media:  Microsoft/Xbox - Seattle, WA.
Achievement in Audio Description - Visual Art / Museums / Visitor Centers:  Hannah Goodwin, Museum of Fine Arts - Boston, MA.
Achievement in Audio Description - International:  Vera Arma, ARTIS Project - Viterbo Area, Italy.
Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio Description - Research and Development:  Dr. Brett Oppegaard, The UniDescription Project - University of Hawaii.
Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description:  Jon P. Skaalen - Minneapolis, MN.

Official Awards Announcement; all previous winners Honor Roll.  (Posted Jul 9)

Netflix Now Allows Describer Identification

Professional audio describers (companies and individuals) and audio narrators (the people who read the describers' scripts) are proud of their work and like to be recognized just like the actors and crew in a movie.  And this is something many viewers of the videos have requested, too.  Netflix has not allowed such identification ... until now.  From now on, Netflix is allowing these professionals to be identified at the end of each video ahead of the credits.  Thank you Netflix.  Listen for this in the future!  (Posted Jul 2)

Reading TV Subtitles Aloud

If you live in a country whose native language isn't all that common, you'll encounter a lot of TV in foreign languages.  Denmark is a country that, as many others, doesn't have a culture for dubbing TV and movies in foreign languages, which means that they rely heavily on subtitles.  But what if you're blind and you can't read the subtitles?  DR, the government supported TV and radio supplier in Denmark, has twin-channels for all their main channels that are specifically designed for people with a vision impairment.  When watching TV on these channels, subtitles will automatically be read aloud as they appear, ensuring a smooth TV experience for people who can't read the subtitles.  (Via ACVRep, Posted Jul 2)

Survey on Describing Diversity

VocalEyes (a London-based organization which provides audio description) in partnership with Royal Holloway, University of London, is running a research project exploring an important aspect of theatre audio description:  people’s opinions about when and how human characteristics, such as race, disability, age, body shape, or gender should be described.  They are seeking input from a wide group of people:  users of AD, describers, actors and other theatre professionals anywhere in the world.  If you are willing to take a brief online survey, please visit this page before July 31:  https://vocaleyes.co.uk/describing-diversity-survey/.  At the survey's end, you may request to be advised of results.  (Posted Jul 2)

USA Network Asks FCC for Waiver

USA Network has asked the FCC for a limited waiver of the Commission's rules requiring specified TV networks to provide 87.5 hours of video description per calendar quarter with restrictions on how repeats (frequent on USA) are counted.  In exchange, USA has offered to provide 1,000 hours of AD per quarter without regard to repeats and 75% of new non-live programming.  It is interesting to note that they also request that this waiver be granted to all other non-broadcast networks.  In our table of how much description networks are providing now (which includes repeats), it is interesting to note that USA Network continues to lead all other networks and well-exceed 1000 hours per quarter.  Initial comments are due by July 12.  FCC Notice.  (Posted Jun 18)

Technology Makes Museums More Accessible

Museums nationwide are working to make their collections more accessible for people with disabilities.  Some artists are making touchable adaptations of their works.  Or imagine passing your "hands along the raised figures in touchable versions of a Vietnam War photograph, [where] small metal sensors [touch] off recordings to explain whose picture [you are] touching and what had happened to him" -- an interesting form of audio description!  Read 3-D photographs? Technology makes museums more accessible.  Two other articles on museums address other accessibility features:  Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose and the first phase of Barrier Free Kerala, India.  (Posted Jun 11)

Pavarotti Comes to the Screen ... With AD!

The recently released movie, Pavarotti, which examines the life and career of opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti, is one of the select documentaries to be granted funding for audio description by voiceover artist and media accessibility advocate Michele Spitz, who operates under the business name Woman of Her Word.  Read this Hollywood Reporter article or the Press Release.  (Posted Jun 11)

Input Requested on TV AD Listings

We at the ADP try to offer you consolidated listings of described TV offerings ... only because no one else does!  Most of the TV Networks either have no listing or unreliable ones.  The ACB is trying to influence the FCC to require networks to either offer accurate listings or contributed to a central database.  What do YOU think?  Where do YOU get your listing data?  Are the network listings ACCURATE and ACCESSIBLE?  Please drop a note to our own Carl Richardson, who is the Chair of the Video Working Group for the FCC, with your answers.  Thanks.  (Posted Jun 11)

Podcast Interviews With Roy Samuelson

Roy Samuelson is one of Hollywood’s leading voiceover talents in film and television.  You've heard his AD narration of TV shows like NCIS and Lethal weapon and movies such as Jurassic World.  Listen to this podcast where he is interviewed on That Blind Tech Show.  And now there is a second podcast interview available from The Association of Blind Citizens.  (Updated Jun 4)

LAST CALL for Nominations:
11th Annual ADP Achievement Awards

It's time once again to nominate individuals and organizations for our annual "Achievement in Audio Description" awards.  Categories are as follows:

- Achievement in Audio Description - Media
- Achievement in Audio Description - Performing Arts
- Achievement in Audio Description - Museums/Visual Art/Visitor Centers
- Achievement in Audio Description - International
- Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Memorial Award in Audio Description - Research and Development
- Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description

You can read the award nomination document and/or view past winnersDeadline is June 7.  (Updated Jun 4)

Audio Described TV in Australia

Australia lags other developed nations in not offering audio description via over-the-air TV.  So recently, when a commercial with audio description was aired, it was like a breath of fresh air for viewers with visual impairment!  Read:  Australia’s first totally accessible ad hits TV screens.  (Posted May 28)

"The Vale" Arrives in August

Are you a gamer?  How about a game that is described as an "audio-based experience" that is specifically designed and developed with visually impaired players in mind?  It's coming in August.  Read:  'The Vale,' a Video Game for the Visually Impaired, Coming to PC in August.  (Posted May 28)

Actiview at the Movies

Actiview (a free iPhone App) periodically releases description tracks for first-run movies.  Using the App with your iPhone in a movie theater allows you better control over volume and type of earpiece than using a cinema's AD units, which are sometimes flaky.  At home, you can listen to description while others don't have to.  The following two description tracks were released recently for new movies:

There are a total of 28 Actiview description tracks available for free.  (Posted May 14)

Audio Description in China

Meet the woman making film accessible to the visually impaired is the title of an article on Time Out Shanghai.  Han Ying, who is visually impaired, now edits audio description for films, and she discusses how she got the job and what some of the challenges are.  Her hope for the future is the same as many others:  "when someone walks into a cinema, with the help of a chip and a pair of earphones, they’re able to enjoy most of the latest films in most of the commercial cinemas and be surrounded by visually abled people."  Yes!  (Posted Apr 23)

FCC Seeks YOUR Input on "Video Description"

*** LAST CALL ***

 The FCC will continue to accept comments through MAY 1.
The ACB will forward your comments on your behalf through MONDAY APRIL 29.

In preparation for a report to Congress, the FCC is soliciting input on "recent developments in the video description marketplace."  Those topics which apply to consumers are as follows:

This is an extremely important opportunity for each individual who enjoys the benefits of described television programming to provide input!  Failing to respond means you are willing to let others decide how much described programming you receive.  PLEASE take the time to read the following document and provide your input.  FCC 11-43 Document.  (To read a version with all the footnotes removed, use this Screen Reader version of FCC 11-43 Document link.)  Then use the Online Express Input Form to submit comments.  In the online input form, type "11-43" in "Proceedings," press Enter, then continue through the form.  If you prefer to submit a Word or other format document, use the Regular Filings option, type "11-43" in "Proceedings," press Enter, then continue.  Deadline was April 1, but comments will be accepted through May 1!!!  Do it now! 

NEW REPLY OPTION:
You can email your personalized comments to advocacy@acb.org  and the ACB national office will file your comments on your behalf through Monday, April 29.
(Updated Apr 23)

Is AD the Future of TV Viewing?

Curtin research finds audio description key to future of television viewing.  That's the title of an article by an Australian University.  Curiously, they point out that "Australia is the only English-speaking nation in the OECD [a 36-country consortium] not to offer audio description on free-to-air television."  Their theory is “Audio description would be attractive to people who are multi-tasking while they are watching television and has the potential to become another television accessibility feature that is embraced by the mainstream population, just as closed captions have been.”  (Posted Apr 16)

The Wizardry of Audio Description

Wizard of Oz VHS TapeIn the 1960s, Chet Avery, a blind theater-lover, now retired from the Department of Education, conceived of audio description as a formal process that could convey the visual images of theater performances to people who are blind or have low vision.

Many years later, he enjoyed sharing described versions of movies with his granddaughter, Kate.  Kate grew to love the described versions – "Grandpa's version" – and in an essay relates her enchantment with the described VHS tape of "The Wizard of Oz" (with description provided by WGBH).  Read Kate Avery's essay and enjoy a clip from the film.  (Posted Apr 9)

The CW's In the Dark

The CW offers a Saturday morning kids' series called One Magnificent Morning with description.  Now they are offering an original prime time series Thursdays at 9pm called In the Dark.  Why is it described?  Presumably because its leading character is a blind woman!  And that, of course, has lead to the controversy that the actress (Perry Mattfeld) is not blind herself.  Read The CW’s In the Dark Is a Compelling Look at the Blind Experience.  Please note that since The CW is not a network mandated by the FCC to carry description, you may or may not be able to receive description locally.  Also note that this show has adult themes.  (Posted Apr 9)

Streaming Video Listings Unified Updated

For the past few weeks we've been talking about modifications to our streaming video listings for Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, and Prime Video to add more and more features.  Now, finally, they all contain the same information:  Title, Type (movie, series, etc.), link to content, genre, and rating, PLUS we have separate by-genre listings for each service (except Hulu).  Please note that each service assigns a primary genre to each video, and their choice of genres may differ from service to service for the same title, plus we "consolidate" similar genres for convenience.  (Updated Apr 9)

ACVREP Audio Description Certification Subject Matter Expert Committee Formed

Last fall, the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) announced it was recruiting individuals who might wish to serve on its new Subject Matter Expert Committee for Audio Description.  Both a Certification Committee and an Advisory Board have now been formed.  The committee will be charged with crafting all material related to the certification process for audio description.  Read the ACVREP Announcement.  (Posted Apr 3)

*** Hulu Begins Audio Description ***

Hulu has begun providing Audio Description, and we are summarizing what we know on our new Hulu page plus including the programs in our Master AD List. Note that audio description is only available via a web browser initially.

And here is an article about Hulu beginning description.  (Updated Apr 3)

WMU Student Helps Launch AD for Theatre

The Kalamazoo (Michigan) Civic Theatre was approached by a patron about offering audio description.  Fortunately, they located Abby Tongue, a student at Western Michigan University's Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies, who reached out to others, including the ACB, to prepare herself to offer her services as an audio describer.  Read the story of how this came about!  (Posted Mar 12)

The Oscars:  A Missing Award

They honor the script writers, but how about the audio describers?  "For blind cinema goers, audio description is a crucial part of any film.  It is just as important as acting, cinematography and score."  That's the premise of this article on The Conversation website entitled, Oscars: audio description brings film to life for blind people, it deserves an award too.  The article concludes with, "It may be too late for this year but it seems only right that an audio describer is properly awarded at the 2020 Oscars."  Read it and see if you agree!  By the way, the French Confederation for the Advancement of Blind People has addressed this issue, as noted in the article. Très bien! (Posted Feb 26)

“Access,” a Short Film About Accessibility

It took Chris Higgins nearly four years to complete "Access," a short documentary which "follows Cory Joseph through a typical day, showing how he uses his smartphone, Braille display, tactile watch, and guide dog (named Vine) to navigate the world."  He struggled with editing to allow for audio description, but here's the great point of all this:  "Ultimately I decided that there should be only one version of this film, and it should include Audio Description, because that makes the film accessible to a wider audience.  I think there’s a lesson for creative people:  Even if you think you 'get it,' you might not be getting it.  Leave room to reconsider."  Wow!  Thank you Chris.  Read the Article and Watch Access.  (Posted Feb 15)

From Our Friends in the UK:
Where is TV Audio Description Heading in 2019

This article from the BroadcastNow website in the UK addresses the same frustration visually impaired TV watchers have in the USA and elsewhere:  a lot of top shows are not audio described or fail to be described later on other platforms.  (Posted Feb 15)  Also in the UK (From Jan 9):

European Audio Subtitles Day

An Audio Subtitles Day will be held in Barcelona on March 4 "to raise awareness of the accessibility possibilities of existing subtitling assets."  (You may need to click through several lead-in pages,)  (Posted Feb 15)

2019 BADIE Contest Winners Announced

The 2019 winners of the Benefits of Audio Description In Education have been announced.  Congratulations to Grand Prize Winner John Holstein from the West Virginia School for the Blind for his review of Snowflake Bentley and Voyage to Mars -- and to all the other winners.  Read the BADIE Press Release.  (Posted Feb 5)

Theater of the Mind

In the article, Theater of the Mind: Washington Ear brings live theater to visually impaired, the accomplishments of The Metropolitan Washington Ear are discussed.  The first audio description of live theater took place in Washington in 1981.  Now, a team of 21 audio describers covers upwards of 60 plays a year in nine theaters.  This article is a great introduction to what audio description is and its benefits!  (Posted Feb 5)

Netflix Adds By-Genre AD Listings

At the urging of the Audio Description Project based on user feedback, Netflix has modified their Audio Description in English listing (only available to members) to include separate links for audio described programs by genre.  The genre options are as follows:  TV Shows, Action, Anime, Children & Family, Comedies, Crime, Documentaries, Dramas, Horror, Independent, International, Music & Musicals, Reality, Romance, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Stand-Up Comedy, Thrillers.  (Posted Feb 3)

Marilee Talkington Luncheon Address

Finally, we have excerpted the luncheon address by Marilee Talkington at our ADP Conference last July from an otherwise damaged conference recording.  Marilee is an actress with significant visual impairment.  She recounted for us her experience trying to break into the commercial world of acting, and we play (on the recording) an excerpt of her role in an NCIS episode last year.  Listen to the 40-minute MP3 file by clicking the link above.  (Posted Jan 18)

Audio Description in Israel

In 2018, Israel's Central Library for the Blind received the annual Audio Description Project's International award.  Later this month (January 2019), the Library will offer its first Audio Description training course.  Read about all the accomplishments the library has made in the past year regarding audio description!  (Posted Jan 15)

CVAA Accessibility Rules Now Apply to Video Games

A waiver offering video games temporary exemption from the Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 has expired, meaning that games released after the expiration date of December 31, 2018 have a set of new communication-focused rules to keep in mind to stay on the up-and-up with the Federal Communications Commission and dodge potential fines.  Read CVAA accessibility rules come into effect for games as FCC waiver expires.  (Posted Jan 9)

Inaccessible Specialty Video Websites

As a visually impaired gay man, author/journalist Belo Cipriani was excited when he "heard about GayMovie Database — a new, online database of over 1,000 TV shows, as well as short and long movies of interest to the LGBTQ community."  Unfortunately, it wasn't very accessible.  In this article, he discusses his frustration with the pervasive problem about websites ignoring accessibility upfront and the difficulties of retrofit.  Read Seeing in the Dark: Debunking digital inclusion.  (Posted Jan 9)

Audio Description Is For Sighted Folks, Too!

Roland BearneA December article in The Slate highlights how GOOD audio description can enhance ANYONE's enjoyment of a film.  In The Best Performance in A Christmas Prince Is the One You Never See On Screen, the author declares, "in the case of A Christmas Prince, the audio description serves another bonus function [beyond its intended audience], because it also happens to be the ideal A Christmas Prince––watching companion."  The author wisely reminds us, "Good audio description does not call attention to itself."  She then goes on to compliment describer Roland Bearne's audio description.  Bearne (pictured), a Brit, has been describing for almost 20 years.  (Posted Jan 1)

Celebrating 10 Years 

Happy 10th Birthday - Audio Description Project!

In January 2009, Joel Snyder and then-ACB president Chris Gray proposed the establishment of an initiative to promote and celebrate the development of audio description: the Audio Description Project (ADP). Kim Charlson led the ADP's steering committee until her "promotion" several years ago to ACB President. Since that time, Dan Spoone has ably steered the ADP toward its current vibrant level of activity with the important contributions of Dr. Joel Snyder, the Project's director, and Fred Brack, the ADP webmaster. For a review of the ADP's accomplishment over the past decade and throughout 2018, please read Our First Decade report.

Joe, Fred, Kim, Dan
Joel, Fred, Kim, and Dan

And Thanks Also to ...

Here's two more folks who bring contributions to this website each week. Sebastian Andrade Miles, who pours over TV listings each week to bring you our TV by Days listing; and Vicki Vogt from the Perkins School for the Blind Library, who each week compiles and circulates a detailed listing of all the described movies currently showing in theatres.  We extract them and offer her listing to you under Cinema above.  Thanks!  (Posted Jan 1)

Sebastian Andrade Miles Vicki Vogt