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.
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.
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.
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
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
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,
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,
Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award
in Audio Description - Research and Development: Dr.
Brett Oppegaard, The UniDescription Project - University
Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio
Description: Jon P. Skaalen - Minneapolis,
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:
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
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!
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
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
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
It's time once again to nominate individuals and organizations for our
annual "Achievement in Audio Description" awards. Categories are as
- Achievement in Audio Description - Media
- Achievement in Audio
Description - Performing Arts
- Achievement in Audio Description -
Museums/Visual Art/Visitor Centers
- Achievement in Audio Description -
- Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Memorial Award in Audio
Description - Research and Development
- Barry Levine Memorial Award for
Career Achievement in Audio Description
award nomination document and/or view past
Deadline 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
"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:
- Poms (PG-13)
- UglyDolls (PG)
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:
- The amount and types of programming described, including children's
programming and specific examples of what is watched.
- The extent to which household members, both visually impaired or
not, watch described programming.
- The ease with which consumers can access online guides, and how well
the networks inform you of their described programming.
- How well are networks making available Video-On-Demand of previously
- Are there "any data points that quantify or otherwise capture
the benefits of video description for audiences"?
- Other questions are primarily for networks to answer.
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
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
option, type "11-43" in "Proceedings," press Enter, then continue. Deadline
was April 1, but comments will be accepted through May 1!!!
NEW REPLY OPTION:
email your personalized comments to
email@example.com and the ACB national office will file your comments on your
behalf through Monday, April 29.
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
In 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
Read Kate Avery's essay and
enjoy a clip from the
film. (Posted Apr 9)
The CW's In the Dark
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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)
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,
Our First Decade
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)