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Begin forwarded message:
From: "Robert Acosta" <boacosta@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: August 18, 2016 at 11:15:11 PM EDT
Subject: [aw-announcements] FW: Described Video via Blindy TV: "Taking the
Vision out of Television" and free pizza from Ppa John's, Dan's tip for
August 18 2016
Robert Acosta, President
Helping Hands for the Blind
From: dan Thompson [mailto:dthompson5@xxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Thursday, August 18, 2016 8:04 AM
To: dan Thompson
Subject: Described Video via Blindy TV: "Taking the Vision out of Television"
and free pizza from Ppa John's, Dan's tip for August 18 2016
Note from Dan; I am attaching, “Choosing the Right Electronic Magnifier,
Part 1 in case any readers did not get that one since I posted part two
Described Video via Blindy TV: "Taking the Vision out of Television"
Imagine a television network where you could tune in any time, 24/7, and
every show on every channel automatically included audio description. Sounds
farfetched, you say? Well, believe it or not, it's available right now,
albeit in limited form.
You can't tune into this network on your TV set, even if you have one of the
newer, accessible sets. Instead, you'll need to use a computer or mobile
device to go to the website for Blindy.TV, whose slogan is: "Taking the
Vision out of Television."
Log onto Blindy.TV and you will discover five channels of described audio TV
and documentary content--no video, just the soundtrack. Channels include:
Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi, Brain, and one called simply Etcetera. Each channel
offers multiple ways to listen: you can use the site's accessible online
player, download and install the Blindy.TV Windows app, or use your
computer's own media player.
Click one of the channel name links on the homepage and along with starting
the audio stream, you will also find a table with the day's schedule. For
instance, at the time of this writing, the weekday Drama channel schedule
included: CSI: NY, House M.D., Boardwalk Empire, Charmed, Blue Bloods, Bones,
Numb3rs, Murder She Wrote, Law and Order: UK, Castle, Rizoli and Isles, NCIS,
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, House M.D., Numb3rs, Cold Case, Revenge, and
For those with concerns about copyright laws, a Blindy.TV representative who
prefers to remain anonymous says: "Since we are not streaming the video, just
the audio, it's a gray area. If we get a takedown notice we will comply
immediately, but so far we haven't heard from a single content owner."
Currently, Blindy TV has over 7,000 audio-described television series and
documentary episodes. "We do a small quantity of audio narration in house,
but mostly we depend on donated off-air recordings and recorded media that
contain audio narration tracks," the representative says. "We edit out the
commercials and station breaks from off-air recordings, then those episodes
are posted for viewing."
According to the Blindy.TV representative, "We want blind individuals to
enjoy our offerings, but that's not the main reason we do this. Our main goal
is twofold. First, there are still a lot of vision-impaired individuals,
especially the elderly, who don't know audio description is even available.
We want to show them what's possible so they can help us with our second
goal: encouraging listeners to pressure the various content producers,
networks, and online services to produce a lot more audio-described
According to the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of
2010, starting this July all of the major TV networks and cable channels will
be required to carry a minimum of four hours of audio-described prime time or
children's programming. In the January 2015 AccessWorld article "Is
Accessible Viewing Finally on its Way? we noted, however, that the majority
of these and other new regulations only affect the top television markets,
cable channels, and cable systems.
According to the Blindy.TV representative, "[These outlets] only have to
produce four hours [of described programming] per week, while across the
border in Canada they have an entire network that shows nothing but described
programming, and in the UK they have to broadcast at least 10 percent of
their programming with audio description." In actuality, the BBC exceeds this
mandate, describing 20 percent of its content on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three,
BBC Four, CBBC and CBeebies.
According to the Blindy.TV representative, Blindy.TV uses a considerable
amount of UK-described TV. "[The UK] buy[s] a lot of syndicated American
series, like Friends and Star Trek. Since they are going to broadcast each of
these repeatedly during their contracted runs, it makes financial sense that
these would be high on their priority list to narrate. I won't say it's the
best audio description--British English and American English do have their
differences, after all. But it is described TV, and without it our listeners
usually can't even get these shows audio described."
While the BBC does not provide programming directly to Blindy.TV, they do
know it's being used. According to the Blindy.TV representative: "We've met
several of their representatives at various conferences, and mostly what they
tell us is how sorry they feel for us here in the US because of our lack of
According to Blindy.TV, there are many causes for the current state of
described television in America.
Lack of Incentives for Increasing Audio Description
Most TV series have multiple points of origin. The program The Mentalist, for
example, is a joint production of Primrose Hill Productions and Warner Bros.
Television. The show is then distributed by Warner Bros. Television
Distribution, which sells first run and certain rerun rights to CBS.
Unfortunately, the Communications Act, as written, places the responsibility
for providing audio description squarely on the TV network or major cable
channel. The production company and distributor each have little to gain by
adding audio description. Currently, the financial value of a TV property
does not increase because it includes audio description. And since only 50
program hours per quarter are required to be described, the networks and
cable channels can pick and choose what they send out to be narrated. Even if
they want to add description to a program, it is not uncommon for a network
to receive the final cut broadcast files mere days, even hours, before it
hits the schedule, which leaves little time to arrange for narration.
Another issue restricting the availability of audio described programming is
rights management. There are four different production companies listed in
the credits for House of Cards. Netflix contracted to have the series
described, and even though they are listed as a distributor, so is Sony
Pictures Television. We can only guess at the legal entanglements that led to
audio description being available only when viewed on Netflix and not when
rented or purchased from iTunes or another vendor.
So even if a network does arrange for a program to include audio description,
chances are you won't be able to access it when watching reruns on your local
station, or on TNT, unless the cable network decides to have it redone
because that would likely be less trouble and expense than negotiating with
the distributor, who, in turn, would have to negotiate with the network.
Are you starting to feel like pounding your head against the wall in
A Problem of Knowledge
Netflix finally began offering audio description on all of its Netflix
Originals and for other programs that have available audio description. "We
shamed them into doing that," says the Blindy.TV representative. "We also got
a lot of support from the general public when Netflix announced the release
of Daredevil, since they were making a program about a blind superhero that
the blind could not fully enjoy."
So far Hulu and Amazon Prime have not followed suit. "We need to keep up the
pressure," the Blindy.TV representative says, "and not just on the networks,
cable channels, and streaming services. We also need to educate and lobby the
studios and production companies." Indeed, some of the problem may be a
simple lack of knowledge: "If not all blind people even know audio
description is possible, how many production and studio execs don't know
The lack of audio description certainly isn't a matter of cost. The average
hour-long drama costs less than $2,000 to narrate, which is less than many
productions spend on a single day's catering bill. Turnaround time also isn't
an insurmountable obstacle. According to the Blindy.TV representative, "We've
spoken to the narration companies, [and] their writers and voiceover staffs.
They tell us the more work they get, the more they can turn this into an
assembly-line process and get the job done quickly." For proof, the
representative points to Netflix. "Once they decided to offer audio
description, it happened quickly. And it wasn't just for Daredevil--it was
for their entire lineup of shows, and every episode."
The Communications Act is a start, but it's just that--a start. Network and
cable channels are still only mandated to provide a few precious hours of
described content per week, and streaming services such as Hulu and Amazon
Prime Video are not explicitly covered by the Act. Perhaps further
legislation or judicial action will ultimately be required.
What are your thoughts? We'd love to hear them.
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<Choose the Right Electronic Magnifier, Part 1.docx>