[tabi] described tv shows for the visually impaired coming soon

  • From: "Chip and Allie Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2014 15:12:25 -0400

I recently received the email below:
Afternoon All,
I have already signed up to be a Beta tester and wanted to share this
exciting news
with you.
The proposed date for the release is sometime over the Summer.
How exciting it will be to have current television shows, movies and
programs at
our finger tips!!!
Meet the company that wants to be the Netflix for blind people
For years, advocates have been trying to make mainstream television more
to the visually impaired.
TalkingFlix may be on the verge of doing just that.
By Kaitlin Roberts | April 8, 2014
ever been there: you're hanging out with friends when the conversation
suddenly turns
to the latest episode of
House of Cards
or the recent Jennifer Lawrence blockbuster. You haven't seen this
particular television
show or film, so for the next fifteen minutes, while your friends dissect
the plot
and recount
hilarious moment, you're left finding creative ways to stir your coffee.
Television shows and movies constitute an enormous part of our culture, and
not being
in on the story can feel isolating. This is especially true for people with
impairments. Sure, the blind and visually impaired can listen to a movie or
show, but so much of what happens in the story - from a character's subtle
to a car exploding - is visual.
Crossway Media Solutions
is an online entertainment service working to make films and television
shows more
accessible for people with disabilities. This year, the company will launch
, the first audio-described, on-demand entertainment service for those with
impairments. "Our main goal,"
TalkingFlix head of content Ellen Pittleman tells The Week
, "is accessibility. We want to help sighted and non-sighted populations
have a shared
social experience."
According to Pittleman, who was a Paramount executive before joining
, broadcast networks for years have been making audio tracks that describe
visuals. In April 2002, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began
major networks to provide 50 hours of described programming per quarter.
advocates saw this new legislation as an opportunity to approach film
studios and
encourage them to provide this service as well.
They quickly realized that the cost of creating these tracks was difficult
to justify.
"We were just about to release
Titanic when I was at Paramount and we were approached," Pittleman
explains. "It was an important move for the studio to participate in
providing this
service because
was to be our biggest DVD release ever. Unfortunately, in retrospect we
found that
the cost of creating these tracks was often not being recovered by the
Most DVDs don't include an audio menu, and movie theaters and streaming
are often set up for audio-described content. As a result, it didn't make
sense for
studios to invest the time or money into making these tracks available.
Now, Pittleman
is in the process of working with these production companies to recover some
those old tracks from studio libraries, while giving content providers a
market for
creating such tracks. By bridging the gap between studios and consumers,
aims to offer hundreds of popular titles that customers will be able to
access on
their televisions or mobile devices.
The idea behind TalkingFlix has a long backstory. The company's CEO, David
, is not blind, but is visually impaired and has close ties to the blind
He built a career in the tech world, but he's no stranger to the film
industry. His
father, Peter
, is a well-known Hungarian director and tireless advocate for media
"Growing up," David
Timar tells The Week
, "I realized the problem my father was trying to solve was not a local
but a global one... My dad's work with [the visually impaired] community
help me
understand the need."
came up with the idea to market audio-described tracks years ago, but the
only took off last year when an investor encouraged
Timar to apply for seed funding.
Finding a consumer base should not be a problem. According to the FCC, there
approximately 25 million Americans and 289 million people worldwide with
visual impairments.
The bigger obstacle - and the reason many companies have failed to tap into
niche market - involves getting investors and the studios to sign up. "The
says, "is telling investors we are going to get the content and being able
to strike
a deal with studios based on an unprecedented market. It's a back-and-forth
is in the process of closing its first deal, and if it succeeds, it will be
first company to overcome this hurdle, gaining access to a pool of consumers
even bigger names like Netflix and Hulu haven't reached.
The program plans to launch later this year, but
you can sign up for the service now
. Gearing up for the launch,
Timar and his team have several goals. In the first year, they hope to grow
the library
and make
TalkingFlix available to the English-speaking world as soon as possible.
Long term,
says he wants to make audio-described content available to Spanish-speaking
India, and China.
"Eventually," Timar says, "I would like TalkingFlix to be a household item
Scott VanHoose
Assistive Technology & Job Readiness Coordinator
New Vision for Independence, Inc.
9501 US Hwy 441, Leesburg, FL  34788
(352) 435-5040 |
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