I hadn’t really appreciated what it must be like to be able to hear the audio and not hook into the visual context of videos, movies, and TV shows. The closest I come is the frustration when I am out running and listening to podcasts and the presenter on a TED Talk shows a graph or illustration that they don’t describe, and yet it’s central to their overall focus.
According to Robert Kingett in Internet TV for the blind “virtually no programs on TV had audio description (**see below to find out what this is), also known as video description to describe to the visually impaired what was happening on the screen. Many people had to just guess about what was happening when watching or ask a nearby sighted person. Students in school were at a serious disadvantage. PBS was the only broadcaster providing educational content that had audio description. In 2010 however, access to TV became a law, finally forcing broadcasters to provide accessible programming to people who were visually impaired” (source).
It was good to read about therefore, about Blindy.TV “a charitable project created by blind people that believe that the blind should be able to enjoy the same television programming that entertains and contributes to the shared culture of their sighted family and friends” (source).
Many governments legislate that TV channels have to provide some ‘accessible’ content (usually measured in hours), but the Internet is one area that has largely escaped such legislation – something that is an issue as increasing numbers of “people are migrating away from the TV and to bandwidth, favoring the on demand access anywhere” (source).
While the service has been developed in the United States (and I couldn’t get anything to play on my Mac, making me wonder if it’s limited to the US, or if it’s an issue with Mac compatibility :-p), it is a great step forward. And I wonder if there is a similar initiative in NZ is for a similar service? (Including in Te Reo Maori?)
*** “Audio Description involves the accessibility of the visual images of theater, television, movies, and other art forms for people who are blind, have low vision, or who are otherwise visually impaired. It is a narration service (provided at no additional charge to the patron) that attempts to describe what the sighted person takes for granted — those images that a person who is blind or visually impaired formerly could only experience through the whispered asides from a sighted companion” (source).
Read more here: Internet TV for the blind