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DVS® Guide

Spring 2001
Volume 12, Issue 1

Letter from the Director
Happy spring! Thanks to a terrific team effort by many members of the Media Access Group, we have officially moved into our new space in Hollywood -- Burbank, to be exact. Our new DVS® West Coast division now has some elbow room, with plenty of room for expansion in the future. And to celebrate the move, plans are currently under way for an open house this spring to show off our new office. In the meantime, I know you will enjoy the wonderful range of described programs scheduled to air in the months ahead. We've got some exciting PBS specials -- such as Schindler's List in April -- and miniseries lined up, as well as a growing catalogue of films on both DVS Home Video and the Turner Classic Movie channel.

On behalf of DVS, and the bicoastal staff of the Media Access Group at WGBH, I wish you all the best for an enjoyable spring.

Lori Kay,
WGBH Media Access Group/Services

DVS Highlights

Schindler's List Described on PBS
In recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, April 19, PBS will broadcast Schindler's List (check local PBS listings for times and repeat broadcast dates), which will be fully described for blind and visually impaired viewers (and captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences). This cinematic masterpiece tells the incredible true story of the enigmatic Oskar Schindler, a Nazi party member and war profiteer who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland during the Holocaust. Directed by acclaimed director Steven Spielberg and starring Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley, this 1993 Universal Pictures release won seven Oscars, including awards for Best Picture and Best Director, as well as numerous other Best Picture honors.

PBS Home Video has just released Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided -- an American Experience documentary that appeared on PBS in February -- as a DVD. This enhanced DVD is equipped with DVS description and is the first ever to include audio navigation, which will enable blind and visually impaired viewers to access the DVD features through audible menus. According to Tom Wlodkowski, a project manager for the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media, "We want this DVD to serve as a model to the industry for producing completely accessible DVDs." In addition to the complete documentary with description, audible menus and surround sound, this deluxe three-disc set includes exclusive interviews with producer/director David Grubin and cinematographer James Callanan, original narratives drawn from letters and diaries of Civil War soldiers, 19th-century African Americans and women, and other special features and content. It was produced by the Interactive and American Experience departments at WGBH.

The Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided DVD can be purchased by calling 1-800-PLAY-PBS (1-800-752-9727), logging on to or
visiting selected Borders, Barnes & Noble and Store of Knowledge bookstore locations.

DVS Looks Ahead to Summer Conventions
As DVS prepares for the year ahead, we all look forward to participating in both the American Council of the Blind convention in Des Moines and the National Federation of the Blind convention in Philadelphia coming up this summer. We plan to hold movie nights at the conventions and hope to meet you there!

DVS Showcase at a New Time on TCM
So what are you doing on Saturday night? Well, beginning in April, you can enjoy the DVS Showcase on Turner Movie Classics! Previously broadcast on Sunday nights at 6pm EST, this popular weekly broadcast will move to a new timeslot: Saturday nights at 6pm EST. The TCM network continues to make the world of film accessible through description -- featured during the DVS Showcase as well as every time a previously described film airs. For a complete listing of the more than 75 described films available on TCM, call the DVS Information Line at 1-800-333-1203 or visit us on the Web at

Interview With a Describer
As a describer for DVS since June 2000, Renée Ruthel has found a fun and unique way to fulfill her strong interests in writing and television, while contributing to the accessibility of many of PBS's programs. "I've worked on a wide variety of great shows -- from children's shows like Zoom and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to dramas like Masterpiece Theatre," says Renée. Every day offers something new and different, but I always have rich material to write about, which is one of my favorite parts of the job." In addition to the diversity of description she is asked to write, Renée really enjoys the ongoing challenge of having to understand the priorities of blind and visually impaired viewers. "Because describers are sighted, we try our best to assess what the most important aspect of each scene would be for visually impaired viewers, and then we describe those key elements. Because we usually have a very short window between dialogue or audible action, this can be difficult to do, and fun." Renée and her fellow describers generally begin the process by listening to the TV show or film without a picture, which allows them to identify areas that may need clarification through descriptive narration. They then watch it completely through with the picture to help them choose the most crucial visual elements and, eventually, go through each second of footage and compose relevant descriptions to fill in the pauses. "It's a really detailed, interesting type of writing," comments Renée. "But the opportunity to turn visuals into prose -- especially to benefit blind and visually impaired viewers -- is both satisfying and exciting for me."

PBS Schedule
The following is the DVS broadcast schedule for April through June on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Some public television stations may have different schedules, so be sure to check your local listings.

PBS programs scheduled to air with DVS are subject to change; for updates of the PBS broadcast schedule with DVS call the DVS Information line toll-free on your touch-tone phone, 1-800-333-1203. The broadcast schedule is also available on the Internet. E-mail us with your comments at:

Adventures from the Book of Virtues
every Sunday (30 minutes)

American Experience
4/2, 4/9, 4/16, 4/23, 4/30, 5/7, 5/14, 5/21, 5/28, 6/4, 6/11 (60 minutes) The episodes on 4/2 and 4/9 are 90 minutes. The episodes on 5/7, 5/14 and 5/28 are 120 minutes. The episodes on 4/30 and 5/21 are 150 minutes.

American Masters
4/16, 4/23 (90 minutes)

every weekday and Sunday (30 minutes)

Between The Lions
every weekday and Sunday (30 minutes)

Conquistadors w/Michael Wood
5/9, 5/16 (120 minutes)

Exxon Mobil Masterpiece Theatre
4/1, 4/8, 4/15, 4/22, 6/10, 6/17 (90 minutes) The episode on 6/10 is 120 minutes.

ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre's American Collection
5/2 (120 minutes)

Harvest of Fear: A Frontline/ NOVA Special
4/24 (120 minutes)

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
weekdays 5/14-5/18 (30 minutes)

4/5, 4/12, 4/26, 5/3, 5/10, 5/17, 5/24 and 5/31, 6/7, 6/14, 6/21, 6/28 (60 minutes)

4/27, 5/4, 5/11, 5/18 (60 minutes)

every Sunday with the exception of 4/22 and 5/27 (60 minutes)

4/3, 4/10, 4/17, 5/1, 5/15, 5/22 and 5/29 (60 minutes) There will be two episodes airing back to back on 4/17.

Schindler's List
4/19 (150 minutes)

Scientific American Frontiers
4/3, 4/10, 5/1 (60 minutes)

every weekday and Sunday (30 minutes)

starting 4/16 every weekday and Sunday (30 minutes)

starting 5/11 every weekday (30 minutes)

Large-Format Theater Schedule
The following is the large-format theater movie schedule with video description for April through June. For specific dates and times the films will be showing with description, please call the theater nearest you. If your local large-format theater is not listed in the schedule, let them know that you would like to see movies with DVS at their theater.

Langley Theater, Smithsonian Institution/National Air and Space Museum
Washington, DC
(202) 357-1675
Cosmic Voyage, To Fly!, Michael Jordan: To the Max, Solarmax

Entergy IMAX® Theater
Aquarium of the Americas
New Orleans, LA
(504) 581-4629
Galapagos, Dolphins, Mysteries of Egypt, Into The Deep

Mugar Omni Theater, Museum of Science Boston, MA
(617) 723-2500 or
Shackleton's Antarctic Journey, T-Rex, Journey Into Amazing Caves

Wortham IMAX® Theater
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Houston, TX
(713) 639-4705
Africa: The Serengeti, Mysteries of Egypt, Everest, Shackleton's Antarctic Journey, Alaska, Journey into Amazing Caves

Laurence Phipps Theater
Denver Museum of Natural History
Denver, CO
(303) 370-6322
Dolphins, Whales

Tennessee Aquarium IMAX® Theater
Chattanooga, TN
(800) 262-0695
Into the Deep, Galapagos

DVS Theatrical
The following is a listing of conventional movie theaters with video description. For specific titles that are described and for specific dates and times the films will be showing, please call the theater nearest you. If your local theater is not listed here, let them know that you would like to see movies with DVS at their theater.

General Cinema Sherman Oaks/ Sherman Oaks
Cinema 2 (near Los Angeles)
4500 Van Nuys Boulevard
Sherman Oaks
(818) 986-9660 or (818) 986-3078

General Cinema Parkway Pointe
Cinema 7
3101 Cobb Parkway, S.E.
(770) 937-0730

General Cinema Yorktown/Lombard
Cinema 7
(near Chicago)
80 Yorktown Center
(630) 495-0012

General Cinema City North
2600 North Western Avenue
(773) 394-1600

General Cinema Owings Mills
Cinema 8
(near Baltimore)
10100 Mill Run Circle
Owings Mills
(443) 394-0060

General Cinema Framingham 14
Cinema 12
22 Flutie Pass
(508) 875-6151

General Cinema Fenway
201 Brookline Avenue
(617) 424-6111

New Jersey
General Cinema Clifton Commons/Clifton
Cinema 1
(near New York City)
405 Route 3 East
(973) 614-0966

New York
General Cinema Bay Plaza Cinemas
Bay Plaza Shopping Center
2210 Barton Avenue
(718) 320-1659

General Cinema Plymouth Meeting
Cinema 9 (near Philadelphia)
500 Germantown Pike
(outside of Plymouth Meeting Mall)
Plymouth Meeting
(610) 397-0780

General Cinema Springfield Mall
(near Washington, DC)
6500 Springfield Mall
(703) 971-4203

Cinerama Theater
(a General Cinema-operated facility)
2100 Fourth Avenue
(206) 441-3080

General Cinema Pacific Place
Cinema 3
600 Pine Street
(206) 652-8908

General Cinema Mayfair Mall
(near Milwaukee)
2500 North Mayfair Road
(414) 777-0467

DVS Funders
We extend our sincere thanks to the many corporations, foundations, organizations and viewers who have supported DVS during the past year.

Inaugural Circle
General Motors
George B. Storer Foundation

National Endowment for the Arts
U.S. Department of Education

Additional Supporters
American Council of the Blind of Ohio
American Express Foundation
American Legion Child Welfare Foundation
Eberhard & Pat Ax
J. Walton Bissell Foundation
John Demetralis
Des Moines Chapter, Iowa Council of the United Blind
The Gerber Foundation
Arlene Gordon
The George Gund Foundation
Debra & Paul Hill
Gilbert H. Hood Family Fund
William F. Paul
The Pearle Vision Foundation
Reader's Digest Fund for the Blind
George & Eleanor Shearing
Irving M. Shepard III
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Jo Taliaferro
Washington Council of the Blind
E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation for the Blind

Major funding for Descriptive Video Service® is provided by
the U.S. Department of Education. Cooperative agreements:
H026C70004, H026C70005, H026C70007, H327C980003

How to Access DVS
In order to receive DVS on television, viewers must have either a television with stereo, a VCR with the Second Audio Program (SAP) -- both of which are standard features -- or a stand-alone SAP receiver. To access the narrated visual descriptions on a television program or home video, simply activate the SAP feature, which can be located by consulting the equipment manual or by calling the equipment manufacturer. A stand-alone SAP receiver, which functions somewhat like a radio, can be tuned into a channel that broadcasts the description soundtrack. The SAP device may be used in addition to a television or for audio only, and is available either pre-tuned or adjustable. SAP receivers may be purchased from Compol, Inc., 1-800-972-0881; Avocet Instruments, Inc., 1-800-443-0728; and FM Atlas 218-879-7676.

This guide is also available in Braille, on audio via the DVS Information Line, 1-800-333-1203. To contact us directly you may call our new direct line at (617) 300-3600.

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