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DVS® Guide

Winter/Spring 2003
Volume 14, Issue 1

Table of Contents

  • News Highlights
  • Large-Format Theaters
  • DVS® Funders

Letter from the Director:

News Highlights

Greetings for the new year! I hope you have all enjoyed a happy and healthy holiday season, and that you are looking forward to 2003. We had a busy 2002 -- during which we described numerous new programs and films, relaunched our Web site and introduced our new electronic version of the DVS Guide -- and we anticipate another year full of exciting projects.

As most of you probably know, the FCC mandate for the provision of video description on television was overturned in November. The Media Access Group has worked for years to make description a mainstream reality for viewers with visual disabilities, and we are certainly disappointed about this turn of events. However, this mandate reversal does not have to be a setback. We are resolved and committed to continuing our important work in the area of video description, and draw strength from our wonderful audience -- each of you. Although broadcasters and other program providers are no longer required to provide video description, we are very confident that many of our clients -- including CBS, Fox, Lifetime, TCM and others -- will join PBS in airing video description on a voluntary basis. Like us, these clients understand the value of video description to viewers that are blind or visually impaired. So please join us as we look onward and upward!

Once again, I'd like to remind you to look for our next electronic DVS E-Guide in April 2003. And, if you have any friends, family members or colleagues who might enjoy receiving the E-Guide, please ask them to contact us at Thanks!

On behalf of DVS, and the bi-coastal staff of the Media Access Group at WGBH, I wish you all a great 2003. And remember, for the latest DVS news and information, visit us online often at our Web site!

Lori Kay, Director
Media Access Group at WGBH/Services
Descriptive Video Service®

PBS's American Experience Presents...
This month, PBS's American Experience presents "Chicago: City of the Century" with description for viewers who are blind or visually impaired. Chicago rose from a swampy frontier town to become the quintessential American city. This film brings to life the Windy City's rich mixture of cultures, its political corruption and labor upheavals, and its people's ingenuity, determination and ruthless empire-building. "Chicago: City of the Century" airs Monday-Wednesday, January 13-15, 2003 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings). This film will be available on DVD -- with description and 75 minutes of bonus described material -- from PBS Home Video at the end of January.

In February, American Experience will present "Partners of the Heart" with description. This film tells the inspiring, little-known story of the collaboration between a prominent white surgeon at Johns Hopkins University Hospital and an African American with a high school education who, together in 1944, pioneered a ground-breaking procedure that would go on to save the lives of thousands of so-called "blue babies." "Partners of the Heart" airs Monday, February 10 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings). This film also will be available on DVD -- with description -- from PBS Home Video in spring 2003.

And in April, American Experience will broadcast a described presentation of "Seabiscuit" -- based on the runaway, New York Times best-seller by Laura Hillenbrand. Although he was boxy, had stumpy legs, a short straggly tail and an ungainly gait, Seabiscuit was one of the most remarkable thoroughbred racehorses in history. This film follows Seabiscuit's unlikely career and the four devoted men -- his owner, trainer and two jockeys -- whose hard work and commitment made him a national hero during the Depression of the 1930s. "Seabiscuit" airs Monday, April 21 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings).

DVS Home Video Warms the Winter Months with New Titles...
Brrrrr! These cold winter days are perfect for watching your favorite films. That's why DVS Home Video is so pleased to make some fantastic new releases, and some classic re-releases, available for purchase. They include: Bridget Jones's Diary, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Insomnia, Lilo & Stitch, Spider-Man, Scooby-Doo and Signs.

Due to frequent requests from our consumers, DVS Home Video will occasionally re-release described films that have been discontinued in our catalogue. As our first re-releases, we are pleased to offer two Hollywood classics -- Casablanca and Singin' in the Rain. For the latest DVS Home Video releases, call our toll-free number 1.800.333.1203 or visit our Web site To order the latest DVS Home Video Catalogue in braille or large print call 617.300.3600.

Coming Soon...
Minority Report: Set in 2054, this sci-fi thriller from Steven Spielberg stars Tom Cruise as a member of the "Pre-Crime" Unit, which stops crimes before they occur. Things heat up when he must prove his own innocence in a future crime. Rated R. This film will be available from DVS Home Video in late spring or early summer 2003.

MoPix Introduces New Online Resource
Based on inquiries by MoPix-users nationwide, the Media Access Group has developed a new addition to the MoPix Web site, which provides viewers with up-to-date listings of MoPix-equipped theater locations, films and show times throughout the United States and Canada. The new page -- nowshowing.html -- enables you to search by state for the MoPix locations, films and show times you're looking for. This useful online resource can be bookmarked to streamline the process of finding an accessible film in your area, and it may become even more convenient as we partner with an online powerhouse in the future. Stay tuned!

Disney Favorite "Roars" Into Large Format Theaters Nationwide
Beginning in December 2002, select Mopix-equipped IMAX/large format theaters introduced Disney's animated blockbuster -- The Lion King -- with description for viewers who are blind and visually impaired. This entertaining kids' classic from 1994 features the voices of Matthew Broderick, Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Lane and others, and won Oscars for both "Best Song" and "Best Musical Score." To find out about the availability of this exciting large-screen presentation -- and other new large format theatrical releases with description -- in your area, visit the new MoPix listings page or call 1.800.333.1203.

DVS Describes Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer
The folks at DVS are currently working on describing Dora the Explorer -- the popular kids' series on Nickelodeon about Dora and her best friend, a monkey named Boots. Each episode teaches children basic Spanish words and phrases, along with math skills, music skills and physical coordination, as they observe situations and solve problems together. Look on our Web site or call our toll-free information line 1.800.333.1203 for the premiere date of Dora the Explorer with description.

Catch Saturday Night Features on TCM
So what are you doing Saturday night? Why not grab a friend and make some popcorn while you enjoy the DVS Showcase on the Turner Classic Movie network?! Each and every Saturday night at 6pm EST, the Turner Classic Movie network makes the world of film accessible through description during the DVS Showcase. And once a movie has been described on TCM, the description will accompany every subsequent broadcast of that movie. View a complete listing of the more than 125 described films available on TCM or call the DVS Information Line at 800-333-1203.

Interview with a Describer.....
When she became a describer in the Media Access Group's Los Angeles office in March 2002 (she now works in the home office in Boston), Allison White was looking forward to working on some of the many feature films that DVS describes each year for the nation's MoPix-equipped theaters. Among the many films Allison had the opportunity to help describe was the blockbuster hit Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets -- which was probably her favorite assignment during her year in the LA office. "I loved working on was such a fun movie. This is a movie you couldn't not like, no matter what kind of person you are," says Allison.

Although it was an enjoyable film to work on, this assignment posed some special challenges as well. "Most television series are character-based, so the conversation really carries the plot. But with movies -- especially something like Harry Potter -- it's all visual," she says. "Also, it's not even a realistic movie. One of the biggest challenges is that we had to describe a lot of things that we'd never seen before. When it's a fantasy, you have to clarify everything."

The fact that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was a sequel introduced additional challenges during the description process. "With a sequel, you have to keep in mind that a good amount of your audience probably saw the first one, but may not have. Also, some have read the book, while others haven't," explains Allison. "We had to take all levels of familiarity into account when writing the descriptions, so sometimes, we might have written more than all the viewers needed." Even with the challenges of this fantastical sequel, when Allison looks back on the Harry Potter project, it was a positive experience. "I hadn't read the book, but after working on this project, I'm a big Harry Potter fan and would like to read the whole series."

Large-Format Theaters
The following is a list of large format theaters that show films with video descriptions. For specific titles that are described and for speciŪc dates and times the films will be showing, 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.

Laurence Phipps Theater
Denver Museum of Natural History
Denver, CO

Bob Bullock Texas State
History Museum/IMAX
Austin, TX

Johnson IMAX Theater
Discovery Center
Institution/Natural History Museum
Washington, DC

Langley IMAX Theater
Institution/National Air
and Space Museum
Washington, DC

IMAX Dome Theater
Museum of Science and Industry
Tampa, FL

Entergy IMAX Theater
Aquarium of the Americas
New Orleans, LA

Mugar OMNI Theater
Museum of Science
Boston, MA

William L. McKnight -
3M Omnitheater
Science Museum of Minnesota
St. Paul, MN

Tennessee Aquarium
Imax Theater
Chattanooga, TN

Wortham IMAX Theater
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Houston, TX

T.I. Founders IMAX Theater
The Science Place
Dallas, TX

Bristol IMAX Theater
Milton J. Rubenstein Museum
of Science and Technology
Syracuse, NY

Virginia Marine Science
Museum IMAX
Virginia Beach, VA

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


U.S. Department of Education

Additional Supporters

American Council of the Blind of Ohio
American Legion Child Welfare Foundation
J. Walton Bissell Foundation
Des Moines Chapter, Iowa Council of the United Blind
Gerber Foundation, The
George Gund Foundation, The
Debra & Paul Hill
Gilbert H. Hood Family Fund
Lions Clubs of Massachusetts, The (District 33 - A)
Oak Foundation
Pearle Vision Foundation, The
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Jo Taliaferro
Washington Council Of The Blind
E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation for the Blind

In Memory of Frances Webb...
We would like to thank all of Ms. Webb's friends and relatives who made donations
in her memory. Ms. Webb was a long-time fan of DVS and the donations received
will assist us in providing more of the service she so enjoyed.

Major funding for Descriptive Video Service is provided by the U.S. Department of Education. H327J000004, H327J000005, H327C010004, H327E010005, H327L020008


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