Description: The Basics
Descriptions make television programs, feature films, DVDs, museum exhibits, theme park attractions and other visual media accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired by providing descriptive narration of key visual elements. Key visual elements include actions, costumes, gestures and scene changes which, when described, engage a viewer who is blind or visually impaired with the story. A carefully written script is prepared by a trained describer, read by a professional narrator, and mixed in a professional audio production suite for broadcast-quality results. A full DVS® mix consists of the main program audio combined with these narrated descriptions.
Descriptions for Pre-Produced Programs
In most cases, the DVS mix is delivered to the producer or distributor for layback to the master. This audio track is usually delivered as an audio file. The track is added to the master using time code to synchronize the DVS audio with the main program. The DVS track then follows the main audio and video through the distribution path, including satellite feeds. At time of air, the DVS audio is incorporated into the digital television signal of the local broadcaster and transmitted as an Alternate Audio Service along with the main program.
Live Description for Live Programs and Teleconferences
Live description is a relatively new service that has been offered in limited situations, most notably the last four presidential inaugurations. Skilled describers report on visual elements of the program, and their descriptions are mixed with the main program audio to create a separate DVS audio track. This mix is fed through the broadcast chain as described above and/or streamed live on the Web.
Descriptions can be edited or reformatted to match new versions of a program or film -- a service that costs a fraction of original description. Complex reformats that require some additional narration and mixing will be more expensive than simple reformats (those not requiring the services of a narrator). The Media Access Group archives all DVS scripts and recordings, so contact us to find out if your acquisition is available in our extensive library.
Descriptions for DVDs
Movies and other media on DVD can also include descriptions. A description track can be supplied to the DVD authoring facility and incorporated onto the DVD as an additional audio selection. The Media Access Group has described over 800 films since 1990, and maintains a full list of those movies for which we've created DVS tracks
. The Media Access Group has also pioneered talking menus for DVD to allow users with visual impairments the ability to navigate DVD menus more easily.
Descriptions for the Web
Descriptions can be incorporated into most streaming-media environments. This is an evolving platform with a number of different media players, each of which uses a slightly different approach. Currently, in order to offer description, the best approach is to provide a separate selection for that service on the Web site.
Each of these software players is developing the ability to choose among different audio streams for video on the Web. As that develops, description will become a separate choice in the player's Preferences menu or Audio Selection menu, as on a DVD menu.
Digital Television Access
The transition to Digital Television (DTV) presented several challenges for access technologies. Within the broadcast and cable industries, the Media Access Group is the leader in working with equipment manufacturers to ensure that DTV is accessible to all Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired.
Descriptions for DTV are simply treated as an alternate audio selection during a broadcast. With proper attention, this service is readily available from a simple menu. In most cases, a user can set descriptions as the default choice for audio, if that service is available for a particular program. (If descriptions are not offered on a program, the digital TV should revert to regular program audio.)
Feature Film Description
The Media Access Group is the only organization which makes feature films accessible to moviegoers who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired, a service known as MoPix®. The patented Rear Window® Captioning system enables theater patrons with hearing loss to watch closed-captioned movies along with the general audience during any regular showing of a captioned film, at the same time. DVS Theatrical® enables moviegoers with vision loss to hear descriptions of the film's key visual elements without distracting other patrons. For theater locations equipped with MoPix®, visit the MoPix® Web site at www.mopix.org