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A variety of services that help to make television, movies and more accessible for all.


DVS® FAQ

What is Descriptive Video Service®?
What elements of a program do you describe?
How does a viewer watch DVS® on television?
Where are DVS television broadcasts available?
Which feature films are playing with DVS? Which theaters have DVS?
How does a viewer get described movies on home video?
What is the process of Descriptive Video Service?
What special skills do describers have?
Where do you find narrators, and are they union?
How long does it take to describe a program?
Can descriptions be reformatted?
Do you have to lower the levels of source audio for the description narrator?

What is Descriptive Video Service?
Descriptive Video Service (DVS) is a national service that makes television programs, feature films, home videos, and other visual media accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. DVS is part of the Media Access Group at WGBH. DVS was launched nationally in 1990 by the WGBH Educational Foundation, producer of many prime-time public television programs and leader in the development of accessible media.

What elements of a program do you describe?
We describe key visual elements in a program that a viewer who is blind or visually impaired would ordinarily miss. Actions, costumes, gestures, and scene changes are just a few of the elements that, when described, engage the viewer with the story. Our describers are experienced writers and researchers. When they encounter visual images that are unfamiliar to them, they take the time to research and create description that give the viewer a more complete image of what is happening onscreen, without interfering with the audio or dialogue of a program or movie.

How does a viewer watch DVS on television?
A viewer must live within range of a station that carries DVS. The national transition from analog and digital television in June 2009 has changed the way some viewers will access description tracks via broadcast, cable and satellite TV. In some areas of our the country, there is now another option: telephone company delivered services from Verizon (FiOS-TV) and AT&T (U-Verse). For video description purposes, these phone company services act just like cable TV. For specific information about how to access video description in digital television with your specific equipment and service combination, please link to our dtvaccess.org resource site and click on Digital Television and Video Description: Service Continues, Consumer and Industry Efforts Required.

Where are DVS television broadcasts available?
DVS television broadcasts are regularly available on CBS, Fox, PBS, Nickelodeon, and Turner Classic Movies.

Which feature films are playing with DVS? Which theaters have DVS?
Visit www.mopix.org for a complete list of films that are available with DVS and for a list of theaters across North America that are equipped with the MoPix® system, DVS Theatrical( and Rear Window( Captioning.

How does a viewer get described movies on home video or DVD?
DVS Home Video® was an effort of the Media Access Group that spanned over a decade and made over 200 films accessible on VHS tapes sold by DVS. The Media Access Group is working now to migrate the more than description tracks we create for release in movie theaters equipped with MoPix systems to mainstream DVDs and download services such as iTunes and Netflix online. A selection of DVDs with DVS are available for sale at retail outlets. Additional DVD releases that include the DVS track are added regularly.

What is the process of Descriptive Video Service?
Describers watch the program and write a script describing key visual elements. They carefully time the placement and length of the description to fit within natural pauses in the dialogue. After a script is completed, it is edited by a post-production supervisor for continuity, clarity, and style conventions. Narration is recorded and mixed with the original program audio in a unique "mix to pix" process to create a full DVS track.

The DVS track is then laid back to the master either on a spare audio channel (for broadcast) or to a separate DVS master (for home video distribution). This layback process can be done either by DVS or the producer/distributor. (For descriptions intended for the MoPix® environment and DVS Theatrical, a full program mix is not created. The descriptions are kept as a separate track and delivered to theaters as part of the DTS motion picture sound track.)

What special skills do describers have?
Describers are a diverse group of individuals, among them former educators, writers, trained musicians, and avid travelers. They possess degrees in a variety of fields, but share key skills for describers. They must be tireless researchers, demonstrate strong writing skills, and be very detail-oriented. When hired, each describer undergoes an extensive training program.

Where do you find narrators, and are they union?
WGBH Educational Foundation, the parent organization of the Media Access Group at WGBH and DVS, is a signatory to SAG and AFTRA contracts. When union talent is required, we have a large selection of SAG and AFTRA narrators from which to choose. (We also continue to receive demo and audition tapes from potential new narrators.) The fee for talent is not an extra charge, but is included in our total description service fee.

How long does it take to describe a program?
The time it takes to describe a program and the cost for each program varies. Our sales and marketing staff will work with you to accommodate your turn-around needs and to meet your deadlines.

Can descriptions be reformatted?
Yes, descriptions can be reformatted, and should be, whenever a show is changed or edited.

Do you have to lower the levels of source audio for the description narrator?
We dip source audio only when our narrator is speaking. Our descriptions are carefully crafted and applied so as not to interfere with the dialogue or soundtrack of the program.


















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