My wife is blind, and the
value of video description can not be overstated.
Video description takes television and movies to a new level
for people who can't see, and for those of us trying to act as their
I can't find the words to thank you for your time and fine work.
If a reasonably accessible schedule of described programs is available, we provide a link labeledbelow. If there is a phone number available for listings of described shows or questions for a particular network, we list it. Remember, some of these are for NEW SEASON only, so repeats might not have description. If a series which was previously described at least one season has ended, it is listed under Previous. Repeats may or may not occur, and perhaps on a different network. "Not mandated" means the station is not required by the FCC to provide description. In 2015, The History Channel was substituted for Nickelodeon by the FCC. When we hear that a show has been renewed for the NEXT season, we mark it "(Ren17)." Please report errors to the Webmaster!
Schedule Link, Contact#
|Series - Current
(newly discovered ones highlighted)
|Series - Previous
(some now on TBS, TNT, USA, or Netflix)
(Received Over-the-Air or via Cable/Satellite)
(Ren17 = Known to be renewed for 2016-17 season)
(Can17 = Known to be canceled for 2016-17 season)
Reference (not a Schedule)
|Beyond the Tank, black-ish (Ren17), Celebrity Family
Off the Boat (Ren17), Last Man Standing (Ren17), Mistresses (Ren17), Modern Family (Ren17),
Nashville (Can17), Secrets and Lies (description starts fall
2016), Shark Tank (Ren17), The Goldbergs (Ren17), The Middle
(Ren17), The Real O'Neals (Ren 17).
SATURDAY MORNINGS: Born to Explore, Jack Hanna's Wild Countdown, Ocean Mysteries With Jeff Corwin, Rock the Park, Sea Rescue, and The Wildlife Docs. Read about them at Litton Weekend Adventure.
NOTE: You can also download the WATCH ABC APP on various devices. ABC is offering Description on most of the shows listed above.
|Previously described on ABC: Astronaut Wives Club, Back in the Game, Happy Endings, Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23, Motive (Moved to USA), Outback Adventures With Tim Faulkner, Secret Millionaire, Rookie Blue, Selfie, Suburgatory, Super Fun Night, The Neighbors, The Quest, The Whispers.|
|Blue Bloods (Ren17), Criminal Minds, NCIS (Ren17), NCIS Los Angeles
NCIS New Orleans (Ren17), The Big
SATURDAY MORNINGS: Dr Chris, Pet Vet; Game Changers with Kevin Frazier; Chicken Soup for the Soul's Hidden Heroes; Lucky Dog; The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation; The Inspectors. Read about them at CBS Dream Team.
|Previously described on CBS: CSI, All In With Laila Ali, Recipe Rehab|
(Must look for )
|American Grit, Bob's Burgers, Bones (Ren17), BOOM!, Bordertown (Can17), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Ren17), Bullseye, Cooper Barrett's Guide To Surviving Life (Can17), Coupled, Empire, Family Guy (Ren17), Golan the Insatiable, Gotham, Grandfathered (Can17), Hell's Kitchen, Home Free, Hotel Hell, Houdini & Doyle, Lucifer (Ren17), MasterChef (Ren17), MasterChef Junior (Ren17), New Girl, Rosewood (Ren17), Scream Queens (Ren17), The Grinder (Can17), The Last Man on Earth (Ren17), The Simpsons, The X-Files, Wayward Pines.||Previously described on FOX: 24: Live Another Day (Note: a spinoff has been scheduled for 2017), Almost Human, American Dad (moved to TBS), Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Dads, Fringe, Gang Related, Glee, Gracepoint, Kitchen Nightmares (possibility of returning), Mulaney, Raising Hope, Rake, The Cleveland Show, The Mindy Project (moved to Hulu), The Following, Weird Loners|
(Must look for )
|American Ninja Warrior, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med (Ren17),
Chicago PD, Crowded (Can17), Grimm, Heartbeat
Law and Order SVU (Ren17)
SATURDAY MORNINGS: The Chica Show; Clangers; Earth to Luna; Floogals; Nina's World; Noodle and Doodle; Poppy Cat; Ruff Ruff, Tweet, and Dave; Tree Fu Tom. NOTE: Shows subject to rotate each quarter, so check local listings.
|Previously described on NBC: 30 Rock, About a Boy, Animal Practice, Betty White's Off Their Rockers (moved to Lifetime), Community, Crossbones, Crossing Lines, Deception, Do No Harm, Go On, Growing Up Fisher, Guys With Kids, Heroes Reborn, Ironside, Parenthood, Parks and Recreation, Saving Hope, Sean Saves the World, State of Affairs, The Michael J Fox Show, The Office, Truth Be Told, Up All Night, Whitney|
|Offers description of many children's shows (like NatureCat, WordGirl, 1001 Nights, Daniel Tiger, Peg + Cat, and Super Why) and some adult programming (like The Perfect Crime and Travel Detective). No known list on the PBS website exists; we continue to work on our contacts there! Partial list of PBS described shows.||(Previously described series will not be listed for this network)|
The CW[not mandated]
|At this time no prime time shows are known to be described
on The CW.
SATURDAY MORNINGS: Calling Dr. Pol; Dog Town USA; Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan: Family Edition; Dream Quest; Hatched; Save Our Shelter. Read about them at One Magnificent Morning. [Note: This series was renewed for FIVE YEARS in January 2016.]
|Previously described on The CW: Expedition Wild, Rock the Park (moved to ABC)
NOTE: Since The CW is not required to provide description, many local outlets do not have the equipment to pass along description from their network feed.
(Available via Cable or Satellite Only)
(Ren = Known to be renewed for 2016-17 season)
Cartoon Network[not mandated]
|Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race, Supernoobs||NOTE: Since the Cartoon Network is not required to provide description, many local outlets do not have the equipment to pass along description from their network feed.|
|Austin & Ally, Doc McStuffins, Girl Meets World, Gravity Falls (on XD; Can17), Henry Hugglemonster, I Didn't Do It, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, KC Undercover, Little Einsteins, Liv and Maddie (CAN17), Miles From Tomorrowland, Sofia the First||Previously described on Disney: A.N.T. Farm, Dog With a Blog, Fish Hooks, Good Luck Charlie, Jessie, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Phineas and Ferb, Shake It Up, Wander Over Yonder|
The History ChannelSchedule!
|Alone, Ancient Aliens, American Picker, American Restoration, Billion Dollar Wreck, Counting Cars (Ren17), Ice Road Truckers, Iron & Fire, Ozzy and Jack's World Detour, The Outlaw Chronicles, Top Gear, and Pawn Stars|
[no longer mandated]
|[We do not know which of the following show are still current] Blaze and the Monster Machines, Bubble Guppies, Dino Dan/Trek's Adventures*, Dora the Explorer, iCarly, Max and Ruby, Mike the Knight (on Nick Jr), Mutt & Stuff (Ren17), PAW Patrol (Ren17), Peppa Pig, Peter Rabbit*, Shimmer and Shine, SpongeBob SquarePants (Ren17), Team Umizoomi, Tickety Tock*, Wallykazam*. We believe that description will continue even though not mandated any more. Confirmed shows marked with asterisk (*).||Previously described on Nickelodeon: Go Diego Go, The Fairly OddParents (unknown which others are not current...)|
|Some movies are reportedly shown with their description tracks||NOTE: Since the SyFy network is not required to provide description, many local outlets do not have the equipment to pass along description from their network feed.|
Schedule! (look for DVS, not SAP, in the listings)
|American Dad, Angie Tribeca (REN17), Separation Anxiety, Wrecked (REN17). Reruns: Family Guy, The Big Bang Theory, Two Broke Girls (some episodes); and some movies||Previously described on TBS: Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse, Tyler Perry's House of Payne|
404 885-5535, option 2
|Offers description of numerous movies.||NOTE: Although not mandated, this network has offered description as long as any of them, so there is a good likelihood you will be able to receive description.|
Schedule! (look for DVS, not SAP, in the listings)
|Rizzoli & Isles (Can17 - this is the last season for the show, but the first season with description). Reruns: Castle, Grimm, Hawaii Five-O, Law & Order; and some movies||Previously described on TNT: The Closer|
|Universal HD has reportedly offered some movies with description||NOTE: Since UNIVHD is not required to provide description, many local outlets do not have the equipment to pass along description from their network feed.|
|Colony (Ren17), Donny, Motive, Mr. Robot, Royal Pains (Can17), Playing House (Ren17), Queen of the South, Shooter, Suits; plus reruns for CSI, Law & Order: SVU, Modern Family, NCIS, NCIS LA||Previously described on USA: Benched, Burn Notice, Common Law, Complications, Covert Affairs, Dig (mini-series), Graceland, Necessary Roughness, Psych, Rush, Satisfaction, Sirens, White Collar|
(Available only via the Internet, including mobile devices, usually for a monthly fee)
This information has now been moved to a separate Streaming page
LISTINGS of Described Television Shows
View the ACB/ADP Master Schedule of Described TV Programs!
You may also use AFB's Described TV Listings service, though it is a bit awkward,
or you can be informed of described shows via NFB's Newsline service.
Note: Networks may also provide
description for some movies.
Please notify the webmaster of additional series that you find described or schedules exclusively for described shows.
IMPORTANT NOTE! In the following discussion, the term SAP is defined and used. However, SAP is exclusively an analog television feature, and now everything is digital. For convenience, most people (including us) continue to reference the term SAP, even though it is technically not correct. There does not seem to be a uniform or easy way to reference the feature in another manner.
The bottom line is that there is no single standardized method for receiving description, but most systems rely on the concept of a "Second Audio Program," or SAP, even though the terminology is incorrect. We rely on user experience; so if you have been able to receive audio description, please write the webmaster (via the link at the bottom of this page) and tell us your experience, including HOW you receive your signal (i.e., which cable company and cable box), what settings you use, what TV you have, and your location.
You may wish to also note that there is a conflict between the use of the Second Audio Program (SAP) channel for description versus Spanish Language in the USA. The "plan" is to carry description on its own audio channel in the future (i.e., not a shared purpose channel), but we are a long way off from equipment standardization in this area. The FCC concedes this conflict of legacy equipment in paragraphs 28-33 of its Report and Order and gives local stations leeway on which signal to pass, until such time as multiple audio channels are readily available to end users. [As of July 2014, there is no plan in the works to utilize additional audio channels. The single-channel "SAP" concept appears to be "it" for the foreseeable future...]
Currently, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, USA, the Disney Channel, The History Channel (replaced Nickelodeon July 1, 2015), TNT, and TBS are each required to provide 50 hours of video-described prime time or children's programming per calendar quarter. PBS and TCM have long voluntarily provided description (several other stations like The CW provide some now), and we believe Nickelodeon will continue. Whether or not their "description track" or Secondary Audio Program (SAP) is available to you is a different question.
Local Stations: Officially, as of July 1, 2015, the FCC's mandate applies to the top 60 markets. Outside of those markets, the requirement to pass along the description is voluntary at the present time ... but CALL your provider for help anyway! Many of them supply it regardless of the market. In fact, according to the FCC, although only ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC affiliates located in the top 60 markets must provide video description, any broadcast station, regardless of its market size, that is affiliated or otherwise associated with any television network, must pass through video description when the network provides it (which is essentially always done), if the station has the technical capability necessary to do so**, and that technical capability is not being used for another purpose related to the programming (for instance, Spanish language).
Satellite providers (Dish Network and DirecTV) must pass through SAP for the top five non-terrestrial networks Disney, History Channel, TBS, TNT, and USA regardless of a subscriber's location. However in the cases where a local affiliate of a terrestrial network (i.e., a local station affiliated with a network like ABC, picked up and fed as a convenience to subscribers in the area) is not broadcasting SAP, the satellite provider is not required to pass along the SAP from the stations' networks since the satellite provider gets the signal from local stations. If the local affiliates are broadcasting video description, the satellite companies must pass that signal on to subscribers if they have the technical capability to do so**.
Cable Companies (like Comcast or Time Warner) must pass along description from the cable stations (like USA and TNT), as long as they have over 50,000 subscribers. If any local affiliate (a station picked up and passed along by the cable company) is broadcasting SAP, then they must pass that signal on to subscribers if they have the technical capability to do so**.
NOTE: Lots of people are reporting success after contacting their local cable or satellite provider for help! PLEASE CALL THEM FOR ASSISTANCE. If they are not cooperative or unsuccessful in resolving your situation, you can tell them you will be filing a complaint with the FCC that they will have to answer; and if they still don't resolve your problem, then file the complaint (link below)!
Here's another approach offered on our list server in Dec '14:
|... since 2012 when VD was mandated, I personally
contacted all my local affiliates. CBS had VD enabled since I
knew about it, and that goes for PBS as well, but I had to
personally contact my ABC, FOX, and NBC affiliates to get VD
enabled and working without glitches. Thankfully the people I
E-mailed were quite nice and willing to work with me to work out
all the kinks in the system.
Before I contacted these local affiliates though, VD was either
hit or miss, or nonexistent entirely.
I primarily used: http://esupport.fcc.gov/vpd-search/search.action#scrollThere to contact the person or people in charge of the closed captioning concerns, and they usually know what to do, or to which department to transfer these requests, though it does take a bit of explanation. It would be easier if you knew some of the technical bits behind switching to the VD feed, but explaining yourself in a polite manner does the trick. Also, an explanation of Video Description, along with who provides it, wouldn't go amiss.
Hope these tips will help you.
** Reference FCC Report and Order 11-126 paragraphs 23-27, where technical capability to do so is defined as having "virtually all necessary equipment and infrastructure to do so, except for items that would be of minimal cost." These five FCC paragraphs, particularly paragraph 27, demonstrate a minimal tolerance for excuses in this area, especially over time.
The Audio Description Project has started monitoring the amount of audio described shows each TV network is providing. We will do this twice a year: once in the October/November timeframe and again around April/May.
Here are our initial results reported in AVERAGE HOURS PER WEEK, broadcast networks first, followed by nonbroadcast (cable) networks. Data for Nickelodeon (no longer mandated) was not readily available. Congratulations to the USA Network for maintaining its #1 rank by a significant margin!
|Fall 2015||Spring 2016|
KEY: Type (B=Broadcast; NB=NonBroadcast); Reqd (Yes=mandated by FCC)
We have been asked to include the following information here. If you have additions or updates, please send them to the webmaster using the link at the bottom of the page.
There is a product called TV Speak, by Code Factory, which allows you to access the SAP channel sound via your PC without a TV. User Sam Joehl has provided the following helpful information in September 2012:
The program is self-voicing so all functions of the interface speak and no screen reader is required within the application. Users can nonvisually turn on and off the secondary audio. The drawback that I have found with the current version of TVSpeak is that it appears to only work with NTSC tuner cards to receive over-the-air [OTA] broadcasts. It did not even detect my Ceton tuner card, so it was not a solution that worked for me. It is a solution that would work for users receiving OTA broadcasts.
CAUTION: Over time, links in this section [like those to COAT, now defunct] will cease to work!
FCC Votes to Reinstate Video Description
On August 25, 2011, the FCC was finally able to vote (unanimously) to reinstate video description, effective July 1, 2012. ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, USA, the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, TNT, and TBS are each required to provide 50 hours of video-described prime time or children's programming per calendar quarter. Read Commissioner Clyburn's statement. [deleted expired link].
NOTE: The FCC's order applies (at this time) to the Top 25 TV Markets. [deleted expired link] The markets near the cutoff are: St Louis (21), Portland OR (22), Charlotte (23), Pittsburgh (24), and Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville (25). Just over the line are Baltimore (26), Indianapolis (27, formerly 25), San Diego (28), and Nashville (29). Indianapolis was the only area in the top 40 to move more than 1 position in the last year. In six years, the top 60 markets must be covered, adding 10 more markets per year after that.
FCC Adopts Two Key Provisions
In early March, 2011, the FCC adopted two key provisions of the newly enacted 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act without the need for further public discussion:
Further details are available at COAT. At the same time, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps has praised CBS, FOX, PBS, TCM, and TNT for having voluntarily continued producing some shows with description even after the FCC's mandate was overturned in 2002.
Video Description Legislation Becomes Law
On October 8, 2010, President Obama signed The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. Earlier, the House passed HR 3101 (Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009) and the Senate passed a modified S 3304 (Equal Access to 21st Century Communications Act), which was closer to HR 3101 than their original version, then voted on some technical amendments (S 3828). The House then voted on the modified Senate bill on September 28, 2010,which was subsequently signed by President Obama. Passage of those bills required a lot of lobbying by members of COAT and others, so congratulations to all who helped! [NOTE: COAT was an organization formed to help ensure passage of this bill. Having achieved its objective, it was eventually disbanded in 2015.]
The new law assures restoration of the FCC's authority to mandate video description, at least for the largest networks in the largest population areas (although not for one year, October 2011). Now actually being able to receive description on your TV is a different story, but this is the start that we've been waiting EIGHT long years for!
• After 1 year, restores
FCC rules requiring 4 hours per week of video description on 9 television
channels (top 4 broadcast networks and top 5 cable channels) in the top
25 most populated markets. [See UPDATE above]
• After 2 years, requires FCC to report to Congress on video description.
• After 4 years, permits the FCC to increase video description to 7 hours per week on 9 television channels.
• After 6 years, requires the FCC to apply the video description requirements to the top 60 most populated markets (not just the top 25 most populated markets).
• After 9 years, requires the FCC to report to Congress on the need for additional markets to carry video description.
• After 10 years, permits the FCC to expand video description to 10 new markets annually to achieve 100 percent nationwide coverage.
• Requires cable/satellite
set-top box on-screen text menus and guides to be audibly accessible to
individuals who are blind or have low vision, if achievable.
• To provide access to built-in closed captioning and video description features through a mechanism that is reasonably comparable to a button, key, or icon designated for activating the closed captioning or accessibility features.
• Requires devices designed to receive or play back video programming:
1. to make controls of built-in functions accessible to and usable by individuals who are blind or have low vision, if achievable;
2. to make controls of built-in functions accessible to and usable by individuals who are blind or have low vision through audio output;
3. to provide access to built-in closed captioning and video description features through a mechanism that is reasonably comparable to a button, key, or icon designated for activating the closed captioning or accessibility features.
• Requires video programming owners, providers, and distributors to make emergency information accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision.
Watch this website for updates. The ACB and its representative Eric Bridges have contributed valuable input on the content of these bills which finally made it to congressional votes.
There is a long history on the subject of audio description for television, which is typically called video description. The short version is that the FCC mandated it to start in April 2002, but their authority to do so was challenged successfully that same year, and for the next eight years measures got introduced in Congress to reinstate that authority, failing to get passed (probably because of tacked-on unrelated provisions) until the second half of 2010.
The only good news during those years was that some networks continued to produce audio description tracks for some of their shows (many shows for PBS, a few for CBS, for example). With the conversion to digital television, the problem of receiving the description increased immeasurably.
Originally description was offered by a feature of analog televisions called Second Audio Program, or SAP. By activating SAP via your remote, you could receive a secondary audio channel, replacing the primary one. The audio channel could be a Spanish language translation of the audio, or it could be a version of the primary audio that had been modified with description overlaid.
With the transition to digital TV in June of 2009, reception issues got significantly worse. While an audio channel was designated for audio description on digital TVs years ago, without the mandate for description the TV manufacturers did little or nothing to allow access to the channel, and very few TV networks have offered a digital audio description feed.
And then there is the question of the cable and satellite networks. They need to take a network feed and rebroadcast it, then make it available through their own set-top boxes. Historically this has required costly additional equipment, and implementation has been spotty.
So, to put it bluntly, we are in limbo regarding actually being able to receive description on TV! Congress has finally given the FCC the authority to mandate it from broadcasters and (we believe) will require manufacturers to make the description channel easy to access on all new TVs at some point in the future, but we're not there yet.
The key committee working on these problems is the FCC Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Larry Goldberg of WGBH Media Access, and a key workgroup is the Video Description Pass-Thru Workgroup, co-chaired by Brad Hodges of the AFB.
In the meantime, you can check some of the following topics for reference.
For audio described television outside the USA, see our International page.