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Audio Description (Video Description) on TV

Pointer ADP Master Schedule of Described TV Programs

Listen to a 9-minute audio on
Video Description for Television,
or listen to the full 22-minute Podcast on
Audio Description:  Where and How?

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 eyes.  I can't find the words to thank you for your time and fine work.
- Mark Bost, Sterling VA, November 2013

Audio Described Shows by Network (Updated 12/7/16)

If a reasonably accessible schedule of described programs is available, we provide a link labeled Schedule below; alternatively we try to provide a network's Reference  to a list of described shows.  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 or canceled for the NEXT season, we mark it.  Please report errors to the Webmaster!

Ren17 = Known to be renewed for 2017-18 season
Can17 = Known to be canceled for 2017-18 season
"Pending Ren17" means no decision yet for a season beginning in 2017

Schedule Link, Contact#
Series - Current
(new ones highlighted)
Series - Previous
(some now on TBS, TNT, USA, or Netflix)
(Received Over-the-Air or via Cable/Satellite)

ABC logo

Reference (not a Schedule)

American Housewife, Beyond the Tank (pending Ren17), black-ish, Celebrity Family Feud (Ren17 summer), Fresh Off the Boat, Modern Family, Secrets and Lies, Shark Tank, Speechless, The Goldbergs, The Middle, The Real O'Neals.

SATURDAY MORNINGS:  Jack Hanna's Wild Countdown, Ocean Treks With Jeff Corwin, Outdoor Adventures With Tim Faulkner, 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, Last Man Standing, Mistresses, Motive (Moved to USA),  Nashville (Moved to CMT for 2016/2017, probably without description), Outback Adventures With Tim Faulkner, Secret Millionaire, Rookie Blue, Selfie, Suburgatory, Super Fun Night, The Neighbors, The Quest, The Whispers.

CBS logo

Schedule or
Reference (2nd half of page)
Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, NCIS New Orleans, The Big Bang Theory. 

SATURDAY MORNINGS:   Dr Chris, Pet Vet; Chicken Soup for the Soul's Hidden Heroes; Lucky Dog; The Henry Ford Innovation Nation; The Inspectors; The Open Road With Dr Chris.  Read about them at CBS Dream Team
Previously described on CBS:  CSI, All In With Laila Ali, Recipe Rehab

Fox logo

(Must look for AD Logo)
American Grit, Bob's Burgers, Bones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Empire, Family Guy, Gotham, Hell's Kitchen, Home Free, Hotel Hell (pending Ren17), Lethal Weapon, Lucifer, MasterChef, MasterChef Junior, New Girl, Pitch, Rosewood, Scream Queens, Son of Zorn, Star, The Exorcist, The Last Man on Earth (Pending Ren17), The Simpsons (Ren17), The X-Files (pending Ren17; unofficially renewed), Wayward Pines (pending Ren17). Previously described on FOX:  24: Live Another Day (Note:  a spinoff has been scheduled for 2017), Almost Human, American Dad (moved to TBS),  BOOM!,  Bordertown, Bullseye, Cooper Barrett's Guide To Surviving Life, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Coupled, Dads, Fringe, Gang Related, Glee, Golan the Insatiable, Gracepoint, Grandfathered, Houdini & Doyle, Kitchen Nightmares (possibility of returning), Mulaney, Raising Hope, Rake, The Cleveland Show, The Grinder, The Mindy Project (moved to Hulu), The Following, Weird Loners

NBC logo

(Must look for Description logo)
American Ninja Warrior, Better Late than Never (Ren17 summer), Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago PD, Grimm (last season: Can17), Law and Order SVU, Superstore, The Good Place.

SATURDAY MORNINGS:  The More You Know, consisting of:  The Voyager With Josh Garcia; Journey With Dylan Dreyer; Naturally, Danny Seo.
Previously described on NBC:  30 Rock, About a Boy, Animal Practice, Betty White's Off Their Rockers (moved to Lifetime), Community, Crossbones, Crossing Lines, Crowded, Deception, Do No Harm, Go On,  Growing Up Fisher, Guys With Kids, Heartbeat, 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

PBS logo PBS

[not mandated]
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 logo The CW

[not mandated]
At this time no prime time shows are known to be described on The CW.

SATURDAY MORNINGS:  Calling Dr. Pol; Dinner Spinner; Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan: Family Edition; Rescue Me With Dr Lisa; Save Our Shelter; Unlikely Animal Friends; Vacation Creation.  Read about them at One Magnificent Morning[Note:  This series was renewed for FIVE YEARS in January 2016, though year-to-year content may vary.]
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)

Cartoon Network logo 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.

Disney logo
Disney Channel
& Junior & XD

Austin & Ally, Doc McStuffins (Ren17), Girl Meets World, Henry Hugglemonster, I Didn't Do It, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, KC Undercover, Little Einsteins, Liv and Maddie: Cali Style (Fall 2016 to be last season, with possibility of spinoff), Miles From Tomorrowland, Sofia the First Previously described on Disney:  A.N.T. Farm, Dog With a Blog, Fish Hooks, Good Luck Charlie, Gravity Falls, Jessie, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Phineas and Ferb, Shake It Up, Wander Over Yonder

History Channel logo The History Channel

Some of the following are in rerun status:  Alone, Ancient Aliens, American Pickers (pending Ren17), American Restoration (Pending Ren17), Billion Dollar Wreck (Pending Ren17), Counting Cars (pending Ren17), Ice Road Truckers (pending Ren17), Ozzy and Jack's World Detour (pending Ren17), The Outlaw Chronicles (Pending Ren17), The Selection: Special Operations Experiment, Pawn Stars (pending Ren17), Vikings Top Gear, Iron & Fire

Nickelodeon logo Nickelodeon
and Nick Jr

[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, PAW Patrol, Peppa Pig, Peter Rabbit*, Shimmer and Shine, SpongeBob SquarePants, 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...)

Syfy channel logo

[not mandated]
Some movies are reportedly shown with their description tracks.  Dec '16: The new series Incorporated, which also shows on the USA Network with description, was not observed to be described on SyFy. 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.

TBS logo

Schedule (look for DVS, not SAP, in the listings)
American Dad, Angie Tribeca, Wrecked.  Reruns:   Family Guy, The Big Bang Theory, Two Broke Girls (some episodes); and some movies.  Note:  Bob's Burgers pulled because it does not reliably contain description on TBS.  Separation Anxiety pulled in Dec '16 because no information is available about status. Previously described on TBS:  Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse, Tyler Perry's House of Payne

Turner Classic Movies logo

[not mandated]
404 885-5535, option 2
Offers description of numerous old 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.

TNT logo

Schedule (look for DVS, not SAP, in the listings)
Good Behavior.  Reruns:  Bones, Castle, Grimm, Hawaii Five-O, Law & Order; and some movies Previously described on TNT:  Rizzoli & Isles, The Closer

Universal HD logo UNIVHD

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.

USA Network logo

Colony, Eyewitness, Falling Water, Incorporated, Mr. Robot, Playing House, 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), Donny, Graceland, Motive, Necessary Roughness, Psych, Royal Pains, 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! Pointer
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.

How Do I Receive Video Description?

NOTE!  In the following discussion, the term SAP (Second Audio Program channel) is 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...]

Who Must Provide Video Description?

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 by Timothy 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: 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.

** 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. 

How Much AD are the TV Networks Providing?

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 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 for all three measured periods!

Average Hours/Week Fall 2016 Spring 2016 Fall 2015
Network Type Reqd Hours Rank Hours Rank Hours Rank
ABC B Yes 7.3 7 8.8 7 6.3 9
CBS B Yes 8.9 6 8.1 9 6.4 8
FOX B Yes 11.1 5 11.5 6 8.9 7
NBC B Yes 7.3 7 8.5 8 5.5 10
PBS B No n/a n/a 69.5 2 58.6 3
Disney NB Yes 4.3 9 4.9 10 4.6 11
History NB Yes 20.4 4 18 5 10.9 6
TBS NB Yes 45.1 3 41.6 4 49.8 4
TCM NB No n/a n/a n/a n/a 23.5 5
TNT NB Yes 76.4 2 65.8 3 75.6 2
USA NB Yes 115.9 1 117 1 109.5 1

KEYType (B=Broadcast; NB=NonBroadcast); Reqd (Yes=mandated by FCC) 

Accessible Billing Statements From Cable Providers

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.

Links of Interest

Another Option

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.

Historical Info on Video Description (Pre-2012)

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

President Obama Signing BillOn 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!

Key Links

Summary (focusing on items affecting people who are blind or have low vision)

Video Description

• 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.

Emergency Information

• 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.