by Melanie Brunson
If you are a fan of audio-described television programs or movies, or if you would like to be but have not had many opportunities to experience audio-described programs in the past, please read on. We’ve got several updates that just might bring audio-described programs to a screen near you!
On April 14, the online service Netflix announced plans to begin making select movies and TV programs available with audio description. The first title to be released under this new initiative was Marvel’s “Daredevil.” Any customer wishing to order this title, or any others as additional titles are added to the library of audio-described programs, can simply select audio description as one of the options for their program, in the same manner that you currently choose the language in which you want to hear the program. Since the initial announcement by Netflix, approximately 40 additional titles have been added to their collection of audio-described programs, and new titles are being added at a pretty rapid pace. For more information about audio-described programming available from Netflix, visit: https://www.netflix.com/Login?locale=en-US&nextpage=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.netflix.com%2Fbrowse%2Faudio-description. You can also find information about audio-described titles from Netflix, as well as instructions for how to access them, on the web site of ACB’s Audio Description Project, www.acb.org/adp/netflix.html. Netflix users will want to visit these sites often to see what’s new. By the way, there’s also an app for that! Audio-described Netflix titles can be played on smartphones too. Here’s a link to one source of information about how to access audio description on both iOS and Android devices: www.blindbargains.com/bargains.php?m=12652.
For those who like to get their movies and TV programs in a more traditional manner, we’ve got some exciting news for you too. Beginning in July 2015, the number of television markets required to provide audio-described prime-time programming increases from the top 25 to the top 60 markets. These markets include:
26 Baltimore, Md.
27 Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
28 San Diego, Calif.
29 Nashville, Tenn.
30 Hartford-New Haven, Conn.
31 Kansas City, Kan. and Mo.
32 Columbus, Ohio
33 Salt Lake City, Utah
34 Cincinnati, Ohio
35 Milwaukee, Wis.
36 Greenville-Spartanburg (S.C.)-Asheville-Anderson (N.C.)
37 San Antonio, Tex.
38 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce, Fla.
39 Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Mich.
40 Birmingham, Ala.
41 Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York, Pa.
42 Las Vegas, Nev.
43 Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va.
44 Albuquerque-Santa Fe, N.M.
45 Oklahoma City, Okla.
46 Greensboro-High Point-Winston-Salem, N.C.
47 Jacksonville, Fla.
48 Memphis, Tenn.
49 Austin, Tex.
50 Louisville, Ky.
51 Buffalo, N.Y.
52 Providence-New Bedford, R.I.
53 New Orleans, La.
54 Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Pa.
55 Fresno-Visalia, Calif.
56 Little Rock-Pine Bluff, Ark.
57 Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.
58 Richmond-Petersburg, Va.
59 Knoxville, Tenn.
60 Mobile, Ala.-Pensacola, Fla.
This will benefit not only those who live in the cities listed above, but those in surrounding communities who get their programming from the stations in those cities that are affiliated with one of the major networks. The networks are required to pass through the audio descriptions to their affiliated stations in all of these markets. If you live in one of these areas, and want to know which programs you should be able to watch with audio description, visit the ACB Audio Description Project web page at www.acb.org/adp. This is a great information resource, and includes a comprehensive list of audio-described television programs.
Speaking of ACB’s Audio Description Project, the folks who run this program are currently seeking nominations for several awards that are given each year to individuals or organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the field of audio description. Three Achievement Awards are presented to individuals and/or organizations for outstanding contributions to the establishment and/or continued development of significant audio description programs in each of three areas: media, performing arts, and museums. In addition, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award for Research and Development is made to an individual or organization for outstanding published research that leads to the advance of audio description. The Barry Levine Memorial Award for Career Achievement in Audio Description recognizes an individual for outstanding contributions to the field of audio description over an extended period of time, leading, inspiring or providing significant service to others. We urge readers of this magazine to help us recognize individuals and/or organizations who have advanced this field by submitting nominations for these awards. Please act quickly, because the deadline for nominations is June 19, 2015. The nomination process is easy! It’s a three-step process: 1) Tell us about the nominee; 2) Tell us about yourself; 3) Support your nomination.
Nominations can be submitted in several ways. You can send them by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail them to Christopher Gray, Missouri Council of the Blind, 5453 Chippewa, St. Louis, MO 63109.
You can also make your nomination online at http://acbadp.wufoo.com/forms/2015-audio-description-project-awards/. Remember that nominations must be received by June 19. Award winners will be announced during the ACB conference and convention in July.
These are exciting times for advocates of audio description. We will keep you apprized of further developments in this field as we learn about them.