[adp-list] Description Quality
adlaw711 at verizon.net
Thu Jun 7 21:07:45 EDT 2012
I agree with what you have written.
However I am uncertain anyone who may be passionate about this topic can
generate a large enough "base" of consumers to get our (the visually
impaired & blind community's) point across to those producers and providers.
As you eloquently ask, will producers simply be satisfied to get their share
of the growing pie of description work in the marketplace? And will they
create reasons for not including the visually impaired and blind in their
process? I know my "gut" reaction to both those questions are pessimistic
ones. However I will keep an open mind and be optimistic.
You are also correct that many (including myself) consumers (sighted or
visually impaired) are usually unaware of what may be available to them.
Therefore I believe they should be educated through those same social media
sites, discussion forums and other means you have noted. An educated
consumer is a powerful consumer in my opinion. I think this is an important
step before anyone starts sending requests to government agencies, networks,
theaters, museums, and other venues involved in description services.
Please don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that the visually impaired
and blind community shouldn't quickly get involved and speak out on this
subject. I agree that if we wait until work has been completed without
having our input, we will probably be disappointed with the end results and
it will be too late to do anything . I just think it is important that we
as a group band together in one large, concentrated, educated and organized
force to have the best chance of positively impacting the description
industry and business.
Thanks for reviewing my thoughts.
From: adp-list-bounces at acb.org [mailto:adp-list-bounces at acb.org] On Behalf
Of Rick Boggs
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2012 11:24 AM
To: ADP List
Subject: [adp-list] Description Quality
I'd like to share my somewhat unique perspective with you, in particular
with those blind consumers on the list here. I say unique, because perhaps
sadly, I happen to be the only totally blind professional producer of video
description and the only producer of video description to hire blind
professionals to review the description work we do at my company. So, I am
certainly a consumer. I am also a professional audio engineer and voice
over artist with a resume of more than 25 years in those fields of work.
There are so many issues concerning description, and many more studies need
to be conducted. Description consumers are so unaware of description in
general, where to find it, how it is produced, what is and is not possible
to achieve through description, how to access it when it is offered, how to
know when and where it is offered, and on and on. People can point to the
limited studies that have been attempted thus far. We know that the AFB
study from the late 1990s suggested great disparity between blind consumers
of description and their opinions about what they liked and what they
wanted. In my own organization and experience producing description, we
have continuously attempted to collect as much data as possible about
consumer opinions related to description style and content. I have
carefully analyzed all of the published "standards" for description as well.
It seems there are some generally agreed upon principles. Everything else
seems to be stylistic choices.
I am concerned that the technology related to description production and
delivery is already and will continue to be far ahead of the effort to learn
answers to some critical questions that could best ensure that blind
consumers of description are served effectively. The "quality" of
description will forever be an arguable topic with various schools of
thought advocating their own viewpoints. To imagine that there might ever
be an agreed upon method by which we can measure the quality of description
might be a very lofty idea and may be well out of reach in reality.
However, the concern about the rising quantity of description becoming a
priority that completely blots out any effort to ensure the quality of
description offered is a very valid concern. Consumers generally have no
idea about emerging technology that will soon make the production and
delivery of description very easy for anyone to do. While this will surely
increase exponentially the quantity of description available, it will also
surely dramatically affect the style or quality of description available as
The real question here is whether or not the current "leadership" or leading
producers of description will make any attempt to address this issue, or
will they simply be satisfied to get their share of the growing pie of
description work in the marketplace? Anytime non-disabled individuals
provide a "service" intended to benefit people with disabilities, there is a
potential for a gap in integrity or accountability. Because the service
being sold or purchased feels like a program to benefit the public, there is
possibly a built-in assumption by consumers of the service and the onlooking
public that those providing the service are serving the disabled population
in the most effective way possible and that doing so is in fact the goal of
those providing the service. That is a natural dynamic when non-disabled
people design, operate, and deliver services for disabled populations.
So, I assert that the best way to address the issue of the "quality" of
description, whatever that might mean, is to ensure that blind professionals
are reviewing description, are involved in producing description, and that,
in general, those producing description in any form ought to make every
effort to be directly accountable to the consumers they serve. While this
may not result in any particular consistency in style or content of
description, it will be the only measurable means to determine that every
effort has been made to serve the consumer; that is, let the consumer
determine how they are served.
All sorts of arguments can be made by producers of description as to why
this is not practical, but I run perhaps the smallest of the very active
description companies who regularly deliver description to government
agencies, nonprofit organizations, and even television, DVD, and movie
cinemas, and I have been able to ensure that every program is reviewed by
professionals who are also blind consumers.
Since consumers know very little about the service, as I already pointed
out, they are likely to accept any idea that sounds reasonable that might
explain why a description producer does not include any blind professional
review process. I would suggest that no other producer of description would
likely understand how they might incorporate some form of review by blind
professionals, since they have no experience doing it. As a business
person, I definitely appreciate the perceived burden that such
accountability might seem to be. Purely from a business standpoint, any
added expense to the production process would be a cost that must be
minimized in order to achieve maximum profitability. Indeed, if blind
consumers allow cost and profit margin to be the primary or sole
considerations for producers, then that will remain a legitimate approach to
producing description. However, if the forces in the marketplace were to
shift, and an emphasis on some measure of quality, such as review by a blind
professional, were to become a major concern for buyers of description who
might hear lots of feedback from consumers of description, that might be a
"game changer" forgive the over-used pop phrase. If consumers were to apply
enough pressure through public forums like social media, email petitions,
and phone calls and letters to government agencies that fund description,
networks that broadcast description, and theaters, museums, and other venues
that offer description, asking, demanding, to know if blind professionals
reviewed the description being offered, then, suddenly, it makes more sense
for a producer to incorporate such accountability, even if it does put a
small bend in the bottom line. Consumers most often think like consumers,
but if blind consumers want to have any impact on the kind of description
they get in the near future, they really will have to think more like
Do we who produce description need to learn much more about what our
description consumers want? Yes, we do. However, if finding those answers
takes longer than the roll out of new technology that will flood the market
with description that may not even really serve consumers, then studies may
become an irrelevant afterthought. Blind consumers are still in a position
to have an impact before that horse leaves the barn. Waiting until they are
completely unhappy with what passes for most description will be too late to
do much about it.
So, that is my somewhat unique perspective on what I consider to be the most
important topic or issue concerning description today.
I certainly cannot be accused of trying to be popular.
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