[mountainstate] Join in the Celebration and Discussion about Described TV--Read One Advocacy Pioneer's Story, Get Involved
A. C. McGhee
miscwell at atlanticbb.net
Thu Jul 12 15:55:17 EDT 2012
Advocacy Pioneer's Story, Get Involved
AFB DirectConnect Letterhead
It Gets Personal!
A Described TV Advocacy Pioneer Celebrates New Era of Accessible
Invites You to Join the Conversation!
For further information, contact:
Mark Richert, Esq.
Director, Public Policy, AFB
MRichert at afb.net
Now that a new era of accessible TV viewing through mandatory
description has dawned on July 1, a founding father of the
movement to make
it happen reflects on the long and winding journey that the
community has taken to achieve this milestone in full and equal
participation in American life. Read the below personal account
Schroeder, AFB's Vice President for Programs and Policy,
celebrate with us
the video description accomplishment that so many in our field
make possible, and join in the conversation about where we are
and where we
need to go from here by commenting on Paul's blog post at:
Watching TV Blind: A Love-Hate Relationship
Paul W. Schroeder
I have a longstanding love hate relationship with television.
And, for 20
years now, video description has hung like a shadow over this
I grew up on the great classic comedies of the 1970s: "All in the
"The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and "M.A.S.H." I spent far too many
vacation hours lazily watching shows from "Love Boat" to
gameshows. I later
adopted sitcoms like "Cheers" and "The Cosby Show," along with a
of a few medical and legal dramas. In other words, I was a
American TV watcher.
Yet, there was always a disappointing aspect to TV programs
(okay, there are
many in fact, but that's another story). There was always the
"What's going on?" And too often, there wasn't anyone willing or
answer it for me. After all, as a blind person, I missed the
information the programs presented: telltale facial expressions,
laughter not triggered by dialogue, the silent entrance of a new
and, of course, the complete shift of setting. These, and many
about television, are confounding to people who cannot see the
who cannot see it very well).
As a consequence, I have what may be unhealthy love for the work
Sorkin, the screenwriter whose shows from "Sports Night," to
"West Wing," to
"Studio 60" were heavily dialogue-driven. These days, I'm
little TV that I want to watch, and I'm mostly snarling at my
young-adult daughters about their TV viewing choices (typical
Meanwhile, in the 1990s, WGBH brought us its Descriptive Video
(DVS), which brought movies and some public television shows to
me, and as importantly, my sighted family, DVS was a blessing,
much more information about movies and shows, thereby relieving
my family of
the pressure to provide haphazard description.
Also during the early 90s, closed captioning was beginning to
providing access for people who are deaf or have hearing loss.
advocates (yours truly among them) began pushing for a law to
programs to be captioned and described. In 1996, Communications
amendments were passed, bringing us Section 255, which required
telecommunications access, but also Section 713, which required
of TV programs. Advocates tried hard at that time to get
required as well, but representatives of the television industry
objected to description; apparently captioning would be accepted
requirement, but description would not.
Nonetheless, the 1996 Act did require the Federal Communications
(FCC) to study description, and in 2000 the agency announced that
require the broadcast networks as well as the largest
(generally this means cable networks), to provide 50 hours per
programming with video description. The FCC believed it had the
require what amounts to a "pilot" effort of this sort. So, in
the requirement went into effect, and several networks started
programs with description. However, the TV industry asked the
overturn the FCC requirement. Unfortunately, the Court of
Appeals for the
District of Columbia agreed, and tossed out the requirement.
Since that time, AFB and other advocates have worked to
minimal requirements, and we were finally successful in the
and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. So, that is how we ended up
small but important step being taken now (as of July 2012) by the
and top nonbroadcast TV networks to provide approximately four
week (50 hours per calendar quarter) of programs with video
So now what?
The two big immediate challenges for TV viewers with vision loss
figure out which programs have description and how to set their
receive it. For information about programs, the best source
right now is
which links to a page at the FCC with lots of resources and lists
programs that networks have indicated they are planning to
description. As for how to set the TV to get the description
track, see the
information we've compiled at
As we learn more, we'll fill in details. And, if the programs
aren't described, let the networks know you'd like them to be
you aren't able to receive the description track, let your TV
broadcast station hear from you.
Personally, I'm curious about ABC's "Modern Family," and NBC's
which are now supposed to be described. In fact, I used to watch
Office," but got tired of trying to follow the constant scene
weird switching between monologues and dialogue.
I'm definitely not the best person to tell you to watch more TV,
suspect many of you, like most Americans, already watch a decent
hope you will take a look at some of the programs that are to be
and I hope you will let the networks know that you'd like to see
described programming. And, tell us about your experiences with
too. That's something we can all tune into.
You can unsubscribe at any time. To remove your name from this
or to find out what other newsletters are available from AFB,
More information about the mountainstate