by Christopher Gray

(Author's Note: Special thanks and acknowledgements go to WGBH and Joe Clark for information contained in this article.)

There seems no doubt that despite the setbacks faced by the blind community in the providing of descriptive video by television networks and film companies, video description has such a strong foothold today that it cannot be overcome by the obstacles placed in its path of progress. The American Council of the Blind has played a continuous and significant role in this work since the early 1990s, and our work on securing more and more titles and shows continues.

Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions these days about descriptive video offerings is: What can I get to play on my new DVD player? That's mostly what this article is going to tell you. The second question is probably: How can I get even more DVD or VHS titles to enjoy at home and share with my friends and colleagues? We'll tell you how to do that, too.

First, what about accessible DVDs? They do exist, and they are available for purchase from various organizations and companies. It's not as convenient perhaps as buying a described VHS movie from WGBH, but material exists. It's easiest to get if you are online or if you have a friend who can go online for you. WGBH has a good resource of current titles at There are additional titles available from this site:

Accessible DVDs come in two varieties. The most notable variety is one in which the program is described, but in addition to the program, the DVD contains an audio navigation talking-menu system. This is the Cadillac of accessibility for DVD titles. The following DVDs contain both of these video description capabilities along with closed captioning for deaf users. The title and how to purchase each DVD is included.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Collectors' Edition/Full Screen Edition (Universal Studios Home Video, available wherever DVDs are sold)

American Experience, Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided, PBS Home Video

American Experience, Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind, PBS Home Video

American Experience, Chicago: City of the Century, PBS Home Video

American Experience, Partners of the Heart, PBS Home Video

To purchase any of the PBS Home Video DVDs, call 1-800-645-4727, or visit

The following DVDs have been made accessible with captions and video description (the DVDs do not include the audio navigation/talking-menu system).

Mystery!, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries Set, WGBH Boston Video

Mystery!, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: A Great Deliverance, WGBH Boston Video

Mystery!, Second Sight 2, WGBH Boston Video

Mystery!, Touching Evil 3, WGBH Boston Video

Mystery!, Mrs. Bradley Mysteries Set, WGBH Boston Video

Mystery!, Mrs. Bradley Mysteries: Speedy Death, WGBH Boston Video

ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre, The Blackheath Poisonings, WGBH Boston Video

ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, WGBH Boston Video

ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre, Warrior Queen, WGBH Boston Video

NOVA, Battle of the X-Planes, WGBH Boston Video

NOVA, The Elegant Universe, WGBH Boston Video

NOVA, Infinite Secrets, WGBH Boston Video

NOVA, Magnetic Storm, WGBH Boston Video

NOVA, Volcano Above the Clouds, WGBH Boston Video

NOVA, Who Killed the Red Baron?, WGBH Boston Video

NOVA, Wright Brothers' Flying Machine, WGBH Boston Video

Road to Perdition, DreamWorks Home Entertainment, available wherever DVDs are sold

Basic Instinct, Artisan Home Entertainment (1997 release), see below for availability

Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Artisan Home Entertainment (1997 release), see below for availability

The DVDs from Artisan Home Entertainment included a description track on their original release. However, subsequent re-issues have not included the track. has links to sources of "used" copies of these titles if you are interested in purchasing one or both for your collection. In addition, the ACB Store is trying to find some copies of these DVDs for purchasers.

WGBH Boston Video titles are available at 1-800-255-9231 or online at Convincing the Movie Industry

You can readily see from the preceding material that while there is a lot of fascinating innovation and content in what's already available on DVD, there is a noticeable lack of material from Hollywood studios. Some material that has been produced has already been withdrawn -- not a good sign.

One of the big reasons studios currently give ACB and others for not including even existing descriptive video tracks on their commercial DVDs is that blind people don't seem interested. It's time to help the studios understand that this just isn't so. For your convenience, below is a list of key studios and how to contact them. Please send a copy of your correspondence to the national office as well. Tell studios that you really care about descriptive video tracks, and, assuming it's true, you purchase or will purchase such titles as they become available. For updates to this list, go online to

Artisan Entertainment
157 Chambers Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10007
(212) 924-9417

Buena Vista/Walt Disney Pictures
500 S. Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
(818) 560-1000

DreamWorks Pictures
100 Universal City Plaza, Bldg. 5121
Universal City, CA 91608
(818) 733-7000

Lions Gate Pictures (Trimark Pictures Inc.)
4553 Glencoe Avenue, Suite 200
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 314-2000

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
10250 Constellation Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(310) 449-3000

Miramax Films
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 941-3800

New Line Cinema Corporation
116 N. Robertson Blvd., 2nd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 854-5811

Paramount Pictures Corporation
5555 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 956-5000

Sony Pictures Entertainment
10202 W. Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 244-4000

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
10201 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 369-1000

Universal Pictures
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
(818) 777-1000

Warner Brothers
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522
(818) 954-6000

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