Enjoying the Movies after Vision Loss with Audio Description

Watching TV or going to the movies can become less enjoyable if seeing the action becomes more difficult or impossible. Audio description can make all the difference. We discussed how to access audio description at the movie theater and from streaming services like Hulu or Netflix.

February 25, 2020

Don't miss the next episode

Audio Transcript


Tech It Out - Enjoying the Movies after Vision Loss with Audio Description

Presented by Ricky Enger

February 25, 2020

Ricky E: Welcome, everyone to Tech It Out, and so glad that all of you could join us this evening. Again, so glad you could join us. For those who are joining for the first time, or maybe just need a little refresher course, Tech It Out is our discussion group where we come together and explore a selected topic, and I talk for a bit and give some basic background information. And then we open it up to the community so that we can all learn from each other. So, tonight's Tech It Out is something of a repeat, but there's a reason for that. We talked about accessible TV and entertainment and things like that almost, but not quite, a year ago. And it's time to revisit that for a couple of reasons. One is that as sometimes happens, just happened to get kind of a flood of questions from people asking about this topic, which by the way, is audio description and enjoying the movies after vision loss. And so, a lot of people were asking about that, and was able to point to the previous episode for some of those answers. But the other reason that we're diving into this again is that a lot can change in almost a year. And thankfully, it's changing for the better. So, let's talk about that, and let's start with the theater or cinema experience. How do we go about getting audio description in that venue? And there isn't a lot that's changed in this respect. There are two ways that are available to do this. And one of them, sadly, just doesn't seem to be getting a lot of traction. And that is the ability to take your smartphone into the cinema and have an audio description track which matches the movie that's playing.

And the reason this is ideal is because you have your own smartphone, your own headphones, and you can set this audio description at the volume that you want in relation to the movie that's playing. Some people need to really turn that way up to hear both the description and the movie because it gets really loud in the theaters. And some prefer to have that quieter. So, it gives the opportunity to be pretty selective in how you use it and how you approach this. The downside though is that really not many companies are doing this. And those who are don't seem to be adding a great deal of movies to what's available. There's a company called Actiview, and it has by far the greatest number of movies. But even so, there just aren't that many there. It is still worth downloading Actiview for those movies that are available. And some get added every now and again. But this isn't going to be a huge, exhaustive list of movies, where you can take this into what's playing right now and say, "Hey, awesome. This movie is on Actiview," because very likely, it isn't.

There are a few other companies that are kind of trying to do this. Greta, G-R-E-T-A, is a newcomer on the scene. But at this point, they really don't have any movies beyond a demo and literally two other movies that are available. This is a company out of Germany, so it'll be interesting to see what they do for both national and international movies and films and such. So, the way that most people will approach getting access to audio description in the movie theater is that there is a device, and it's an audio description device. This is, by the way, different than an assistive listening device, which is also available.

And what this does is allows you to basically hear the movie itself better than you might be able to just in the theater, so that's more appropriate for those who are hard of hearing. And it doesn't have any audio description. I point this out because oftentimes the theater staff aren't very well trained in which device to hand you. So, here's the way things should go. You walk in. You get your tickets at the box office or whatever. And there is a customer service desk generally, and you walk up and say, "I'd like to get my audio description device for whichever movie I'm seeing, and it's playing in theater six." And then they hand you this nice little box with a belt clip that you can put on your belt or clip somewhere. And it has a set of headphones plugged into it, which you can use your own if you like.

And in theory, off you go. And you're in the movie, and this audio description soundtrack is playing as your movie is playing. In reality, what tends to happen, and this is one of the questions that was submitted ahead of time, is that you get either the wrong device, so you might get the assistive listening device, or you get a device that is tuned to the wrong theater. And so, you're getting a description for Spiderman: Far From Home, and you've just gone to see Jumanji, or whatever, so that doesn't work so well. And so, the question that we got was: How can you ensure that you get a device that's working? Because if not, you're going to have to miss 10 minutes of the film going to get this straightened out. And unfortunately, the answer is there really isn't a great way to do this except to ask to speak with the manager, who will hopefully know a little more than just the associates, and explain clearly you're looking for the audio description device, and if they can verify on the device itself.

They have stickers on them labeling what they are, and if they can verify that this is what you've got, and this is the theater that it's tuned to, then you're going to have a little better chance. So just arrive early and miss some of those previews in order that you might have a quick chat with the manager to get the right equipment. It's unfortunate that has to happen, but it has happened more than once to me, so you might expect that just over the next year or so. And hopefully, eventually the training in these theaters will be a little better.

So, beyond that, there isn't a great deal to say about getting audio description in the theater because there are kind of these two modes. And so, what many of us do is, we want to watch a movie once it has come to home video, or perhaps we want to watch a TV show. And obviously, those aren't playing in theaters. So how do we access audio description that's available from different services, different TVs, different streaming hardware like the Apple TV and so on? We are going to touch specifically tonight on mainstream services. And so, we're not going to talk about some things that may be either completely illegal or in kind of a gray area. So these might be things like sharing movies in a drop box folder that were downloaded from somewhere, and they're being posted to a mailing list, or joining a VPN and watching Netflix for things that are outside your country, or a free, or even a paid service that might be specifically for the blind that's sharing these audio description tracks.

So, we're just going to concentrate on the mainstream things. And thankfully, there's a lot to talk about, even in just a year. I want to start by saying the most important link that you will hear in tonight's program is acb.org/adp. That stands for Audio Description Project. And we'll have that link in the show notes, but this link is by far the best place to find out what is available for audio description and where, because that's generally the first question that we have. Right? We're thinking about watching something, and we want to know. Should I bother? Does this have audio description or not? And many of these services have ways that you can find out what's on them that's audio described. But it tends to be a little bit buried, and weirdly enough, it isn't updated. The public facing versions of these lists on each individual service, they aren't updated as often as this acb.org/adp site. So, thank you, American Council for the Blind for putting this together. And it is a very exhaustive list. It gets updated every week. So, let's start with kind of a newcomer to the scene, and that is Hulu. Hulu did not have audio description during our last discussion of this almost a year ago. There were rumors that it was coming, and everybody was kind of getting excited. But it just wasn't happening yet. And now it is here. You can access it from Android, iOS, you can access it via the web. And there are some TVs which have access to the Hulu service, but it's difficult to speak to whether or not audio description is available from there. It's been a very strange ride with Hulu because they initially released this just for going to hulu.com for example and watching directly from the computer.

And if you said, "But I have an iPhone. I don't want to watch from my computer. I'd like to access this from my iPhone," that functionality wasn't available anywhere. There was no way to enable it within the app. And so that may continue to be the case. If you have a smart TV that has the Hulu service built into it, you may or may not have access to this audio description just yet. But the good news is that there is progress being made. And Hulu has begun offering audio description for its original titles first, so that means that titles that Hulu themselves are producing. The Handmaid's Tale is an example of something that Hulu owns, they're producing, so they're bringing audio description to those things first. And slowly but surely, other things are trickling in that have audio description with them.

One interesting thing to note is that there can be cases where an audio description track exists, but the rights to it have to be purchased either for the particular country, or by the particular streaming service that's doing this. There are some things that have changed hands, like Doctor Who is a great example. It used to be on Netflix and had audio description. It still does in the UK. It's now on Amazon Prime, and yet even though these audio description tracks exist, they aren't being streamed on Amazon Prime, and it's because of an issue of rights. And so, one thing that we have to think about when we're curious about, hey, what has description and what doesn't, is if the service doesn't have rights to stream those things, we need to make it known that we care about that. Hey, I really do want to watch Doctor Who with audio description. And once we support those services, number one, by subscribing and taking advantage of the other audio description that is there, we can also let them know this is something I'd like to see described as well.

Let's move on then to talk about Amazon Prime since I mentioned that in relation to having Doctor Who and not providing audio description, sadly. Amazon Prime is one of these that, as of last year, they had audio description. But the number of titles was not nearly as significant as it is now. It is growing exponentially, and so literally every day titles are being added that have audio description. And these are both things that are produced by Amazon Prime and things that Amazon Prime kind of owns now or owns the rights to. Those include movies as well as TV shows. Netflix was kind of the folks who started offering audio description, and the rest have followed suit. And so, Netflix has a wide variety of movies and television shows that are available for audio description.

For each of these services that I've mentioned, it is still the best place to go to find out what's on these services and what's available with audio description. It's a lot easier to browse the acb.org ADP site rather than trying to look on the service itself to figure out what's audio described and what isn't because, I'm not really sure why, but Netflix does a better job of this than most. But many of these services, while there is audio description, it isn't very clear from just looking at the title and the details about the episode or the movie that it is audio described. You may see CC for closed captioned, but you may not see AD or audio description, even though it is there. So that's one thing that could definitely be improved upon with these services is to be a little more transparent about just as you're browsing, and you say, "Oh, that title looks good. I wonder if it has audio description."

Right now, the best thing to do is either look at the Audio Description Project, or to simply play the title, and then go into its settings and enable audio description. Couple of newcomers to the scene, not so much for audio description, but just in general, these guys didn't exist during our last presentation. So, Apple TV Plus, and they have original series as well as things that they own rights too. And Disney Plus, that is a newcomer to this as well. Also, CBS All Access, that is a newcomer. And some of their things have audio description and some do not. A very interesting story about CBS All Access is that for a program that I was very interested in watching with audio description, I don't know how many Trekkies there are, but I really wanted to watch Star Trek: Picard.

And the first episode came out, and was devastated to learn that there wasn't audio description on CBS All Access, and really thought there would be because a previous Star Trek property did have audio description, and so it seemed very likely that this was going to happen, and it didn't. However, through reaching out to them on social media, and not just me, a number of people reached out to CBS All Access on social media, and they were able to resolve an issue that they had and provide audio description for this program. So, it just goes to show that sometimes reaching out to companies and talking about really how interested you are in watching their programming with audio description, that can go a long way to getting you access to some of these things.

The last thing I want to talk about before we open it up for questions is YouTube TV and how this can or cannot, or may, or may not rather, work with audio description. YouTube TV, for those of you that don't know, is a way that you can use just your internet connection and stream the shows that you want to watch, even your local shows, rather than staying connected to a cable provider to give you your TV. Now YouTube TV was once offering the national stream for each of the local networks. So, for example, Fox and CBS and TBS and things like that. So, if you wanted to watch The Big Bang Theory, for example, and it was being played, reruns were being played on TBS, there were definitely the audio description tracks available in YouTube TV.

Recently, they've changed it such that it mirrors your local TV station. And so why does that matter? Well, some local TV stations have audio description and some do not. So, depending on what network you're watching, what you may see is that the secondary audio, so the secondary feed, may be used for audio description, and it may be used for an alternative language like Spanish. So, depending on what it is that your local station is choosing to do, that can decide of course, number one, whether you get audio description just watching live from your TV if you're hooked up to your cable provider. And two, whether you're going to have access to that on YouTube TV. So, it's a little crazy just how many things there are to think about when considering getting access to audio description. And we all want it to be as simple as, hey, I want to watch something. Well, of course, there's audio description because there's audio description for everything now. And I'll just push this button and make it happen. That, I wish were the case, but isn't just yet.

So, I know I've thrown a great deal of information at all of you in a very short time. But I hope that some of this information, even though we're just kind of scratching the surface, is useful to you. Now we will open it up for question. But I want to mention that for those who are on Facebook, we do have a Facebook group for Tech It Out, so if you do a search for Hadley Tech It Out on Facebook, you will find this, excuse me, you will find this group and be able to join that. I mention this because this can be a great way to sometimes, we don't get to all of the questions. A lot of people have their hands up because there's so much to learn about the topic. This can be a great way to ask questions of other people on the Facebook group.

And sometimes I may jump in as well if I have an answer and happen to be looking at Facebook. But sometimes you're going to get that connection and those answers directly from your community and other people who are using this technology just like you're hoping to do. So, hope you can come over and join us on the Facebook group. And with that, we're going to open things up for questions. We're going to go first to 417 on the phone, and I'll unmute you. 417, go ahead.

Barb: This is Barb from Missouri. Can you back a little bit and kind of explain just exactly how audio description works? Is it talking to you as the actors are talking? Is the activity, let's say it's an action movie and there's a lot of shooting and stuff going on, is any of it overriding each other?

Ricky E: So that is a really great question. And I hope to at some point have an audio description narrator talk with Hadley about how some of this works and how they do their job because it's really fascinating. There's actually an art to it. So, what you will find with a movie or a TV show that has been described is that a great deal of work has gone into it. So, scripts are written for the audio description narrator to read along with the exact timing for when they should read it. So, every effort is made to, number one, not talk over the actors themselves who are talking. Number two, not to provide way too much detail. There are some things that you're probably not going to care about. And there are some things that you will care very much about. And so, the script is written to determine what those things are.

And then number three, to describe things quickly enough that, let's say it is an action movie and there's a lot going on, what you're going to have is a lot of talking over some of the sound effects, and perhaps the shooting, or the punching, or whatever is happening. But that is designed to end in time for when the actor or the actresses need to speak again. So, it sounds whenever you are watching an audio described movie, it sounds kind of effortless, like, oh, okay. Cool. They described that little bit, and now everybody's back to talking. But a great deal of work goes into it. And since you haven't experienced audio description just yet, I hope that helps to explain what it's like. And I think you'll really enjoy it once you do get the opportunity to hear something like that.

Barb: I did see a demo a number of years ago. But I was wearing hearing aids at the time. And I was having trouble understanding the sounds, the volume wasn't up. We were at a demonstration. But now I have cochlears, I'm wondering if it would be a lot easier for me.

Ricky E: Yeah. And that's a great point. And one thing that may work well for you and others who are hard of hearing and are looking to experience audio description is that many of these things ... now if you're watching with your family, this may not be as easy to do. But if you're hoping to just kick back and watch something on your own, a lot of these things stream to your phone. And I know that many people have hearing aids that they pair with their phone so that they can hear their phone calls, as well as voiceover and the like a little better. And so, whatever your setup is, hopefully you'll be able to watch something with audio description and hear it a little better using what you have.

Barb: Yes. I know with those who have cochlear implants, they have a device called a TV streamer. And you can hook it in so that the whole family can hear the TV, but you're streaming through the TV streamer.

Ricky E: Oh, that's excellent.

Barb: So, you all get together. You're all watching the movie, and everybody's actually able to enjoy it. You have somebody sitting there saying, "Oh, what did they say? Oh, what did they say?"

Ricky E: Exactly. Thank you. All right. So, we're going to go next then to Kim. And I'll unmute you, Kim. There you go.

Kim: Hi.

Ricky E: Hello.

Kim: I have had some pretty good experiences with description at the movies. And I have found in the times when Mom or Dad have had to go back and tell them, "She's getting the closed captioning. She doesn't need closed captioning."

Ricky E: Right.

Kim: She's needs audio description. And basically, what's going on, it's the same device being used for all three things that they offer. And sometimes the person helping you hasn't, like you said, hasn't been trained to know how to program it to do the audio description, other than the time that they've gone back, and came back and handed me the earphones and I'm like, "Great. It's working." And what happens actually is you hear the movie from the theater, from the screen. And all you're hearing on the earphones is the description, be quiet, numbers.

Ricky E: Right.

Kim: So it doesn't ... Oh, and I've also been told by some sighted people who have watched with audio description, their spouse was blind or whatever, and they've said every once in a while, what they describe to you happens maybe a minute, not a minute, but-

Ricky E: Yeah, just a slight bit.

Kim: Before.

Ricky E: Before, right.

Kim: Or after.

Ricky E: Yeah.

Kim: And you can tell by the sound effects.

Ricky E: Yeah. And that's a good point that-

Kim: Well, you need to be patient. You have to, I guess the thing is, right away say, "Is there a manager here?" Because not all the people have been trained. But what I loved about going and having the audio descript is that my sister and I and the rest of my family were in the movie theater, and she was sitting next to me. And she said, "Kim, it's so neat to look at your face and seeing you reacting the same way I'm reacting."

Ricky E: Yeah, in real time.

Kim: Instead of sitting there hoping that you figure out later what happened. You know?

Ricky E: Yeah. It's so nice because now you don't have to come out of the movie and say, "Okay. So that part where they were running and whatever, what happened there?" That's always so frustrating. And one interesting thing that I have heard is that there are people who will watch things with their spouse or their family, and they will get so accustomed to audio description that they actually like having it on for themselves as well. And they can have the TV show on and wash the dishes and still know what's going on.

Kim: Oh, that's true too. Yeah.

Ricky E: Yeah, it's very cool. Well, thank you for that. I appreciate it. Let's go next to the phone. And we're going to go to 764. I'll unmute you. 764, you're unmuted now.

Speaker 4: I was going to say, first I wanted to make a comment. Our movie theater where I live and my parents, is in a small mall, and it's a small theater. They have audio description headphones. One headphone is the movie. The other is the audio description. And of course, they want to see my ID. I ask for the audio description before going into the theater. They see my ID, so that's good, so people don't take off with them, with the stuff. But it's really worked well. But I want to ask about the Hulu. Now I have a Hulu account already. And how do I find out if a title is audio descriptive? Would it say it, like you were mentioning the titles say it? Is that on Hulu.

Ricky E: Yeah, that's a good question. And unfortunately, it's not super obvious on Hulu itself. So, this is going to be one of those where you'll want to go check out the Audio Description Project website. And they actually have things nicely divided. They talk about what's on iTunes for description, what's on Apple TV Plus. And Hulu is one of those as well. So, the other way that you can find out is just to start playing the title, and then go into the settings and turn on audio description there. And that's going to be under language. So, it will say, "Subtitles." And then it will say, "Audio." And it will be selected on English. And then if there is English audio description, that will be available to choose.

Now we will have again in the show notes because it's difficult to kind of do demonstrations or just to find exactly where to go. But they actually, Hulu has done a nice help article on their site talking about how to access audio description on their service. So, it will do it for the website. It will do it for if you wanted to watch it on your phone or on something like the Apple TV. Yeah.

Speaker 4: Or on my computer, I have a computer with, because I have Google Chrome, so I can watch it on there too. Right?

Ricky E: Yep, there certainly. That was actually the first place that Google, I'm sorry, Hulu had audio descriptions turned on was there in the website for Hulu. So hopefully this Audio Description Project website will be really, really useful. Again, that's not to say that you can't browse around and just start playing something and say, "Hey, I wonder if this has audio description." But if you really are looking for something in particular and you want to know if it has that or not, check out that site. That's probably the best place to go.

Speaker 4: Thanks.

Ricky E: Absolutely. Let's go now to 508 on the phone. I'll unmute you, 508.

Speaker 5: Hello.

Ricky E: Hello.

Speaker 5: Long time, no talk, Ricky.

Ricky E: Yes. I'm glad you joined.

Speaker 5: Good. I just have a question about the audio description videos.

Ricky E: Go ahead.

Speaker 5: Okay. You know the BARD website for the talking books, do you know if that's a possibility to get the descriptive videos through that?

Ricky E: There was a time that you, I think, could get DVDs. You certainly could get DVDs from some libraries that contained audio description as well. As far as the actual audio description tracks just for the movie, so to download it just like you would a Bard book, that isn't currently an option available on that service. That's not to say that it never will be, it just isn't right now. And it's probably because there are so many other ways to access it, for one. And for another, rights management is a pretty complex thing. And so, as we talked about earlier, where someone who had a show, like Netflix, and then it moves places to Amazon Prime, and suddenly there's no audio description anymore. It looks like the rights management for this content is really pretty messy at the moment. And I hope that someday that they will standardize on this so that companies can share rights and not have to duplicate work for the audio description narrator and the script writers and so on. But we're just not there yet.

Speaker 5: Now does it tell you if there's descriptive audio description, or not tell you, like if you go through the menu? Like if you're on Amazon Prime. Do you know what I'm saying?

Ricky E: It does depend on the service that you have. Apple TV, so the Apple TV device has been, at least in my mind, the best thing for telling you whether there's audio description or not, just as you're kind of reading the title and the description of what something is. For all of the other services, it's really hit or miss. And so, everybody's going to come out of here chanting, "acb.org/adp," because that is for sure the best place to go to find out what has audio description and what doesn't, and which service it's on.

Speaker 5: Very good.

Ricky E: Awesome. Thank you.

Speaker 5: Thank you.

Ricky E: All right. Let's go to 303 on the phone. I will unmute you, 303.

Debra: Yes. This is Debra. Thank you so much for your organized, articulate presentation. That was just excellent. And my very first audio description, descriptive experience was actually on VHS tapes, video. Back in the '80s, Beaches was the very first movie they ever tried it on. And I was in some kind of test group or something. So that's how long this has been going on. And the two things that I find beyond the action that are very helpful in description is when you have one of those movies that has, like say back in the 1920s, and then they switch to the present, and then they keep going back and forth, and you don't always know which time zone they're in, so to speak.

Ricky E: Oh, yes.

Debra: The description will say, "Then and now," so that you're getting an idea of which, because the voices, actors' voices are often the same.

Ricky E: Right.

Debra: And don't know if it's something that happened when they were at college. Or is it now in today's time? So that's very useful. And also, some of the body language of the actors. An actor can say, "I am so glad you're here," but he's frowning and squinting, and his eyebrows are scrunched over. And he's not glad at all that you're here. And so, I find that very useful too, so the action is important, but some of these other things I think are swell. And also, when you're watching a foreign film, the description is very good about, I would call it staying out of your way. If you're translating it into English, and this is an Italian movie, they're very good at not talking over the Italian even, so that if you're trying to see how it compares to the English, that you've got that opportunity as well.

So, it's got a lot of little tidbits and treats I think to offer, other than just the action. But the action, of course, is the big draw. And I guess my only question is: How do people have the descriptive audio on their television, but not ... How do I say this? Not disturb the rest of the family. What are they using? What technology are they using?

Ricky E: Yeah. And the answer is they're using the patience of their family members. And honestly, I wish there were a different answer than that. It can be disturbing for family members and sometimes for the blind person who's using it, even if the family member says, "No, really, truly, I'm totally fine with this being on," there's still that feeling of self-consciousness that happens. And I think for the longest time, I didn't use audio description when I was with a group of sighted people because I couldn't relax and enjoy it. I was too busy thinking how annoying this must be for them. And that's why I think that programs such as Actiview and others who have tried this would be so useful. And that's the program where you have audio description on your phone, and you can have your headphones in, and it syncs up with the movie.

That to me is the ideal experience because you're taking in the movie the way that you want to, and you don't have to worry about, as was mentioned earlier. Did the audio description just spoil something that happened for seconds later? Or is it really annoying for the family members to have to listen to? Until companies like that kind of de-tangle this rights issue and get access to these things, it looks like for now we are just watching things kind of on our own on our phones, which is a little bit isolating, I think. Or we are hoping that our family members really do mean it when they say, "No, I don't mind." And I've found that in many cases, they actually don't, and they do enjoy it.

Debra: Yes. I get that because my own family doesn't mind. And we do play the description often. What I'm thinking of though is sometimes they want the action and the loud-

Ricky E: Oh, yes.

Debra: They want it that if I could go to a different room and enjoy it from a different room, so I'm still getting the whiz, bang, but I'm also being able to hear the descriptive audio. Is there a technology for that? Or is that the phone again? Or what do you suggest?

Ricky E: That would still be the phone again. And I really do have high hopes that we'll see more of this technology, where you can use your phone and it will sync with the movie that's playing. And so, you've got your audio description, and everybody else is none the wiser. But for now, that isn't a possibility, so let's keep hoping.

Debra: And when you say movie, you're talking about the movie theater and not television.

Ricky E: Both.

Ricky E: Yeah. The companies that I'm talking about are working primarily with the movie theater. But they have two different tracks, so one is the movie theater and one is the DVD version. And you select which one you have, and it will play the appropriate track given what you've selected and sync with it. And so, the technology exists, it's just a rights management issue, I think. And there hasn't been a company who's been really strong enough to take all that on.

Debra: The copyrights are so-

Ricky E: Right.

Debra: So prickly.

Ricky E: It's frustrating for all of us too. Right? Because-

Debra: Yeah, well, and if you're an author, you're just fighting the copyrights and the publishers all the time.

Ricky E : Exactly.

Debra: So, I get it. Thank you so much for your time and your expertise on this.

Ricky E: Absolutely. Thank you for your question.

Debra: Bye-bye.

Ricky E: All right. We're going to go to 515 on the phone, 515.

Speaker 7: I was wondering, during the audio description, I know it does it with recorded stuff. Is it possible that they do it with live? You know what I'm trying to tell you? Live TV stuff.

Ricky E: Yeah. So, if for example, I don't know, you were watching the news or a sports broadcast, something like that, where it's happening actually in real time.

Speaker 7: Yeah, or the Bachelor, or something.

Ricky E: Yeah, so the Bachelor, I don't know if those are prerecorded or not. But let's say that if you mean ... So, there are two things that we talk about when we talk about when we talk about live TV. And one is the-

Speaker 7: Or This is Us, or something.

Ricky E: Right. So that's an example of the first kind of live TV, where it's basically this is what's on the channel if somebody's flipping through it right now. It's not recorded. It's not-

Speaker 7: Correct.

Ricky E: Yeah. So, on those things, there is audio description on some of them. And we all know where we go to find out whether there's audio description on something. In fact, the Audio Description Project actually has a schedule by day for live TV, and it will tell you which networks, the national networks, are playing things with audio description and what they are. And the real challenge though is that yes, it exists, but you access it differently depending on what your TV is. And so, figuring out how to do that is kind of the challenge. But just knowing that it exists is going to be the first step. Right? And then at that point, you say, "Okay. Who's my cable provider?"

Speaker 7: I have Dish.

Ricky E: TV, that kind of thing. You have Dish? Is that what you said? Yeah. So, Dish does allow you to switch to audio description. And I would like to say that all of their technicians know exactly how to do that, but you may have to call a couple of times. We'll also have in the show notes once the archive is up, so the show notes are places where you can go to get links to websites that we've talked about here. And so in the show notes, we'll have a link to the help article on the Dish site that talks about how you go about accessing audio description, so what you press on the remote and which menu you go to, to do that.

Speaker 7: Wow. I'm impressed.

Ricky E: So, it's really exciting stuff. Right?

Speaker 7: I know they do it on Netflix and Hulu, but I was just wondering on stuff like that as well, because sometimes I like watching live TV as well.

Ricky E: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. And live TV is just one of those things that it's so hard to describe exactly how you access it because everybody has a different cable provider and so on. But luckily, they all do have-

Speaker 7: Yeah. I have Dish Network Direct TV.

Ricky E: Got you. So, we'll have that in our show notes to talk about the article for what you do. I'd like to go now to 828 on the phone. I'll unmute you, 828.

Speaker 8: Just a couple quick comments. I've had really good response from the local movie theaters down here with them just giving me the customer service phone number, so that if the equipment doesn't work, instead of having to send somebody out to go get the right equipment set up, that they will just send somebody in with the new piece of equipment.

Ricky E: Awesome.

Speaker 8: So, I've found that to work really nicely. And I just have my iPhone right there, and they're in my favorites. And I can just call them really quickly. And then also, for those of you who've never done this, there's a couple commercials now for the two movie theaters down here, Regal and AMC, that actually have description. So, if I hear the descriptions during the commercials, it's like, "Okay. I can put my phone away. It's all good."

Ricky E: Oh, that's excellent.

Speaker 8: And occasionally, one preview, it seems like it's Lion's Gate, will say, "Frankenstein sponsored by Lion's Gate." They won't describe the preview, but they will at least tell you the name of the movie and stuff, so I find that really good.

Ricky E: That's really helpful. I hope mine does that too because I never know until the movie starts.

Speaker 8: Yeah. And then the other thing is that I'm on the audio description email group, and I find that a really good email group. It's not a super busy email group, but sometimes that's where you find out that a show has description because I just found this out recently, that a lot of times ACB can't find out until the show actually airs if it has descriptions. But sometimes the email list is the first place you see it. But thank you, this is a great, great, great job of information tonight.

Ricky E: Thank you as well. And this is actually, I'm now learning about the audio description list. I didn't know that existed.

Dan: Okay. Very good. Let's see. A quick comment for the lady that was asking about live stuff. The Olympics last time was described live when the Olympic Games, they did an excellent job of doing that, so that may be a possibility in the future. That's done by NBC. But my question is if you can clarify this business about CBS and All Access. I'm also a Star Trek fan. So, are all the current Picard shows or movies audio described on CBS [inaudible]?

Ricky E: They are, yes. I'm not sure how often you experience audio description, but Roy Samuelson is doing the audio narration for those. And so, all the Picard episodes are audio described. And the entire first season of Discovery is audio described. Weirdly, only the last two episodes of the second season of Discovery are audio described, at least as of the last time I checked. So, I'm still kind of reaching out to CBS All Access and hoping that we can get that second season as well. But you can definitely go and watch Picard now, and it is worth watching.

Dan: Well, great. Thank you. I guess I'll go ahead and pay for it. Thank you.

Ricky E: Yeah. Nice. All right. We've got time for one mind. And blind educator, you have your hand up, so off you go.

Speaker 11: [inaudible]. I just had a couple of comments. Just want to point out that if you do elect to put audio description on your TV service, like Comcast, Dish Network, the times that they're not audio described, you will get your secondary language, like in Spanish, rather than the English programing.

Ricky E: That's a good point. Right. So, if you switch to secondary audio, then you're going to get whatever the station decides to broadcast in secondary audio. Sometimes it's Spanish. Sometimes it's audio description. And sometimes it's a lower quality version of the English that's being broadcast on the main channel. I'm not sure if it's mono or what it is that they've done. I never quite understood that. But yeah, you get what you get. And that's a good point. So, knowing how to switch to it is good, but also know how to switch back in case it is Spanish at times, and you're like, "Wait. I don't know Spanish." We actually have time for one more.

Speaker 11: If I might add, I just remembered for those who are curious and learning around more how audio description is done, Shelly Brisbin and her Parallel Podcast did one or two episodes and interviewed audio described people who do audio description for different companies here in the US and in Canada, as well as Dublin.

Ricky E: Yep. That's a great point. And that is actually going to wrap it up for this evening. And I thank you all so much for joining me. If you would like to contact, that's E-N-G-E-R@hadley.edu. Come and join us on our Facebook group if you like to do that as well. See you next month. Thanks again.

Hadley.edu | 800.323.4238 Page 1 of 12

Tech It Out - Enjoying the Movies after Vision Loss with Audio Description

Hadley.edu | 800.323.4238 Page 2 of 12