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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

American Foundation for the Blind and National Association of the Deaf Partner to Expand Accessible Media for Educational Use

SILVER SPRING, MD — The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) announced it has entered into a new five-year $7.5 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for management of the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP). The DCMP will provide free-loan accessible educational media to students who are deaf or hard of hearing and also to those who are blind or visually impaired. Most educational media does not contain necessary accommodations for students with a sensory loss.

The NAD has selected, captioned and distributed open-captioned educational media in video and DVD format through a nationwide library system and through Internet streaming under an agreement with the ED since 1991. This program of over 4,000 free-loan educational media items has reached an annual audience of over 3 million educators, families, and other registered users. "We are deeply honored to have been selected once again as administrator of this vitally important program, which provides captioned access by deaf and hard of hearing students to educational media, and we are pleased to enter into partnership with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to expand the program to include described educational media for blind and visually impaired students", said Nancy J. Bloch, NAD Chief Executive Officer.

AFB will be the lead on an activity to develop and validate guidelines for creating educational video description. Video description refers to an additional narration track for blind and visually impaired viewers of educational media, including television programs and movies. The description narrator talks through the presentation, describing what is happening on the screen during the natural pauses in the audio (and sometimes during dialogue if deemed necessary). "While general guidelines for entertainment video description exist, there is a need to validate them and apply them to a wide range of digital media now available in today's classrooms," said Carl Augusto, AFB President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are pleased to join the NAD in this effort to expand accessible educational media."

Similar guidelines have been created by the NAD for captioning educational media. These guidelines, titled Captioning Key, have been distributed internationally and receive over a thousand visits monthly on the DCMP Web site. "Both captioning and video description are essential for children with special needs," added Ms. Bloch. "As educators across the nation hone their instruction ever more finely to produce the desired end-of-year outcomes—every in-class minute counts."

While most television networks and many cable channels provide closed captioning and some video description, very little educational media is described or captioned. "Only 15% of educational videos, 5% of educational CD-ROMs, and 1% of Internet content is captioned," said Bill Stark, NAD Director of the DCMP. "Even fewer educational media contain video description," he added.

In addition, the DCMP will provide a database of accessible media available for purchase by schools from educational media producers. A further service will include the provision of a clearinghouse of information and materials on the subject of accessible media for consumers, agencies, corporations, businesses, and schools. The Web-accessible clearinghouse will also allow users to search informational offerings on the Web sites of major educational and consumer organizations serving blind and deaf individuals. For more information call toll-free 800-237-6213 (V) or 800-237-6819 (TTY). You can also visit the DCMP Web site at www.dcmp.org, or e-mail the DCMP at info@dcmp.org.

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Media Contact:
Adrianna Montague-Gray
AFB Communications
Tel. (212) 502-7675
Adrianna Montague-Gray.

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