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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Letter from Lori Schroeder

Ms. Olivares,

I have been in contact with Mary Watkins in Boston with WGBH regarding the possible release of the film The Great Debaters with descriptive video. She indicated that you were interested in hearing directly from users of films released with this narrative track.

Our family has very much appreciated video description over the years. It has allowed my husband Paul to participate in the movie/pop culture experience with our two children. While we often go to movies without description (because we have no choice) we seek out all family appropriate movies (in particular) with description because it makes the movie going experience more enjoyable for the entire family and whoever is sitting around us at the movie theater.

I don't think that movie makers really understand that description makes a huge difference for the entire family or a couple when taking in a movie. It is a huge responsibility (even when taken in love) to try to quickly, quietly and accurately represent the action on the screen while not overspeaking the dialogue. Additionally, I hate to admit, there are times that I must leave the theater to use the restroom or I avert my eyes (because I am scared by what is on the screen) and during those times, Paul has no idea what is taking place on the screen unless those scenes are dialogue heavy. Understandably we have been stared at and shushed by other movie goers as each of us has taken our turn at providing description for Paul. After all most movies today start with a reminder to turn off our cell phones and to not talk during the feature.

Description, while not pivotal to safety, is pivotal to people who are blind and visually impaired being able to fully participate in pop culture and to "get" references from film that seep into our everyday language. We are thrilled to have 2 movie theaters with DVS within 30 minutes of our home. Even though we have a theater within 5 minutes of our home, we make the choice to go to those theaters that are DVS equipped and that are showing movies with description. After all, we pay the same price for the movie whether it is described or not, and at best if it is not described Paul is only experiencing perhaps half to two-thirds of what the director intended, even with our diligent whispered narration.

Our family is looking forward to the release of The Great Debaters, we hope that you will consider releasing it with video description.

Lori Schroeder

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